Game: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD
Genre: Adventure, Action
System: Nintendo Switch
Developers | Publishers: Nintendo
Age Rating: US E10+ | EU 12+
Price: US $59.99 | UK £49.99 | EU € 59,99
Release Date: July 16th, 2021
Originally released on the Wii in 2011, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was re-released digitally on the Wii U eShop in September 2016 to celebrate the series’ 30th anniversary. Now it has been given the HD treatment and has been re-released on the Nintendo Switch. After having played the original game on the Wii which had motion controls, I was curious how it would play on the Switch.
Link and Zelda
At the time of its original release, the story in Skyward Sword was the earliest story in The Legend of Zelda timeline. It’s not the usual story of Link and Princess Zelda, in fact, Zelda isn’t even a Princess in this story.
According to legend, three ancient Goddesses bestowed great wish-granting power on the land, named the Triforce. The Demon King Demise, the usual kind of baddy that turns up in these times has laid waste to much of the land seeking to take the Triforce. The Goddess Hylia gathered the survivors and sent them into the sky to safety. Goddess Hylia was then victorious against Demon King Demise but unfortunately the land was ravaged, so the people stayed in the new land Skyloft above the clouds.
Link: a Knight in Training
In the present day on Skyloft, Link, a knight-in-training, passes his final exam despite interference by his class rival Groose, who considers himself a romantic rival for Link’s childhood friend Zelda. After passing the exam and on a celebratory flight together on their Loftwings (big birds), Zelda is whisked away below the clouds by a dark tornado to the Surface, the abandoned land below the clouds.
After recovering back on Skyloft, Link is led into the island’s statue of Hylia to the Goddess Sword by Fi, the spirit of the sword who resides within it. Skyward Sword is also the game where we witness the origins of the Master Sword.
Navigate the Land and Sky
With sword and shield in hand and the ever-present warning of “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.” in his head, Link sets out on a quest to rescue his childhood friend Zelda after she is kidnapped. Link must travel between the world above the clouds, navigate the land below it in his hunt to find his childhood friend Zelda.
Each of the areas that you explore are filled with lots of things to do. The dungeons feature the same layered, puzzle-filled experiences the older games in the series gave players. Finding keys in treasure chests to open the next dungeon door and battling dungeons bosses is standard fare in Skyward Sword.
I’ve always loved the unique characters in the Zelda series and Skyward Sword’s characters living in Skyloft and the Surface are no exception. There are quests to complete on Skyloft and the surrounding airborne islands, as well as on the Surface overworlds where the majority of the main adventure takes place.
However, if you’re looking for a game that is a copy of Breath of the Wild then you must know this isn’t it. Players coming straight from BOTW to Skyward Sword will experience a great story in Skyward Sword and lots of puzzles in the dungeons. Also, there are some similarities in comparison to what Nintendo would later achieve with Breath of the Wild but that’s about it. Skyward Sword is a lot more linear than BOTW where you were free to roam if you took the chance.
The original release of Skyward Sword received a mixed reception from fans and critics alike, some folk loved it and others liked the game but not the controls. That was mainly because the controls utilized the new Wii MotionPlus, an expansion peripheral for the Wii Remote. This control system was supposed to be better but the motion controls didn’t quite hit the mark for all. I remember it well. I happened to be one of the fans that didn’t gel well with motion controls. I thought the gameplay felt clunky and frustrating to me, especially during critical moments in combat when you really needed the controls to work correctly.
I’ve been playing Skyward Sword using the joy-cons in motion control. They do feel more comfortable for me to use than the Wii remote ever did. The Motion controls can be centred at any time by pressing the Y button on the joy-con. This does help if the odd time the motion goes astray and it’s quick and instant.
For those that don’t like the motion controls, the new button control system does work well up to a point. Nintendo in their wisdom has mapped the movement of Link’s sword to the Right joystick. Welding the sword using the right stick does feel good. But that would be fine in its self if they hadn’t mapped the camera controls to the R stick too. Though you also have to press and hold the L shoulder button at the same time as move the R stick to move the camera. So you can’t position the camera during fights other than to centre it behind Link using the ZL button. This also means if you touch the R stick even accidentally Link draws his sword.
The button controls aren’t all bad, but they’re not really that intuitive as I expected them to be. Especially coming from playing a game such as Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin where you control the camera constantly with the Right stick. Then booting up Skyward Sword to play handheld using the button controls is enough to drive you crazy. As the Right stick draws Links sword and was used for the camera in MHS2, mind muddling!
The game, though old in years, has had an HD update to the visuals. I tried it out on our TV and it looks really good on the bigger screen. With a hint of Wind Waker, cel-shaded visuals look a lot smoother than the original game on the Wii. The game’s bright and colourful world looks just as good on the Switch in handheld, showing off the world to its best advantage. This was the first Zelda game to feature a full orchestra sound and it is a real treat for the ears hearing the familiar music again.
Skyward Sword HD’s quality of life improvements made to the game are a step up from the Wii version of the game. No more constant interruptions while you are playing, from Fi the spirit of the sword, that’s a blessing. The controls are better. However, I think it will boil down to how well you gel with the updated control system.
I do recommend giving the game a go for those that are on their journey through The Legend of Zelda series of games. As while it isn’t the best of the best in the series it shouldn’t be overlooked completely.
Final Verdict: I Like It A Lot