Game review: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD (Nintendo Switch)
After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword HD is finally available for the Nintendo Switch. The original game was released in 2011 on the Nintendo Wii. It is crazy to think that that was ten years ago.
I was not sure what to expect as Skyward Sword is arguably one of the games that pushed the Zelda franchise forward. It was also one of the first games to use motion controls as a mechanic. The Wii with its motion controls was a very exciting new gimmick that everyone wanted to try out back then.
Skyward Sword was also the first Zelda game with character arcs and stories. The game allows players to get to know Link and Zelda on a more personal level than Zelda being the end-goal of the game. Zelda even joins Link on one of the early game missions, which is very exciting.
There is also a lot of talk between the Zelda fans about the Hyrule timeline. Some believe that there are a lot of clues in Skyward Sword that will come back in the sequel to Breath of the Wild. In the trailer for the new game, Link is seen flying around above the clouds, similar to how he does in Skyward Sword. This makes this rerelease perfectly timed.
With this remastering, Nintendo did a really good job at preserving the essence of Skyward Sword. They focused on quality of life updates to make sure the game fits what have come to expect from games in 2021. For example, the game now allows you to fast forward dialogue and have multiple saves with different save slots.
Another significant change is the addition of button controls. The original game was motion control exclusive. While that was exciting when the Wii came out, in 2021, I refuse to stand up for a full length of a game, so the addition of button control is very welcome. It also makes playing in hand-held mode and on the Switch Lite possible. I also preferred them to the motion controls because those seemed somehow more complicated and a little “wonky”, but that could simply be user error…
The camera control is also a little bit weird. You have to hold down the stick, which becomes tricky if you play in longer sessions. The way around that is to use the back left trigger to snap the camera forward more often. That helped me a lot during my gameplay.
It was also interesting to realise how this game was built for motion control in mind. A lot of puzzles were made specifically to take advantage of the Wii remote. This made me swap between the two sets of controls just for the fun of it. For example, there is one particular puzzle that requires you to rotate the Joy-Con around until the shape fits in the hole. Puzzles are hands down the best part of any Zelda game, so having them be boiled down to how well you can move a controller is not as exciting as it used to be in 2011. It is still really fun, though.
The game was perfect in 2011. It was a game where Link was up in the sky and down in the water in one game. It was the start of a lot of game concepts and mechanics that matured over time. It was the first step that led us to the masterpiece that is Breath of the Wild.
This is something new players need to consider when playing Skyward Sword HD. That this is not the next Zelda game but simply a remastering of a beloved Retro game. Once you look at it this way, then The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD is a really fun slice of the past that we all get to enjoy again.