One of the more polarizing Zelda games from the Wii era gets a Switch remaster now, ten years later.
ZeldaThe games belong to Nintendo’s absolute classics and in our book one is (of course!) to the NES, The Wind Waker (on GameCube and onwards) and of course Breath of the Wild (Switch) the very best. In between, there are spin-offs that work well, such as Hyrule Warriors and parts of the franchise that shared the fans with several pluses and minuses. Skyward Sword was one of these watersheds; when it was released almost ten years ago on Nintendo’s hugely popular and epoch-making Wii, so it was a Zelda developed for motion controls. It became no favorite of the editors. No matter how fun we thought motion controls were in play like WarioWare, it was a rather inaccurate and frustrating experience in a long adventure like Zelda, where you have to swing the sword right thousands of times during the tens of hours the adventure lasted.
The Switch version fixes this annoyance by giving us analog controls instead, which work much better but still get a bit awkward with several button combinations to control the camera, which does not even work when you sprint (but you get used to it…). The graphics are also now upgraded to HD (720p and 1080p portable) and also 60fps, as it should be in games. Overall, the presentation is sharper, objects in the background and the environments have been given more details and the game feels “cozy” in a Nintendo way, but not completely without being reminded that it has a decade on its neck – which of course can be seen in the whole and the face models, for example. Nintendo remasters are often quite careful, certainly meaningful in order to retain the original feel and essence. Of course, it has its charm, but we can also see that regular remakes – such as Final Fantasy VII, can appeal to and attract new players and at the same time elevate immortal classics to completely new, modern heights even for the nostalgic.
IN Skyward Sword HD we put on the green hero’s (“Links”) jerseys again and start at a school for future knights, with Zelda as a childhood friend and also the daughter of the school principal. Link will show his skill to ride birds and the problems pile up quickly in the form of bullies, missing poultry and soon other, more classic dungeon challenges when he graduates. Skyward Sword HD is in many ways the exact opposite of the wide open Breath of the Wild – where you could go, meet (and be beaten) by the final boss directly. Here, everything is very upset and linear, almost like a classic JRPG, where you need to move from point to point, mission to mission in a certain order, to take the story further. There is basically an engaging story and a couple of really memorable dungeons and bosses, which we are not going to spoil here.
Nintendo has an extremely high minimum level and Skyward Sword HD is hardly an exception. The Switch version allows us to avoid the frustration with the motion controls and this will be a much better and more fun game now. At the same time, it is a bit of an interlude in the fantastic Zelda cannon and there is a risk that this will mainly make nostalgics the happiest, although all Zelda fans should give it a try. You are quickly rocked into the magical world and the pace; here is, as expected, a charm that is like that, typically “Zeld-isk”.
We’ve had fun with it Skyward Sword HD, even if the legacy of the motion control era is constantly reminded (you who got used to the smooth fighting in Breath of the Wild learns to need some getting used to) and holds back the experience from the highest heights. Nintendo soon seems to be the only, “real” console format with exclusive games, as Xbox has long offered its games on PC and is increasingly switching to streaming and Games-As-Service through Game Pass and even Sony is starting to offer more and more “Playstation -exclusive “games on Windows (Horizon: Zero Dawn and soon Uncharted 4, and more). It’s a gaming treasure you sit on and the console experience – especially in hybrid format, on TV and portable – should be preserved, as it is something really special. Skyward Sword HD makes itself just as nicely portable (even if it actually crashed once for us) and for those of you who have followed the game series for a long time, this will be a dear and improved reunion, whether you enjoy it during long sessions on the couch or in appropriate portions on the go.
At the same time, we must admit that we are starting to get hungry for the next Nintendo console, the one with more performance that can provide opportunities to take Zelda into the future – will be coming Breath of the Wild 2 the game that does it? We keep our fingers crossed and hope.