The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD Review – Moving link

Screenshot of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD

Zelda: Skyward Sword HD – puts you in control (image: Nintendo)

The most controversial 3D Zelda remade for Nintendo Switch, with a new control system that doesn’t use motion controls.

It might not have been so obvious at the time, but The Legend Of Zelda was in crisis before the release of Breath Of The Wild. The three major home console entries after the N64 era were The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword, none of which received universal acclaim from their ancestry. They were all good but, arguably, nothing great. Not in the same way as Ocarina Of Time or Majora’s Mask, or even A Link Between Worlds on 3DS.

Wind Waker was in a hurry and wasn’t done yet; with a boring and empty open world. Twilight Princess is too attached to Ocarina Of Time and too many spontaneous reactions to the childishness that The Wind Waker feels, with no new ideas and bloated runtime. Skyward Sword on the Wii suffers from many of the same problems, but the main source of its contention is its movement control. This Switch remaster makes it an optional only, but even if it isn’t, it’s still the best of the flawed trilogy.

What’s most curious about Skyward Sword is that it has exactly the same producer and director as Breath Of The Wild, and was made only six years earlier. Apart from some shared elements, like the on-screen stamina gauge, you’d never guess at first, given the completely different approach to world exploration and design. That and the fact that Breath Of The Wild’s biggest weaknesses – the lack of traditional dungeons and poor boss battles – are among Skyward Sword’s greatest strengths.

While most people don’t realize there’s even a timeline for the Zelda series, Skyward Sword takes place at the earliest point in the chronology so far explored (the Breath Of The Wild setting is at the opposite end of the timeline). It doesn’t make much difference to the normally shallow storytelling, but Zelda is given a slightly more proactive role and Link’s origins as an apprentice knight, on a floating island called Skyloft, are explored in a bit more detail.

Meanwhile, The Wind Waker has a nautical theme. The open world of Skyward Sword is in the sky, which is dotted with small islands full of side quests and secrets. Or at least that’s the theory; in practice there are hardly enough interesting locations and, like the ocean of The Wind Waker, you quickly realize that there is not much to see. Instead, all the real action is on the ground, with the three main locations (forest, volcano, and desert) divided into a number of interconnected maps that sit halfway between the open world and the more enclosed areas.

This area includes traditional dungeons – with some being some of the best from the franchise – but what’s interesting, beyond the quality of the design, is the way they reduce the difference between a dungeon and the standard section of a dungeon. the outside world. Things get a little too far off when, at one point, you end up visiting the same dungeon twice but there are clear hints here of how the larger dungeon could be integrated into the Breath Of The Wild sequel.

The biggest weakness that Skyward Sword inherited from the Twilight Princess was its bloated running time. Value for money is not the issue here, but unnecessary repetition of certain types of searches of course. Having to clear several Silent Realms and battling The Imprisoned was the most obvious example, but there was also something fundamentally wrong in the way multiple one-time quests were constructed.

Squeeze Skyward Sword very much using it is the various maps it feels like every inch has a specific purpose, which sounds like it should be a positive but otherwise gives a lot of easier quests an annoying contrived feeling, where searching for essential parts and deactivating the engine feels like check items on a shopping list rather than something more adventurous.

The lower quests are a shame because the more involved puzzles are so well designed. Dungeons like Ancient Cistern and Sandship are very clever and even more so because they, and games in general, rarely rely on the block-sliding and switch-pushing of previous games. Instead, there’s more of an emphasis on your surroundings and stuff, with some really well-designed pieces in the desert revolving around time-altering crystals and representing the best use of light/dark work style mechanics since A Link To The Past .

Skyward Sword is inconsistent, with much higher highs, and lower lows, than either of its two predecessors. However, it’s still far more interesting than Twilight Princess’ bland competence and while Breath Of The Wild is a far superior game, looking back makes it clear how the spirit of rediscovery first took root in Skyward Sword.

We purposely left the discussion of game controls to the last, because we didn’t want it to overwhelm the reviews – even though it’s arguably the most controversial element of all. Outside of VR titles, Skyward Sword has the most comprehensive use of motion control ever in a big-budget video game. Back in 2011 it was set to become a new paradigm, a Super Mario 64 moment for motion control that would inspire generations to come. Which of course never happened.

Although they performed very well on a technical level, the game was released late in the life of the Wii (only a year before the launch of the Wii U) and by then the public opinion had turned against motion control. In this remaster all of the original motion controls are replicated using Joy-Cons, with the advantage that the right one has an analog stick so you can manually control the camera for the first time.

The controls are precise and reliable and in terms of combat, it’s still a revelation, as you’ll need to get the direction, and sometimes the angle, of your attack just right to take down enemies that get in your way. Because the Joy-Cons mimic holding a shield and sword in your hand, the action feels a lot more realistic than usual – for any game – while many bosses test your accuracy in a variety of clever and imaginative ways.

Screenshot of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD

Zelda: Skyward Sword HD – motion controls are still the best for combat (image: Nintendo)

Gesture controlled combat is great but that’s as far as the praise goes. Gestures are controlled with the analog stick but everything else, from using the menus to aiming for remote weapons, is handled using gesture controls and never ceases to feel contrived and finicky. It works well, and is almost worthy of use in combat, but the temptation of normal physical control is too great.

The new physical controls aren’t as simple as pressing a button to attack, as the movement of your Joy-Con is estimated by moving the right analog stick (camera control can only be done by holding down the right shoulder button). This takes some getting used to, and can also feel overwhelming, but that’s all Nintendo can do given so many puzzles and enemies revolve around using very precise attacks. The ability to mix and match control options would be ideal, especially retaining the physical controls for flying, but sadly it’s all or nothing.

It’s unlikely the new physical control system will be invented on its own, but as a motion control simulation, which takes away most of their frustration, it works as well as one could imagine. But then it’s a good quality remaster in general, with very well polished visuals, thanks to their impressionist art style, and removal of irritations like Fi’s often unwanted attempts to help and constant pop-up boxes depicting the item you’ve selected a hundred. fold.

Nintendo has clearly listened to criticism of the game, with the option to fast-forward text or just skip cut scenes altogether, which is especially helpful during otherwise opening hours. It’s undoubtedly a better version of Skyward Sword than the one released a decade ago, but the flaws are too deep to be considered a classic. It may not be the best entry in the series but it is far from the worst and, as can now be seen more clearly, it is one of the most innovative.

The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD review summary

In short: The most uneven of the Zelda 3D but its highs soared well above its contemporaries and while motion controls are still hit or miss at least now there are alternatives.

Excess: Some of the best dungeon designs in the entire series, which often overlaps with exploration of the outside world. Motion controls are excellent in combat and the visuals and music remain impressive.

Counter: Unnecessary repetition and sometimes frustrating quest design drags the game down. Boring open world. Handicapped motion control and physical alternatives that can feel far-fetched.

Score: 8/10

Format: Nintendo Switch
Price: £49.99
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer : Tantalus
and Nintendo EPD
Release Date: July 16, 2021
Age Rating: 12

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