I was relieved to find, in the first five minutes first The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, toilet. There I was in Skyloft, a city of blessed souls hanging on the horizon, sprawled on the edge of a white cloud, and the hero, Link, sitting on the toilet. Instantly, an unreachable sense of myth, a place beyond strong historical understanding, floating above the wisps and whispers, was swept away. Supposedly, this beautiful island was saved from sickness below by a goddess, a statue that now stands guarding the good people; however, unlike the selfish Colombians, in Unlimited bioshock—who was also watched over by the winged stone figure — the Skyloftians weren’t tall. Regardless of their position, they don’t seem to think of themselves as above anyone else. Although I To do wondering where the plumbing went.
Link is a knight training, studying and living in the academy. This year, the uniform for successful graduates happens to be a rich, recognizable green. He had something going on with Zelda, which hadn’t been circled in royalty or legend; this, chronologically, is the origin of the series, so we see a lot of recognizable developments flying for the first time. By the way, Link’s preferred form of transportation isn’t his traditional horse, Epona, whose hooves won’t look good in heaven, but an unnamed bird, known as the Loftwing: a red-feathered mount with a shoe-head—and so a mix of a grin and a frown. , as if indulgent to a fight. Link can jump from any Skyloft dock and whistle for this creature to catch him, like Tony Stark calling his suit, in mid-autumn, as if it were a taxi.
Early hours Sky Sword is a dream. You are not released into fantasy as much as being locked into one. If his wide field of vision now feels cramped and linear—especially after playing the sequel, Wild Breath—The Skyloft spectacle is still thrilling. It is, in more ways than one, breathless. The art direction, originally helmed by Ryo Koizumi, has been touched upon, for this HD re-release, by Tantalus Media (Ayden Polat is chief art director). The same studio works Twilight Princess HD, in 2016, and I have to stop doubting them. If there’s one thing that doesn’t need to be too defined, I thought, it’s got to be twilight—whose poetry hangs on to the dim blur of the day. But no: shadows can be sharpened while retaining their ambiguous potential, like the smudged tone of Sky Sword seem to have been gently washed, without losing their afternoon mist.
I remember feeling deprived, in 2011, when I saw Sky Sword. Art style—always an important point for Zelda fans — apparently compromised rehash: character designs taken from Twilight Princess but inserted with bright colors The Wind Builder. What’s more, people kept talking about visual impressionism, as if Link was hacking Monet. Now, however, I appreciate how it looks. I’m especially a fan of Zelda’s hair—a golden straw helmet, tied into swaying bales, with a blunt brim framing her face. The environment, meanwhile, has a clean glow; we still get a good gloom, but it doesn’t sink into the mood like it did in Twilight Princess. The cel shadow removes the emotional shadow.
After racing to victory in the Ceremony of the Wings—a ritual race that resembles a game of Quidditch—Link is asked out on a date. “You think maybe you want to, you know, fly around the clouds together?” Zelda said. How very proceed from him; I don’t remember Zelda from Twilight Princess, for all his courage, asking if Link wanted to, you know, howl at the moon. In other words, Sky Sword has mature streaks—no gore or gout from foul language, just well-calibrated knowledge on the edges. This incarnation of Zelda is one of the few that doesn’t really need rescue. Even when the couple is pulled into a sandstorm and thrown, he doesn’t wait for it; he steps out to meet his fate head-on, as he chases desperately. Loyal and breathless, there’s something odd about this Link. Her usual boldness seemed here more like innocence, coupled with confidence, and her wide blue eyes betrayed someone whose head was still in the clouds.
Like a hero, like a producer. Indeed, Eiji Aonuma has proven that, in game making, the cloud is the best place for one’s head—the irony is that he is probably the most powerful creative hand in the industry. He has worked—whether as a director, producer, or supervisor—at every Zelda game since Ocarina Time. Whenever innovation is needed, it has blown up the series, woke it up, put it back on track, and breathed wildness back into its bones. He knows not to lean on the past, but he keeps the relationship alive. The defining feature of Sky Sword not a wolf or a wind instrument; it’s the Wii, or at least it is. Motion control is at the heart of the adventure, and, in truth, it’s rare for anything to point to the sky; I remember the many times I spent poking at the screen and waving at the perilous window, with a thin rope tethered to my wrist.
The best thing about the HD version is the addition of button controls. They’re not perfect: you have to hold down the shoulder button to rotate the camera—quite why there’s no option to toggle this I don’t know—and the Wii Remote’s motion, infused with Wii MotionPlus technology, is mapped, minus the swashbuckling spirit, to the right stick. Surprisingly, with the waving control gesture, the game becomes more, not less, about controlling the movement. You have a strange relationship with the world, touching, tilting, and slicing it from new angles. There are locked doors with eyes staring at your swords, which must be traced in a circle to make them dizzy until they open. There is a bridge across the ravine that can only be lowered by cutting the length of the rope.
The battle—which reached the climax of the inner frenzy Wild Breath, with its parries and slow motion—between the dance and fight of Simon Says. Your enemies are guarding left, right, high, and low, and you have to lunge through the openings. It wasn’t challenging, but fun—always the camp where Aonuma preferred to land. Elsewhere, text is now skippable, and Tantalus has lessened the annoyance of Link’s colleague Fi. Thinking of the game again, a decade later, I shudder to think about it. Half ghost, half software, he haunts your sword, emerges from the blade like an unwanted pop-up, and chirps about percentages and probabilities. He’s not a patch on Midna, and there’s always something odd about him—the blank eyes, the plastic sheen, the electronic vibrations of his voice. Now, he was still on hand to comment, indicated by the light of the hilt, but he didn’t interrupt; he could be invited to chime in or politely declined.
Where oddities are welcomed in the form of the game’s villain, Ghirahim. “Actually,” he said, “I would rather be spoiled with my full title: Lord Ghirahim.” My fault. He’s flamboyant; her body was sealed in spandex, with diamond-shaped holes cutting through her legs; she has a single dangling earring; and her hair, white as cloth, flowed down one eye like a frozen waterfall. Think of David Bowie’s one piece in the Labyrinth being two harlequin parts. He says he “leads this land you look down on, this world you call the surface,” but from the looks of it he can happily lead the nineteen eighties.
Ghirahim’s scenes crackle with sinister power, and he pulls you through the story. Not Sky Sword lacks speed or requires distraction; It has some of the best dungeons in the series, configured and tuned to the perfect tone of challenge and fun experimentation. Check out the Lanayru Desert, which has you hitting crystals to reverse the temporal flow; as it turned out, it had once been fertile, grassy land, and, as time passed and flooded the dunes, the sand had returned to a lush green expanse. Before “Effects and Causes,” in Titanfall 2, before “Crack in the Plate”, in dishonorable 2, Sky Sword conveys the spectacle of a space being torn apart and rendered by time before our eyes. Not that I forgot how good it was—more than that it took me years to figure it out. To take us to a place inhabited by both the past and the present: that is the job of the remaster.
You would be forgiven for assuming that, after unlimited freedom from Wild Breath, the series is unlikely to return to its old ways. But Nintendo is eager to remind us that the opposite is true, remake Link’s Awakening in 2019, and now offers a second look at the last entry made in classic 3-D style. Sequel to Wild Breath is on its way, and we’ve caught a glimpse of some of the wonders that await. But with Sky Sword HD, Aonuma showed us the joy of looking back. The sky may be the limit, but history is always within our grasp.
Available in: Nintendo Switch
Release date: July 16, 2021
To check what our review scores mean, click here.