The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, the preview

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, the preview

The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword originally came out in late 2011 on the Nintendo Wii: it was the last great Nintendo game for the console, and also the ultimate union between motion control - mandatory, via Motion Plus - and traditional gaming. It is also, while boasting a high overall quality (with an enviable Metacritic average of 93, for that matter), one of the most controversial chapters in the entire saga. The most linear of all the three-dimensional episodes, the least exploratory, the one most based on puzzles.

There were many reasons to think that the next remake of the saga would be Skyward Sword: first of all, it is the only one episode that has never been improved or converted to other platforms. Secondly, precisely because of the motion controls, the Joy-Con seemed absolutely suitable to be able to modernize this experience on the Nintendo Switch with dignity. Unlike most of the past remakes, this one seems to have been developed internally, not by Grezzo, who instead made the adaptation of Miitopia (also shown in the Direct a few days ago).

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Link throws himself from the Cloud to Earth. There were as many reasons, however, perhaps even more numerous, for leaving Skyward Sword in a reliquary of the past. And they are all conceptual in nature. Thanks to Breath of the Wild, The Legend of Zelda has regained a prestige, critical and commercial, which it could not boast since 1998, from the time of Ocarina of Time. Here, Breath of the Wild was born in exact antithesis to this game: one tunnel, the other totally open. One linear, the other free.

Aonuma has claimed certain similarities between the last two releases for home consoles, implying that, despite the differences, there were points of contact between them: we are referring to the fatigue / vigor bar (actually a novelty of Skyward Sword which is the basis of the game design of Breath of the Wild) and the cloak / paravela, which allows you to glide on the ground without taking damage. Here, this last connection is certainly forced: the appearance is quite similar, but the functionality totally different. If in Breath of the Wild it is a fundamental and dynamic prosthesis of the protagonist, in Skyward Sword it is used in a circumstantial and occasional way. From this point of view, the Leaf from The Wind Waker is much more similar to the paravela from Breath of the Wild, rather than the Magic Cloak from Skyward Sword.

Finally, in addition to emphasizing the points of contact, Aonuma has also given a caveat: to paraphrase it, "eye, this is very different from the last". "We did that before we revised the conventions of the series." Basically: all children and / or young people who have known The Legend of Zelda with Breath of the Wild, could be disconcerted by Skyward Sword, starting with the prolix and guided introduction, in absolute antithesis to that game design masterpiece represented by the 'Breath of the Wild Plateau. This high-definition remaster will arrive on Nintendo Switch on July 16: let's see what's new in our preview.

History and controls

We will have time, at the time of the review or maybe even earlier, to talk in detail about the level design of Skyward Sword, its puzzles, its progression, Oltrenuvola, the flying city in the all-too-empty sky, its extraordinary desert halfway between present and futuristic past. For the moment, we limit ourselves to remembering that it is a Zelda in which the progression directly follows the evolution of the story, which tells the forging of the Supreme Sword and the genesis of Hyrule (understood as civilization).

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: The Master Sword, whose genesis is narrated in the game. As we said, a great specificity of Skyward Sword, at the time announced as a novelty that, from then on, would forever mark the series, are motion controls. Which have nothing comparable to the simple and optional ones included in Breath of the Wild. Here all the interaction is based on motion sensors: menu navigation, bow, slingshot, in general any instrument. The sword, above all: which recognizes angles and rotations, the basis of many puzzles and all fights. Fights that require skill and reflexes, but above all intelligence in understanding how to hit the opponent, since, very often, there is only one way to do it: do you need a horizontal or vertical slash? An oblique blow or a lunge? They are, in essence, puzzles in real time, to be solved with a certain timing.

It cannot be said that this mechanism did not work; indeed, it was truly amazing to see the sword's twists, even Link's wrist. However, this control system has generated three main problems: the first is an unfortunate consequence, in the sense that the team has been so focused on perfecting this approach that it has ended up giving it too much attention. Secondly, it was often necessary to recalibrate the position of the Motion Plus by placing it on a table: it was not too frequent already at the time, we hope that the Joy-Con will prove to be even more faithful allies. Finally, both for personal taste and for the casual context to which they were formally linked, many repudiated, for bias, motion control: they generated a clear split, even among fans of The Legend of Zelda. It is no coincidence that Skyward Sword, despite more than 100 million Wii's, is one of the least-selling home console episodes of the series. The game didn't make the slightest use of the pointer - no, not even for the bow, although it could be misleading - so, from that point of view, the Switch will be perfectly capable of emulating the original controls.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: motion controls allow you to move the sword precisely. Both for the idiosyncrasy of certain players for motion control, and for making Skyward Sword HD playable also on the Lite edition of Nintendo Switch, the developers have introduced a control system based solely on the use of buttons and control sticks. The right analog will be used to move the sword (in Skyward Sword, already in the original, it was not possible to rotate the frame at will). Only by trying it will we be able to evaluate this new control system, on whose intuitiveness we would not be ready to bet anyway.


The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Link struggling with the Supreme Sword. The main visual novelty of Skyward Sword HD, as can be deduced from the title, is the high definition absent in the original. The adventure, inside the Dock, will certainly be displayed at 1080p (compared to 480p on the original) and will travel at 60fps (on Wii it was 30fps, as is typical for the series).

Perhaps it is excessive to speak, in general, of remakes: it is a very different operation from the one that saw the protagonist The Wind Waker, to which the textures were updated, to which 16: 9 were added and which, above all, he underwent surgery to the entire lighting system (which modernized it but, at the same time, partially corrupted the beauty of the original colors).

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: the panorama of Over Cloud. Certain textures have been updated in Skyward Sword, while the polygonal models are identical. But this is not the reason why, paradoxically, the game appears less pleasant than it was in 2011. The dominant visual feature of the original was the "impressionist" filter, with Cézanne cited several times as inspiration, which cloaked distant landscapes ; in some moments it didn't work perfectly, but in others - most of it - it gave a unique, and very pleasant, aspect to the setting. It really seemed, at times, to be inside an impressionist painting.

We understand very well that it would have needed skilful changes: by raising the resolution, the gap between the planes becomes more evident, more clear. And having that filter only in the background would have generated several inconsistencies: however, the solution was not to remove it. In this adaptation HD has substantially disappeared, and with it the main distinctive feature, on a graphic level, of the work. Not only that: Skyward Sword was very brave in the palette used. The rocks were never banally "gray", but rich in lilac, blue, light blue veils ... especially near the water. From what we have seen, the reflected light of the colors has also been reduced. There are still several months to go: we hope that Nintendo decides, at least in part, to make the game more faithful to the original.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Fi, the spirit of the Supreme Sword, dance on a source. Skyward Sword is one of the most controversial episodes of The Legend of Zelda, among the most talked about and least sold. Above all, it is a work in clear antithesis to Breath of the Wild: the world is a tunnel, full of puzzles, linear progression and constantly spoiled by the clues of Fi, the spirit of the Supreme Sword who helps Link. The quality of the game, like that of every The Legend of Zelda for home consoles, is however very high. We imagine that the motion controls, mandatory on Wii, will be well replicated, even improved, by Joy-Con; at the same time, we have several doubts that the control stick will prove to be a worthy replacement for the Wiimote. After all, since there was Nintendo Switch Lite, it was mandatory to find an alternative. Even on a visual level, despite the HD and 60fps, we have our reservations: the "impressionist filter", the main stylistic connotation of the original, has been greatly reduced, if not completely removed.


A long and well-groomed adventure One of the best motion control games The desert features the best puzzles of the 1080p and 60fps series DOUBTS After Breath of the Wild, how will it look? Why was the "impressionist filter" removed? What will it be like to play with sticks instead of Joy-Con?

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