The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD: why play it before Breath of the Wild 2

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD: why play it before Breath of the Wild 2

The Legend of Zelda

In terms of game design, no two three-dimensional The Legend of Zelda are as different as Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild: one linear, often tunnel-oriented and puzzle-solving oriented, the other free, open world and exploratory. In terms of pace of play and progress, they are two literally opposite works; for certain points of view, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword represented the paroxysm of the chapters of Aonuma, focused more on solving the puzzles, and with perfect gears, rather than on freedom and action. At the same time, however, it was also the title that sowed the seeds from which Breath of the Wild would grow.

If the differences on the organic level are great, on the microstructural level there are many more neighborhoods than we think. Ahead of the release of Skyward Sword HD scheduled for July 16, it is interesting to see how some of the novelties that have germinated in Breath of the Wild find their roots in Skyward Sword. Starting with the project director: both were made by Hidemaro Fujibayashi, whom we had talked about in detail here, and produced by Eiji Aonuma (his biography here). It's pretty amazing to think that the same person could have directed both projects, and yet they are.

As far as we know, Fujibayashi is also directing the sequel to Breath of the Wild, currently slated for 2022. our preview). Certain scenes in the presentation trailer, undeniably, closely resemble Skyward Sword. Let's see together what are the main points of contact between these three projects, and why you might be interested in playing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD to fully enjoy the next chapter.

History and setting

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD: Over the Cloud, the game's main flying island. The sequel to Breath of the Wild will be the last exponent (for now) of the saga: both as a release date and in the official timeline chronology. And not a little. The masterpiece for Nintendo Switch, released in 2017, was already set tens of thousands of years after every other episode: given the success obtained, there was even the possibility that Nintendo would create a sort of "new Hyrule", both aesthetically and historically, very separate from previous adventures (we talked about it here, and it is not yet to be ruled out that it happens).

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, on the contrary, is placed in the diametrically opposite part: it is, chronologically, the first chapter of the saga. The stories told start from Oltrenuvola, a flying island above the earth, and narrate the creation of the Supreme Sword.

It is not yet clear what links there will be, if any, between Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild . However, the similarities that emerged from the trailer are undeniable. In moments when Link (assuming it's Link) has long hair, and is wearing the robe that covers only half his torso, Hyrule is full of flying islands. Not only that: in the opening parts of the movie, the hero throws himself from above, gliding among the clouds, exactly as Link throws himself from the Cloud to the ground in Skyward Sword. They are placed in exactly the same position, with legs and arms open.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD: Link's glide position is identical to that assumed in the sequel to Breath of the Wild. This was not enough, in the trailer we also see a robotic enemy that, on a visual level, is much more reminiscent of the engineering works seen in Skyward Sword than the technological ones of Breath of the Wild (such as the guardians, for example). We are referring in particular to the robots found in the desert, which can be brought back to "life" with the stones of time. Could there be such a feature in the Breath of the Wild sequel too? That reforming drop is very suspicious, indeed.

Stamina Bar

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD: Stamina bar wears out as Link climbs, a classic in Breath of the Wild. The stamina bar, in terms of interaction and game design, is certainly the closest link between Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild. A cell literally transplanted from one game to another. At the time, it seemed like a secondary introduction to the overt (and advertised) focus on motion control at the time, yet this feature radically changed the basic mechanics of the series.

Link in Skyward Sword can't climb everywhere, but it can run and hang, as well as climb small walls: each time it performs one of these actions (or performs a special move, such as the spinning strike) it consumes some of its stamina. This is a substantial difference from previous three-dimensional The Legend of Zelda, because it brings the action back to the fore, expands the possibilities of movement, and favors changes of pace during exploration.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD: Stamina bar as Link runs. Perhaps it goes without saying how important vigor was in building Breath of the Wild, but we write it anyway. It is the basis of all game design, and it is the feature that alters the game experience the most: more than hearts, more than equipment. By increasing the stamina you can climb more, you can run longer, essentially you have more chances to explore Hyrule in peace: the wonderful opening in which you feel helpless in front of nature, works largely thanks to the low level of vigor. At the same time, the feeling of getting stronger is mainly generated by its increase.


The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, the cloak with which Link lands, ancestor of the paravela by Breath of the Wild. Nintendo, in the presentation trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, highlighted how the Breath of the Wild paravela has a direct ancestor in the cloak of Link in Skyward Sword. And this is partly true, but more symbolically than creatively.

The cloak in Skyward Sword is very important, but its use is infrequent and above all not very "free": it is mainly used to land, descending from Oltrenuvola. It is not as useful or well integrated as the Breath of the Wild paraglider: it is mainly used to touch the ground without damage, not to glide.

Wanting to analyze the DNA of the paraglider, we could say that it is a lucky one. conjunction between the leaf of The Wind Waker, which allowed you to glide at any time (and was strongly influenced by the wind) and the mantle of Skyward Sword, more static but more similar in features.

Upgradeable equipment

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD: With the right materials, weapons and tools can be improved. In various The Legend of Zelda of the past it was possible to lose tools, or weapons, and then had to buy them back. However, it was not a frequent situation, and it was possible to end the game without ever encountering this eventuality (think of Ocarina of Time). Before Skyward Sword, the norm was that once an item was found it would remain with Link for the duration of the adventure.

In Skyward Sword, this has all changed. Not only are there better shields and items than initially found, but it is "normal" for certain weapons to break (even after a long time), and many tools can also be improved over time. Collecting materials, perhaps from the corpses of monsters.

In Breath of the Wild the mechanic of "breaking weapons" has often been criticized, but without it it would have been a totally different game. Just like the low level of vigor, the need to find new tools is what makes the start of the adventure special. And, again, this is the expansion of a mechanic introduced in Skyward Sword.

Motion control

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD: aiming through motion controls , taken from Breath of the Wild. We come to the last point of contact between these titles. The first The Legend of Zelda with motion control was Twilight Princess (released in 2006 on Wii), but it was Skyward Sword the first (and only, for now) episode to be built around this control system. Miyamoto said at the time that there would be no turning back from there.

Things went differently; the (relatively) poor sales of Skyward Sword, user criticism, the badly tolerated and partly fallacious link between casual gaming and motion control, have caused Breath of the Wild to return to a more traditional setting. The "motion revolution" of Wii, however, has not been completely lost, because there is a feature that has become commonplace, has managed to make its way along that ideological groove that separates traditional games from motion control: we refer to the gyroscope. . Breath of the Wild uses, like many other games, aiming with motion sensors: a feature introduced for the first time in the series by Skyward Sword (in Twilight Princess, ranged weapons were controlled by the pointer).

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD: The bond between Link and Zelda is very close in this game. In conclusion, there are various reasons for picking up Skyward Sword again: both to enjoy an "aerial" setting that we will see again in the sequel to Breath of the Wild, and to find out where some mechanics were born that were important in the genesis of the masterpiece of the 2017.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD is coming to Nintendo Switch on July 16th.

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