Zelda: Skyward Sword HD in the test - finally better in the second attempt?

Zelda: Skyward Sword HD in the test - finally better in the second attempt?

Zelda

Best Zelda ever! Worst game ever made! The reason why children laugh or cry! The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has split the fanbase since it came out on Wii in 2011. Hardly any other series item triggers such opposing emotions, above all, but not only because of the movement control, with little room for the spectrum of opinions between the two extremes, where it could then be: It's okay, that thing.

Table of contents

Page 1 Zelda: Skyward Sword HD in the test, Page 1: Story, presentation, technology and sound, linearity and tough criticism 1.1 The Legend of J├╝rgen 1.2 HD is no magic cure 1.3 Sounds good! 1.4 Back to the beginning 1.5 Epic Phail 1.6 Above the clouds ... 1.7 ... freedom must be restricted 1.8 Sometimes they come again ... and again 1.9 Play it again, Link 1.10 hodgepodge page 2 Zelda: Skyward Sword HD in the test , Page 2: Dungeons, improvements, items, controls, conclusion, opinion, rating 2.1 Everything is correct, but ... 2.2 The magic jug sucks and blows ... 2.3 The switch makes everything new? 2.4 Amiibo rip-off 2.5 A moving experience 2.6 Precision instead of gimmicks 2.7 Legendary? Page 3 Picture gallery for "Zelda: Skyward Sword HD in the test - finally in the 2nd attempt ... Unfold Skyward Sword HD now has three not very easy tasks: to win over former critics, to prove to the lovers that their pink nostalgic glasses are for good reason and, most importantly, to convince a lot of new fans.



Zelda: Skyward Sword is the third-best Zelda game on Switch

a close up of a statue: Zelda: Skyward Sword is back on Switch, Loftwings and all. Nintendo © Provided by CNET Zelda: Skyward Sword is back on Switch, Loftwings and all. Nintendo

Has it been 10 years since I reviewed The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on CNET? Yes, it has. Back in 2011, Jeff Bakalar, Dan Ackerman and I looked at what was one of the last big Nintendo Wii games. Zelda: Skyward Sword hasn't been remembered all that fondly since then: the game isn't considered one of the very best Zeldas. Partly because of the Wii version's very unusual and motion-based controls, which turned sword swipes into swinging hand motions using the Nintendo Wii Motion Plus controller.


The Nintendo Switch is in a bit of a lull this summer. You're likely waiting for Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, which isn't coming until 2022. (And maybe a new OLED Switch to play it on; that's coming in the fall.) You've already played the first Breath of the Wild game? Have you also tried the very charming remake of Zelda: Link's Awakening? Well then, Skyward Sword is here to offer more. I've been playing the remastered version on the Switch for about a week, and it's the best version of the game that exists. But it hasn't rid itself of some of the strangeness, especially when it comes to game controls. The game plays completely differently depending if the Switch is docked or undocked, making this feel like a hybrid game that can't entirely get its footing on the Switch.

Analog stick controls work for sword moves in handheld mode, or can be turned on in TV-docked mode. It works, but other movement controls get shifted. Nintendo © Provided by CNET Analog stick controls work for sword moves in handheld mode, or can be turned on in TV-docked mode. It works, but other movement controls get shifted. Nintendo

Skyward Sword's controls have been admirably remapped to the physical Switch buttons in handheld mode. That -- plus an autosave mode that always keeps a save file just in case you forget to manually save -- makes this Zelda a lot easier to pick up and play in short sessions.


Chronologically speaking, this is the first Zelda game in the hard-to-process, branching-universe Zelda timeline. It's the origin story... sort of. I have a feeling that Nintendo's release of Skyward Sword ahead of Breath of the Wild 2 may mean that some of this game's lore might carry over. Maybe not. 

a man flying through the air while riding a wave: Falling through the clouds! This happens a lot. Nintendo © Provided by CNET Falling through the clouds! This happens a lot. Nintendo

The game was released after Zelda: Twilight Princess, and before the 3DS game Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. It's a 3D Zelda game, with a graphic style that feels dated but not incredibly so. It's a little hard to accept after being so spoiled by Breath of the Wild. Skyward Sword's massive vistas and flying sequences no longer seem as breathtaking or vast. 


Skyward Sword jumps between a series of floating islands in the clouds, and a ground map below with patches of Hyrule that you, as Link, discover. A bird-mount (called a Loftwing) is your sky-horse, so to speak. It takes Link between floating islands, or Link can drop down through holes in the clouds to the map below.


The game's story is a lot more linear and contained than Breath of the Wild, with smaller area maps and dungeons. That sometimes feels comforting. I don't feel like I'll lose my way in this game very easily, in case I put it down for a while.

See those little Joy-Con movement instructions? There are a lot of those in Skyward Sword. It can get confusing to pull off some moves. Nintendo © Provided by CNET See those little Joy-Con movement instructions? There are a lot of those in Skyward Sword. It can get confusing to pull off some moves. Nintendo

When docked in front of a TV, the Switch's game controls shift to the Wii's original motion-based ones. Swinging the right Joy-Con controls sword action, the shield is controlled with the left. Flying means flapping the Joy-Con controller. There's a lot of tilting and aiming at the screen. I loved a lot of these motion controls revisited, but some of them are really hard to pull off, and lack precision. I forgot how to make some controls work (an on-screen helper isn't always helpful).


It gets even weirder when switching between handheld and dock, because the button controls are completely different. The right analog stick controls sword swings in handheld mode, while the right stick lets you look around in TV-docked mode. To look around in handheld mode, you need to press the top-left shoulder button with the right analog stick. Some necessary moves are hidden in confusing button configurations. It's little things like this that threw me off and prevented me from relaxing into the game.


Button controls can be used for TV and handheld modes, if you want, and there are ways to selectively turn aiming with motion controls on and off (or inverting the analog sticks for flying and looking around). It's great to have those settings, but really, what I wanted most was to just use the right analog stick to look around and the buttons for sword swings, just like most games. Skyward Sword just won't let you do that. These similar types of control quirks haunted the Switch's port of Super Mario Galaxy in Super Mario 3D All-Stars, too. It's part of the challenge of adapting Wii games that added unique novelty motion controls that, alas, haven't aged well.

a close up of a statue: Zelda: Skyward Sword is back on Switch, Loftwings and all.  © Nintendo

Zelda: Skyward Sword is back on Switch, Loftwings and all. 


It sounds like I'm complaining, but nonetheless, I do love playing this game. I can get sucked into a Zelda game so easily, and Skyward Sword's more-contained story structure (and a persistent helper-spirit called Fi that basically lets me get lazy and ask for help whenever I'm stuck) feels like my speed right now in my personal 2021. Just know that Skyward Sword isn't the first Zelda game you should play on the Switch. Or even the second. 





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