Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD Review
Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was originally on the Nintendo Wii. It hadn’t been available on anything else…until now! Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD is out now for the Nintendo Switch. How is the game on the Switch? Does the remapped controls work on Nintendo Switch after so many folks passed on the motion controls of the Wii version? Here is our review!
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD is a remaster of the game that was on the Nintendo Wii – this is not a remake, and that’s important to note before diving in yourself. So what does this mean, calling it a remaster as opposed to a reboot?
First of all, the story is the same as the one on the Wii. Link lives in a town in the sky with his friend Zelda and many other people. Skyloft is still a vast place to explore, but unlike other Legend of Zelda games, this is about it in terms of towns that you can explore. The people here use birds to fly to other islands that are in the sky. As the story goes, one day, Zelda and Link are flying and something happens to Zelda. She ends up in the world below and Link must goes after her. Link will do what few folks have ever done from Skyloft – break through the cloud barrier and descend to the Surface – what awaits him there, and how does the story play out? You’ll have to play to find out!
That is the basic story without too many spoilers. There is no voice acting in this game, so be prepared to read, as there is a ton of dialogue in the game, both story related and unrelated. In fact, talking to everyone you see is key to finding side quests and more, so taking ever opportunity to communicate with those around you is very important.
As for the gameplay, it is basically the same as what was on the Wii, with some minor changes like fewer tips from your companion and auto saves. These are huge improvements. Your loving companion is very helpful, but can also be incredibly annoying. Thankfully, it feels like she only pops up about a 1/4 of the amount of time as she did on the Wii, which is absolutely fantastic. Auto saves are also huge, making those unfortunately avoidable (and sometimes unavoidable) deaths less aggravating. Those two things aside, however, the biggest change to the game is its controls.
The motion controls from the Wii version are back and still work well. However, if you don’t want to use motion controls, you have that option to use buttons instead, which comes with varying levels of success.
The Switch pro controller can be used to play Skyward Sword, as can third party controllers and even Nintendo Joy-Con (without motion). When using the button control scheme, the left stick controls Link’s movement and shield (L2). The right stick controls the movement of the sword. The analog controls are put to their best use with a sequence at the beginning involving a sail cloth. People who have played the game before know what I’m talking about! It is so much easier on the Switch. Also, controlling the Loftwing bird is a lot better with analog controls. These new controls are both good and somewhat bad.
The Skyward Strike is now much easier to pull off by moving the right stick up. However the more precise left, right, and vertical strikes are a bit trickier to pull off. The Fatal strike, which requires a decent button combination executed perfectly, is super hard to pull off with the analog controls.
The motion controls are much better for precision strikes and one-on-one sword battles, but if you were not a fan of them when playing the Wii version of the game, there is nothing that makes them better now – it’s still motion control, and while it may be a bit more precise and refined on the Nintendo Switch, the motion-to-control concept is still very much alive and well, for better or for worse.
The new method of controlling the in-game camera when Link walks around, by holding the L button down while moving the right stick, feels a bit cumbersome. A quick fix is re-centering the camera with the ZL button to turn your view. It works but its not as good controlling the camera with just the right stick which you can do while using motion controls. These are the trade offs you’ll need to make. Some things work better with button controls, while others work better with motion controls. It’s all about weighing the pros and cons, and deciding what ultimately is best for you!
I did try out the game in portable mode too. Graphics wise the game looks very nice on the TV and in handheld mode. There isn’t much difference.
Portable mode adds full system gyroscope controls for looking around in first person and certain tools in the game. These controls work well. The rest of the handheld controls are like the pro controller expect with the benefit of rumble and amiibo support. Handheld mode works fine as well, but just like pro controller support, players still may want to use motion controls for certain segments and the motion controls work as well in portable mode with the joycons detached as they do via the TV.
The new analog controls are not perfect but they do make certain parts of the game easier than they were on the Wii. If you have the option to use both motion and analog, then you should! In fact, there is an option in the in-game menu to switch between motion and analog controls while using the Joy-Con detached from the Nintendo Switch! So perhaps they are the best way to play Skyward Sword HD. Still, it’s great that there are so many options for playing this wonderful game.
Skyward Sword HD is a great game. You shouldn’t go into it expecting a Breath of the Wild experience if you’ve never played it before but it is well worth checking out.
Thank you to Nintendo Canada for providing a review code. Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD is now available via retail and the Nintendo Switch eshop!