The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword HD continues the trend of bringing fan favourite classics to the Nintendo Switch for long-time fans and a new generation of gamers to enjoy. Filled with classic 3D Zelda gameplay, a flight-based overworld, motion controls and a button only control scheme—The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword HD is the definitive experience of a classic Zelda adventure.
The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword HD Details
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developers: Nintendo EAD
Genre: Adventure, Action
Modes: Single player
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
A high-flying origin story
The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword HD is the earliest story in the Legend of Zelda series. It takes us back to the origins of Link, Zelda, Ganon and takes place many years before Ocarina of Time, Four Swords and Minish Cap. And, because of this, if you’ve never played a game in the series, Skyward Sword is the perfect place to start.
Skyward Sword takes place in Skyloft, a series of large islands floating above the clouds. And, the story begins the day before the Wing Ceremony—an important part of Skyloft tradition. Link is having strange dreams with a gigantic dark beast and a mysterious person. He is abruptly awoken by a Loftwing who gives Link a letter from Zelda.
After meeting up with Zelda, she tells Link about a strange voice she has been hearing. Furthermore, Zelda reveals to Link about the possibility of a land beneath the clouds called the Surface. This land is said to be far more vast than Skyloft and full of mystery. While flying around the clouds together on their Loftwings, a mysterious black tornado suddenly appears. The tornado knocks Zelda off of her Loftwing and causes her to fall beneath the Cloud Barrier. As a result, Link heads to the Surface to find Zelda and bring her back home.
Quality of life gameplay improvements
The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword HD is filled with things to see and do. There are enemies to fight, people to talk to, treasures to find, and hidden areas and dungeons filled with classic puzzle box experiences. Additionally, the game includes some quality of life improvements that help widen its appeal and accessibility to a broad range of gamers.
On the Wii, the only way you could play Skyward Sword was via motion controls—a highly controversial control scheme among fans. Essentially, you either loved it or hated it. While you can still use these same motion controls by playing with Joy-Cons, Nintendo has added a button only control scheme that works fantastically. Additionally, other control options include allowing you to use motion controls for aiming or the camera. And, you can adjust the camera’s speed, which I immediately did.
The quality of life improvements don’t stop there. The game features some minor enhancements, which help streamline gameplay. For example, you can talk to Fi whenever you need help. Also, you can now fast-forward dialogue, skip cutscenes and repeat item descriptions no longer show. While these improvements aren’t mind blowing, they collectively make for a better overall experience.
Updated HD visuals
While The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword HD does look better than it did on the Wii, it’s not as big of a difference that I had hoped for. On the Wii, the game ran at 480p and 30 frames per second. On the Nintendo Switch, while docked, it now runs at 1080p and 60 frames per second. And, undocked, it runs at 720p and 60 frames per second on the Switch’s screen.
While the resolution is higher and the framerate is smoother on the Switch, I can’t help feeling that more could have been done. For example, there are still low resolution textures in the game that aren’t particularly pleasing to the eye when up close.
The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword HD is the definitive Skyward Sword experience
The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword HD is a good game on Nintendo Switch—just don’t expect a Breath of the Wild like experience. It includes quality of life gameplay improvements over the 2011 Wii release including the option for traditional controls. Gameplay feels more streamlined and as a result the overall experience is superior to that of its predecessor.
Unfortunately, Skyward Sword HD still includes “padded” gameplay experiences such as having to backtrack through dungeons and mindless tasks to advance in the game. While Skyward Sword HD’s visuals have received a resolution and framerate boost, there are still some low resolution textures that look muddy and out of place. If you’ve never played Skyward Sword on Wii and are a Zelda fan, I’d recommend picking up Skyward Sword HD on Switch.
On the other hand, if you’ve already played Skyward Sword on Wii, there are gameplay, resolution and framerate improvements that, in my opinion, warrant another playthrough. Just don’t expect a night and day difference between the two games.
+ Ability to control the camera while using motion controls
+ Increased resolution and frame rate over the original
+ Option to choose between motion and standard controls
+ Intriguing origins story
– Instant fast travel locked behind an Amiibo
– Visual upgrade isn’t as impressive as it could be
– Backtracking to advance in the game can become cumbersome
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF THE LEGEND OF ZELDA SKYWARD SWORD HD
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5
Overall Rating 3.9/5 (78%)
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