Nintendo Switch Review: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD

The Legend of Groose Zelda: Skyward Sword gets a HD Remake, but is it an improvement?

Take to the skies, draw your sword, and experience the earliest story in the Legend of Zelda series. Join Link in his high-flying quest to save Zelda, a childhood friend who must confront her destiny. Soar between floating islands and descend to the treacherous surface world in this updated HD version of the Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

Skyward Sword came out just under 10 years ago and came with an amazing Gold Wii Remote that had Wii MotionPlus built in and a CD of Zelda Symphony music. It was the year I got my first Zelda tattoo (I have 4 now) and when I had attended the Zelda Symphony in London (which I would repeat the following times it came back) so it always holds a special place for me. It always felt to me like it never got the love it deserved because of the motion controls, which were a bit of a hassle back then, but it wasn’t broken and despite that, the dungeon designs still hold up as some of the best created in the series’ history.

The origins of the Master Sword and even establishing the official Zelda timeline all came from Skyward Sword, which since it hasn’t been made official beforehand, had plenty of fan theories before the game and the now infamous Hyrule Historia book came out. What I’m saying is that even if Skyward Sword isn’t your favourite Zelda, it still laid down a lot of groundwork for the series and it’s future.
If you missed out on it first time and have only played Breath of the Wild, then you’ll be in for a shock regardless of if you are using the improved motion controls or the new button controls, which work a treat. It’s a very traditional Zelda experience complete with multiple dungeons, backtracking and boss battles that are highly memorable.

There’s no massive open world like BOTW, but instead you travel to areas on your Loftwing across the skies, dropping off on the islands above the clouds or to areas of Hyrule below the cloud surface. It reminds me of the open sea from Wind Waker in some ways, which I’d also love to see come to Switch at some point (Along with all Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess, come on Nintendo!)

If you use the Joycons for motion controls then you can freely move the camera with the right-stick, something that wasn’t possible in the original, but button controls handle like a traditional Zelda game with the difference being that the right-stick works as your sword. It’s a decent workaround for those who didn’t like the motion controls and while you lose the free camera control, it’s not a huge deal overall. I personally always hoped for a HD port of Skyward Sword but didn’t think they’d be able to change the combat to handle well with normal button controls. Nintendo deserve credit here and it shows they can do it with any other Wii game (I’m looking at you Metroid Prime Trilogy!)

Other quality of life changes includes being able to skip cutscenes, there’s less of Fi interrupting you to tell you useless bits of info and she no longer tells you that your controller’s batteries are running low. Add that in with the game now running at a solid 60FPS with decent load times and improved visuals, then you have one hell of a package.

The Verdict

Whether you prefer standard controls or motion controls, Skyward Sword HD has you covered. It has a great amount of quality-of-life improvements, runs superbly and now feels like the Zelda game it always should have been. If you missed it before or didn’t give it a chance beforehand, now’s the time to dive into what is a misunderstood yet superb Zelda title and will bridge the gap nicely till we hear more about the sequel to BOTW…

Score: 9.0