The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD – Game Review


The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD

(Available for Nintendo Switch only)

While Zelda’s 35th anniversary appears to be a bit of a bust with not much coming out for it, the re-release of the Wii game Skyward Sword in HD, is a milestone for the Switch. The game was announced to not only improve the graphics to 1080p when docked, and 720p Handheld, but also improves the frame rate to 60 fps and offer the ability to play the game without motion controls, mostly to appease owners of the always portable Switch Lite’s. Now unlike Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD on the Wii U, this game does not have a ton of new features but like my review of Mario 3D All Stars, I will not so much be commenting on my thoughts of the game itself, but more the transition to the Switch and the small number of new features. However, I suspect Reece and Elliot who are co-reviewing the game with me, will be describing that in more detail.

As such I will get most of my thought of the original game, I love the storyline which feels like more of a character piece for Link and Zelda as well as a more personal story for the duo. The world is cool and well-designed (even if it kind of goes overboard with the Dungeons), the motion controls are okay, but I ran into a few issues especially with flying the Loftwings. I am not a fan of the combat, though it is not as bad as some people have made it out to be, and I will be honest, my least favourite aspect of the game is the amount of back-tracking you must do. I was going to mention that it was cool that there was a lot of elements that would be included in ‘Breath of the Wild’, like the stamina meter and the parasail which is something the HD versions are marketing. However it is very clear in hindsight that these are not fully realised in Skyward Sword, and that Breath of the Wild did a much better job with how these gameplay elements were handled (something that became apparent with Skyward Sword HD when I tried to play it like BOTW). Overall, I would give Skyward Sword on the Wii an 8.2 out of 10, it is a good game and has all the elements of a great Zelda game, however not all the elements are well executed and that kind of holds it back. Pretty much everything I said here applies to my thoughts on Skyward Sword HD, so here are my thoughts on the updates brought to the HD version.

Pros

  • Graphics: Skyward Sword HD is not as big of an upscale as Twilight Princess HD or Wind Waker HD, but it is a very well done job. Skyward Sword already was one of the best-looking games on the Wii, and it does do well in this upscale to 1080p. It does not look quite as good as the upscale for Super Mario Galaxy as part of Super Mario 3D All Stars, and it does not really do well compared to the other Switch Zelda games like Breath of the Wild and Link’s Awakening remake, but is a really good game graphically.
  • Frame Rate: The game now runs at 60 Frames per Second (the first 3D Zelda to do so) and it is all the better for it. It means that not only does the game move better and have a better pace, but it also allows for way better reaction time in combat and is the biggest improvement to the game.
  • Full camera control: The game now offers full control of the camera and it allows you to assess the environments well and make more precise movement, I certainly fell into larva way less during this playthrough than on the Wii

Mixed

  • Motion Controls: The motion controls this time use the gyroscopic features of the Switch Joycons, applying the right Joycon to the sword and the left one to the shield. The motion controls do work for the most part, but I found them a little uncomfortable and not as responsive as the Wii version at times and would use button controls way more regularly. They also had a similar problem to other HD Wii ports of the Switch as there was no bar sensor like the Wii had. They do require calibration and I did find myself recalibrating the controllers a lot. In fact, I even died a couple of times at the final boss because of a calibration fail. The major benefit from the motion control is the greater ease of moving the camera, which cannot be understated. Oh, but under no circumstances use motion controls for flying as it is somehow even worse than on the Wii.
  • Button Controls: Now I personally preferred the button controls to the motion controls since it felt more comfortable and I found the inputs more precise, which in certain battles was a big deal. They work by having the shield tied to the left analogue stick, and the right analogue stick tied to the sword (which I must admit is not the most innovative way to translate the controls to the new form function but it could have been way worse). The inputs are precise except for one thing which drags the button controls down, and that is trying to pull off a swing strike or a finishing blow. With motion controls these simply require you to quickly move both Joycons for both actions, though in the case of the finishing blow as before when locked onto an incapacitated enemy. With button controls it requires quickly flicking the right analogue stick and it is so precise in whether it will register or not, that it often will not respond no matter how hard you try. This does not help when it is required to beat some bosses, including the 2 final bosses, which were a nightmare because of this and in the case of the final boss I had no choice but to swap to motion controls to get the job done. I asked my co-reviewers if this was a problem with them just to be safe in case I was playing it wrong, but they assured me they had the same issues. honestly if it wasn’t for that issue, I would have put it in the pro’s section
  • Amiibo Support: The game has launched with a new Amiibo of Zelda and her Loftwing from the game. It comes with the function of allowing for fast travel to the sky from anywhere, which is much welcome quality of life feature added. I will say I think the function is excellent, though it is not necessary since there are tons of bird statues for this function, scattered throughout the world. The Amiibo is the only way to get to the sky’s when in a dungeon. It does however feel pretty bad that one of the best qualities of life improvements is locked behind a product, that is at this point only really available through second hand sellers. It also feels weird there are no bonuses for owning any of the other Legend of Zelda Amiibo, which is a downer for someone like me who has collected all of them.

Cons

  • No new significant content: This to me was extremely annoying, compared to Wind Waker and Twilight Princess when they got their HD editions, there really is no new content. While the quality-of-life improvements are there, they do not feel as significant as other updates such as new items or dungeons. In the case of Wind Waker, it fixed many of the issues that the game had, by introducing stuff like the Fast Sail and Twilight gave a new challenge dungeon and brilliant Amiibo support, but there is not anything like that in Skyward Sword HD. Also, the fact it is charging more than when it was new 10 years ago with minimal changes, make it feel overpriced and it also ties into my other problem.
  • Doesn’t really fix too many of the issues I had with Skyward Sword: Many of the issues I had with Skyward Sword that I listed are still here and have not been fixed. The combat still feels slow and sluggish, the backtracking has not improved much and with a lack of new area’s people diving back into it after playing the Wii version, we could really get an extra sense of how repetitive the game is especially in regard to environments. The tedium of some of the task like puzzles, is really highlighted now that there is an option to play with traditional controls, which speed up the tasks and lowers the peril (in my experience). It also is way too long, this game needed to cut down some of the run time because by the end you still really feel it.

Overall thoughts

Skyward Sword HD is the definitive version of this game and I do like the game though it didn’t really fix my issues with Skyward Sword. It is a good game and I like it though compared to other Zelda games it is not quite as good. What it excels at it still does, while it is a little too long, I still think the story is great, the graphics look great, and I really like the art style. There are some creative puzzles, but I could not help but feel I was going through a repeat playthrough of the Wii game. However, the updates that do work, really work. I have issues with the button controls, but that option really allowed for some more comfortable sessions when I did not want to exhaust myself using motion controls, the frame rate is great and I really appreciate a full 360 camera. If it is your first experience of this game you will probably get more out of it than a repeat playthrough however I will reiterate, if you think Skyward Sword is the best Zelda game, you should play this version. At the end of the day, I am a big Zelda fan that likes Skyward Sword, and thinks it is a good game, but I do not think it is a great game.

Score: 8.4/10

I recommend buying this one for big Zelda fans only, and people who did not get chance to play the Wii version. Once again, it is Nintendo first party so it is £50 and don’t expect a price drop at any point. If you want to pay less for this game, you can try to look for it at a slight discount at CEX at around £45 second hand, but that is as cheap as you are probably going to get. Skyward Sword is a bit of a marmite game amongst Zelda fans so I imagine the stocks will be there.

Calvin
Nerd Consultant

And now for Reece’s review

My experience with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD is that I have beaten the game and unlocked “Hero Mode” with a time of 17 hours and 39 minutes. I played most of the game in Handheld Mode on the original model of Nintendo Switch from 2017, before the release of the Nintendo Switch OLED Model, and not playing on the revision of the Nintendo Switch that came out in 2019.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD is an action-adventure game published by Nintendo for Nintendo Switch. It is a remaster of the original The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on Wii (from 2011) and ported to Nintendo Switch by Tantalus Media released on July 16th 2021.

Tantalus Media was the talented Australian Developer team behind Sonic Mania on Switch and the console ports of Cities: Skylines (both in 2017), and most importantly for this review they did the previous Legend of Zelda port Twilight Princess HD for Wii U in 2016.

Pro:

Graphical Improvement. Compared to Skyward Sword on the Wii, the HD remasters is a much improved product, progressing from being 480p on Wii to full HD at 1080p docked or 720p Handheld Mode.

While the original Wii version was able to mask the lower resolution due its softer art style, the new port definitely helps as it has removed all the jagged pixels so everything has a much crisper look to it. Which really helps the almost painted quality of the art style. A prime example of this are the character models or in game cutscenes which look incredible with the higher resolution.

Framerate Increase. To go along with the increase of resolution, the new Remake also features a higher framerate (Going from 30fps on Wii to 60fps on Switch).

For most people unaware what a framerate is, it is how many frames of a game are shown per second (Hence it is called frames per second or, for short; FPS), so the higher the framerate then the smoother the video. This helps considerably in that everything from traversal to combat now runs at twice the FPS so the whole game is much smoother to play and less choppy, the biggest improvement is in combat as you now have more frames to react on if the opponent is attacking you so it gives you more time to either move out of the way, block the attack with your shield or strike them first with your weapons.

Button control scheme. In the original Wii version, you were forced to use motion controls if you wanted to play Skyward Sword.

This of course was a big hindrance to players who were disabled or had poor motor skills, as it meant that it was difficult for them to have the same ease of play as other players.

Myself, who has Dyspraxia (Developmental co-ordination disorder), where I have problems with my co-ordination skills, means I struggle more than the average person when it comes to motion controls, especially with this game, since you had to physically swing the Wii Remote and nunchuk to perform strikes with your sword or shield respectively.

New in the HD remaster is the ability to switch to button controls, so you no longer have to physically swing the Joycons to perform the actions as now you can perform Sword Strike just with the right thumb stick located on the right Joycon. This is a very welcome adaptation for players who may not of been able to play the original Wii version at all due to the forced motion controls.

These controls are not perfect as it means that the camera control is longer as it is changed using the right thumb stick (for sword strikes), so the player must hold in the left bumper on the left Joycon (I explore this issue more in the Con’s section below).

So while it’s not as “immersive” as using the motion controls, it is definitely more accommodating to a wider audience and more play options are never a bad thing in my opinion as its makes more games inclusive and thus more players can play games 

Autosave. This is a big plus for the Remake as it now features an autosave mechanic, so that when you enter another area or just pass by a Bird Statue, the game will now automatically create an autosave file for you.

This is very useful because in the Wii version, if you made a lot of progress in game but forgot to save (as you could only save at a fixed Bird Statue and not any time you wanted), and turned off the Wii or if there was a problem that resulted in your Wii losing power, then you would have lost all that progress.

It never happened to me, but a vocal minority of the player base have complained when it happened to them using older Internet forums. This is a very much welcome quality-of-life improvement with no downside as there is only a benefit to the player, especially when playing in Handheld Mode on Switch because if your battery runs out then you will not have lost all that progress.

Skip dialogue. One of the biggest annoyances for me with the original Wii version is that you could not skip or fast forward through dialogue as you had to wait for each word to manually load one at a time, which made textboxes take forever to get through so you could keep playing the game.

This was most apparent at the beginning of the game when you were hit with a constant barrage of textboxes of all the tutorial messages for the first hour of the game, but now by pressing the ‘B’ Button players can skip through textboxes. 

Ignoring Fi. When Fi has something to say, her icon on the screen will flash, and the player can hit down on the D-pad on the left Joycon to hear her thoughts. This means the player can choose when they want to interact with Fi instead of being forced to listen to her comments all the time whenever she has a remark to make on the current situation. This was the case back on the Wii, where the player had to sit and wait as the textboxes slowly loaded.

It is not perfect though, as Fi will still pop-up during the story with no way to permanently turn her text off, but still, it is a big improvement over the original and the companions from previous Zelda games.

Skippable cutscenes. In the original game you were forced to sit through every cutscene in full no matter how long it was (Skyward Sword does have some of the longest cutscenes in the series). This was true even when playing on “Hero Mode” (A more difficult game mode where you play through the game again), so even if you had beaten the game before, you were still forced to sit through the cutscenes again which makes repeated playthroughs or speed running the game, very time consuming and annoying.

Thankfully this has been changed now the Remake in that most (not all) cutscenes are now skippable, which definitely helps cut down wasting time on subsequent playthroughs where you just want to play the game and already know the plot.

Streamlined introduction. A lot of the tutorials have been either removed or are skippable at the start of the game, meaning that the player can actually play the game instead of stopping every few feet when you are given a new tutorial.

A prime example would be the tedious rolling tutorial where a child teaches you how to roll into a tree, as with the slow non skippable textboxes took way too long, but now you are free to walk past the child and not interact with him.

Non repeated Item Descriptions. Another major annoyance from the original game was that whenever you turn the game off and return to it later, and then pick up a collectible, then it would replay the collectible pickup cutscene and redisplay the same textbox again telling you about the item.

Whereas now you only get the mini cutscene and textbox for the very first time you pick up that item, and it is never displayed again, which is a big time-saver (as I do not need to see the same cutscene and slow textbox every time I pick up a green Rupee). This means that the game does not suddenly stop every 2 minutes when you pick up another collectible.

Con:

Motion controls. I am not sure how but Skyward Sword HD somehow has worse/less responsive motion controls than the original game did back in 2011 (a decade ago).

Using the Joycons for a short period of time will show that they get desynced after a short period of time and will need to be recalibrated by pressing the ‘Y’ button on the right Joycon, meaning you cannot recalibrate using the left Joycon.

One possible explanation created by the community, is the lack of the Sensor Bar that the original Wii had, and due to this, the Joycon loses track of position in the 3D environment. I found this happened the most with the Beetle item as Link sometimes spins around when trying to aim it.

Another problem I had was with trying to charge a Skyward Strike (which is normally done by holding the Joycon straight up to the sky), as I found that I had to keep pulling the Joycon closer towards me so that it was almost inverted, as it desyncs when attempting to hold it vertically.

I also had a few dropped inputs when trying the Button and thumb stick controls for the Sword, as sometimes when attempting to do a diagonal strike it would sometimes come out as a horizontal strike or occasionally a vertical strike.

For a good breakdown of the topic, I would recommend watching the YouTube video “Wii vs Switch – Which Skyward Sword Has the Better Motion Controls? In-Depth Comparison + Analysis” by YouTube channel GameXplain, as they do a great breakdown of the topic and really show off the difference between both versions of Skyward Sword.

Camera control. This is only an issue when using Button controls, as when using Joycons you can freely adjust the camera around Link with the right thumb stick. When using Button controls the right thumb stick is used for Sword swings so if you want to freely adjust the camera then you must hold in the left bumper while moving the right thumb stick. This can be awkward as you must remember every time, or take your hands away from certain controls on the left Joycon as you attempt to move the camera. This can be very impractical when combat is an issue, and you have to keep the enemy in sight so you do not get attacked from offscreen as this can lead to frustration from the player.

Limited Exploration. Unlike Wind Waker which has plenty of islands for the player to explore on the Great Sea, the Sky is mostly barren with small islands that contain a treasure chest or two that the player unlocks throughout the game.

The Sky is way too big and barren as the player needs to traverse it constantly whenever they complete an area, and need to return to Skyloft to progress the main plot. To traverse the Sky you have a Loftwing (a giant bird) to ride but the Loftwing itself is very slow, and to try and speed up traversal, the player can use the dash move for a quick burst of speed, but the player can only do this 3 times before they have to slowly wait for a dash icon to refill. 

This is slow and tedious as The Sky does not need to be nearly as large as it is since there is not much worth exploring outside of where the plot takes you and your Loftwing flies so slowly.

They fixed this issue in Wind Waker, as you could buy the Swift Sail (where it acts as if you always have the wind behind your sail, so you move at top speed always) on the very first island you reach after getting your boat. Skyward Sword could have implemented a similar feature where you either naturally fly faster (same speed as if you were continuously dashing), or just give us the option to instantly travel back to Skyloft where we leave the surface world back to the Cloud Barrier.

Another example of limited/limiting exploration is that each of the “3 surface areas” are completely closed off from each, meaning that you are forced to return to The Sky if you want to travel to each of the areas, which means another slow traversal of The Sky until you reach the hole that leads to the area you want in the Cloud Barrier. This is instead of being able to travel between all 3 on the ground, so you do not need to sit through the cutscenes and loading that comes with going to The Sky, and descending in another area as this just leads to unnecessary added padding to the game, that could have been stripped out in my opinion.

Paywall for Quality of Life improvement. Unlike previous Legend of Zelda HD ports that included quality of life improvements for free like the Swift Sale (From Windwaker HD) or the Poe Lantern (From Twilight Princess HD) which can be used to instantly find Poe Souls (which cuts down a very long and arduous side quest and gives the feature to instantly transform into Wolf Link via the Wii U Gamepad).

The feature that this Amiibo unlocks, is fast travel between the surface and sky, which is greatly needed as Skyward Sword HD features the most backtracking out of any Legend of Zelda Game in my opinion, as Skyward Sword sees the player returning to 3 main areas at least 3 times during the campaign (possibly more if the player needs to return to the areas to collect more materials).

So to try and alleviate the slog of moving between the areas and finding a Bird Statue to warp to the Sky and slowly fly to the next area, the Amiibo allows you to set a fixed flag, that you can instantly warp to in The Sky, by using the Amiibo and then straight back down to the same spot you left on the ground when you use the Amiibo again. 

So this helps if you cannot find a Bird Statue to go back to the Sky and had already completed the area as you can just warp straight up using the Amiibo.

The main problem with this Amiibo is that it is a lot more expensive than the standard Nintendo Amiibo, as in the United Kingdom it cost £25, compared to normal Zelda Amiibo’s which are used in other Zelda games is roughly £15, so you are paying on average £10 more for an Amiibo that is the only usable Amiibo in this HD remaster.

This does not take into the account the fact that most of the time this Amiibo is sold out in stores so if you want one, then you will probably have to buy from a 3rd party seller where they have increased the price to an unreasonable level to take advantage of the demand for it.

Limited Amiibo support. Unlike the other Legend of Zelda games that have been releasing since the Wii U, Skyward Sword only supports 1 Amiibo and that’s the exclusive Zelda & Loftwing Amiibo (Which I talked about before) as even all the Amiibo that was supported by Breath of the Wild is no longer supported here, when they could of been implemented.

It also makes collectors of Amiibo have a redundant collection, as Breath of the Wild supported 22 Amiibo alone from a variety of games from Breath of the Wild, Super Smash Bros Ultimate and even Amiibo released for Legend of Zelda’s 30th anniversary. 

If you were a person who bought all 22 Amiibo to use in Breath of the Wild and Twilight Princess, then you spent £330 minimum, which cannot be used in Skyward Sword HD.

Music. Unlike previous entries of The Legend of Zelda series Skyward Sword features very few stand out music tracks like Ballad of the Goddess (the core of which, is Zelda’s lullaby backwards) and Song of the Hero. But the overworld music for the 3 main zones, is lacking in my opinion as well as the final boss music (compared to other final boss themes like in Twilight Princess HD).

As Eldin Volcano (the 2nd main area you explore), has the most unfitting music as Death Mountain from Breath of the Wild has a much more fitting theme for an active volcano that expands upon the mystery of the area while having the creepy factor unlike Eldin Volcano that has chimes and weird trumpets.

Tadtones section. This may just be an issue that I found but the main storyline quest that features the 3rd return to Faron Woods, that has the player collect 17 sets of Tadones (77 in total), for the Water Dragon as you need her part of the Sony of the Hero from her (Even though you have already saved her life, cleared out 2 dungeons for her and are wielding the Master Sword as you still are not ‘worthy enough’).

This involves the player slowly swimming through a flooded forest as they try and collect these tadtones that are floating about. All the while there is a constantly delpleting oxygen gauge for Link (so you have to keep going back to the surface to refill it or grab a tadtone to get a sliver back). Poison oxygen bubbles damage you when you run into them. These bubbles do not help colour-blind players, as normal bubbles are blue and poison are purple, this could have been helped if they put a symbol like a skull on the poison bubbles).

To help players, there is an oxygen potion to make your meter deplete slowly, but if you did not know you were about to face a long swimming challenge, then you have to backtrack all the way to Skyloft to buy one (That involved finding a Bird Statue that can send you to The Sky, then the process of flying back from the Faron Woods hole in the Cloud Barrier back to Skyloft, which takes several minutes alone), and even then the potion only lasts 2 minutes and takes up a precious bottle (you are only guaranteed one by this point), and most players would prefer to have a health potion to heal back any damage you take.

Imprisoned boss fights. Out of all the boss fights in the game the boss I disliked fighting the most was the devil avocado himself; “The Imprisoned”. 

It is bad enough that you had to fight him once, but you are forced to fight him 3 times in total! Which is more than any other boss in the game and only equal number of times to Lord Ghirahim, but the difference is that Lord Ghirahim is fun to fight compared to The Imprisoned, and actually has a personality.

The frustrating thing about fighting The Imprisoned, is that you are forced to fight him in a small arena that slowly spirals up from the ground to The Sealed Temple at the top, and in the second fight he moves incredibly fast for a giant demon avocado, making breaking his toes to make him fall over difficult as he moves so fast and each step creates a huge shock wave that will knock Link over if hit taking a lot of damage.

In my second fight I had knocked him down, but the ledge spiralling upwards was too narrow so he knocked me down to a lower level, and by the time I ascended back up to him, he had got back up. All that time I spent attacking him was pointless as he does not take damage, unless you hit the Sealing Spike on his head (so it was about 5 minutes wasted).

I just found no enjoyment fighting him for the second time, unlike the other bosses in the game and thought that the game would have been better off if you did not fight him the second time, and was just the first and third time as they were when they were fun and interesting.

Conclusion: If you have not picked up the original version of Skyward Sword over a decade ago in 2011, then I would say definitely pick up this HD remaster as it is a piece of Zelda history, and is very important to the Zelda timeline (currently the first game).

Although if you have the option I would say play the original, and get a physical copy if it is not too steep a price, or even buy the digital version on the Nintendo Wii U eShop to play with the better motion controls and to compare both. The games do feel quite different and while the HD remaster changes a lot, it somehow made the core mechanic of the game (Attacking with your sword) worse after 10 years since the original Wii version came out.

Score: 8.2

Reece Imiolek
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

And finally Elliots review

The original The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was first announced around the perfect time for me. I had just finished The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess which I happily proclaimed to be my favourite game of all time when I did (a title it would maintain until I eventually played Dark Souls), so, needless to say, I was in a state of Zelda fever. When I first played it, I remember having some problems with the motion controls, but overall, I found myself loving the game to bits and having a lot of fun with it. Now, nearly ten years after the original games release, to celebrate The Legend of Zelda’s 35th anniversary, we have been given The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD which was first announced in the February 2021 Nintendo Direct and eventually released on 16th July 2021 for the Nintendo Switch

The game takes place at the beginning of the Zelda timeline. You, of course, take on the role as Link, a knight in training within the village of Skyloft. After taking on and passing your final exam to become an official knight and going on a celebratory flight with you childhood friend Zelda, you both come face to face with a black tornado, blasting you away and sucking Zelda into the surface below the clouds. That night, a mysterious figure named Fi leads you through Skyloft and towards a powerful sword called the Goddess Blade. After being told about a prophecy foretold by the goddess Hylia, Link draws the sword and sets off on a journey to the surface below to seek out Zelda and to defeat the being known as Demise who threatens to bring destruction to the world. While most Zelda games are very story focused, this game especially is, even doing things like having less dungeons to explore specifically to have more story moments. While this might seem like a downside gameplay wise, which it is to an extent, it leads to what is in my opinion one of, if not, the best stories in the Zelda series. It also means that there is more room for character development, which leads to some of the best characters in the entire series, like Groose who has one of the best character arcs in Zelda, Ghirahim who acts as a constant threat and is an excellent villain because of it and Zelda herself, who, if I must confess, is my favourite rendition of the character in the series.  

The art style the game goes for is a mixture of Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, having the graphics and some characters seem somewhat cartoonish while having more realistic designs to character models. It works well, leading to an art style which has barely aged in the last ten years. The performance of the game has been improved from the original, the character models and environments look a lot smoother, and the game runs at a consistent 60fps, which is a major improvement from the Wii versions’ 30fps. The music as well is excellent, each song is very memorable and leads to one of the best Zelda soundtracks of all time, only probably being beaten by Twilight Princess’ (but hey, I’m petty and biased), seriously though, Ballad of the Goddess might just be the best song in the entire series. 

The game plays like you would expect any other The Legend of Zelda game to, with you traversing open environments, exploring dungeons, solving puzzles and killing a boss at the end. I decided to try and 100% complete this game, a task that was not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be in all honesty. A couple of the mini games were a headache, but aside from that it was honestly pretty easy. 

To compensate for the fact that this is on a home and portable system, it has two separate ways to play, either with motion controls or button controls. Using motion controls means you are essentially playing the same way that you would on the Wii version, using motion controls for every single action, from swordplay, to flying your Loftwing, to simply crossing a tightrope. Now with the Joycons, you would expect that the motion controls are not as good as they were in the Wii version, and you would be absolutely right. Considering the fact that with the Wii version you not only had a sensor bar, but you also had to use the Wii Motion Plus because of how precise you had to be with the motion controls and the fact that the Joycons are not as good with motion controls as a regular Wii Remote, the motion controls of this game is vastly inferior. I constantly found that the game’s gyro went out of sync from the slightest movement, leading me to recalibrate it every thirty seconds, and a lot of times even that would not work, leading me to struggle in certain sections simply because of the controls. 

By the halfway point, I was exclusively using button controls, which had you using the left analog stick to replace the motion controls and had you use the right analog stick for combat. However, even though I very much suggest this control scheme over the other, there are still a few problems I have with it. First of all is the camera – yes, this version, unlike the original, has a camera – because you use the right analog stick for combat, to use the camera you have to hold down the L button. While I can see why it is done, it is still very annoying to have to constantly hold down the L button when not fighting something, in fact, to quote the youtuber BeatEmUps, I wish they did it the other way around, it just would have been a lot easier. Speaking of combat, when using this control scheme, it also is not very good. You are required to use the right analog stick to swing your sword, and it is incredibly difficult to make precise swings in the direction you want as opposed to using motion controls. To make matters worse, there is about half a seconds delay between you flicking the right stick and Link actually swinging the sword, meaning that for when an enemy gives you an opportunity to attack from a specific direction, which a lot of enemies do by the way, you’ll have to be extra quick, in fact, a lot of the times, because you also use the stick to simply point your sword in a certain direction, Link will not even swing his sword, instead just point it in that direction, it gets incredibly annoying really quickly. Then there is the spin attack and the fatal blow, when using motion controls, all you have to do is swing both Joycons in the direction you want to do the attack, so you would expect that all you would have to do is flick both analog sticks in the same direction, instead you have to flick the right analog sticks in three times in opposite directions (left, right, left for example) to perform it. While for spin attacks it is not too annoying, for the fatal blow it is infuriating. To do a fatal blow you need to have the enemy on the floor, during that you’ll have a split second to perform the attack. A lot of people, including myself, will struggle to do this motion in such a short amount of time, which is worse when you realize that these attacks are required to defeat the last two bosses (one of my friends legit spent over 4 hours fighting the final boss specifically because of this… at least I hope that’s why).

One of the big editions of the game is The Sky, which you can explore on your Loftwing. The Sky is how to travel to the surface, and you are able to travel to small islands spread throughout, these will have things from minigames, collectables and side quests to do when on them. Though, unless you are planning on completing the game 100%, there sadly is not that much for you to do in The Sky aside from travelling to the surface and to story areas. 

Aside from just The Sky, you also have the surface to explore. There are a total of three areas on the surface, Faron Woods, Lanayru Desert and Eldin Volcano. It is in these three areas that you will be doing most of your exploring, doing things like looking for collectables, talking to the strange characters that reside in these areas, and seeking out the dungeons that the series is well known for. There is some criticism that there is a lot of backtracking in these areas, as you will be returning to them on numerous occasions, but personally I do not mind it because it almost always leads to new things and areas, and it never feels like I am there for too long. 

But of course, one of the biggest draws to any Zelda game is the dungeons and bosses. There are a total of seven dungeons in the game, and as to be expected they are very fun. Though, because there are only three separate areas, the themes of the dungeons do repeat, and while each one does not feel in anyway like the others, I would have liked to have different themed ones (and yes I know that Ocarina of Time also had repeating themes, but that game had more dungeons). Also the puzzles, while still fun and made me think at times, are pretty easy, which is odd as I remember having a lot of trouble with them when I played the original game, but this time I just had an easier time with them – and I cannot just use the “I’ve played the game before” argument because it has been ten years since I last played this game – though I still had a lot of fun with them and I still love their creativity. Of course, you will also find items in these dungeons that will aid you in your quest, from regulars like the bow and bombs, to new equipment like the whip and the beetle. In terms of bosses however, despite how much I love the fights against Ghirahim and the final boss is pretty fun, they are definitely on the weaker side. I either found them too easy or too annoying, at times having unfair tactics that do not make the fight any harder and just leads to frustration, and I am going to refrain from talking about the Imprisoned fights, otherwise this review will double in length and a lot of it will have to be censored. 

Just like other games in the Zelda series, there is a lot to collect. First of all, there are of course the Heart Containers, just like in other games you can find them from exploring the world or completing side quests and mini games and finding four of them will increase your health by one heart, though there are only twenty-four in this game, which is a good amount less than you would find in other games. Spread throughout the surface is a series of Goddess Cubes, these are easily spotted and when found all you have to do is use a Skyward Strike on it (hold up your sword till it is glowing and swing), after doing so you will unlock a Goddess Chest that you can find in the sky and will be marked on your map, these will contain collectables like wallets, Heart Pieces and medals (which will increase the chances of you finding certain items when you carry them with you) , and sometimes just a lot of rupees. Another thing for you to collect is Gratitude Crystals, there is a monster in Skyloft named Batreaux who wants to be human and will ask you to find Gratitude Crystals for him, of which there are eighty, in exchange for a number of really useful items such as bigger wallets and rupees, you can find these crystals by searching Skyloft and other sky islands at night and by completing side quests for people you’ll find in those locations. As you simply play the game, you will also find materials and bugs. Bugs are not really that useful outside of selling to Strich, who will pay you a certain amount for what bugs you have. Materials will allow you to upgrade your equipment if you have the right ones, or if you do not really care about that, you can just sell them at the night market.

Of course most of the stuff I have been wittering on about was already in the original game, and this is a HD remaster of it, so what new editions does this game have to offer… well honestly, nothing. I mean, there are some quality of life improvements, like the previously mentioned improve framerate and camera, but aside from that, the only thing that I can really think of is the Zelda and Loftwing Amiibo, which, when used, will let you return to the sky from anywhere without the use of a bird statue and will let you leave a dungeon and allow you to return from the exact spot that you left, which is honestly something that I never used aside from once, when I realised that there was a collectable that I forgot to get and wanted to save my place in the dungeon I was in. When you consider how little of an improvement they have made to the game, Nintendo really should not be charging it at the price that they are, especially when you consider the fact that this game costs more than it did when it first came out on the Wii but also when you consider all the improvements the added in Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD. In those games, not only did they add some quality of life improvements, they also added more collectables and with Wind Waker and full on changed the part when you are hunting for the Triforce shards to make it much easier for the player, hell, in Twilight Princess, when you scan the Wolf Link Amiibo, you gain access to a new dungeon. If you need another example, just look at Miitopia, that game not only had improved graphics and character creator, but also had a ton of features added like the outing tickets and even a bloody horse, it just staggers me that Nintendo would put that amount of care and improvements into a remake of a 3DS game that not as many people will care about, and not into a remaster of a game in one of their most celebrated series. When you compare this game to them, it is seriously lacking and is not really giving you much incentive to play this over the Wii version, especially given the terrible motion controls.

Don’t get me wrong, I still loved my time with this game, I had an insane amount of fun and would happily do it again, but if you asked me which version I preferred, I would probably say the original. While I did have problems with the Wii version that this one fixes, the better motion controls and combat ultimately makes me prefer that one a little bit more. I do still recommend this game to everyone who did not play it when it first came out as it is still a great game, but honestly, with this remaster, especially since this is to celebrate the 35th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, I expected better.

7.3/10

Elliot Chapman
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

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