Since it was first released in 2011, “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword” has been seen as the black sheep of 3D Zelda games.
Although it sold out and was well reviewed among critics, fans thought it was a weak entry due to its constant tutorials, awkward controls, and poor pacing. Ten years later, Nintendo has attempted to correct this wrong move with the HD rerelease.
The most obvious difference from the original, other than the updated visuals, is the reduced frequency of tutorials. In new releases, the gameplay is not interrupted which often happens during the opening hours. This improves on the speed for the initial few hours, but it can still feel slow compared to other “Zelda” titles.
The story isn’t usually the highlight of “Zelda” games. There are usually many similarities between the titles such as collecting the triforce, being the hero of the legend.
In “Skyward Sword,” Link and Zelda live in a village among clouds and are wrapped in an ancient prophecy that speaks of ruin and evil. What makes it interesting is that it is the first story in the “Zelda” chronology and sets the stage for all future games and how Link gets reincarnated over and over again. The writing has its own charm and the game has good world building that lives up to the standards of the series.
Combat was another factoring factor in the original game. Nintendo had the idea of the Wii’s motion sensor to better simulate the act of swinging a sword with greater accuracy. This caused people to make mistakes with their swings and get annoyed with a combat system that felt too gimmicky.
In this new version the player can use his sword with the right thumb with greater precision when playing on a standard controller. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than just having the option of motion controls that can still be used.
Even though the game was originally panned for its gameplay, it still had some solid dungeon designs. After playing “Breathe of the Wild” for so long it was nice to go through some traditional dungeons, where you find a unique item that helps you navigate it before fighting a big boss. The game does a good job of incorporating its new mechanics into exploration and combat. For example, using a remote control drone that you do to quickly grab objects that are out of reach and break the cobwebs. Items can also be upgraded with special content.
While Nintendo has done a good job of updating a divisive game, “Skyward Sword” still has some strange elements. The controls still feel awkward and take some getting used to and the art style isn’t fan-favorite either. It was interesting to see so many gameplay elements that would be refined in the excellent “Breathe of the Wild”.
If you’re the hardcore “Zelda” fan, but you haven’t played this entry, I’d say this is the best way to do it. For fans who’ve already played it, I’d say there aren’t enough changes to warrant another run-through. All of this leaves the game with four out of five stars.