‘Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword’ review: Gaming best experienced with Motion Controls

A decade after its initial launch, Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, fixes all of the problems that plagued the 2011 original to bring you a very loveable Zelda game

Revolutionary for its time, the Nintendo Wii brought along fun Motion Controls (where players interact with the system through body movements) to replace controllers, the Wii setup the foundation Nintendo Switch was built upon. At that time, the prospect of a fully Motion-controlled Legend of Zelda game was an intriguing proposition. When Skyward Sword — the 16th mainline entry in The Legend of Zelda series — landed in November 2011, it was one of the most divisive games in history. Nintendo listened and, now, 10 years later, came out with a new version of the game, on the Switch.

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In 2011, Nintendo announced a new Zelda timeline and placed Skyward Sword square at the start of the storyline. This origin story has a lot riding on its shoulders and the game does not shy away from creating a rich mythology and the birth of the Hero of Time. In many ways it succeeds, creating not only that but also a delightful story with one of the best art styles in the series so far.

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD

  • Developer & Publisher: Nintendo
  • Price: approx. ₹3,999 (US$59) on all Nintendo Switch.

Skyward Sword takes place in a beautiful refuge far above ground known as Skyloft. The surface below the clouds is believed to be a charred mess after an ancient battle between a goddess and the forces of evil. Fast forward a thousandyears later, you play a young swordsman named Link, whose childhood friend, Zelda, is whisked away to the world below by mysterious forces. It is up to Link and his friends to save Zelda.

Before we go further into this review, if you are expecting something akin to The Breath of the Wild, then we will have to disappoint you — it is not. You can see some of the ideas take shape in Skyward Sword though, in the ever-depleting stamina meter and in some of the combat. Skyward Sword is an amalgam of ideas thrown into one big melting pot and never quite getting as coherent as The Breath of the Wild in its gameplay structure.

Improved play time?

The quests, frankly, feel old school, with mindless ‘fetch quests’ and puzzles that rely more on the slog to keep things going. This all feels like layers of padding glue that holds the story together. The dungeon crawls — which are some of the best parts of Zelda — are decent but they often culminate in frustratingly boring bosses. Despite an eye-catching world design, it does feel a bit empty — a complaint with the original too.

Thankfully, your humanoid assistant Fi, is significantly less annoying this time. If The Breath of the Wild is firmly etched into your memory, then Skyward Sword will just have you going through the motions to get to the origins of the Zelda franchise.

Screenshot from ‘The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword’ 2021 remaster video game
| Photo Credit: Nintendo

Speaking of motion, one of the biggest divisive features of the original was Motion Controls. For example, swinging the sword with the Wiimote was, quite literally, a hit or miss. Motion Controls have been smoothed out with the Switch Joycons, and it is a fantastic way to play the game. There is a controller mode, too, but this game was built with motion in the mind.

Inspired by Impressionist painters, Skyward Sword’s watercolour art style is gorgeous, as reflected in the aforementioned world design, with striking character designs, especially that of Zelda, that seem to be teeming with life.

The rebirth of Skyward Sword experience is a lot better in HD. While Nintendo has put a lot into the remaster, for a game that marks the origin of its flagship series, it would have been amazing to see a remake, the same route Final Fantasy VIII took. But Skyward Sword is a perfect game for any Zelda fans who want to experience a piece of the franchise’s history.

The writer is a tech and gaming enthusiast who hopes to one day finish his sci-fi novel

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