When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
- “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD” remasters a Nintendo Wii classic for the Nintendo Switch.
- “Skyward Sword HD” improves the graphics, controls, and overall pacing of the original 2008 release.
- Despite its age, “Skyward Sword” can help keep Zelda fans entertained until “Breath of the Wild 2.”
“The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD” remasters an aging entry in the blockbuster franchise for a new generation of players on the Nintendo Switch. “Skyward Sword HD” launched on July 16; more than 12 years after its original release for the Nintendo Wii.
The Switch version of “Skyward Sword” is visually enhanced and features vital quality of life improvements. Loading times, menus, and mandatory conversations are quicker, speeding up the overall pace. As with all Nintendo Switch games, “Skyward Sword HD” is also optimized for portable play, and it no longer requires motion controls.
As a Wii exclusive, the original “Skyward Sword” made unique use of the console’s motion controls and required an additional device called the Wiimote Plus. These design choices polarized fans who preferred the series’ classic control scheme, but “Skyward Sword HD” gives players the option to choose between motion controls or a new button-only layout.
‘Skyward Sword’ is the beginning of the ‘Legend of Zelda’ storyline
“Skyward Sword” is the first game in “The Legend of Zelda” chronology, giving players background on key story elements that continue to recur throughout the franchise.
Players control Link, a knight in training on a floating island called Skyloft. There, Link and his friend Zelda discover they’ve been chosen to fulfill an ancient legend to save the world. Link journeys back and forth from Skyloft to the world below, exploring new areas of the surface and clearing dungeons to find key items for his quest.
‘Skyward Sword’ mixes classic Zelda dungeon crawling with features that inspired ‘Breath of the Wild’
Like other Zelda games, “Skyward Sword HD” offers a mix of adventure and puzzle solving with a gentle learning curve. “Skyward Sword” separates itself from other games in the series with its incorporation of motion controls, which are optional on the Nintendo Switch.
Players control the direction of Link’s sword slashes by swinging the right Joy-Con controller, or by using the right analog stick. Other weapons like the slingshot and bow can be aimed using motion controls too, and solving certain puzzles requires specific player movements.
Fans of “The Legend of Zelda” will recognize gameplay elements that inspired “Breath of the Wild,” the critically acclaimed title that launched alongside the Switch in 2017. “Skyward Sword” was the first “Zelda” game to feature a stamina meter and a crafting system for improving items. However, some of the mechanics used for platforming and motion controls in “Skyward Sword HD” still feel rough around the edges.
A new button-only option makes ‘Skyward Sword’ more accessible, but the motion controls are surprisingly accurate
Adding a button-only controller option to “Skyward Sword HD” makes it work on the portable Switch, but much of the game was designed with motion controls in mind. Puzzles and fights require precise movements, regardless of whether you’re using the controller’s analog stick or waving your arm with a Switch Joy-Con in hand.
Personally, I prefer using button-only controls due to my familiarity with past Zelda games, but I still find myself frustrated at times when trying to control the camera. The motion controls in “Skyward Sword HD” are surprisingly accurate but you’ll spend a lot of energy swinging and aiming during the more than 30 hours of gameplay.
“Skyward Sword HD” also gives players the option to mix button-only and motion controls, so you can aim or move the camera by pointing at the screen, but still use the right analog stick for controlling weapons and other actions.
The visuals of ‘Skyward Sword HD’ still look great thanks to unique art design
As the title implies, “Skyward Sword HD” improves the game’s visuals from 480p standard definition to a full 1080p high definition image. The frame rate has also been increased to 60 frames per second to offer smoother animations than the original release.
While some animations look a bit stiff 12 years later, the game’s art style and presentation still hold up well after all these years. Nintendo also improved the pace of “Skyward Sword” by adding an auto-save feature, automatically skipping over repetitive text, and making mandatory conversations quicker than before.
“Skyward Sword” doesn’t offer the full open-world exploration that made “Breath of the Wild” a modern masterpiece, but it does have one of the largest Zelda worlds to date. Te dungeon designs are also notably more complex than the shrine puzzles in “Breath of the Wild.”
‘Skyward Sword HD’ revives a great game for a new generation, but it’s not the best Zelda on Switch
“Skyward Sword HD” is an excellent update to a classic action-adventure game, though it shows its age at times. We recommend it for any Nintendo Switch owner, and it’s one of the best Switch exclusives of 2021.
Fans of “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” should feel right at home and players who skipped out on the mandatory motion controls of the original “Skyward Sword” will be able to experience the game without issue.
However, the controls can still be a bit cumbersome, so newcomers to the “Zelda” franchise might want to try “Breath of the Wild” or “The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening,” a redesigned version of a series classic on the Switch.
You can find ‘Skyward Sword’ in stores now, along with these other Zelda collectibles from Nintendo
“The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD” is available now for the Nintendo Switch. The games carries a list price of $60, but we’ve already seen some physical copies go on sale for $10 off. A digital version is also available to download directly onto your Switch from Nintendo’s eshop.
For more gaming coverage, be sure to check out all of our Nintendo Switch guides, roundups, comparisons, and explainers below:
- Switch OLED vs. standard Switch vs. Switch Lite
- Who should buy the Switch OLED?
- The best gaming consoles
- The best Nintendo Switch accessories
- The best Nintendo Switch games
- The best Nintendo Switch controllers
- The best Nintendo Switch deals