The Legend of Zelda has a storied history of fantastic games, yet among these masterful titles, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is often overlooked. Many gamers were turned off by its heavy reliance on motion controls, despite how well-received it was by critics. And unlike siblings The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword has never received an HD remaster. The only way to play it is still its original SD release on Wii or Wii U via backward compatibility. Presuming that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel is still far away, now might be a great time for hungry Zelda fans to try out the dark horse of the series.
A forgotten gem…
Released approaching the end of the Wii life cycle, Skyward Sword arrived at a time when Nintendo gamers were experiencing motion control fatigue. It’s a shame though because the motion controls really do set Skyward Sword apart from other Zelda games. Almost every ability or weapon has an element of motion control to it, from pulling back arrows to tilting the Wiimote to fly your Loftwing, and of course including the Master Sword itself. This greater degree of control over items in turn demands that players act with greater precision when defending or striking enemy weaknesses.
Fans also had issues with how linear Skyward Sword was. However, this led to arguably one of the best stories in the series. The origin of the Master Sword is a personal story for Link and Zelda that provides some great character moments (especially for Groose).
Switch it up…
Visually, Nintendo instilled Skyward Sword with a rich color palette that made its world and characters pop. We have already seen this art style evolve into gorgeous HD with Breath of the Wild. Going back to play Skyward Sword now on Wii may be difficult for players used to HD graphics, so a Switch port would obviously remedy this.
Aside from graphical improvements on Switch, other features could be improved. For instance, even though it would be quite difficult to implement, standard controls could be offered in order to open up the game to new players, especially players with disabilities. Nintendo has shown that its games can deftly implement both traditional and motion controls on the Switch, such as with gyro aiming in Splatoon 2. HD rumble in the Joy-Con could even be used in specific puzzles and sidequests.
On top of taking advantage of the Switch’s features, there are also some quality-of-life improvements that could be made. Skyward Sword is a lengthy game, and much of that is due to prolonged tutorials, dialogue, and backtracking in the latter half of the game. Options to skip cutscenes and tutorials or fast-forward dialogue would greatly improve the game’s pacing. The addition of a fast-travel system would eliminate the tedious time spent backtracking as well.
Skyward Sword could also learn from the exploration of Breath of the Wild by introducing more content in its underused sky area, such as challenges, better secrets, or mini-games.
A drought of Zelda…
In the past, releases of Zelda games were a little more frequent due to Nintendo’s strategy of supporting both home console sand handhelds, allowing for AAA console releases and cheaper yet still high-quality handheld releases. Now that Nintendo is exclusively focused on Switch, which is both console and handheld, that cadence of releases has changed.
Now would be ideal to release an HD remaster of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword because it could provide a AAA-level Zelda experience at a more affordable development cost, and it would also appease 3D Zelda fans who weren’t fully sated by the (stellar) Link’s Awakening remake. And with the suggested quality-of-life improvements, Skyward Sword could even entice players who weren’t interested the first time around.