Arts

Games: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD still offers plenty to love in new HD do-over for the Switch

Neil McGreevy

Princess Zelda finally got to star in her own game in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD (Switch)
By: Nintendo

MUCH like reusing last year's half-charred birthday candles, Nintendo is celebrating Zelda's 35th year with the same game they used to mark the adventure series' 25th anniversary back in 2011.

The last of the old-school Zeldas, 2011's Skyward Sword released in the Wii's twilight, making much of the console's waggling long after the motion control novelty had worn off. Yet despite wilting in the shadow of its successor, the mighty Breath of the Wild, Skyward Sword has plenty to love – especially in this bells and whistles do-over for the Switch.

After a quarter century focusing on an elfin boy named Link, Skyward Sword's water-coloured fairytale was the first game to focus on the series' titular Princess Zelda. Set in the floating utopia of Skyloft, when our abduction-prone princess is kidnapped, young Link travels to the terra firma land of Hyrule, haunted sword in hand, to rescue her.

The game still looks good in this portable conversion, running in HD at a flawless 60fps

A treasure trove of side quests, Skyward Sword's environment gradually revealed new secrets as you acquired the toys to explore it. Its motion controls put literal new twists on an old fairy tale. Many enemies became puzzles in themselves, requiring specific directional strikes to vanquish, while your weapon could be powered up by holding the controller aloft, a la He-Man.

Using the doodles of Paul Cezanne as inspiration, its impressionist visuals disguised the Wii's limitations – a canny artistic choice that means the game still looks good in this portable 'Loft conversion, running in HD at a flawless 60fps.

Other quality of life improvements include a fully controllable camera – oddly absent in the original – which makes exploration much more enjoyable. With auto-saves, there's no more trudging to back up your progress, while the whole shebang runs at a faster clip thanks to skippable cut-scenes and your talking sword, Fi, doing a lot less talking.

Of course, the biggest change is to the controls. Given the original was custom-made for the Wii's bespoke Motionplus controller, playing on-the-go now relegates all its motion nonsense to traditional button presses. It's a clumsy compromise, and purists after the Wii experience will find it much more intuitive to play on the telly, where the console's Joy Cons even manage to outdo the original in the accuracy stakes.

Unfortunately, Nintendo have locked Skyward Sword HD's most useful tweak behind a plastic paywall. By tapping Zelda Amiibos to the Switch, players can zip between the game's overworld and surface at will – a time-saving feature not available in the original.

It's peak Nintendo to charge £50 for an updated 10-year-old game then hide its biggest improvement behind a £25 toy.

Dodgy business practices aside, Skyward Sword's charms have lost none of their lustre. After the game-changing open-world bounty of Breath of The Wild, there's a whiff of the relic to Nintendo's latest – but as a nostalgic stop-gap until its sequel lands, you could do a lot worse than the Wii's final hurrah.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

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