The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is frequently derided as one of the worst entries in the franchise. Mandatory motion controls, repetitive sections, and an obnoxious AI companion are frequent complaints, though many have reasons for loving the game too. Skyward Sword has some legitimately interesting aspects, including its unique game world, but the way it’s navigated leaves a lot to be desired.
Chronologically, Skyward Sword is the earliest game on the nearly nonsensical Zelda timeline, telling the story of the Master Sword’s creation and taking place in a chaotic period of Hyrule’s history: In a time when King Demise’s monsters hold dominion over the surface world, the Hylians have built a civilization called Skyloft among the clouds. To navigate its airborne islands, people ride large birds called Loftwings. Flying through these skies is sufficiently entertaining, but the flight mechanics are restricted to the game’s (literal) overworld and can’t be used when Link is on the surface.
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Though the explorable area in the sky is rather large, it’s unfortunate that Skyward Sword‘s most unique mechanic is limited to a single area. When down on the ground, players have to find a save point in order to return to the air – a mechanic that will be made obsolete by a Zelda and Loftwing amiibo when The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD comes to Nintendo Switch. While it wouldn’t fit with the game’s current structure, Skyward Sword could have been greatly improved by letting players seamlessly fly between the surface and the floating islands.
Skyward Sword HD Misses An Opportunity For A Flyable Open World
The Legend of Zelda didn’t get a truly open world until Breath of the Wild, and the Wii’s hardware probably wouldn’t have been able to accommodate such a robust feature at the time, but it’s still fun to imagine. Rather than diving through the clouds at specific locations to enter instanced areas, breaking through the cloud cover into a fully explorable Hyrule would have been exhilarating. Skyward Sword already does a good job of setting up Hyrule as a mystical, unknown place below Skyloft, but seeing it unfold in front of Link’s eyes for the first time would have been all the more special with complete control of his flightpath.
Especially now that the amiibo will let players take flight from anywhere, the game’s Loftwing limitations feel especially artificial. Skyward Sword HD‘s enhanced remastering will likely be nice enough, especially since motion controls are no longer mandatory. But the open-world direction of Breath of the Wild sparks tantalizing ideas about what previous games like The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword might become if fully reimagined to take advantage of newer hardware.
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