If The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Comes to Switch, It Needs to Rethink a Key Feature

If The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Comes to Switch, It Needs to Rethink a Key Feature

Skyward Sword, baby, we all want to see you succeed on the Switch. You just need to re-invent yourself.

Link mapped the wilderness in 2017's The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the Nintendo Switch, and his journey was a big success. What's next for the young adventurer? According to rumors, Link might be returning to the skies with an HD revamp of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the Switch.

Nintendo hasn't dropped any official word about the 2011 Wii game coming to the Switch, but series producer Eiji Aonuma let slip a coy hint about its existence when he appeared during a recent performance of a Zelda music concert held in Osaka, Japan. Concert attendees made excited posts like this one on Weibo, a social media platform popular in China.

"I know what you are thinking, Skyward Sword for Switch, right?" Aonuma reportedly asked the audience, which (again, reportedly) cheered in response (thanks to Eurogamer for the translation).

The audience's applause echoed on social media when Aonuma's words drifted westward, which surprises me a little. Some of Skyward Sword's design decisions marred its initial reception, and those decisions still cast a shadow on its memory. Critics complain Skyward Sword's broken-up overworld feels claustrophobic (doubtless the launch of Skyrim a week prior made Zelda players feel even more boxed-in), and that's just one reason why Link's second Wii adventure didn't even crack the Top 10 of our Zelda game rankings.

I stood up for Skyward Sword in a retrospective I wrote a couple of years ago and cited all the things it does right. Its cast is a lot of fun ("Groose, Groose, Groose!"), its deity designs are incredibly imaginative, and its dungeons are fantastic. And, hey, you know something? I like how Link and Zelda are an item from minute one of the story. There's no "Will they" or "Won't they," and there's no suggestion they might be hot for one another: They simply are. They clearly care deeply for one another, but I guess since the task of re-populating Grooseland falls on their shoulders, we need to know they're up for it.

Though I'm willing to go to bat for Skyward Sword, I acknowledge Nintendo needs to make one small change and one big change to the game before it can expect people to mount their loftwings again. First, the small change: Give us the option to turn Fi's interruptions way down—or off. I think Fi's an interesting character, but her tendency to stop the game to recap "Well, duh" story moments continues to fuel an internet-wide hate-on for the sword spirit.

Second, and more important, motion controls need to be 100% optional in the (alleged) Skyward Sword HD remake. This is more difficult than installing a volume control in Fi, but it needs to be done.

To date, Skyward Sword's most controversial feature is its sword combat, which makes heavy use of the Wii's motion controls. We all dreamed of realistic sword combat when Nintendo unveiled the Wii Remote at TGS 2005, but few people felt charitable towards the glut of "waggle" games that flooded the market by 2011. Though Skyward Sword's one-to-one sword combat is indeed accurate thanks to the Wii Remote Plus attachment, not too many Zelda fans enjoy exercising their sword arm alongside Link.

That's understandable; Breath of the Wild's success is a good reminder of how most Zelda fans enjoy the series' chill atmosphere and puzzles first and foremost. I like some of the swordplay in Skyward Sword, but the days when I used to swing a stick while pretending to be Link (with a garbage can lid for a shield!) are long behind me. Count me amongst the Zelda fans who want to chill with Skyward Sword while moving as few body parts as necessary.

What's more, if Skyward Sword is indeed coming to Switch, you can bet your bottom Rupee that I'll be playing it in handheld mode far more than docked mode. "Switch handheld mode" and "Switch motion controls" aren't words that go together well: Even Super Mario Odyssey's miniscule use of motion controls proved a sticking point for people playing in handheld mode. If Nintendo forces Skyward Sword's mandatory Wii motion controls onto the Switch version of the game, even in small doses, it's not going to work out.

What comes of the puzzles and battles in Skyward Sword that depend on that one-to-one sword movement, though? Hard to say. Nintendo's a clever company; it'll work something out. Speaking for myself, I'm willing to simplify sword combat a shade if I gain the option to play in handheld mode. Maybe Nintendo will even produce two remastered versions of Skyward Sword that you choose from in the game's start menu: A version that faithfully replicates the Wii game in all its waggling glory, and a version that lets us play while we sit perfectly still, solemn as judges. Need evidence a "waggle" game converts nicely to traditional controls when necessary? Pokémon Let's Go for the Switch is built around the idea of throwing PokéBalls at wild Pokémon, but it doesn't suffer a bit if you catch Pokémon using traditional button-presses. In fact, it's a darn shame Pokémon Let's Go doesn't support the Pro Controller in docked mode.

Some of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's problems can't be fixed by bringing it into the HD era, e.g. the game's overworld will likely stay compact (though Nintendo might be able to alleviate the repetitious nature of some of the tasks Link performs on Hyrule's surface). Despite our complaints about everything Skyward Sword does wrong, Twitter seemingly hopes the game will get another chance on the Switch. By simply changing how Link swings his sword, Nintendo might get Zelda fans to think kindlier about the black Ordon sheep of the series.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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