Zelda: Skyward Sword HD – underrated or overrated? (pic: Nintendo)
A reader argues that Zelda: Skyward Sword is not a good game, even with the recent remaster, and that it’s added nothing of value to the franchise.
Nostalgia is one of the great evils of our age, suffocating the prospects of original properties and actively encouraging companies not to do anything new. Skyward Sword though seems to be suffering form what I can only describe as reverse nostalgia, where a game everyone rightly criticised for its flaws is now suddenly being ‘reassessed’ and all those complaints handwaved away so that critics can look superior for claiming that people just didn’t ‘get’ Skyward Sword the first time around.
I got Skyward Sword though. I paid good money for it back in 2011 and it sucked then just as much as it sucks now. I’ll freely admit I haven’t played the new remaster properly though. I knew my brother was getting it, so I waited till it arrived to finish this feature off, as the only thing of importance that’s changed in the remaster is the new non-motion controls. And they’re just as fiddly and awkward as I expected, so I feel fully justified in continuing – especially as the motion controls were nowhere near the biggest problem with the original.
When people complain about Skyward Sword they usually bring up things like Fi’s endless cut scenes or the pop-ups for when you catch a bug that keep telling you the same thing over and over again. They’re annoying, for sure, but a great game could’ve easily overcome that. I mean, the weapon degradation in Breath Of The Wild is almost as bad, but sensible people put up with it because the rest of the game is so good.
Those issues do speak to the game’s fundamental flaw though, which is that it is the slowest most plodding game experience I think I’ve ever endured. Everything happens at such a painfully slow pace you can only imagine the developers must’ve been struggling with narcolepsy when they designed it. The desert time travel puzzles are rightly regarded as the best part of the game but even they take an eternity to play out, as you struggle with fiddly controls, awkward level layouts, and enemies that seem to have been designed purely to get in the way rather than being any fun to fight.
The other big problem is the repetition, the constant endless repetition of everything. The Silent Realms and The Imprisoned are the obvious culprits, and they are awful, but everything seems to require you to do the same thing again and again for no good reason. Need to find a special object to continue? Actually you need to find three of them, or five, or more. It’s as if Nintendo thought they were getting paid by the hour or something, given how padded out and bloated everything is.
I do admire the motion controls in many ways. Nintendo went all in and I think they worked the best that current technology could allow, but that’s still not very good. Sword combat is fine but even just aiming in third person mode is awkward and flying, especially your bird, is just aggravatingly awful. It reminds me of a good touchscreen game, in that everything is made to work the best it can but you still know it’s a massive compromise because that’s the only way the tech works – and clearly everything would be better with proper controls.
As an extra bonus I’ll throw in that the new characters are completely unmemorable, Zelda is a non-entity (as usual), and there’s absolutely no new settings or concepts that any of the other games have used. Skyward Sword is an interesting technical experiment but ultimately it’s added nothing to the series and up till now has been rightly forgotten.
Even the creators realise it was terrible because the very next game they made, Breath Of The Wild, was completely different and abandoned almost everything that Skyward Sword did bar the stamina meter. There is no need to defend Skyward Sword because you’re a Nintendo fan, because even they recognise it’s bad. And there’s certainly no need to defend it because you want to be seen as some enlightened cognoscenti who’s trying to explain to people why they don’t understand anything.
Skyward Sword was rightly rejected when it was first released and while releasing a remaster is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, I can only hope that Nintendo don’t suddenly start using it as inspiration for anything. Skyward Sword has always been a failure and it deserves to be remembered that way.
By reader Tidrow
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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