The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword is perhaps one of the most divisive main titles in the entire Legend of Zelda series. But with a new HD re-release and elements seen in today’s Breath of the Wild 2 trailer, Nintendo seems to want to rehab Skyward Sword’s reputation.
When I first saw the BotW 2 trailer, with Link free falling through the sky, my first thought was, “This is Skyward Sword.” I want to believe it’s an attempt by Nintendo to better execute the vision they had for Skyward Sword in Breath of the Wild 2.
Eiji Aonuma, Breath of the Wild’s producer, frequently said in interviews that Nintendo’s goal with BotW was to improve where Skyward Sword failed. With Breath of the Wild’s success as one of the most celebrated video games of the last decade, perhaps in BotW 2, Nintendo wants to revisit and further improve on Skyward Sword’s formula.
Released on the Wii in 2011, Skyward Sword was an ambitious game, seeking to utilise the novelty of the Wii’s motion controls to its full potential. But when it was released, fans were disappointed by clunky, inaccurate controls, and a linear story that didn’t allow for much exploration. The result was Skyward Sword placing very near the bottom in rankings of the series, as the games before and directly following (Twilight Princess and Breath of the Wild respectively) received near universal acclaim.
The first scenes of the BotW 2 trailer feature Link soaring through the air. The imagery harkens to Skyward Sword in which Link is nearly always flying — either freefalling to the ground or surfing the skies on his Loftwing. The trailer also shows brief glimpses of a world of floating islands nestled in clouds, reminiscent of Skyloft, the main hub in Skyward Sword. While we didn’t see any Loftwings, harps, or sentient sword friends, there still seems to be a lot of Skyward Sword DNA in BotW 2.
The preponderance of Skyward Sword references could also be Nintendo attempting to better fit Breath of the Wild into the Legend of Zelda timeline. Currently, BotW’s developers have said the game takes place after all the previous titles. However, they did not specify where exactly BotW falls in the three divergent timelines (Zelda lore is complicated ok). With all that Skyward Sword flavour, maybe Nintendo is more strongly confirming where BotW slots into Zelda’s timeline. It could even be a retcon, instead taking place sometime immediately before or after Skyward Sword itself.
Finally, in addition to Nintendo getting Skyward Sword chocolate in my Breath of the Wild peanut butter, there’s also the fact Nintendo’s re-releasing Skyward Sword itself. The HD remaster fixes a number of the original game’s issues. Players can now choose to play Skyward Sword without motion controls. And those who choose to keep them, can enjoy the improvements Nintendo’s made to the Joy-Cons. And while some fans are annoyed that fast travel is locked to the additional purchase of a special edition Amiibo, hopefully there are other quality of life improvements (like streamlining the tutorial experience) that will better endear fans to the original.
Frustrating controls aside, Skyward Sword is a great game. Its reputation as one of the worst Zelda’s is wholly undeserved. Ghirahim is an interesting enemy, there’s fabulous character progression in Groose, Skyward Sword’s bully-turned-indispensable-ally, and despite popular sentiment that Fi is annoying, I love her. I know BotW 2 probably won’t expressly relitigate Skyward Sword’s place in the Zelda series, but I hope that with all its flavour in BotW 2 and the imminent HD re-release, people will finally think more kindly of it.