Few series capture the imagination of the gaming world quite like The Legend of Zelda. This venerated series is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, and what sort of celebration would it be without a Zelda game to play?
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword originally released on the Nintendo Wii in 2011. Now, a new generation of players will be able to experience the game that comes first in the Zelda timeline, with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD. The game arrives in just a few days, and we’ve combed the internet for all the information you need about this HD remaster of a Zelda classic.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD arrives on July 16.
This date was revealed during June’s E3 Nintendo Direct by series director Eiji Aonuma. This comes after months of speculation following the initial reveal of the game in February. The game itself has been rumored for many years. It arrived at an odd time in the Nintendo Wii’s lifecycle, just a year before the arrival of the Wii U. Many gamers missed Skyward Sword the first time. Both The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess received HD remasters, so Skyward Sword seemed like the logical next step.
Skyward Sword HD is coming exclusively to the Nintendo Switch. No surprise there — this is Nintendo, after all. What is not clear is when we might see the much-rumored Switch Pro Console and whether Skyward Sword HD will be able to run on that hardware.
Nintendo has released several trailers for Skyward Sword HD. The game was first announced in a Nintendo Direct in February, showcasing enhanced resolution and updated controls. This trailer gave viewers a first look at the remastered graphics and information about how the controls work on the Nintendo Switch.
The brand new Zelda and Loftwing amiibo debuted in a trailer showcasing some unique functionality. This amiibo allows the player to instantly teleport from the world below to the sky above and back, alleviating some of the backtracking from the original release on the Nintendo Wii U.
Quality of life improvements were highlighted in the newest trailer. Most of the changes are minor adjustments to how the player interacts with objects and Fi (who acts as Link’s guide on this journey) to create a smoother user experience.
As this is an HD remaster, we know what to expect. Skyward Sword was the last console entry to fully embrace the classic Zelda gameplay. Link will split his time between the sky — flying through the air on his Loftwing — and the ground below. The classic monsters of Hyrule stand in opposition as Link defeats enemies and solves puzzles across a widely varied landscape.
This game takes place at the beginning of the Legend of Zelda timeline, in a time before Ganon and before the Master Sword itself. Link and Zelda are students at Knight Academy in the floating town of Skyloft. Events that were set in motion long before, in the age of the Goddesses, result in Zelda being abducted, and Link is the only one who can find her.
Link will have the aid of classic tools, from his sword and shield to his trusty Hookshot and more. Players will take on numerous dungeons, with interesting bosses at the end, each with their own unique mechanics.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD is a remaster, not a remake. Still, there are many notable improvements from the original release.
The most obvious improvements, of course, are the visuals. Skyward Sword was originally made for the Nintendo Wii, which even at the time was not known for great graphics. The upgraded 1080p graphics are crisp, running at a clean 60 frames per second.
Skyward Sword was built with motion controls in mind, but Nintendo has given players an optional buttons-only control scheme. This eschews the waggling of the past and instead maps the sword swings to the right thumbstick. This gives players the ability to continue slashing at enemies at advantageous angles without having to look like they are fighting off swarms of bees.
The user interface has been adjusted as well. Cutscenes can now be skipped, and dialogue can be sped up. Item information has been streamlined, saving players from having to see text pop up repeatedly when picking up the same item. Fi can now be called upon for helpful hints and advice, adding even more functionality to your companion.
Preorders for Skyward Sword HD are live. The game has both physical and digital copy options. There are no special editions. There are, however, some special edition accessories in the form of the aforementioned Zelda and Loftwing amiibo, as well as a collector’s Joy-Con set.