While The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword received almost universal acclaim when it was first reviewed in 2011, most people now know the game better as arguably the most divisive entry in the Zelda franchise.
That’s what makes the release of Skyward Sword HD for Nintendo Switch so fascinating. Nintendo hopes that they can use quality-of-life improvements to fix most of the mechanical complaints people had about the original version of Skyward Sword and give fans a reason to reevaluate a game that some say deserved so much more the first time around.
Did they succeed? Well, we of course know that the final word on Skyward Sword will still be written by the fans, but here’s what some critics are saying about this long-awaited remaster and one of the Nintendo Switch’s biggest games of 2021:
Dave Aubrey, The Gamer:
“The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD really does revitalise this maligned Nintendo classic. Motion controls proved controversial at launch, but with two robust control schemes included here, and the extra fluidity of the visuals, this should finally please almost everybody. The linear structure of the game and relative empty space of the sky will still frustrate some, but the core sword-fighting gameplay and straightforward Zelda structure is better here than it is in many other games. If you want a traditional 3D Zelda experience, then Skyward Sword HD is an easy choice.”
Chris Scullion, VGC:
“While even an excellent remaster such as this can’t make Skyward Sword a perfect Zelda game, this is such a drastically improved version of one of the most overlooked entries in the series, and Switch owners simply mustn’t overlook it a second time around.”
Josh West, GamesRadar:
“Skyward Sword HD gives one of the most misunderstood Legend of Zelda games a second chance. It’s an under-appreciated gem, one that finds the space to really breathe with a more reliable and relaxing method of control embedded within it. Skyward Sword has its fair share of problems, but it makes up for many of them in moments of true brilliance and defiance against established series conventions. Say what you will about Skyward Sword, but it’s good to be out on an authored adventure with Link again – saving Hyrule one inventive dungeon and challenging boss battle at a time.”
Jordan Minor, PCMag:
“The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD doesn’t fix all of the original game’s faults, since some are just baked into the fundamental design. Still, it fixes many of them, and adds a fresh HD coat of paint. This remaster reminded me of all the things I enjoyed in the original title, before the game’s legacy became consumed by fan disappointment. Breath of the Wild is an exponentially better video game than Skyward Sword in just about every way, but if you’ve already sunk hundreds of hours into that game and need something to do until the sequel drops, Skyward Sword HD is an entertaining enough link to Zelda’s past.”
Ben Reeves, Game Informer:
“In some ways, Skyward Sword was the end of an era. It follows the pattern Nintendo established back in 1998 with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and it was the last game in the series before Nintendo reconceived the series with Breath of the Wild. In some ways, Skyward Sword perfects Ocarina‘s template, but that formula also feels well-worn and stuffed with unnecessary junk. Despite all the ways Nintendo updated this package, Skyward Sword remains far from my favorite entry in the series, but this is clearly the best way to play this blemished gem.”
Kevin Knezevic, GameSpot:
“Despite these flaws, Skyward Sword is also filled with many genuinely magical moments. The soundtrack, notable for being Zelda‘s first fully orchestrated score, is still delightful, and the story is one of the most touching tales the series has ever woven, shedding light on the origins of Hyrule and other elements that have become hallmarks of the franchise. The game’s dungeons are a highlight, as well, filled with clever puzzles that test your observation and lateral thinking. After Breath of the Wild excised classic-style dungeons, Skyward Sword‘s feel especially fresh and satisfying to explore, and the boss battles that await within are among the most fun encounters in the series.
These elements outweigh the game’s flaws and make it a worthwhile adventure. The various quality-of-life tweaks that Nintendo has implemented here, welcome as they are, don’t fix Skyward Sword‘s biggest issues, and it remains the most uneven 3D entry in the Zelda series. Even so, the improvements in this Switch remaster make the overall experience more enjoyable, and the characteristic Zelda magic ultimately outshines the game’s faults.”