More gamers than ever can now experience Zelda’s earliest chapter
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, coming to the Switch on July 16, is more than just a port with upgraded visuals and special features beyond its 2011 Wii incarnation – it’s a second chance and a new milestone for Nintendo accessibility.
The Wii game exclusively used motion controls to simulate sword combat and shield parrying, building on what Twilight Princess (another Wii release later remastered for Wii U) started.
Many gamers will discover and experience the game for the first time. For many of those players, it’s more than a matter of age or timing. The Wii version, with its unique controls, was problematic for some players with disabilities (while no doubt opening up new opportunities for other gamers limited by traditional game controllers. Bursitis, for just one example, made it literally a pain to swing the Wiimote in the way the game required. The Wii was a marvel of innovation, but not always the best example of Nintendo accessibility.
The HD re-release of Skyward Sword for the Switch retains the motion-control scheme via the Joy-Cons, but those who would be more comfortable using a traditional button system, or just those who prefer it or use the Switch Lite that has no detachable motion controllers, will find the game more accessible. The Switch has received accolades for its accessibility, and it’s nice to see that legacy built upon further here.
In addition, an interactive amiibo figurine of Zelda with a loftwing creature will add fast-travel between the sky and surface world to this version of the game, reducing repetitive tasks from the original release.
“Traditional” controllers aren’t always accessibility-friendly, but it’s clear this will open up Skyward Sword to a whole new subset of gamers who simply couldn’t play it before for a variety of reasons.
With Skyward Sword having the distinction of taking place at the very beginning of the Zelda legend’s sometimes twisted timeline, it’s great news that more people can now play it than ever.