I'm not going to lie; I was more than a little excited about Skyward Sword HD. Though not my favorite in the Legend of Zelda series, the updates to this 10-year-old game were exactly what players needed, especially since it shook off some of the more annoying bits (i.e., motion controls) so players could really enjoy it for what it was. It also reintroduced more classic Zelda elements that hadn't been seen since Breath of the Wild changed up the formula. Revisiting this game not only made me long for Zelda games of the past, but it also got me thinking about the future.
In retrospect, Nintendo's decision to re-release Skyward Sword was a good choice because it did bring us back to classic Zelda, but there might also be a connection to Breath of the Wild 2 that would make it a perfect entry to play ahead of the next title. We could very well see the best entry in the Legend of Zelda series since Ocarina of Time. So, let's take the skies and dive straight into why the future looks bright for the next entry in the Legend of Zelda canon.
Working out the kinks for a better game
Skyward Sword isn't the most well-loved game in the series, but Breath of the Wild would've looked much different without it. Skyward Sword has many details currently used in Breath of the Wild that were never before used in a Zelda game. Weapon durability and a stamina wheel are two stand-out mechanics that made their way into Breath of the Wild, changing the series as we know it.
Skyward Sword tried out a bunch of other mechanics, from motion controls to combat strategies, and what we got was a sequel that blew everyone's doors in, so to speak, with Breath of the Wild. Like most experiments, not everything worked. For one, the motion controls were frustrating and put a damper on playing. There was also a lot of repetition, returning to the same few areas, fighting the same bosses, and similar story beats. Of course, the sky was a huge, unexplored area, but while there was a lot of "ground" to cover, it still felt incredibly empty.
Breath of the Wild, meanwhile, polished the art design, established new mechanics, and threw out many traditional aspects of the series to create something original. And Zelda fans rejoiced.
Still some work to do
However, even if Breath of the Wild is one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch, it is not without its flaws; otherwise, I wouldn't be writing this. While it did shake up how we looked at Zelda games, it left a little to be desired. Breath of the Wild is thought to be "too" open or empty, and it lacks a few series staples like in-depth dungeons, strong story beats, strong characterization for Link, and direction. Plus, the weapon breaking system can use some balancing.
That's not necessarily saying that Skyward Sword is better than Breath of the Wild. Both games offer something very different, but they can easily learn from one another. And there's a reason why Skyward Sword made plenty of players nostalgic for the classics. There's something about the excitement of finding new items and exploring intricate and elaborate dungeons that stirs up a desire for the "old" Zelda. Plus, the narrative is a little stronger; Link is less of a mute avatar and more of an active participant with facial expressions and several dialogue options to give him way more personality.
With fun side quests, NPCs with personality (though those Champions are pretty great), the ability to upgrade and fix your equipment, and a good balance of light-hearted fare mixed with darker story beats, Skyward Sword HD definitely scratched an itch that Breath of the Wild couldn't.
The best is yet to come
After playing both Skyward Sword HD and Breath of the Wild simultaneously, I am confident that Breath of the Wild 2 will be something special, perhaps the Zelda game all fans have been waiting for. Why? Well, let's just look at the history here, particularly another dark horse in the Zelda franchise — no, I'm not looking at you, DSi games.
Zelda II: The Adventures of Link was a huge left turn away from the base set by the original Legend of Zelda. People either love or hate this game. It was a side-scroller with unpredictable difficulty spikes, RPG elements, and random battles on an overworld map. The game was the furthest thing from a Zelda title, but then again, there was only one other game in the series to compare it to.
However, Nintendo's next Zelda project that launched on the SNES was Link to the Past — one of the best games in the series. It built upon the original and took elements from experiments in Zelda II, like magic spells, to make Link to the Past an outstanding game.
That's not all, though. The next main series game that launched was Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Ocarina encompassed all the positive aspects of all the previous titles, and it pretty much set the bar for not only Zelda games but action-adventure games overall. After Ocarina's release, the main titles in the series played with art direction and some mechanics, but they were pretty much in the vein.
However, the makers of Skyward Sword began to tinker again. While it had elements of previous Zelda games, it introduced systems that were never a part of the series before. Six years later, fans were given the biggest shake-up to the series yet in Breath of the Wild.
With the combined efforts of Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild, maybe Nintendo can take the best parts of these games to capture the hearts of players once again. If history repeats itself, and it often does, we could be looking at another amazing game if Breath of the Wild 2 can truly mesh the two worlds together. We could unite the fan base by adding classic elements, polishing some details, and balancing with what made BoTW so great.
The legend lives on
If there's one thing we can be sure of, it's that the Legend of Zelda series is always reinventing itself. Whether by trying new mechanics, exploring different worlds, or by revitalizing an old favorite, we can always look forward to what the next entry will have in store. However, as history has shown us, it's possible that we could have a game-changer in Breath of the Wild 2. And I am very excited to see what's to come.
To the skies!
Going back to the classics
Skyward Sword HD might've seemed like a weird choice for a Zelda remaster on the Switch at first, but the game allows players to return to a more classic Zelda — and might be getting us ready for Breath of the Wild 2!
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Sara is the Freelance Coordinator, writer, and editor at iMore. When not editing or writing away, she's glued to her Nintendo Switch, Xbox, or PS5, though she's a retro gamer at heart.