The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD for Nintendo Switch — Ultimate guide

Zelda Skyward Sword Hd Link And Ghirahim
Zelda Skyward Sword Hd Link And Ghirahim (Image credit: Nintendo (screenshot))

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword originally released on the Wii in 2011 but now it has joined the best Nintendo Switch games. Skyward Sword is perhaps best known for it's motion control fighting and its quirky cast of characters, including the fabulously creepy Ghirahim that took the internet by storm back in the day. Thankfully, the HD Nintendo Switch version lets you choose whether you play by swinging your Joy-Cons around or by simply using button controls.

Excited to learn more? Here's everything you need to know about Skyward Sword HD.

Skyward Sword HD Plot

Skyward Sword Hd Skyloft (Image credit: Nintendo)

Skyward Sword takes place at the very beginning of the Zelda timeline. Link and Zelda are friends who live on the floating island of Skyloft and attend the Knight Academy. However, below on the world's surface, Lord Ghirahim seeks to reawaken an ancient evil by breaking the goddess Hylia's seal. In order to do that, he's out to kidnap Zelda. It's up to Link to rescue his friend and prevent the world from destruction.

Link must dive into dungeons, solve puzzles, and defeat bosses on his journey. Fortunately, there are plenty of secrets and items that will help make his adventure easier, like Heart Pieces that add to his health and Gratitude Crystals that allow him to upgrade his wallet. Exploring the world is part of the fun.

Skyward Sword HD Button controls vs motion controls

Skyward Sword Hd Motion Controls (Image credit: Nintendo (screenshot))

In the original Wii version of Skyward Sword, players had to swing their Wiimotes around in order to make Link attack. Thing is, in the Wii version, the controls were often messy and hard to control. I don't know how may times my Wiimote disconnected or had to be reset while in the middle of a battle. Very frustrating indeed.

Thankfully, these motion controls are smoother and more intuitive on the Switch thanks to the newer console's capabilities. Players hold independent Joy-Cons in either hand. Swinging the right Joy-Con swing's Link's Sword, while using the left Joy-Con allows him to block with a shield. This game focuses on specific slashing angles and requires you to attack certain enemies with specific slashing motions. If players don't want to use motion controls, button controls have also been added.

Button Controls

Skyward Sword Hd Button Only Controls (Image credit: Nintendo (screenshot))

I know that motion controls are the bane of many gamers' existance. Which is why you'll be happy to know that Skyward Sword HD also includes the option of playing with button-only controls. That's right — you don't have to use motion controls if you don't want to.

So how does this work, anyways? Tilting the right joystick will determine what angle Link swings his sword.

Can you play Skyward Sword HD on Nintendo Switch Lite?

Skyward Sword Hd On Switch Lite (Image credit: Nintendo (screenshot))

Yes, as I mentioned previously, Skyward Sword HD includes button-only controls which allows Switch Lite owners to play without the need for motion controls or external Joy-Cons. If Switch Lite owners want to experience motion controls, they need to use an external pair of Joy-Cons.

Skyward Sword HD Characters

Skyward Sword Hd Link And Zelda Romantic (Image credit: Nintendo)

There are several colorful characters in Skyward Sword HD. Going through all of them would be a humungous task, but here are the main characters that you should know about.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
NameDescriptionHeader Cell - Column 2
Row 0 - Cell 0 Link: He is a student at the Knight Academy on the floating island of Skyloft and (as usual) is tasked with saving the world from destruction.Row 0 - Cell 2
Row 1 - Cell 0 Zelda: The daughter of the Knight Academy's headmaster and Link's best friend.Row 1 - Cell 2
Row 2 - Cell 0 Fi: An intelligent spirit created by the Goddess to reside in a Sword.Row 2 - Cell 2
Row 3 - Cell 0 Crimson Loftwing: A rare-colored bird who serves as your Epona of the skies.Row 3 - Cell 2
Row 4 - Cell 0 Groose: A bully at the Knight Academy who serves as Link's rival and has a crush on Zelda.Row 4 - Cell 2
Row 5 - Cell 0 Old woman: The wise woman who serves as a guardian for the goddess Hylia.Row 5 - Cell 2
Row 6 - Cell 0 Ghirahim: A dangerous and yet oh-so-fabulous villain who seeks to capture Zelda and use her to revive his evil master, Demise.Row 6 - Cell 2

Skyward Sword HD Changes from the Wii version

Skyward Sword Hd Fi Sword Pulsing (Image credit: iMore)

Nintendo has made several quality-of-life updates to the HD version so as to bring it into modern gaming practices. Here are all of the Skyward Sword HD changes.

  • Autosaving: The game saves your progress at "regular intervals". Interacting with the Bird Statue save spots lets you choose to save between three available save slots.
  • Button controls: As mentioned before, players can choose to use motion controls or button controls to make Link fight.
  • Fast Forward dialogue: Instead of being forced to sit through instructions, players can skip through character dialogue if they don't want to read it all.
  • Skippable cutscenes: If you've already seen a cutscene or don't care for cutscenes, you can now skip through them.
  • Enhanced Frame Rate: The game runs smoother to keep up with modern gameplay.
  • Item notifictions: You'll now only see detailed information for an item the first time you pick that item up, rather than every time you pick them up. Thank goodness!
  • Fi's optional tips: A symbol appears in the bottom left corner of the screen and the sword hilt pulses to let you know that Fi has something to say. Unlike the Wii version, her comments are now optional rather than mandatory.
  • amiibo scanning: The game let's you scan an amiibo to unlock a special perk (more on that below).

Skyward Sword HD amiibo

Skyward Sword Hd Zelda And Loftwing Amiibo (Image credit: iMore)

The amazing amiibo collectibles hadn't been created yet when Skyward Sword originally released on Wii. However, several Zelda amiibo, including a specific Skyward Sword Link amiibo, have released since then.

Additionally, a new Zelda & Loftwing amiibo has been created specifically for Skyward Sword HD on Nintendo Switch. By scanning this figure, players can fast travel from the ground to the sky. Scanning the amiibo again after that brings Link back to the ground where he last was. There is some controversy over this amiibo's ability, though, as many people think it locks a quality-of-life improvement behind a paywall. This controversy increases when you realize that the Link Skyward Sword amiibo that released a few years ago cannot be scanned in-game.

Still, it has already proven to be a very popular collectible selling out within minutes of being available online. If you want to get your hands on the Zelda & Loftwing amiibo, check out amiibo restocks.

Zelda Joy-Cons Skyward Sword Edition Joy-Cons

Hyrule Zelda Joy-Con (Image credit: Nintendo)

In addition to the game launching, players can also purchase Zelda-themed Joy-Cons. They've proven very popular and sell out within minutes of becoming available at online stores. As such, if you want to get them, you'll need to check controller restocks and snag them quickly if they're available.

Skyward Sword HD release date

Skyward Sword HD released exclusively on Nintendo Switch on July 16, 2021. You can claim your copy now.

Skyward Sword HD

I personally have loved playing Skyward Sword HD on Nintendo Switch. It's a colorful adventure filled with several quirky characters and unique controls. The upgraded controls feel so much better than the original version and have made the game so enjoyable to play.

Are you playing this game? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.