February 29, 2020
Since the Nintendo Switch was announced back in 2016, Zelda fans have clamored for a remake of the Wii original, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, to be remade in HD for the system. Recently I have heard discussions pop up again about how a remake would work, and what should be changed to make it more appealing to the naysayers of this divisive title. Should they retool or remove the motion controls? Should they add more to the sky? I have ideas for what could make not just a better remake, but also possible choices for what the game should have done in the first place. Let me share my thoughts of what would make for the best game it could possibly be, and appeal to the Zelda lovers who can’t see the bright side of Skyward Sword.
I know for a fact that right now, if you played Skyward Sword, you just thought about the batteries in your Wii Remote. This iconic groaner may have even popped up in the back of your mind if you haven’t played the game. This is just one drop out of an endless sea.
Fi is a spirit who lives within the Master Sword. She was created by the Goddess as a guide for the Hero, Link. The only thing she exists to do is give advice. That’s all well and good, but instead of coming across as useful, like Navi, Fi felt like a cold, emotionless machine that had a hard-on for pointing out the obvious.
When I bring this up in conversation, people often navigate to how she was no worse than Navi or Midna, but I disagree. Navi’s audio cue could be a little grating, but the knowledge of monsters she provided was infinitely more useful than Fi telling us the odds of Zelda having gone through the only possible exit to the room you’re in. Midna felt like a real character who developed through the game, and the tragedy of her origin made a compelling narrative.
Fi talks and acts like a robot. This could be okay, right? Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation had tons of gripping scenes dealing with whether or not he was real. Bender from Futurama was one of the most hilarious characters in animated comedy history. Robots are cool, right? The difference is that Bender and Data have characterization beyond just being a robot. Fi has the robot quality, and nothing to back it up. She’s not funny, she has no additional personality quirks, it’s like the writers thought they could just take the worst parts of being a robot and hope it would carry the character.
I hate to say this, but the best way to fix this would be to delete the character entirely. You can’t just sweep all this under the rug and change the character to be against the original design. Haters would still hate, and the few who find something to like in the character would be pissed off that it was changed. The only way to get away from this in the remake would be to remove her entirely.
I’m not sure if I should complain about the overworld or the lack thereof. While Zelda games had used a hub area previously, connecting to other areas in the game, Skyward Sword ran the concept into the ground. The hub in this world is the sky. The empty, boring sky. There are two areas worth noting to visit outside of the hole in the clouds that puts you in level one, level two, and level three, and there is very little reason to explore either of them.
Once you drop in, it feels more like a traditional overworld, but it comes with a collection of caveats. The segments before the dungeons are short, and feel like the only reason they exist is to be a path to the dungeon. Their design is good, but no better than that of Ocarina of Time. The big difference is that in Ocarina, you can see those areas from other parts of the world, and then go there. Traversal feels like traversal, rather than simply jumping in a hole that leads to a path that leads to a dungeon. Mega Man games have used this style for years, but they build the game around this level-based progression and don’t have a large focus on exploration that has been a staple in the series for multiple decades. Both styles have their merit, but one belongs in Zelda and one belongs in Mega Man.
This game needs a real overworld, open if possible. Imagine exploring areas like those in Breath of the Wild on the back of a loftwing. Giving purpose to the birds, which have a monumental story focus, yet feel like a chore when you actually have to ride them. Even if it’s not open, flowing seamlessly between flight and ground movement would make for incredible exploration potential would go a long way. In addition, mounted Loftwing combat would add another layer of depth to the combat. Do you fight that Bokoblin on the ground where he has electric weapons, or take to the sky where you have a speed advantage but he’s got a trust bow and arrow to take you down? Rethinking the system like this has so much potential it’s not even funny.
Ganon Instead of Demise/Imprisoned
Okay to start off, I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Ganon’s origin going back to the curse cast by the original spirit that was reincarnated in him. Demise, however, is designed obviously to be reminiscent of Ganondorf, and that makes no major difference on the story. Why can’t he just be Ganondorf? Does it make a big difference? You bet your sweet bippy it does.
For the story, it’s roughly the same, I’ll admit, but Ganondorf has a much more impressive transformation than Demise. Ganon, no matter what design you look at, is more intimidating, more interesting, and more epic a design than The Imprisoned.
The Imprisoned has a terrible design, a terrible fight, and you have to fight the same fight THREE TIMES! The gimmick of popping his gross looking toes is downright stupid, adding fingers to this fight is the last thing you could do to help, and by the end of the first time it’s boring. The second and third are mental torment.
I say scrap this sad excuse for a rejected Muppet, replace him with the big, bad Ganon we all know and love to hate, and the game would be better for it. Having some downer boss fights from time to time can happen, but when the answer to what the boss could be is this obvious, since DEMISE IS ACTUALLY GANON, there’s no reason they couldn’t make it happen. The worst 3 boss fights in the series actually feeling interesting and meaningful, even dare I say awesome? Do it, you cowards!
This could be the most influential fix on this list as well, since Ghirahim makes an okay villain, but you know his overall plan is to resurrect his master. That kind of cheapens his character since he is nothing but a lackey of a faceless evil that you have no reason to fear or care about. Making him a follower of one of the most iconic gaming villains ever would make you care about his story much more from the get go, and it might not be quite as lame when he just tells you five minutes before the end of the game that “Oh, bee tee dubs, the real bad guy is this Ganondorf lookalike.” Ghirahim had a great story, and the fact that he was overshadowed by an echo fighter of a real villain is an injustice.
Less High School Drama
The story in Skyward Sword is one of its highest praised features, but personally I don’t really see it. The lore added on the creation of the Master Sword and the origin of the Hyrulean Princesses’ sacred power was massively interesting, but hardly touched on throughout the game. The focus was put too much on the characters despite how shallow most of them were.
Looking at the main cast, we have Link, a silent hero who gets a pass because he’s always been like this, Zelda, a princess who shows up onscreen for a collective total of five minutes, Impa, the princess’s bodyguard who won’t trust anybody or accept help ever, Fi, the spirit who lives in the Master Sword who spouts more worthless percentile statistics than C-3PO, and Groose, the schoolyard bully whose primary purpose is to play third wheel in a love triangle.
Out of these, oddly the most interesting and well-realized character is Groose. He grows up over the course of the story, finds his own place in the world, and becomes one of the best characters in the series. The rest are bland, static, and downright boring to watch. They take away nothing from their adventure other than Zelda gets some badass magic. In addition to the lame cast of primaries, most of the side characters go to extra lengths to make you wonder if you’re playing the Legend of Zelda version of High School Musical. The dialogue quality ranges from groaner to cringe. The stereotypes are far too easy to call right from their first time they speak
There were of course some non-Hylians who made for a little world building, such as Gorko the Goron, the various Mogma, and Scrapper or other robots you meet, and the like. These characters were usually fun enough to get you going through the stories, but didn’t serve any purpose beyond the first time you see them. You can read them all by their cover, they have no real development, and the game would flow largely the same without them. Well, except Scrapper. He’s hilarious.
So what should you do if you want to fix the subpar story, dreadful dialogue, boring boss fights, and outright awful overworld design? You make a new game. You cannot fix the problems of Skyward Sword in a remake, and trying would be folly. As long as they were overhauling all the glaring problems with the game, why would they not just make a new, better game?
I believe there is a high chance of seeing a remake on Skyward Sword on Switch, and yes, I’m going to buy it. Despite my harsh criticisms, I did still enjoy the game and would like the chance to play it again. I just wanted to point out that there is zero chance of Nintendo making any major changes to the core design. These are things that not only I, but other fans complain about constantly. Without even mentioning the divisive motion control subject, I think it’s clear why a remake that “fixes” Skyward Sword is impractical, and if we do get a remake, they will likely slap on a new set of HD textures and call it good. I don’t want to rain on your parade, but it’s simply not feasible to do anything more without just making a new game.
What do you think, though? Are they making a Skyward Sword remake, and will it overhaul the major issues or stay largely the same? Do you find motion controls a larger issue than the problems I pointed out here? Let us know in the comments, the TGPZ Discord server, or on Twitter and we can keep the conversation stammering!