A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD is an animated fantasy adventure for the Nintendo Switch. It's a game based on the 2011 Nintendo Wii version -- starring one of Nintendo's most beloved characters, Link, in the latest chapter in The Legend of Zelda franchise. Players can also use amiibo figures (purchased separately) to gain access to additional content in the game. Much of the gameplay involves combat that pits Link against non-human enemies. The main weapon is a sword, but Link can purchase other items, such as a bow and arrow, bombs, and more. There's no gore, but a little blood is seen from some fallen enemies, who disappear after being defeated. The game has some bathroom humor in one of the missions.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: SKYWARD SWORD HD stars a young Link, who vows to rescue his childhood companion, Zelda, who was kidnapped by an evil force. Zelda -- who is not yet a princess in this prequel to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time -- was snatched from the peaceful floating islands of Skyloft and taken to the dangerous surface world below. To aid in his quest, Link is presented with the magical Skyward Sword, which houses a spiritual aid named Fi, who can provide Link with some guidance when he needs it. Link can also hop on the back of a giant bird, known as a Loftwing, and soar the unfriendly skies. You choose the direction, flap the bird's wings, and press a button for a temporary speed burst. But much of the gameplay focuses on exploring vast lands (including multiple dungeons, towns, and deserts), bypassing traps and other obstacles, and engaging in real-time combat. Like the original 2011 game for Nintendo Wii, players can detach the JoyCon controllers from each side of the Nintendo Switch and use the integrated motion controllers to synchronize their real-world movements with Link's swordplay. Whether you're holding the controller skyward (up) to charge its magic, slicing diagonally, jabbing forward, or performing a spin attack, all the actions are mirrored in the game. You can raise your shield during combat or to perform a preemptive shield bash against an opponent as well. You can use the Nintendo Switch controls without motion as well -- an option not available with this game's predecessor.
Is it any good?
While this is a 10-year-old revamp of a Wii title, it hasn't lost a single step in that whole time, and a new generation of players will love this title. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD gives you the choice to play with motion controls or not, which is important since the motion controls are still somewhat inaccurate, and thus frustrating, like those in the game it's based on. Giving you the option is a welcome addition, and since it's playable on Nintendo Switch, that means this classic adventure is now portable for the first time. That said, rotating the camera can be a little cumbersome in the button-only mode as the right analog stick doesn't move it as in most games (instead, you need to press the L shoulder button first).
Nostalgia aside, this Nintendo offering also introduces this stellar game to a whole new generation of players. Reading a lot of dialogue might not be in vogue today, but the engaging gameplay will keep players glued to the screen hour after hour. There are a couple of new additions, too -- such as amiibo support, the ability to skip past some (once mandatory) cutscene sequences and tutorials, and being able to summon Fi for help instead of her cutting into your gameplay uninvited -- but for the most part, it's the same game. And that's just fine. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD also adds new emotion to the story. You can feel the admiration and attraction between Link and Zelda when the two are speaking closely. It gives you a sense of extra purpose to your actions when she's taken. Some missions are better than others, of course, but overall it's a well-crafted adventure you won't soon forget.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD affected by the inclusion of blood as part of combat? Would the impact of combat be lessened if there wasn't any blood shown? Why do you think the developers included blood as a result of doing battle?
Is remastering older games for newer hardware lazy on Nintendo's part, since much of the work has been done already? Is Nintendo simply recycling content to make more money? Or is this a smart move, because a good game is a good game that should be played over the years, and it should be updated and enjoyed by new audiences?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo of America
- Release date: July 16, 2021
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence, Comic Mischief, Animated Blood
- Last updated: August 11, 2021
Our editors recommend
For kids who love adventure
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.