As you will doubtless know by now, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD not only improves upon the motion controls found in the 2011 Wii version of the game, it also introduces an all-new button-and-stick scheme for Switch Lite players and those who wish to skip on waving their Joy-cons around.
Not only is this choice of control schemes great news for portable-only players and folk who just don't get along with the whole motion control thing, it's also a big plus in terms of accessibility. Over our time spent reviewing the game we got to grips with both of these methods of control, spending time traversing the world, engaging in boss battles and general combat in order to ascertain just how well they both work.
Let's take a look at the ins and outs of the two available control methods.
Zelda: Skyward Sword HD Motion Controls
The original way to play The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, here you'll use both of your Joy-Con in order to control Link's movement, shield bash, sword strikes and the newly liberated in-game camera. It may sound a little cumbersome but in reality, this way of playing very quickly becomes second nature, feels super slick and intuitive and is, in our opinion, the most absorbing way to experience the game.
The analog stick on your left Joy-Con controls Link as he moves around areas, while the right Joy-Con stick controls your camera, allowing you totally free reign to look where you please for the very first time here.
Flicking your right Joy-Con in any direction swings your sword around in-game to match your movements, combining it with the left Joy-Con in various directions pulls off spin and flip attacks, whilst flicking your left Joy-Con in any direction on its own performs a quick shield bash. In this new HD update, we found that the precision with which your sword slashes and thrusts line up with your real-world movements really does feel sharper than ever. Yes, you will occasionally need to recenter your controller by pointing at the screen and pressing Y but, overall, this is a much smoother experience than it was in 2011 that's just a total blast to get to grips with.
As far as everything else goes, it's exactly how you'll remember it from the original game, twisting and turning your right Joy-Con to control the direction of your Loftwing in the air, flapping it up and down to gain altitude and so on. Using motion controls in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD really does give you an immediate connection to the game's world, whether it's lining up bow shots, chucking and rolling bombs or flying your Beetle around, this is a slick, fun system that now works exactly as it should do thanks to the Switch's motion control tech.
Zelda: Skyward Sword HD Button-And-Stick Controls
The all-new way to play. Nintendo needed to come up with some way for Switch Lite and portable only players to get involved here - not to mention all the folk who just don't like, or can't use, motion controls - and what we've got here is a fine alternative to waggling your Joy-Con around.
With this method of control, you'll still move Link around with the left stick but now all of your sword swings are made by using the right stick and your shield bash is performed by pressing the left stick in.
In terms of that right stick controlling your sword, we found it was just as intuitive - if not quite as absorbing - as using the motion controls. Where you need to swing both Joy-Con in unison in various directions to pull off spin attacks or forward and backflip attacks with motion control, here you'll use combos of directions, left - right - left to perform a spin, for example, and within a few minutes, we were feeling perfectly comfortable playing the game this way.
With regards to aiming arrow shots and other motion controlled aspects relating to Link's various gadgets and tools, you can still use the gyroscopic controls with the button scheme to aim and fine-tune shots and there are options in the game's menu to enable or disable the gyro-controlled camera.
If there's one drawback to using this method it's the fact that you need to hold down the left bumper button in order to use the right stick to control the in-game camera. It's not a big issue, it didn't take us long to get used to holding the bumper in to look around and then letting go to get back to swinging our sword around, but it's definitely one area where the motion controls win out over this new button method.
So, Which Control Method Is Best?
Well, the answer to this question is going to depend on how viable it is for you to use motion controls. If you've got access to this way of playing then we reckon it still trumps the new button and stick set-up, but really only because of the fact that the camera is easier to move around and there's just something very silly and fun about slashing about and seeing your moves replicated on-screen.
The fact is that both of the control methods here do a fantastic job of making this game fully accessible for all Switch owners and players of every ability level and, regardless of which one you choose, you'll find they're both smooth, responsive and perfectly suited to the task at hand.
You can also very quickly hot-swap between both stick and motion control methods, with the game immediately recognising the switch in your input type and asking you to quickly confirm before adjusting and getting you right back into the action!
Looks like you reached the end of this guide; why not head back to our Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD hub for more tips and help for the game?
There you'll find tips on the pros and cons of motion controls vs. analogue stick control, a list of the main differences between Skyward Sword on Switch and the Wii original, how to use the Zelda & Loftwing amiibo, where to find the Moonlight Merchant and the Thunder Dragon, and how to beat every boss and minigame.
You'll also find guides for all heart piece locations, all goddess cubes, and where to find every Gratitude Crystal, every upgrade treasure, every bug, and every potion recipe to fill your bottles with.
The right stick controls are terrible. I can’t figure how to swing diagonally and the horizontal swing requires you to snap the analog stick. That is, push it in one direction and then let it go so it snaps back. Given the fragility of the sticks in the Joy Cons this makes me weary.
Edit: all combat requires snapping the stick. I worry about the durability of the right stick.
@Crono1973 Leave it to Nintendo to fail to fix the least functional aspect of Awkward Sword.
@mjhopkins81 I can't treat the right stick like that in good conscious so I am playing with motion controls, I doubt I'll ever finish this game because I still suck at it. The thing is, you have to recalibrate (with the Y Button) the motion controls often. That tells me that motion controls just aren't a good idea when precision is needed. This game should have been remade with normal Zelda controls in mind.
I'm enjoying playing the game again, but for me the controls are somewhat of a barrier to that enjoyment - both the motion controls and the analog stick controls have issues, but the motion controls are the better option. It's not until I started playing the game again that I realised how much of the game is built around the controls though. Having to slash the Piranha Plant / Deku Baba either horizontally or vertically depending on how they open their mouths, the way Bokoblins block attacks forcing you to attack from different sides, it's all built from the ground up with the motion controls at the heart of things. It's difficult to see how they could remove them without having to start over.
I prefer the gyro controls.
While using gyro on bird sections is a miss. I find trying to do Spin Attacks and Jump Stabs absolutely obnoxious on the button control scheme. Also pressing L for camera gets annoying but thats less of a issue, I actually got used to that (Doesn't help that it transfers to other games I play by accident, haha).
Not sure what everyone's issues are with the button controls but I'm finding both methods accurate and enjoyable.
So much so that NIntendo should implement this dual motion and button control scheme for all future 3D Zeldas!
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