The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is the 16th game to be released in the Legend of Zelda series, and the first in the official timeline. Released in 2011 worldwide, Skyward Sword gained almost immediate critical applause, receiving top marks and scores from a range of well known publications and websites. Despite lower sales than previous entries, Skyward Sword still sold 3.42 million copies in a month after release.
The first dedicated Zelda game for the Wii system, Skyward Sword utilises the Wii Remote and requires the Wii Motion Plus to operate the actions demonstrated in the game, with 1:1 swordplay the main focus. Many publications praised the accuracy and the detail included in making the game respond to the players’ actions, equaling them to the introduction of analogue controls for Super Mario 64, with many stating their satisfaction of actually striking the enemies rather than hitting a button repeatedly. Winning numerous awards, including Game of the Year awards from multiple publications, it’s no surprise that Skyward Sword is the fastest selling entry in the series so far.
Development and Release
Released worldwide in November 2011, Skyward Sword was initially spoken of in 2008 and teased in 2009 with a single piece of artwork depicting Link and the character now known as Fi. Shigeru Miyamoto, the original designer behind the Zelda series, hinted that Link wasn’t holding a sword, raising speculation that the mysterious character was a personification of the Master Sword. Upon release, we realise that this character, now called Fi, was in fact a spirit that resides in the sword, and was created by the goddess Hylia.
When the official sub-title was revealed in 2010 – and the subsequent delay to 2011 – the game also unveiled its look, which was a mix of the vibrance of Wind Waker and the organic feel of Twilight Princess. Often described as resembling watercolour and Impressionist art styles, the decision to drop realistic visuals came down to allowing the character designs to be more exaggerated, with an emphasis on enemy’s attack and defence patterns.
Skyward Sword is noted for being the first Zelda release to have a fully orchestrated soundtrack, despite heavy protests from Miyamoto originally. Miyamoto originally thought that the game should focus on gameplay and that an orchestrated soundtrack was not necessary. However, after the release of the Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 soundtracks – both of which were fully orchestrated – Miyamoto decided to use an orchestra for the game, with the composer from the Galaxy games coming in as orchestration director.
Upon release, Nintendo unveiled a special edition version of the game, which included a Limited Edition Wii Remote with Wii Remote Plus, painted gold and containing a Hylian crest motif on the speaker area of the wand, although a golden nunchuk was not included in this package. On the initial run, both in the Limited Edition and normal editions, there was a bonus CD included which contained tracks from the Legend of Zelda Symphony. Included on this disc are some of the most famous and most loved tracks from the Zelda series, and contains the signature track from Skyward Sword - The Ballad of the Goddess.
Featuring similar gameplay to previous 3D entries in the series, the player controls Link with the Nunchuk and swordplay is confined to the Wii Remote, with an emphasis on the Z-Targeting pioneering in the first 3D adventure, Ocarina of Time. With the Wii Remote serving as the sword, the nunchuk serves as the shield, immersing the player even more in the battling elements of the game. The Wii Remote is used as a pointer and a guide for many other weapons and equipment in the game, including the new Beetle and Whip, and old favourites like the Bow, Slingshot, Clawshot and bombs.
One dramatic change from previous games was Link’s chosen method of travel. Previously, Link had used horses, boats, trains and bunny hoods to transverse the land, but all of those methods become obsolete when the main portion of the game is set in the sky. Rumours of flying elements in the game had persisted, when Eiji Aonuma and Shigeru Miyamoto had mentioned that the “sky plays a key element.” On release, the game revealed that to enter certain portions of the game, Link had to skydive with the aid of his Loftwing, sailing through the clouds to the land below.
Another new feature was the introduction of an RPG-like upgrade feature for weapons, and tied into this, new ways of buying, looking after, and repairing the shield. Similar to the magic meter on previous games, the shield now has meter, that if an attack is unparried, goes down until the meter is empty and the shield breaks. To remedy this, you can either have your shield repaired for a fee at the scrap shop, or take a potion similar to how you would heal with a red potion. If the shield breaks, then a new one is in order.
Trivia and Facts
When the initial trailer was released, which features the Ballad of the Goddess composition on the background, a few canny fans realised that if you play the trailer backwards, the Ballad features a reverse composition of Zelda’s lullaby, most famously from Ocarina of Time.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is officially the first game in the timeline, according to the Zelda book Hyrule Historia. This falls in line with the story in the game, where the events that take place sets the tone, background and legend for further games.
Skyward Sword Backstory
Long before humans lived in the sky, there raged a fierce battle on the surface of the earth. This battle was between the forces of evil who wanted to claim the ultimate power, and the people of the land, led by the Goddess Hylia. The battle was over the Triforce, the legendary power left behind by the Goddesses, said to grant any wish to the possessor — good or bad.
The three Goddesses Din, Farore and Nayru each in turn created a part of the land that would be become Hyrule: Din, the land; Nayru created order; and Farore, the creator of the inhabitants of the land. Upon their leaving of the world, they left behind the Triforce, but what reason, we don’t know.
This story has been retold in many of the games, but has certain pertinence in Skyward Sword where this era seems much closer, and with evidence of another Goddess - Hylia - we feel much closer to the age of Gods. While the battle for the Triforce was raging, Hylia knew the battle would be a tough and decisive one, and she took the decision to gather a select group of inhabitants and the legendary power and sent them both with an outcropping of land to the Sky, to be protected by a vast cloud barrier. The remaining tribes — thought to consist of the Gorons, Kikwi and the Parella - and humans were left behind with the Goddess to fight the hoard of demons who were led by the Demon King.
Eventually, the battle was won and Hylia sealed the evil away in the land. This area became known as the Sealed Grounds, with the Sealed Temple guarding its entrance, after the battle’s conclusion. Although intact, the seal was weak and the Goddess knew this seal would eventually break, and attempted to use the Triforce to destroy Demise. Because Goddesses cannot use the ultimate power, Hylia decided to turn her back on her divinity, and be reborn as a human. When Hylia passed away, the Sheikah were charged with protecting the descendants of the Goddess, with Impa being the last in line until the events of Skyward Sword.
This story became legend on the islands Hylia sent to the sky, being forgotten down the line, with only a select few knowing of the Goddess, the Triforce and the importance of the Loftwings. Several hints to the legend, and further hints to the future stories of Hyrule, can be found in Skyloft including the Sage Medallions first seen in Ocarina of Time. Three of these are seen in the domed ceiling on Isle of the Goddess, with the other three on the remains of the Sealed Temple, becoming complete when the temple is sent back to earth by Link’s actions in Skyward Sword.
Skyward Sword Events
<img class=”alignright wp-image-301 size-medium” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Gaepora-206x300.png” alt=”Gaepora” width=”206” height=”300” />The era in which Skyward Sword takes place is roughly a thousand years after the events that cast the humans into the sky, and the tale of Hylia and the Triforce is mere legend. Only a few know of the legends, with only one man knowing the full details, known as the Keeper of the Legends. This man is Gaepora, Zelda’s father and the founder of the Knight Academy. As well as establishing the Order of the Knights, Gaepora also introduced kendo training and Loftwing riding to Skyloft.
With the seal keeping the Demon King locked away weakening, a human girl was born who was the Goddess reincarnate. This girl was Zelda. Zelda is a beautiful young woman who is blissfully unaware of her previous life as a Goddess and the part she will play in the *Skyward Sword* story and, as such, the future of Hyrule. Meanwhile, the Demon King has sent a servant named Ghirahim to the Surface to find and kidnap the Goddess, in order to resurrect his master, Demise. After scouring the land, the self-titled ‘Demon Lord’ Ghirahim finally looked to the sky and produced a tornado that broke the cloud barrier, and brought Zelda down to the Surface during the Wing Ceremony, which a young man known as Link had won earlier.
Link is a knight-in-training, and the Wing Ceremony is an exam to allow students to step up to their senior year. The first one to claim the bird statuette in the race claims the victory, with the winner not only graduating, but also receiving the gift of the Sailcloth from the girl playing the role of the Goddess. The Sailcloth is presented atop the Goddess statue on the Isle of the Goddess, then used by the winner to dive off and use at the last minute to land safely.
After Zelda was kidnapped and brought down to the Surface by Ghirahim, she was rescued by an old woman. She was told of her lineage and legend, and was sent on a pilgrimage to cleanse herself in the temples scattered across the land. Preparing to use the Earth spring, Ghirahim kidnapped Zelda only for his plan to be foiled by Impa, one of the Sheikah tasked to protect the reincarnated Goddess. Upon completing her pilgrimage and cleansing herself, her memory of being a Goddess returns, and prepares to travel to the past to finally destroy the Demon King and seal him away forever.
<img class=”alignright wp-image-287 size-medium” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Fi_artwork-300x300.png” alt=”Fi_(artwork)” width=”300” height=”300” />Meanwhile, after Zelda was kidnapped, Link was visited by a spirit named Fi who resided in the Goddess Sword, locked away in the State of the Goddess. Taking the sword, said to glow when evil arises, Link was tasked to dive beneath the clouds using the Sailcloth and begin his quest in rescuing his friend. Following the trail of the Goddess and her servant, Link finally catches up to the pair, only to come face to face with Ghirahim, whom he battles while Impa and Zelda travel to the past, destroying the Gate of Time behind them.
In order to travel to the past and further help the Goddess, Link was tasked to track down the Sacred Flames across the Surface with the help of the Dragons the areas of the land were named after - Faron, Eldin and Lanayru - and forge the Goddess Sword to become the legendary blade, the Master Sword. After successfully imbuing the sword with the Scared Flames, and becoming the True Hero in the process, Link reawakens the other Gate of Time in the Sealed Temple and travels to the past. Here, he meets up with Zelda briefly, before she locks herself away to keep the seal on the Demon King strong. This lasts for a thousand years — into the Skyward Sword era.
Travelling back to his own time, Link sought the legendary power the Goddess sent to the sky, and claimed the Triforce for his own. For his wish, his wished that the Demon King be finally vanquished and causes the Isle of the Goddess to fall to the Surface and destroy the Demon King completely. Once the Sealed Temple was whole again, the Goddess awoke from here thousand year slumber, only to be kidnapped by the Demon Lord Ghirahim and taken through the Gate of Time, back to the age where the Demon King was alive and sealed under the Sealed Grounds. Link gave chase, and followed Ghirahim into the past, where Link battled hordes of monsters sent by the Demon Lord. Finally breaking through the horde, Ghirahim completes the ritual needed to resurrect his master using the Goddess’ spirit. Upon his resurrection, Demise reveals that Ghirahim is his own sword spirit, an evil version of Fi.
<img class=”alignright wp-image-286 size-medium” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/demise_artwork-300x265.png” alt=”demise_artwork” width=”300” height=”265” />Demise sets up an arena for the battle with Link, surmising that the Goddess’ chosen hero would be defeated and he would take over the land and claim the Triforce for his own. Despite his power, Demise is finally defeated by Link, and on his defeat, his spirit and power is absorbed into the Master Sword. This is not before unleashing a curse that would be never-ending and would cause the Demon King to be resurrected through the ages, with hatred for the reincarnated Goddess and the spirit of the Hero keeping it everlasting.
Returning to their own time, Zelda and Link decide to stay on the Surface, protecting the Triforce. With Fi duties done, she returns to the Master Sword, where it rests in the Pedestal inside the Statue of the Goddess. Impa returns to the past to watch over the Master Sword and protect it from the curse of Demise. The old woman who rescued Zelda and guided Link throughout his quest is revealed as none other than Impa of this era, and with her duties of protecting the Goddess complete, passes away.
Skyward Sword Legacy
After staying on Surface, this land became known as the land of Hyrule, protected by the Goddess Hylia and formed by the Golden Goddesses Din, Farore and Nayru. The humans that descended from the Hero and Goddess became known as Hylians, and for a while, possessed magical abilities from the Goddess herself.
<img class=”alignright wp-image-303 size-medium” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/hyliancrest-300x185.png” alt=”hyliancrest” width=”300” height=”185” />Descendants of the Goddess became the Royal Family of Hyrule, with the Hylian crest as their emblem, which features the mark of Hylia, the Loftwing wingspan and the Triforce itself. Princesses born into the family were repeatedly given the name Zelda in relation to the legends passed down. One of the Royal Family’s responsibilities is to protect the Triforce, having built Hyrule Castle and the Temple of Time to do such a job. The Temple of Time is thought to have been built by Rauru over the ruins of the Sealed Temple, containing the Triforce and the pedestal holding the Master Sword.
The Triforce was placed inside the Temple of Light, located in the Sacred Realm - thought to be the original Silent Realm Link collects the Triforce pieces from in Skyward Sword - and locked with three keys, the Spiritual Stones of Forest, Fire, and Water. Rauru became the guardian of the power of the Gods, protecting the Triforce in the Temple of Light.
For many years, there was peace, until the power of the Gods tested the desire of evil men and chaos once again engulfed the land of Hyrule.