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General Description

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was developed by Nintendo and released for the Nintendo Wii in November 2011. It follows series hero Link on a new adventure to rescue the princess Zelda, this time beginning on an island village that floats above the clouds. He uses a large bird to fly around from island to island and to visit the major areas below the clouds in his search for Zelda. It uses the Wii Motion Plus controller attachment to allow players to control Link’s sword directly, and also adds new motion controls to many of the items that Link uses to explore the environments and battle foes.

The game follows the same basic structure as other Zelda games. Link explores chunks of the game’s overworlds until he finds a dungeon which holds some item that is key to his quest. These dungeons include various enemies, traps and puzzles and end with boss battles, which are particularly fantastic in Skyward Sword. Each dungeon also contains a unique tool which Link will use to solve puzzles and then, later, to explore new parts of the world on the way to his next dungeon. Besides the compelling new motion controls, Skyward Sword also introduces a new system for collecting materials and upgrading equipment.

These new changes - the controls in particular - show that the game’s biggest educational strength is in developer creativity. Its other strength is in problem solving. Besides the overt puzzles found in dungeons, many segments in the overworld areas and even individual combat encounters feature quick little reflex-challenges throughout the game.

Grade by Game Type Overall Grade
C+ C
Ratings at a Glance
Creativity: 5 Publisher: Nintendo
Business: 2 Developer: Nintendo EAD
People: 3 Year: 2011
Problem: 6 Genre: Action/Adventure
Simulation: 1 Strengths: popularity, problem, creativity
Popularity: 9 Platforms: Wii
Extra: 0  
Rating Details

Classroom Facts

Skyward Sword does not feature classroom facts, though its map is crucial to the game. Players can bring up a map of their current areas and set beacons that allow them to navigate certain areas or make their way to landmarks. When a beacon is in place it causes a beam of light to appear, allowing players to orient themselves from a distance. Using rupees to buy and sell various goods involves mathematics.

Creativity & Imagination

By the Player:

Though the game’s various hubs do allow players to freely explore, the game is actually particularly linear. Even the exploration is bound to the game’s straightforward progression. While players can go off the beaten path, they will almost always quickly reach some kind of blockade that can’t be bypassed without a specific item that the game will provide later on.

Combat and dungeon puzzles require creative thinking, in a sense, when they ask players to analyze a foe’s movements or to consider the ways they might use their accumulated tools to proceed. However the fact is that any of these situations will always have just one deliberate solution that players must uncover.

By the Developer:

While Skyward Sword does fall into the unfortunate trap of following the rhythm of its predecessors maybe a little too closely, it adds several of its own twists to the formula.

The biggest changes are the new motion controls, which feel new despite fitting into the typical Zelda form. A swordfight that would be a few simple button presses is instead a frantic test of hand-eye coordination. Other items, particularly the remote-controlled flying beetle, get even more mileage out of the Wii controller.

The game also has a fascinating style. It’s colorful and not-quite-cartoony, and a unique blurring effect - the developers reportedly had impressionist art in mind - really makes it stand out.

New settings, enemies and dungeons all naturally make appearances, though they would largely feel like typical Zelda stuff without these new elements to liven them up.

Business Skills

Players collect rupees throughout the game. They can be left behind by enemies and pieces of scenery, though most of the big money comes from treasure chests. Money is used to upgrade weapons and buy potions at the market in town, and more importantly to buy the unique, expensive items from the merchant that flies around above town. The game is paced so that players will generally have enough to make most purchases as they explore each new area.

People Skills

One of the main elements of Skyward Sword is the central village that Link returns to repeatedly throughout his quest. Here townspeople ask for his help, which can range from helping a woman dust her house to rescuing lost pilots. These are all optional, but players are rewarded for helping people with their problems.

Problem Solving

Skyward Sword’s problems are about using Link’s tools to get various jobs done. As the game progresses he gets a slingshot, a bow, bombs, a fan, a whip, a remote-controlled beetle and more. They’re sometimes used simply as keys to get through the game’s locks, but often - particularly in dungeons - players will have to consider the uses of each tool carefully. Players will often have to use them creatively in order to reach out-of-the-way switches, navigate through traps or manipulate each dungeon’s various gimmicks.

In combat the game’s motion-control swordplay requires careful attention, as openings for attack come at intervals and sometimes require precise control. The game’s bosses offer the most interesting challenges in the game and usually involve several phases that each require players to attack in different ways.


Skyward Sword is not a simulation game, though in a sense players use the Wii remote to simulate various actions. Swordplay in particular has players holding the remote exactly as Link holds his sword and swinging at different angles to take advantage of openings and weaknesses.


Skyward Sword has received universal praise. While some reviews suggest that the game doesn’t do as much to move the series forward as it should, they nonetheless praise the game’s overall style and production. The game’s use of motion controls and a more compelling plot received particular praise.

Controls & Options

Some basic options are available. The most notable is the option to remove elements of the game’s cluttered HUD display, which is pretty ridiculous by default. Players that complete the game can access a new more difficult mode that increases the attack power of enemies and stops them from dropping hearts when defeated.


The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was rated Everyone 10+ by the ESRB with descriptors for Animated Blood, Comic Mischief and Fantasy Violence.