The sixteenth mainline entry in The Legend of Zelda series , it was released worldwide in November The game was made available worldwide on the Wii U eShop in September Taking the role of series protagonist Link , players navigate the floating island of Skyloft and the land below it, completing quests that advance the story and solving environmental and dungeon-based puzzles.
Gameplay mechanics and combat, the latter focusing on attacking and blocking with sword and shield, are reliant on the Wii MotionPlus peripheral. Skyward Sword is the first game in the Zelda continuity , detailing the origins of the Master Sword, a recurring weapon within the series. Link, resident of a floating town called Skyloft, heads on a quest to rescue his childhood friend Zelda after she is kidnapped and brought to the Surface, an abandoned land below the clouds.
Armed with the Goddess Sword and aided by a spirit named Fi, Link must ensure Zelda's safety and stop Ghirahim as he attempts to resurrect his master, Demise. Development lasted around five years, beginning after the release of Twilight Princess in Many aspects of the game's overworld and gameplay were designed to streamline and populate the experience for players.
The implementation of Wii MotionPlus proved problematic for the developers, to the point where it was nearly discarded. It was the first Zelda game to use a live orchestra for the majority of its tracks, with music composed by a team led by Hajime Wakai and supervised by Koji Kondo. First revealed in , it was initially planned for release in before it ended up being delayed to to further refine and expand it.
The game was a critical and commercial success, receiving perfect scores from multiple journalistic sites, winning and receiving nominations for numerous industry and journalist awards, and selling over three million copies worldwide. Despite the accolades it received, points of widespread criticism directed toward certain aspects of the game's design proved to be a key influence in the development of the next entry for home consoles, Breath of the Wild. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is an action-adventure game in which players take on the role of series protagonist Link through a series of monster-populated overworlds and navigating dungeons featuring puzzles and bosses.
The greater majority of gameplay mechanics revolve around use of motion controls: these include camera control with the Nunchuk and general hotkey actions and movement linked to the Wii Remote.
Jumping across gaps and scaling ledges happen automatically within context. The Nunchuk is also used to make Link perform a forward roll. When depleted entirely, Link's movement speed is reduced and he is left vulnerable until the meter refills. Fighting enemies, which appear in both the overworld and dungeons, relies on Link's use of his sword and shield. Enemy movements are designed to anticipate and block Link's combat movements. Skyward Strikes are also used to trigger environmental elements such as magical switches.
The game takes place on the floating island of Skyloft and surrounding airborne islands; the three Surface overworlds where the majority of the main adventure takes place. Side quests for the town's citizens are unlocked as the game progresses.
The different areas of the Surface are accessed through portals in the clouds. Side quests for characters of the Surface are also available, and are sometimes mandatory for completing the main quest. Skyloft is navigated with a Shoebill -like bird called a Loftwing, while the Surface is navigated on foot. Beacons can be set on the map for Link to follow, and save points in the form of statues preserve Link's progress up to that point. Traditional series items such as Bombs and the Bow and Arrow appear, along with new additions such as a mechanical Beetle that flies to areas beyond Link's reach and a whip for grabbing otherwise-unreachable objects and activating levers.
Items and equipment can be upgraded, making them stronger and more durable. In addition to consuming resources, Link must also pay for the upgrade with Rupees, the game's currency which is scattered throughout the world. Skyward Sword takes place at the beginning of the Zelda continuity :   according to legend, three ancient Goddesses bestowed a great wish-granting power: the Triforce. The Demon King Demise sought the Triforce, and he laid waste to much of the land in his quest for it.
The Goddess Hylia gathered the survivors and sent them into the sky, allowing her to launch a full-scale offensive against Demise. She was victorious, but the land was severely damaged. Uncounted years later, the outcrop is known as Skyloft, and its people believe the "Surface" below the clouds is a myth. In the present, knight-in-training Link passes his final exam despite attempted interference by his class rival Groose, who considers himself a romantic rival for Link's childhood friend Zelda.
After passing the exam and on a celebratory flight together, Zelda is whisked away below the clouds by a dark tornado. After recovering back on Skyloft, Link is led into the island's statue of Hylia to the Goddess Sword by Fi, the spirit of the sword who resides within it. Link draws the sword, showing himself to be the prophesied hero who will finally destroy Demise.
Opening a way through the clouds to the Surface, Link is guided by Fi to the Sealed Temple, where he meets an old woman who tells him to track Zelda: this leads Link across the regions of Faron Woods, Eldin Volcano, and the Lanayru Desert. While he catches up with Zelda, he is prevented from returning her to Skyloft by Impa, a young woman guarding and guiding Zelda. Link also encounters Ghirahim, a self-proclaimed Demon Lord working towards freeing Demise. Returning to the Temple of Hylia, Link is followed by Groose and the two end up on the Surface together.
Link then has to defeat the Imprisoned, a monstrous form of Demise attempting to reach the Sealed Temple, after the old woman shows him a second dormant Time Gate. With the Imprisoned defeated, Link sets out to strengthen the Goddess Sword by passing trials set by the ancient Goddesses and using their gifts to find Sacred Flames to purify and strengthen the blade so the Time Gate can be awakened.
Returning to find the Imprisoned attempting to break free, Link reseals it with help from Groose. Activating the Time Gate and traveling to the past, he finds Zelda and learns that she is the mortal reincarnation of Hylia: Hylia could not kill Demise and was too weakened from their battle to fend him off again, so she created the Goddess Sword and reincarnated as a mortal to find someone who would fulfill her duty by using the Triforce to wish Demise's destruction, as only mortals can use the artifact.
Zelda then seals herself inside a crystal to strengthen Demise's seal, granting her power to the Goddess Sword and upgrading it into the Master Sword. Link locates the Triforce on Skyloft and uses it to destroy Demise. With Demise dead, Zelda is freed, but Ghirahim arrives and kidnaps Zelda: though Demise is dead in the present, Ghirahim intends to use Zelda as a sacrifice to resurrect him in the past. He then defeats Ghirahim, who turns out to be the spirit of Demise's sword, but is unable to prevent Zelda from being used to reincarnate Demise's humanoid form.
Groose guards Zelda's body while Link challenges Demise: Link triumphs and absorbs Demise's essence into the sword, but Demise curses Link and Zelda's descendants to be haunted by his reincarnated rage.
Groose, Link and Zelda return to their time while Impa remains behind and destroys the Time Gate, as she is a person of that time period and must watch over the Master Sword. The game ends with Groose returning to Skyloft, while Zelda deciding to remain on the Surface to watch over the Triforce: she and Link together establish the kingdom of Hyrule.
His main preoccupation during these early stages was whether the developers could continue creating The Legend of Zelda games using the same development mindset that had been used up to Twilight Princess. When Spirit Tracks was finished, Fujibayashi and the game's development team transferred back to working on Skyward Sword. According to Aonuma, the team's starting point for development was the Wii version of Twilight Princess : feeling they had not fully realized their goal of creating a vast and realistic world with Twilight Princess , they used their previous work as a foundation for the next game.
They also sought to create a memorable experience equivalent to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time , by that time considered the series' most memorable game. A new Zelda game was first hinted at in April , when Miyamoto stated that the Zelda development team were reforming to create new games. Due to its in-development state, Miyamoto could not show off gameplay as he had wished. Instead, he showed promotional art featuring Link and Fi. He also announced the game's use of Wii MotionPlus, along with its planned release window.
He also noted that his wish to focus on the new game meant that the release date of Spirit Tracks was shifted to the end of rather than its initial projected release in early They used the extra year to both finish the core elements and polish up the game as a whole. Multiple promotional elements were created: a five-part online comic was written and illustrated by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik under their Penny Arcade Presents series, and television commercials featuring actor and comedian Robin Williams and his daughter Zelda were made, playing on the actor's stated love for the series.
An anniversary CD was included with both editions containing orchestrated versions of various iconic musical pieces from the series. Once revealed, Nintendo issued instructions on avoiding it and set up a special channel on their Wii site in Japan to gain feedback, along with offering to manually repair corrupted save files. The script for cinematic scenes was written by Naoki Mori, who joined the project for one and a quarter years in his role: the cinematic director was Shigeki Yoshida, who was brought on at the same time as and worked on the storyboards with Mori.
The initial script was proposed by Fujibayashi based on his perception of the game's structure. These issues were further complicated by the third year of development with the necessity of finalizing the gameplay and environments. Feigning illness, Fujibayashi shut himself away in a hotel room and wrote the synopsis in a single day.
Mori wrote the dialogue based on Fujibayashi's synopsis, who needed to work out the fine details with Fujibayashi. A scene Fujibayashi was intent on including was where Zelda jumped from the edge of Skyloft and Link caught her: this was fitted in for the two characters after the end of Link's exam. The total number of cinematics was estimated as 79, coming to over minutes. The relationship between Link and Zelda was quite different from earlier incarnations, in particular the fact that Zelda was not royalty.
According to Aonuma, a recurring difficulty was how contrived the necessity for Link to rescue Zelda became with each passing installment, as their contact may only have been fleeting beforehand. In response to this, the team considered how to make the player care about Zelda and want to rescue her. Having the two characters as childhood friends served this purpose and cut down on extraneous plot elements.
They continued to encourage the player by having Link only just miss her on her early travels across the Surface. Groose, who acted as Link's rival, was introduced to make the story more interesting within the school setting.
Groose's maturation during the course of the story was intended to help convey Link's parallel growth as a character as he was otherwise mute and static. Fi was created before the implantation of Wii MotionPlus, when she was going to be part of some different undefined gameplay concepts unrelated to motion control. Her design was based on the design of the Master Sword, referencing her origins as the sword's spirit. She also served as an alternate explanatory voice as Link was a silent protagonist. Clothing was frequently designed to complement backgrounds, such as Zelda's pink and red dress in the opening.
The basic starting point for the art style was that it was a fantasy world. The team settled this artstyle as it would properly portray the more exaggerated actions of some characters and general swordplay while preserving Link's mature appearance. During development, the team faced a lot of problems when designing the game so it would be both familiar for series fans and fresh to old and new players. The pieces of gameplay experimentation meant that the development was "a more fundamental ground-up process" than earlier games such as The Wind Waker.
Their earlier games had involved lifting elements from earlier games and pasting them into a new entry, but for Skyward Sword the developers wanted to add a new play structure to avoid fans seeing it as more of the same. When first proposed, Aonuma was highly enthusiastic, and his wish to change to Wii MotionPlus meant that work on the game needed to begin all over again.
After the release of Wii Sports Resort , the team saw how motion controls could be used for swordplay: after talking with the development team, they were able to borrow the technology and used it to create the motion-driven swordplay. When creating Link's sword movements, the team initially wanted them to be as realistic as possible, but because it was detrimental to the character's portrayal, they had to include unrealistic movements to preserve the atmosphere.
The Skyward Strike was initially born from Aonuma thinking up a possible mechanic of holding the sword above Link: these also gave rise to the game's title. Having sword fighting relying on Wii MotionPlus freed up other buttons on the controller, allowing the addition of the Dash sprinting option. So as not to interrupt the flow of gameplay, they incorporated other elements into the Dash function, such as scaling walls rather than just slamming into them.
Due to the introduction of Dowsing, the team did not have to create environmental landmarks for places and objects of importance as they had done in previous games. So players would not get lost in the terrain, they also introduced the marker beacons.