Friday, August 27, 2021

Metroid Dread Reports Vol. 1 to 6

Samus facing a number of dark orbs with a red eye next to a Chozo Warrior statue

Week for week Nintendo has been sharing more information about the Metroid series and its new title, Metroid Dread, via their Metroid Dread Reports, where this week this came together with the second trailer for the game. If you want to go into the game without knowing too much, then this will be the time to isolate yourself from all things Nintendo until October 8th. When it comes to advertisement and social media, Nintendo isn't all that sensitive towards spoilers. They show whatever they want to show you.

In the same vein, stop reading this post now, because we're taking a look at some of the things that have been shared over the past couple of weeks.



This might be some of the best news for the Metroid series in a long while. In the Metroid Dread Report Vol. 4 Nintendo goes over all four mainline Metroid titles and discusses their potential connection to the upcoming fifth installment, Metroid Dread. The Super Metroid part is probably the most interesting one, because it focuses on the game's high level of freedom:

"Super Metroid can be said to offer the greatest flexibility for exploration in the series. You can enjoy similar flexibility in Metroid Dread, depending on how you take advantage of your abilities. You might be able to find ways to obtain weapons, items and abilities earlier than the intended timing. We encourage you to try to discover alternate routes of exploration."

That's fantastic and certainly a change from most of the previous installments produced by Sakamoto, like Metroid Fusion. It will be interesting to see how this will be handled, because a lot of the "sequence breaks" in Super Metroid seem like they weren't really intended. But this will certainly add to the game's replay value, which is super important for a Metroid title.


A New Villain

You could see this coming ever since the secret teaser in Metroid: Samus Returns, but in Metroid Dread Samus' ultimate enemy won't be the Space Pirates, the Metroids or even the new E.M.M.I. units, but the Chozo themselves. More specifically, a militaristic and hostile faction of the Chozo.

Samus facing a Choco Warrior

In the memories of Metroid: Samus Returns we learn about the Chozo of SR388, who have created the Metroid in order to defeat the X and locked them under the planet surface. But when help from other Chozo has arrived, they cruelly wiped out the surviving Chozo of SR388.

The trailers of Metroid Dread also show seemingly different types of Chozo. There seems to be a friendly one, who was already shown in the first trailer and who might support Samus similar to other Chozo in the past. We can even see him bowing in the teaser at the end of Vol. 4, which also shows those memories from Metroid: Samus Returns again.

Now, the new trailer shows us scenes from the beginning of Metroid Dread, where Samus stands before a Chozo warrior, who seems to be unbeatable in her current state. It's a formidable foe and in many ways similar to the SA-X. The Chozo has a Power Suit together with an Arm Cannon and a variety of abilities, much like Samus. After all, Samus got her suit and most of her abilities from the Chozo, so facing one of the Chozo warriors will be like facing herself, probably even tougher, because they could have new technologies that Samus isn't even familiar yet with.

If it weren't for the E.M.M.I., the Chozo might even become another type of enemy that makes you run for your life, because you cannot defeat them yet. But the trailer clearly portrays the Chozo enemy units as something that you fight, where there are also "weaker" units in the early game, which seem to be entirely robotic and are fighting with some kind of staff or lance.

Of course it could also be that the Chozo warrior from the beginning is entirely robotic and that the real villain is someone or something taking control of all these artificial life forms, E.M.M.I. and Chozo robots alike. Update: One of the Chozo enemies, the golden one near the end of the second trailer, shows clear signs of organic corruption with some sort of black mass inside its monstrous mouth. So, there's probably more to it all and we will have to wait and see. It could be that the X is behind all this after all, though the X Parasite didn't look black.

Visually, the Chozo enemies are somewhat reminiscent to the bird-like warriors from Stargate, by the way, where this probably not a coincidence, since the Metroid series took inspirations from a variety of science fiction movies.

We also see the return of a familiar villain with Kraid, who is in chains here, which potentially already demonstrates the powers of those Chozo, who are probably the ones who put poor Kraid into captivity. Forget the Space Pirates, the Chozo are the new king in town.

The evil Chozo warrior also seems to be the reason why Samus loses all of her abilities. She takes a full blast of his Arm Cannon and is then left in her basic state, where now she has to regain all of her items yet again. Well, this is a good explanation as any, which even ties her loss of powers to the current threat, similar to how Metroid Fusion and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes have done the same. And it's certainly better than not having any excuse at all as to why Samus has to collect her powers again, which leads us to...


Volumes 5 and 6 of the "Metroid Dread Reports" also focus on Samus' abilities quite a bit, where we have a selection of new and returning power-ups.

Interestingly, there is a semi-new ability called "Spin Boost", which lets you perform one additional spin jump in the air. It's basically like the Space Jumps, but limited to one, which is exactly how the Space Jump ability worked in the Metroid Prime Trilogy games.

This is probably an upgrade that you get in the early game, while the unlimited Space Jumps are something that you get later on. Such "interupgrades" seem to be a thing now, where Samus can also perform her new slide kick as a means of getting through small gaps before the Morph Ball.

What's also similar to Metroid PrimeMetroid Prime 2 and Metroid Prime 3 to be exact – are the "Storm Missiles", which seem to work similarly to the Seeker Missiles from the Prime games. You can mark up to five targets and then let a storm of missiles hit them in quick succession.

The Speed Booster together with its Shinespark ability returns after its absence in Metroid: Samus Returns (though, I personally didn't miss it that much). Screw Attack, Grapple Beam and Gravity Suit return as well – there are no big surprises here, but the Grapple Beam sees some creative new usages, where it can even be combined with the magnetic surfaces for example.

Somewhat unexpected are the Ice Missiles, which might replace the Ice Beam yet again. There should be no good reason for this, since Samus has re-obtained the Ice Beam at the end of Fusion, but maybe we'll get both this time. However, Metroid: Samus Returns also treated the Ice Beam as a separate tool and didn't stack it with the other beams, where they simply might repeat this trend and simplify things by bringing back the Ice Missiles again.

The only completely new item shown so far seem to be the "Cross Bombs", which took a note from Bomberman and create blasts in four directions. This can even propel you up easily, without the need of convoluted bomb jumps.

Samus using Flash Shift in a green environment

We also get a completely new set of Aeion abilities, which seems to be balanced much better than in Samus Returns, where there was a huge reliance on these additions, much like with the Melee Counter. The Flash Shift seems to replace the Phase Drift and lets Samus travel quickly back and forth, up to three times in a row. This looks like it will be mainly useful in combat, but you can also use it for traversal.

The Pulse Radar is the replacement of the Scan Pulse and works like pared-down version of that. It only shows breakable blocks in the environment, but it doesn't seem to change your map in any way. But the markings of the Scan Pulse could be an incentive to not use the ability at all for some, to have a "clean" map at the end of the game, where this could be a nice compromise as something that reveals nearby secrets, but not too much.

Overall this looks pretty decent, where Metroid Dread might have some more surprises up its sleeves. But Nintendo will probably tell us about them in the upcoming weeks...

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Harmony of a Hunter Returns

Harmony of a Hunter and Harmony of a Hunter: 101% Run were two of the best remix albums ever made, full of different musical styles and lots of love for the Metroid series. Now, for the 35th Anniversary of Metroid, the project has finally returned for a third album with five hours of music. You can listen to it on Youtube or download it on the official website.

The album was already released two weeks ago, right in time for the 35th Anniversary, but I wasn't able to listen to it until now. It's as impressive and varied as the first two albums, where for me personally the use of vocals and choirs stick out this time, especially with "The Age of Gold".

I'm happy that this spans the entirety of the Metroid series, even Federation Force and Blast Ball, but they apparently didn't get past the title screen of these games. And with the latter they even had to mock it by making Samus say "ugh, I'd rather eat Phazon" at the end, as an attempt to be funny. But as someone who has really enjoyed the multiplayer title with friends and has some good memories here, I would have liked a little bit more seriousness towards these titles, where this has left a slight sour taste. Well, at least they have properly represented Metroid: Other M, despite its flaws.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

35th Anniversary of Metroid

First screen of Metroid

Well, look at that, it only takes a new Metroid title and Nintendo finally acknowledges one of the anniversaries of the franchise. It's been 35 years since Metroid was released for the Famicom and effectively what's Nintendo Sci-Fi version of The Legend of Zelda was born. And now it's time to celebrate the series for real. Happy Birthday, Metroid!

Anyway, we always knew that these anniversaries are just marketing ploys, but it still would be nice to get something more for Metroid this time around. An equivalent to Hyrule Historia would be awesome.

For now Nintendo has shared a new video, which confirms that Metroid Dread will really tie in to the secret gallery item from Metroid: Samus Returns, where a new side of the Chozo was presented to us. This could be exciting.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Skyward Sword HD x Tetris 99

Tetris 99 Skyward Sword HD theme 

Well, this isn't exactly the Skyward Sword Picross that I was hoping for, but at least this is how you get me to play Tetris 99 a bit more. I actually own the retail version of the game with box and cartridge, because it came with one year Nintendo Switch Online, which seemed like a good deal, but I haven't played it as much yet.

In fact, I haven't really played it until today, with the goal to unlock the new Skyward Sword HD theme, which is really nice. The game is really busy with all sorts of things going on, where I don't like it as much as the traditional Tetris, but the Zelda sound effects of the skin are charming.

Congratulations! You unlocked a special theme!

It also didn't take me all that long to unlock, maybe half an hour. You need 100 points and you get plenty of points just for playing, even if you don't make it into the top 10. If you've missed any of the special themes, you can still unlock them by collecting tickets, which can be obtained by doing daily challenges. Typical free-to-play stuff, but it's fine in this case. And you can unlock the current Skyward Sword HD theme via the current special event until Tuesday morning.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD (Review)

Skyward Sword HD logo

Ten years ago, during the 25th Anniversary of the The Legend of Zelda franchise, we saw the release of two major titles. One was Skyward Sword, the newest 3D Zelda game on the Nintendo Wii, the other was Ocarina of Time 3D, a remake of the Nintendo 64 classic for the Nintendo 3DS, which was the first 3D Zelda title to get updated with a new release. Now, ten years later, we have gone gone full circle and arrived at remastering the new Zelda game from that time in HD.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD got released for Nintendo Switch on July 16th and now it's time to evaluate this remaster. Keep in mind that this won't be a review of Skyward Sword, where instead this review will focus on the qualities of the remaster alone. How does the game look and play like on Nintendo Switch? What has been improved? What hasn't? Let's get to it...

Link behind the Statue of the Goddess with some bird engravings on the walls


When looking at all the 3D Zelda remakes and remasters, there is a clear trend where the age of the game correlates with the number of visual updates. With Ocarina of Time 3D almost everything got remodeled and retextured and they've added a variety of new details, like to the interior of houses. Now, with Skyward Sword HD they've upscaled the graphics to HD... and that's basically it.

Sure, there are some small improvements, like to Link's model, but for the most part you get the same old game with everything blown up to HD. The textures simply got resized to higher resolutions, but it's not like they are full of new details. So, it doesn't really compare to Twilight Princess HD, where all the textures got redone by Tantalus, even though the Australian studio has been working on what's literally just Skyward Sword in HD as well. Most of that work seemed to go into remaking the interface elements in HD, however.

first timeshift stone as seen from above
a timeshift for the graphics

Yet... it still looks amazing, where this is one of the most beautiful Zelda games. The visuals of the original game did a good job of hiding the age of the Wii with its painted art style, where at the time other consoles already had games in HD and the Wii U would even come out one year later. But it just so happens that this art style works perfectly in HD as well, similar to The Wind Waker, but without the need of any extra effects. It just looks great by default.

Though, there are some things that probably should have been improved, but weren't. In some cases, like around the island of Skyloft, you can clearly spot the repeated textures. And some of the fences, like around Faron Woods, are still fully in 2D, which already wasn't contemporary back in 2011.

Link on Skyloft near the waterfalls

The depth of field painting effect is also still there, but it gets used with a much higher resolution, so you have a lot more details to look at from a distance. And sometimes you just want to view around, because the colors are so vibrant, where the game is just very pretty overall and pleasant to look at. It's especially pleasant because the game runs in 60FPS now, which is huge, makes everything so much smoother and also improves the game's motion controls. Speaking of...


During the era of the Nintendo DS and Wii, the Zelda series was subject to quite some experimentation around the controls, where Skyward Sword was one of the biggest titles to make use of the Wii MotionPlus gyroscope technology, which became a standard in Nintendo's hardware by now. The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller has one and both Joy-Cons have them as well.

Naturally, Skyward Sword was already at home on the Nintendo Switch with its sophisticated motion controls to swing your sword and bash with your shield, but not everyone wanted or could play with them. So, it was a really good idea of Nintendo to provide alternative button-only controls, so that you can play the game any way you want, including handheld mode.

If you want to play with motion controls, you have to use the detached Joy-Cons, but you can turn them off in the options at any time, in case you want to switch between both control methods. If you're playing in handheld mode or with a Pro Controller, you're stuck with the new controls, but you at least have the options to use motion controls for aiming and/or moving the camera.

The new button-only controls take some getting used to, but once you did get used to them, they work considerably well. Steering your Loftwing, your Beetle, Link in the air or Link underwater is now performed via the left control stick, the same with balancing yourself on tightropes or inside mine carts. Pressing that stick's button now performs any actions that were originally triggered by shaking the Nunchuk (or the left Joy-Con), like rolling or raising your shield.

Link fighting three Stalfos at once in the Skyview Temple... on this screenshot one is behind the other, which makes it look like the one in the front as four arms and legs

The right stick then gets used for swinging your sword and using your active item, like the Whip. You get a whole other level of accuracy with this, which can save you from some frustrations that sometimes came with the motion controls. You press the right stick's button and you stab. You flick the right stick to the left and you do a horizontal swing to the left. You hold the right stick up and Link holds the sword up to charge a Skyward Strike. If you ever had any problems with these actions, then the button controls will make you happy.

However, they are not free from frustrations themselves. Because Link holds the sword when you fully press the stick, it means you really have to flick the stick to properly swing your sword. But sometimes the game registers a hold, where Link then stops attacking, even though you just wanted to mash wildly at a downed boss. And that's just bad.

Using the Bug Net is also quite awkward, because you don't have the ability to fully move and turn the net in three dimensions with the stick, where instead it realigns the opening of the net when you fully press the stick in the opposite direction. And then you have to hope that it stays that way when you're going in for a swing.

aiming with the Bow around the Earth Temple

Items that require aiming basically work like in every other modernized 3D Zelda, where you can aim with the right stick or optionally use motion controls, which works much faster. Sadly, the quick draw of the bow is seemingly not supported if you play with button controls, but it works normally with motion controls. And for some reason Nintendo decided to apply the 3rd person camera control options for inversion to your aiming as well, like in Twilight Princess HD, which is just a mess and really should be separated.

Speaking of camera controls, you can now freely turn the camera via the right control stick as well. If you're using the button-only controls, however, you need to hold the L button for this, which is slightly inconvenient. But this is still better than nothing, considering that you couldn't freely move the camera on the Wii at all.

As for the motion controls, they work for the most part as they did on the Wii. Since the left Joy-Con also has a gyroscope, unlike the Nunchuk, any actions done with it are now more responsive. The Joy-Cons also don't need to be calibrated at the start, only to be recentered. But here lies the main issue...

With the Nintendo Switch there is no sensor bar to automatically recenter your aim toward the TV any longer. Well, this technique was prone to errors in itself, because other light sources could interfere with your Wii Remote, so this isn't necessarily a bad change. But the way it was implemented, you have to manually recenter your aim by pressing the Y button all the time... And that's just annoying.

Curiously, this isn't a problem with the button-only controls and motion aiming enabled. Whenever you activate an item there, like the Slingshot or the Beetle, it automatically recenters at that moment and you just have to hold still to not move in any direction. But for whatever reason Nintendo decided to not do the same for the motion controls, where you aim can be heavily off whenever use an item. As a result, you have to press the ZR button for the item and immediately the Y button right afterwards, which feels just so unnecessary, because this should be done automatically.

So, both control methods are somewhat flawed and don't really feel ideal. Some people might also want to change between motion controls and button-only controls depending on the situation... And here it would have been good to have some sort of hybrid options, where you can decide whether you want to utilize only the left or the right stick instead of motion controls. This way you could swing the sword with the Joy-Cons, but normally steer your Loftwing with the left stick.


The game's graphics look great in HD and the new control options will enable many new players to fully enjoy Skyward Sword for the first time, but the third pillar of this remaster really have been all the small improvements to the game's pacing. There were no major changes here, so you still have to go through all the quests like you did on the Wii and there are no shortcuts this time. The focus was really on smoothing out the edges.

The loading times are much shorter, where it lets you go from one area rather quickly, which is especially nice when switching between Skyloft and the sky. On the Wii you could only skip cutscenes once you already saw them, but now you can do so right away. You can also skip through text much faster by pressing B, which really is a standard in modern Zelda games, but for some reason wasn't in Skyward Sword ten years ago. And during the tutorial phase a variety of the dialogues were made optional now.

Link standing next to Zelda behind the Waterfall Cave

But most importantly, you get less interruptions from Fi. The sword spirit has been notorious for being the most annoying sidekick in the Zelda series, informing you about the most trivial things with some probabilities attached. While the mechanical Captain Obvious still pops up from time to time unnecessarily in Skyward Sword HD, it has been toned down significantly and you can really feel this – mostly because your sword blinks now whenever there is one of the once mandatory hints available. And this is by far the best improvement they could have done to the game, next to the new controls.

Otherwise they've also fixed the issue with the reoccurring treasure and insect explanations, which happened whenever your turned your Wii off and started the game again. Now you really only ever get informed about your collection items once and then you just pick them up normally, which is great and also a huge time saver.

Sadly, some of the switches still trigger a short "cutscene" each time you activate and deactivate them, which is really annoying. This isn't the case for all of them, where sometimes it only shows you the change directly the first time, but ideally this would apply to all the switches in the game and not just some.

Still, with all of this is fine tuning it makes playing through the game a much better experience than it used to be. However, you still spend a significant amount of time just flying around, which leads us to the next topic...



Skyward Sword HD supports amiibo, but only the one that was released together with the game: Zelda and her Loftwing. And the functionality behind this amiibo certainly has sparked controversy like no other. Scanning it on the surface will make you return to the sky immediately from anywhere. And scanning it a second time in the sky will make you return to the exact spot where you've first scanned it, even back inside dungeons.

Master, please tap an amiibo accessory.

It's essentially a new quick travel feature that can be quite useful, for example when your shield just broke and you want to quickly buy a new one. It's not needed or essential, since there are plenty of Bird Statues around, but that's not the point. It's a quality of life feature and shouldn't be locked behind a figurine, especially when these figurines get more and more expensive and hard to come by.

There also haven't been any efforts to improve the traveling otherwise. If you want to switch between Bird Statues in the same area, you still have to go back to the sky, dive down to the surface again and select the destination of your choice. A quick travel feature that lets you go to any Bird Statue on the current map would have been much appreciated...

Also, in the very least the game should have supported all other Zelda amiibo in a simple way, e.g. by providing you with treasures, insects and Adventure Pouch items on a daily basis. That's a non-intrusive method of utilizing amiibo, which already worked well in Breath of the Wild and Hyrule Warriors. So, why not do the same here?

Other Improvements

The remaster employs the same saving system as the remake of Link's Awakening, where you have an autosave feature, which gets activated quite frequently, often when you change between areas and even when you go next to a Bird Statue. You can still save manually there, where it now lets you choose between all three quest log slots. This can be useful for experimentation, but once you start doing a second playthrough (like in Hero Mode), you have to be careful not to overwrite the save data of your previous adventure.

And that's really it... There are sadly no other improvements or additions to the game. Hero Mode still has to be unlocked by beating the game once. There are no new areas and there is nothing new to find. The Adventure Pouch items would have been the perfect hook to add some additional rewards, like more of the useful Medals. Even another Empty Bottle, like in Majora's Mask 3D, would have been nice to have...

the bottom level of the Ancient Cistern with a huge skull formation

Ideally, they also would have added something exciting, like a Savage Labyrinth / Cave of Ordeals, which could have been a welcomed challenge with the new controls. But there is nothing, nada, niente, nichts. And that just feels like a huge missed opportunity.


Skyward Sword HD is by all means the definitive edition of the game. It looks very beautiful in HD, runs in 60FPS, has new button-only control options and shines with much better pacing and less interruptions, where it will be tough to go back to the Wii version once you've played the title on Nintendo Switch.

However, both control methods still have their flaws and could use a middle ground. The remaster also lacks any additions to the content and instead features the most shameless use of amiibo in Nintendo's history, where overall this isn't fully satisfying, especially with the full price tag attached to it.

The Good
  • Game looks amazing in HD
  • New button-only controls
  • Lots of fine tuning to the pacing
  • Less Fi
  • Autosave feature
The Bad
  • Motion controls need to be recentered too often
  • Button-only controls can be finicky
  • No hybrid controls
  • Only traveling improvement locked behind new amiibo
  • No new content, like items or dungeons

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Let's Update Skyward Sword HD

two Lizalfos getting ready to fight inside the Earth Temple

We got a new Zelda release in the digital age of downloadable content and you know what this means: it's time to assess what Nintendo should do via a free update in order to improve the title. And there's always something to improve. Of course we all know that Nintendo is probably done with Skyward Sword HD and won't fix anything, because it's Nintendo (as we all know), but this shouldn't stop us from giving them ideas. So, let's go over some suggestions...


Improved Control Options

With Skyward Sword HD Nintendo and Tantalus already have done a good job of making the original game a lot more accessible via the new button-only controls. However, there are a couple of shortcomings and not everyone is happy with how everything works. So, here is what needs to be added to make more people truly enjoy the game:

  • There should be separate camera control options for aiming. If you invert the camera, it does this for both the 3rd person camera controls and when you're aiming with items, where this is no way of having the same camera behavior as on the Nintendo GameCube with The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess. Sadly, Twilight Princess HD also had the same issue and this never got fixed.

  • When using motion controls, it still should be possible to steer via the left stick. This should work when you're underwater, flying with your Loftwing, controlling your Beetle, balancing things and so on. There are players who actually switch between motion controls for combat and the button-only controls for everything else, where it would be nice to have a hybrid-mode option that has this covered for the sake of convenience and comfort.

  • Some people really don't like that you have to hold the L-button to use the camera controls with the button-only setup. It's just not what they are used to from other (Zelda) games and that's understandable. A possibility would be that it activates the R-stick sword and item controls only when you hold ZL, either to target an enemy or just to center the camera, where this also could be a separate toggle in the options.

And here are some general changes to the interface and controls that the update should implement:

  • Let us use the D-pad to navigate menus.
  • Enable quick draw for the bow with the button-only controls.
  • When using motion controls, it should automatically re-center your aiming when you switch to an item, like the Slingshot or the Beetle.


Hero Mode from the Start

If you are hoping to go into Hero Mode right from the get-go, then Skyward Sword HD will disappoint you. While Skyward Sword was the Zelda game to invent the mode (unless you count Ocarina of Time 3D with its Master Quest implementation), its remaster keeps things exactly like they were in 2011. This means you first have to beat the game normally before you can go into the higher difficulty mode. And some people really don't want that.

Quest Logs. Do you want to start this quest? Start the game in Hero Mode? Normal Mode, Hero Mode.

Of course the Hero Mode in Skyward Sword has a New Game+ functionality to it, where you keep all your treasures and insects from the previous playthrough to make your life much easier. But this can already be skipped by starting a new quest log in Hero Mode, so that's not really a deciding factor.

What might be a problem is that you're supposed to have all the boss fights available in the Lightning Round in Hero Mode right away. That's even part of the challenge here, because you might have to overcome more difficult battles on your way to get the Hylian Shield. But if this is also available right from the start, it might be a huge spoiler for some people, who have never played Skyward Sword before, but also want to play in Hero Mode right away...

A compromise would be that the Lightning Round simply works like in normal mode on your first Hero Mode playthrough and then adds all the options after beating the game once. In any case, Nintendo should let the players have what they want.

Additional amiibo Support

Skyward Sword HD supports amiibo – but only the one that was made for the game and nothing else... Which is a joke, much like the fact that this hides a new quick travel feature. There is no excuse for this and Nintendo certainly won't change this, but in the least they could offer some simple support for all other Zelda amiibo figurines out there.

Fi saying, "Master, please tap an amiibo accessory."

This would work similarly to Breath of the Wild or the Hyrule Warriors games, where you can scan an amiibo once per day to receive items. These items can be Rupees, hearts, bombs, arrows, slingshot pellets, treasures and insects, but also basic Gear Shop goods, like the Wooden Shield or a Small Seed Satchel. Of course you can only get items that are already available to you in the game, so no early Sacred Shield or something like that. And the likelihood for the latter, as well as rare treasures is naturally lower than some of the other stuff.

What items you may get also depends on the amiibo / character. Revali for example may give you arrows or Bird Feathers on a regular basis, but also rarely a Small Quiver or a Blue Bird Feather. And that's it. This would be very simple and completely optional, but still nice to have, especially in the early game.

Travel Between Surface Bird Statues

If you want to travel around in Skyward Sword HD any faster, then you need the new Zelda & Loftwing amiibo, which is a shame. In the very least, the game should let you quickly switch between Bird Statues within the same area on the surface without having to go back to the sky.

Lightning Round: Chamber Challenge

Last but certainly not least, the update should add this game's equivalent to the Savage Labyrinth / the Cave of Ordeals, where you have to go through a number of chambers full of enemies, which need to be defeated. It's a staple in the Zelda series by now and a simple concept, which could be very interesting to have in Skyward Sword with its more challenging foes. The different rooms could be themed after the different dungeons and areas of the game, similar to the chambers inside the Sky Keep.

Lanayru: Are you here to do battle or challenge yourself in one of the trials in the Silent Realm?

To keep things simple, this would become another option at the Thunder Dragon's Lightning Round and work similarly to the Treacherous Tower in A Link Between Worlds, where you can choose between three different challenges, each becoming increasingly longer and more difficult. Unlike during the Boss Battles, however, you're allowed to bring all your Adventure Pouch items into this and make good use of them. 

There could be a total of 50 chambers and you can choose to tackle either 10, 30 or all of them, but the order of the chambers will always be random, much like the boss battles in the Lightning Round. So, you will never know what comes next and this will make things different from similar dungeons in other Zelda games. This would also work well here, because you don't get access to the Lightning Round until near the end of the game anyway, where you're already familiar with all the enemies.

This is what the rewards could be for the different levels:

  1. Another Empty Bottle
  2. A second Treasure Medal
  3. A completely new Medal

With the latter there are many possibilities, but it's hard to settle for something that only will become available in the late game and therefore won't be of much use any longer. For example, there could be a Bird Medal that adds more stamina to your Loftwing, but this would come way too late.

An idea could be the "Steadfast Medal", where enemies can't knock you over any longer and this also lets you keep stable on tightropes. This is something that somewhat breaks the game, but it's okay, because you're getting it very late and only through lots of effort, similar to the Hylian Shield, which also trivializes a lot of the fights, because you can just block normally without damaging your shield. There could also be a new Medal that protects you from electricity, which would be a fitting reward from the Thunder Dragon and even be helpful in the late game.

Link fighting Moldarach in a forest cave

In the Treacherous Tower you actually had to fight Moldorm as a boss, where they could do something similar here with Moldarach. They could even bring back the Moldarach battle from the E3 2010 demo with this, where you fought the scorpion boss inside the Great Tree. This would be a nice throwback and at the same time also change the fight somewhat, because it can't hide beneath the sand any longer.

Skyward Sword HD Blade Journal, Entry 5

Link on the Isle of the Goddess

My first journey through Skyward Sword HD has been finished. And when I had started this blog series, I didn't expect it to last this many posts. Of course it's still less than the other 3D remaster or remakes, like the Twilight Princess HD Diaries from 2016, but it's still a good amount, considering that the only novelty were the new controls.

And I kept using the new controls for most of the time, where I wouldn't want to miss them from this point on. The third Ghirahim battle worked significantly better with the stick controls, where for example it's much more reliable to reflect his sword beams and to stab his chest. And fighting Demise was great as well, simply because you don't have to worry about Link not holding his word up properly.

Link next to the walls at the Statue of the Goddess

But first things first. Before going into the Sky Keep, I actually spent some more time at the Statue of the Goddess to farm Skyloft Mantises and Sky Stag Beetles, just because I can. I'm not sure I will go to the same extremes as on the Wii, where I had 99 of almost everything, but I'm having fun with this and I want to spend more time on making the most out of this savegame, before I go in to a New Game+. 

Link next to the Thunder Dragon with exactly 6666 Rupees in his wallet

This includes minigame records as well, where I'm spending some more time getting good times against the individual bosses and in all the Silent Realms. For the latter I wanted to score at least a rare treasure with each one, where Lanayru has specific time requirements for every single Silent Realm.

With some of the other minigames I want to have some good scores as well, where I've managed to get below 63 seconds in the Heart Stopping Rickety Coaster for example. This particular minigame seems to give people some troubles, where you normally need to go under 65 seconds for a Piece of Heart. I also want to achieve those 43 cuts in the Clean Cut, but I couldn't do it yet with either controls...

Link inside the entrance Chamber of the Sky Keep, standing in front of an open treasure chest

Anyway, after all these distractions it was finally time to go into the final dungeon, the Sky Keep. And this is still one of the most unique final dungeons in the series thanks to the idea with the slide puzzle. The rooms themselves are simply based on the six main dungeons, where this is similar to the final dungeon in Ocarina of Time and some other Zelda games, so nothing too special. But the fact that you can rearrange the entire dungeon via terminals always makes this interesting to play.

Link fighting a Stalmaster surrounded by Cursed Bokoblins

Still, the different themes, as well as the combat sections give you a good idea how a Savage Labyrinth / Cave of Ordeals could have looked like in Skyward Sword, where it's a shame that they didn't consider to add such a dungeon for the remaster. With the new confidence that I've found in the button-only controls, I would have liked such a challenge.

It also could give you some additional rewards, like more Medals or another empty bottle. The five bottles in the game are enough for all five different potions, but I like to keep one fully upgraded potion of each time around for my "collection". And with that it would be nice to have a sixth bottle for some other stuff, like fairies.

Well, one enemy where I would have to practice a lot more is Dreadfuse, where I find this battle in the Sky Keep to be quite frustrating, because this mechanical monster just behaves so erratically different from everything else in its third phase that I'm having quite some troubles with it. And since this fight has you completely cornered, there is no way to catch some breath. You have to figure it out somehow quickly or it kills you.

Link at the Goddess Statue after it arrived at the surface

Now, I want to play the game again in Hero Mode soon, maybe even once I'm done farming treasures and insects, as well as competing in minigames and the Lightning Round. I'm not sure when this will happen, probably around September, where this might keep me busy until Metroid Dread comes out.

About Hero Mode, I completely forgot that you can start a new quest log in Hero Mode as well, where this lacks the New Game+ aspect of it. This would have been more interesting when I was replaying the Wii version four and a half years ago, before Breath of the Wild came out, because without the need of collecting treasures and insects the game wasn't really that enjoyable to revisit.

This might sound contradictory right now, as I'm in the middle of preparing such a Hero Mode playthrough yet again, but I think this is okay for playing the game in Hero Mode again right away. But should I decide to play Skyward Sword HD a third time in a couple of years, then a fresh Hero Mode quest log will certainly be the way to go. It's effectively a third way of playing through the game.