The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD has been a big success on Switch. The game has moved nearly 4 million units so far, which easily surpasses the total sales of 3.67 million units the original Wii released achieved. That means more players than ever have gotten to enjoy what Skyward Sword HD has to offer, including its motion controls.
Getting those controls right on Wii was certainly a challenge for Nintendo, but adapting them for Switch might have been even tougher. Tantalus handled the game’s port from Wii to Switch, and they had to put a ton of effort into not just making motion controls work, but also adding in traditional button controls.
In an interview with NintendoEverything, Tantalus CEO Tom Crago opened up about the hard work that went into creating Skyward Sword HD’s control schemes.
“It’s the hardest thing because we’re working away at this, and all we’re imagining is Aonuma-san with the Joy-Con in his hands, assessing, critiquing whether it feels okay. It’s hard to understate the significance of Skyward Sword from a gameplay standpoint. I mean, here’s this controller that we’ve never seen on the Wii, and here’s a game about a freaking sword where you’re waving this controller around, and that kind of was the game. A great majority of people loved it, a few people didn’t. What we’re trying to do is replicate the joy, the freedom of that experience on a totally different piece of hardware. We felt that we had the potential to be criticized for it, but we also felt here is a huge opportunity – especially for people who maybe found it challenging or a little bit kind of exhausting waving the Wii Remote around, to give them a different opportunity.
And of course, it had to work for those (Switch Lite) users. Having it work button-only, joystick only was probably the biggest challenge for us. And it’s not that there’s 50 engineers sitting in a room writing lines of code to figure it out. It’s more just, ‘Okay, let’s take a step back. Let’s really think about what we’re trying to achieve here from a gameplay and feel standpoint.’ Keep on making suggestions, working back and forth until we nail it.”
Getting both of these control setups to work took Tantalus a year and a half all together. That might seem like an inordinate amount of time for a team to spend on controls alone, but when it comes to adapting a unique setup and creating a whole new one, you can see how things ended up taking so long.