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.

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Comments (7)


2y ago

Meanwhile, on the Wii it took Nintendo 5 years.

I wish certain other external developers could be as open about the development of their game as Tantalus is with this.


2y ago


I'm not sure how they get away with being that open, but I'm certainly glad to have the insight!

I guess Nintendo approves what they say and to who or they've earned trust on what they can/can't say.


2y ago

I have yet to pick it up on Switch. I really liked the game for the story, but the gameplay isn't quite as open as they originally made it seem, so for me it's hard to go back to.


2y ago

This reminds me of how the developers of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity struggled to recreate the grass in BOTW.

"The lead developers on Age of Calamity say creating the grass in Hyrule Field took hundreds of employees over half of the development time of the game."

I bet it would have taken Nintendo a fraction of the length of time to adjust the controls for Skyward Sword HD.


2y ago

Don't mean to disrespect their work but I kinda felt that the motion controls worked worse on Switch, or it could be my JoyCon gyro malfunctioning, but I had to reset the calibration of the controls (it's the Y button on Switch I think and down on the D-Pad on Wii as I recall) way more on Switch than I ever had to on Wii. I even had reticle drift in the Switch version, like I would not move the controller at all and the crosshair would move by itself.

I just never had these issues on Wii with Wii Motion Plus. Not sure where the problem lies, or if I'm alone in this, and I certainly prefer the Switch version overall for the QoL improvements they made overall, but there you go, it's hard for me to consider as 100% the definitive version of the game because of that aspect.

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2y ago

I just can't imagine playing this game without motion controls.