Playthrough: ‘Mid Summer Skies

Box Art

Hello and welcome to The Starlight Megaphone’s playthrough of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (and its HD re-release), an adventure game released worldwide and exclusively for the Nintendo Wii in November of 2011, and then rereleased worldwide in a HD version exclusively on the Nintendo Switch on 16 July 2021.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is the first part of the Legend of Zelda-universe timeline, and the sixteenth game released in the Legend of Zelda series, one of the most famous game franchises in the world. The games typically centre on the role of Link, a near-silent protagonist, who is usually tasked with both the rescue of Princess Zelda and the saving of the Kingdom of Hyrule. His fate is intertwined with a legendary artefact known as the Triforce, which governs the order of the Hylian universe. Along the way, Link acquires various items which grant him access to new areas of the world, allowing him to progress in his quest until, fully strengthened by his adventure, he is able to confront the final enemy (usually Ganon) and save his world.

Skyward Sword saw some of the most significant changes to the “3D Zelda” formula since the release of Ocarina of Time in 1998. Amongst the gameplay innovations which were later refined in Breath of the Wild are breakable equipment which can be upgraded to improve durability and the addition of a stamina gauge which allows for short-distance sprinting.

‘Dungeons’ can take place in both indoor and outdoor environments.

Not all of the changes were enthusiastically received: the game has a linear design which disappointed some fans (and feedback about this aspect of the game led to Breath of the Wild‘s open-world design ethos). Moreover, the original release did away with button-based combat entirely, replacing it with motion controls that telegraphed user movement to in-game sword thrusts and swipes. Even at its best, it was a fiddly and often frustrating design choice that rendered the game thoroughly unpleasant to play for a large number of gamers, and consequently there has been for many years considerable demand for a rerelease that would update the controls with a more classical ‘button-based’ system–a request finally granted with the release of the HD version for the Nintendo Switch. The one or two irredeemably perverse fans of the motion controls will not be disappointed either, as the Switch Joy-Cons can still be used for that purpose.

Fans of earlier 3D Zelda games (Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess) will find much to remind them of those earlier entries in the series: collectible items, extensive areas to explore, dungeons filled with puzzles, and amusing NPCs all abound in satisfyingly large quantities, whilst those who are keen to press on will be pleased that much of the more trifling collect-a-thon content (like Twilight Princess‘s bug collecting) is optional.

Link and Zelda in this game form a bond that will stretch through the multiverse.

The game is divided into exploration of the town of Skyloft and the world below, with its various dungeons and areas, each of which contain items that will help advance Link in his quest. The story in this title is the first in the Zelda universe so far, and chronicles the origin of the Triforce, the creation of the Master Sword that plays such a significant role in later games of the series, and the foundation of the very Kingdom of Hyrule itself.

Use the comment thread below to discuss your approach to the game, challenges you have faced, strategies and content you have uncovered, and any aids you are using in your playthrough. Do you feel that The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has aged well or poorly after the release of Breath of the Wild? Do you prefer its more lienar construction? Would you rather see Nintendo return to the diagatilt 2D Zelda design? What sorts of changes would you make to the game? What features would you add or remove? Tell us all about it and join in our discussion below! We will select some of the best comments, each week, for our podcast discussion.

Is it a Moblin? Is it an orc? Are these the fell origins of Ganon’s many monstrous minions?

The aim in this playthrough is to complete the entirety of the game by the end of September. Instead of milestones, we encourage you to play at your own pace–but please keep us updated about your thoughts and progress as you play the game. This will help to sustain our discussion and encourage other players to complete the game. Please also make use of our official Discord channel, where we have an #events channel dedicated to playthrough chat.

Please join in with us and comment about your experience! The playthrough time frame is intended to allow anyone and everyone to participate, regardless of speed of play or familiarity with the series. Comment and tell your friends!

Without further adieu, we invite you to join The Starlight Megaphone’s staff members and readers in ‘Mid Summer Skies: a The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword playthrough!

52 comments

  1. Refreshing the Amazon app every five minutes to check delivery progress . . .

  2. Mine arrived this afternoon, and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

    Also, this game reminds me that the Hymn of the Goddess is the best piece of Zelda music since the original overworld theme.

  3. Reached the Forest Temple and had to quit for the night (Zzz)! Great fun, but the graphics are VERY Wii-era. Otherwise lovely!

  4. I have just finished Forest Temple and I’m going to continue play it tomorrow.
    I wish I could use motion controls, since i find button controls little bit annoying but it’s okay, i really enjoy it.
    Since i have always wanted to try Zelda Skyway Sword since i heard about game for Wii.

  5. @Solveig: You can use motion controls as long as you don’t have a Switch Lite: simply remove the joy cons from the Switch and you can set control to ‘motion control’ in the game options.

    Addendum: you can use joy-cons if you buy them separately, but you will need some way to charge them.

  6. I also just finished the Forest Temple and then went and collected some bugs and treasure. Off to supper now whilst my Switch charges and then maybe some more tonight after the boys are asleep!

  7. I reached the Earth Temple this evening. This area is only vaguely familiar so I’m not sure if I finished this on the Wii or stopped around this point. Eventually I’ll get to a point that is totally unfamiliar and I’ll know that I’ve passed my previous gameplay!

  8. Finished the Earth Shrine this evening. I didn’t remember the boss, and I don’t remember the Lanayru desert, so I must have quit before this point when it came out on Wii.

    The joystick combat required a bit of acclimation because it is so much faster than the game expects, since it is designed for big arm-sweeping motion controls. The result is a much more precise, but also much much faster, combat. At first I was just swiping five at a time quite inaccurately, but I’ve got it down now and the result is a very easy combat engine because enemies are designed with the assumption that the player will be slower and less accurate than the stick allows.

    I have done my sidequests so far, have my three bottles and various wallet expansions/upgrade, and have upgraded both shields. Onward!

  9. Just got to the Faron Woods. No clue how to progress. I had to put it down, had a headache come on. I ‘ll resume tommorow

  10. Just got through the Lanaryu Mines entrance and am up to Desert Entrance. I love the rude little robot guys!

  11. Made it through the desert and into the Lanayru Mining Facility.

    I think that this game has the best puzzles I’ve seen in any Zelda game other than Breath of the Wild. They are fantastic: entirely logical, very clever, and no guesswork.

  12. Stayed up late to finish the Mining Facility! I love the storyline in this game, and I am trying to keep track of all the uncollectible items so that I can come back when I have the right tools.

  13. Made it to the Ancient Cistern today. Quite the palaver getting there, which is the first part I’ve noticed any ‘dragging’. Hopefully the process to unlock the other three Flame Trials is not as lengthy and convoluted!

  14. Had a little more time this evening, so I finished the Ancient Cistern and got the first flame! My sword is IMPROVED!

  15. I’m going to resume my playthrough tonight. I’m at the first temple. I had to stop since my friend is in the hospital, again.

  16. Finished the Desert Trial and I am on my way to the next area in search of the desert flame. Mostly, this evening, I did a little tidying up.

    I’ve bought all the items in Beedle’s shop, upgraded all of my gear to the max, done all available side quests, and found all of the cubes and treasure chests that I can do up to this point.

    Something I didn’t realise until I eventually gave up and looked it up is that Bird Feathers (normal ones) are not found anywhere or dropped by anything. A few are needed to upgrade the third shield, so I was very confused. To get them, use the bug net and catch birds in it in Faron Woods. You have to be very slow and careful but once you figure out how to do it it is quite easy: and, if the birds fly away, walk away a bit and wait until they return and you can try again. You can do this quite easily and get lots of feathers without any trouble.

    I never found any evil stones either, but those are a prize from bamboo Island if you get between 20-27 hits (quite easy).

    The third shield is very nice because it resists everything and auto repairs over time. It’s the second best shield in the game after the Hylian Shield, which comes from beating eight bosses in the rush mode discovered during the desert flame quest.

  17. I have taken a break from the game, until I buy my joy con which I can use on Switch little. have a hard time beating the squid monster since I must have the sword high up and swinging it afterwards.

  18. @Solveig:

    For a Skyward Strike: hold the right stick up until the sword is charged, and then just flick the right stick the way you want to swing: horizontal on the stick is a horizonal slice; vertical is a vertical slice. Press the stick like a button for a thrust.

    To cut through the Octopus limbs, charge your sword, then flick the right stick down and the beam will chop through them. It is very very easy.

    If you want to do a downward slice, flick the stick down. If you want to do an upward slice, flick the stick up. And so on. If you are not flicking the stick, but are instead trying to move the sword around in a probing way, it will not work. Do not hold the stick up and then try to move it down. Instead, from a neutral position, quickly flick the stick down. Attacks are done by flicking the stick in the way you want to attack. I am nearing the end of the game and it has been VERY easy for that reason.

    Honestly, the stick controls are far more accurate than motion controls. The motion controls have to try and interpret your movements. If you use the stick, the game will always do an attack in *exactly* the direction that you flick the controller stick.

  19. Just finished the “Octopus” (Abyssal Leviathan) fight on the Sandship. The button controls make this game ridiculously easy!

  20. Finished the last trial in Eldin, and in the volcano now.

    There is only one thing I really have disliked about the game so far, and that is the three trials.

    I really do not enjoy stealth games, at all, even in small quantities. I am amazed that I didn’t fail any of the trials and managed to do them all on the first try, which I put down more to dumb luck than anything else. luckily, the little teardrop things shine up into the sky, and I’ve been playing the game a LOT recently, so I still remember how to get to each of the areas.

    I’m not sure if I will be able to finish this tonight: probably not. But I have 17 hearts, all of my gear upgraded, and all of the available side quest and goddess cubes so far completed. The game clock is just over 30 hours, but a lot of that is time spent paused. I know that after this third flame, there is still a bit of game to go, but I’m not sure exactly how much.

    My guess is that the whole thing from this point won’t take me another 10 hours, but we’ll see. I will definitely have the game completed before we record another podcast, though!

  21. Fire Sanctuary done and Master sword gained. Just four pieces of heart left to collect and I’ll be at max life (20 hearts). Should finish the game on Weds or Thurs! :)

    Might skip the final heart container because the song strumming heart piece is a HUGE pain.

  22. Cross-posted from Discord:

    Finally, something to have a whinge about: getting the four dragon pieces of the Song of Heroes.

    1. I don’t like revisiting old content to do it again in the best of circumstances, and the game has you visiting the Forest/Desert/Volcano dungeons not twice but THREE times each. By the third time, they are feeling very worn-out indeed. (Likewise having to fight Demise THREE times–essentially the same battle each time–and Ghiraim twice).

    2. The three dragon quests are all aggressively irritating: a collect-a-thon in the forest, an escort mission in the desert, and a lose-all-your-items forced-stealth-mode in the volcano. I hate all of these approaches to game design, so having all three of them in one quest is a sort of hat-trick of shit.

    None of this is hard, per se, but it is annoying and irritating in design and execution, and it has really dampened my enthusiasm about the last bit of the game, which is when I should be most enthusiastic: I have the true master sword, and all of my items, so I should be thinking about the final boss instead of “when will I get my items back?”

  23. THE END.
    Twitter followers will have seen my screenshots, and I posted links to the posts in the Discord #events channel.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the final dungeon, which was like a greatest hits run of the game’s full set of environments.

    The final boss fights were excellent. They were not difficult, but they were a lot of fun. The combat in this game is predominantly a technical exercise in swinging your sword in the right direction. If you can do so quickly and accurately, then the entire game is a piece of cake.

    This is probably the easiest 3D Zelda game I have ever played: I did not use any guides, maps, or FAQs except for a list of goddess cubes and heart pieces (which I never missed anyway, and so ended up not needing except as confirmation). Despite that, I never died in the course of the game, and only once did my life ever get low enough that a bottled fairy auto-healed me.

    I had to resist the urge to look at a guide a few times, not from any difficulty, but just out of a completionist’s force of habit. I’m proud to say that I resisted it successfully. I did the same with Dragon Quest XI and Bravely Default II and my enjoyment of those game was much greater as a result. I’ll save the guides for a future perfect completion runs, if I ever do that (not that I’ll need them for this game, apparently).

    Not 100%: I didn’t get the last three pieces of heart (Pumpkin Shooting, Boss Rush, and Pumpkin Inn Sing-Along) because the lattermost of those is a gigantic pain in the butt, and if I wasn’t going to get one of them, there was no point getting any (because it takes all four pieces to get a container).

    I also didn’t get the Hylian Shield because (a) I hate boss rush modes, and (b) my timing with the shield was good enough that I never needed to worry about my shield getting damaged at any point in the game. I was fine for the final battle with the Goddess Shield’s recharging ability.

    I also never got the last 1 or 2 Gratitude Crystal wallet upgrades. By the time more gratitude crystal side quests were available, I had already purchased everything in the shops and no longer needed rupees (thanks probably to lots of grass cutting and the earlier use of the rupee medal).

    There are a handful of niggling issues with this game, and an even smaller handful of things I dislike. But I am just one person, and no game can please everyone. None of the issues I’ve mentioned here or on the podcast really take away from the fact that I have had an absolutely brilliant time playing this game, and I looked forward to it every single evening.

    I am terribly sad that it is over. It has proved to be one of the best games that I have ever played.

  24. Wow didn’t know it would be one of the best games you have played!

    I have entered the woods now and left off this morning with a evil looking thing at the bottom. Hopefully progress will be better from here.

  25. I’ve found all three kikwis, and got the Bug Catching Net from Beedle! I think I’ve found all the bugs I can catch for now though. I also think the motion controls are a little more appropriate to bug catching than sword slashing, and think it’s a bit of a shame there weren’t more bug catching (or reptiles, amphibians, what have you) sims made for the Wii.

  26. I’ve tried a few times to catch birds, but it seems they’re a might too sprightly for my net.

  27. Tips on bugs and birds:
    – Keep your net out but don’t move it or lift it. Leave it neutral.
    – L-target the desired bug/bird.
    – Move AS SLOWLY AS POSSIBLE until your net is on top of the target.
    – Whilst still targetting flick your net up (if in the air) or down (if on the ground).

    If you screw it up, stop moving and wait for the bugs to return. They will come back to where you are standing and you can try again a few times until they are scared away for good.

    For birds, move a little way away and they will return. They are never permanently scared away.

    Good luck!

  28. Get your updates in so that we can include them in our Skyward Sword segment!

  29. Well uh this was not a great week for Skyward Sword. I don’t know what it is, but whenever I pick it up I get distracted and scroll on my phone etc 🤦🏻‍♀️ Maybe it’s not the right time for it, I don’t know. Well I’m caught up otherwise in gaming now so maybe next week will be better and hopefully I get drawn in more. But sometimes it’s just not the right time too I guess. I have sometimes games I can’t get into, put down and then come back to when mood strikes right and love. But I really want to get into it now.

  30. Actual time to sit down and play it! Probably won’t finish in time. Well very likely since I’m just not good at Zelda, but they are more fun to explore without following a guide strictly. But also takes me a while then. Read a year or so usually lol. I’m looking for cute creatures in the forest for the elder now!

  31. I’m doing the same. I started the 3ds version of OOT before the big move, same for Wind Waker. I have both on hold. I have TP and MM at the start of their games. I don’t seem to enjoy the 3d Zeldas looks like. I’ve finished every 2d Zelda though. I took a break on SS and I’m struggling to pick it back up. i played it one time after the first temple. Didn’t get far before I shut it off

  32. @Winter: Keep up the good work! I know you’ll make it if you keep at it. It’s really a very easy game!

  33. It’s a very easy game usually. Lol I was playing a platformer earlier today. Very simple mario style platformer. Hit a boss. No joke I could have stayed on that boss forever trying out all sorts of ideas. Didn’t feel like it, asked a friend. Run with the extra button so you can jump higher … 🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️ That’s the sort of work my brain does in Zelda too. My solutions are always super complicated and I can think of every way to solve puzzles except the right way 😂

    That said I can’t really blame that. I got new Bibles and have been absorbed in them. And I have also been quite addicted to puzzling rather than being in a gaming mood. And in my gaming time I have been really drawn to games I can just relax with like Idea Factory games (my favorite publisher), FF on phone and farming 🙈 Ah well. I do think this game deserves more, but timing seems to be off. But maybe this week will be a calmer week and more energy to play games. Fingers crossed!

    You are a bit right though. I don’t dislike Zelda, but it requires more energy and mood maybe.

  34. Our playthrough will end in September, although it may end earlier in the month if no one is still playing.

    If you are still participating, please leave a comment and let us know how you are going!

  35. I’ve had no time really. I’ve been at my friends bedside alot, so not much me time. I think like BD2, I’ll come back to it when I got time to sit down and play alone

  36. Sorry, I’ve been fanatically attached to Ys VIII this whole time, and got as far as the save bird in front of the boss room in the first dungeon. I didn’t get much farther when I played it on the Wii, but I can tell I do enjoy Skyward Sword much more now. It’s just not pressing my buttons like Ys is at the moment. I’ll get back to it when I’m ready for slower, more methodical gameplay and exploration again. Although Metroid Dread’s around the corner too. What a great time to be a video gamer!

  37. Caspius, I just found and bought from Gamestop the skyward sword amiibo for $20 plus tax. So they are in the wild at least in nj.

  38. I finally got the game earlier this week. And I just started the section after the mine dungeon looking for a pinwheel near a fire temple(?)

    It took a minute to adapt to holding the left shoulder button to move the camera which was probably the most annoying thing with the button controls. I do like the combat in this game built around the different angles you can swing your sword. For this reason, The first boss fight was the one I enjoyed the most so far out of the three. The dungeons on the other hand seem to be getting better and better so far.

    I’m finding the game more enjoyable than I thought I would honestly. The only thing I don’t like is the dousing sections that keep coming up. They aren’t even that bad, I found all the earth dungeon parts without dousing at all. I just don’t like collectable searches that feel a bit like padding.

    I really like all the different interesting characters you can interact with in the game. It makes it fun to come back to the hub town and see if there are any new side-quests and/or interactions to see.

    I’m excited to go through the rest of the game even knowing I’m in for the terrible dragon quests. All three of those sound like a nightmare so hopefully they don’t ruin the experience too much.

  39. The dragon quests are involved but in retrospect I do appreciate that they showed off new things about the areas to which I had already been. Rediscovery rather than discocery.

    I just about never used dowsing, except when the game more or less forced me to do so. It was generally pretty easy to find where everything was without having to use it. Although… during the water Dragon Quest, the forest completely floods and stuff is hidden all over the place, including on the Z axis. Other than that, it’s not really important.

    At the very end of the game, the game lets you dowse for additional stuff: guardians cubes, and so on. But by that point I had already found all of that stuff, so that was of no benefit to me.

    Although I did not like the continual returning to areas I had already visited, I have no problems whatsoever with the dungeon design. It started out very good, and only got better as the game went on. if you’re enjoying it now, you’ll likely be delighted with where the game is going.

    And yes, holding the left shoulder button is a bit annoying for looking around, but at the same time it’s hard to imagine what else they could have done with the camera controls that would not have made the combat controls more difficult as a trade-off, and prioritising combat is obviously the correct decision. In point of fact, most older 3D games required you to hold a button or zoom into a locked first-person mode to manually orient the camera, and this is better than that by far (compare with, e.g. Mario 64).

    I’m glad you’re making great strides with it, so there’s a good chance you’ll earn that star after all! You’ve got three weeks!

  40. Finally completed Secret of Mana and I’m up to date more or less in Live A Live too. Thought this would be a good time to actually get in some Skyward Sword. Spend the morning session looking for the last birdthing and unfortunately not finding it 🤔 I know it is in a tree, I just seem to not be able to get where it is. Might have to youtube.

  41. I just got to the dragon quest section and I’m enjoying the game even more than after the first major section. A big part of this is the dungeons and boss fights in this section of the game.

    I thought the Ancient Cistern was aesthetically and conceptually Creative. The Ancient Sandship section was my favorite of the game. Sailing around the sand-sea with the captain robot was a really cool idea and the dungeon’s puzzles were creative and required thought without being too obscure. The fire sanctuary kind of just felt like another fire dungeon to me. It was alright but not as great as the previous two dungeons. The silent realm trials were ok, they weren’t that hard, just an annoyance needed to be gotten through to get to the better content in my opinion.

    All five boss fights in the dungeons were massively enjoyable. My favorite would be the fight against the pirate captain where you are each trying to gain ground and drive the other into peril.

  42. I finished the game. The ending scenes really tied everything up in a satisfying way and it was cool to see a little bit of Zelda’s journey and hear the main Legend of Zelda theme for the first(?) time in the game.

    The only dragon quest that was really that bad was the water one and the thunder section was actually pretty alright in my opinion.

    It was annoying to have to fight the imprisoned for a third time. It’s the worst boss fight in the game and you have to do it 3 times.

    The dungeon afterwards with the siding rooms was an interesting idea that made it more memorable than most of the other dungeon remix style final Zelda dungeons.

    The final boss fight(s) were pretty great except for the stupid section where you have to waste time fighting hundreds of generic enemies. I was anticipating another phase for the final boss fight and was surprised it ended so quickly.

    Ultimately, I think it’s a really good game. The only real blemishes are the filler collectathon sections and the repeated imprisoned fights and those are small in retrospect compared to the great parts of the game.

  43. @LC11: I *KNEW* you would make it! :D

    I entirely agree about your overview of the game. There are blemishes where you note them, but they make up a small part of the whole which is otherwise really exceptional.

    The end of this Zelda game is one of my favourite–perhaps my favourite–of all Zelda games.

  44. Our playthrough has ENDED!

    Thank you everyone who participated. Join us in a week as we begin our next playthrough: METROID DREAD.

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