Skyward Sword vs. Breath of the Wild

A full comparison of the two games that shaped Zelda history.

Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild do draw some parallels, but are they even close to being the same? One is filled with unreliable motion controls, and the other perfectly displays a new era of Zelda games. From storyline to gameplay to even the characters, here is every difference between the two of them.

10. Traditional Zelda Items

One thing that Breath of the Wild lacks is the traditional Zelda items (e.g. grappling hook, empty bottles, Pieces of Heart). Not that it takes anything away from its splendor, but Skyward Sword notably kept with the traditions. This is understandable, as it was first released long before BOTW and followed with that era’s Zelda‘s trends. Fortunately, BOTW’s producer and director also are aware of this fact. They explained that the famous hookshotting would neglect the climbing and parasailing mechanics that would be key in BOTW. But the absence of Pieces of Heart? That’s another question.

9. Link and Zelda’s Relationship

Everyone knows that Link and Zelda’s relationship in BOTW is… complicated. Zelda started outright hating Link for his natural abilities in some of the Captured Memories, before finally recognizing him for who he is and bonding with him at the end. She was also annoyed that her father assigned an escort/knight to accompany her wherever she went as if she was a defenseless child. However, Skyward Sword greatly differed from this. The couple already began as childhood friends from the moment the game turned on, and the entire journey Link embarks on is to save his true love rather than the Princess of Hyrule.

In the end, these first incarnations of Hyrule’s heroes become the king and queen of the Surface, meaning they had to get married to take the positions of the two rulers. And, if you look far enough, you’ll soon realize that Link and Zelda’s offscreen marriage would begin the royal lineage we see in every other Zelda game.

8. Boss Diversity

One place where Breath of the Wild is lacking is its boss diversity. All of the bosses (the Blight Ganons) look nearly identical to each other, and they all share similar attack techniques and ancient Sheikah weapons. On the other hand, Skyward Sword is blossoming with diversity. Its bosses have unique attacks and appearances, and you can never mistake one for another, can you? While some can be a total pain to beat, you still have to take a moment to appreciate the creativity put into these bosses.

7. Focus on Boss Fights

Breath of the Wild put its main emphasis on exploration, freedom, and creating your own adventure. Skyward Sword put it on linearism and boss fights. You can tell from the boss diversity and (a bit unnecessary?) difficulty that each of these fights include. Even from the very first level, Ghirahim challenges you with sword direction precision and perfect guarding. So, if you’re someone who loves a good challenge of a boss fight, you will get a kick out of SS… until you’re plain annoyed with it.

6. Dungeons

It’s obvious that BOTW swerved away from traditional dungeons to take a spin with the Divine Beasts. Like their bosses, the huge animal-resembling machines’ insides are hardly distinguishable from each other. Skyward Sword particularly excels in this field. Its levels are very diverse while still holding true to the traditional Zelda “building” dungeons. From the water-filled Ancient Cistern to the creepy, cobwebbed Skyview Temple, the dungeon designs pleased the fans while being satisfying challenges through it all.

5. Choosing Items from Your Inventory

A major problem with Skyward Sword is the method of choosing items from your inventory. In the heat of battle, you have to keep battling and running around the arena in real time while you’re trying to pick your best tool. This can become pretty frustrating over the course of the game, especially when you’re trying to find your potions and an enemy attacks you while you’re sipping away. Fortunately, Breath of the Wild fixed this problem by making the inventory screen a “break” screen. Don’t you love it when time freezes and you’re safe from your enemies?

4. Map Size

Of course. Breath of the Wild is huge. Skyward Sword is tiny in comparison, with its map being composed of only Skyloft and three main locales… yes, three. BOTW has eight, dude. Throughout the entire course of the game, the storyline will revolve around revisiting these three regions and solving two dungeons per area. Why not make more land area? There are no overlapping dungeon locations in Breath of the Wild, where the map is the perfect size to feel like a true open-world and story game. While SS… well, that’s another story.

3. Exploration

On the topic of exploration. As you play through Skyward Sword, you’ll immediately realize that the game is not centered around exploration and freedom like BOTW is. The entire game is a linear quest about saving Zelda from Demise. And by the way, those islands in the sky aren’t explorable, despite how they cunningly lure you in to fly your Loftwing all the way over to them only to discover nothing. Even when you’re hunting for Goddess Cubes and Pieces of Heart, you’ll soon get bored with the environments of each region. Endless trees for Faron, endless sand for Lanayru, endless lava for Eldin, and even getting around is harder than it seems… especially because Link can hardly climb.

2. Controls

Ugh, the Skyward Sword controls. Like, I paid 60 bucks for this horrible of controls? In boss battles, they aren’t even responsive sometimes, and fights are way too fast-paced to charge up your sword for a Skyward Strike. Oh, and that precision. If you get too excited in battle (which is what is supposed to happen, right?) and swing the right stick a little too hard, things will get wacky. Not to mention the fact you have to always keep your finger on the L button at all times. I guess this is what we should’ve expected from a remake of a game with even worse motion controls.

1. Freedom

Dun dun dun… The biggest difference between Breath of the Wild and Skyward Sword is ultimately the amount of freedom offered. Let’s start with the ability to complete BOTW’s Divine Beasts in any order, have the game world react to every decision you make, and do the main questline before even initiating it with Impa. Then, let’s look at SS. You strictly have to do everything the way the game has been set for you to do it, and it basically functions as a crude baseground for BOTW’s glorious flexibility. BOTW doesn’t have a Fi, either! For Din’s sake, get rid of that AI, SS Link. She treats you like you know nothing.

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