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vanguard333

Skyward Sword HD & Handedness in Gaming

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So, an HD re-release of Skyward Sword got announced for the Switch at the most recent direct, and they announced that the game would include optional button/stick controls to use in place of the motion controls. That's certainly a good addition, and there's been plenty of discussion about it. However, neither it nor anything else in the announcement addressed what, for me at least, was the biggest issue with the motion controls in Skyward Sword; the issue that kept me from playing Skyward Sword the first time around and raises a larger issue about gaming:

(From the announcement): "The joy-con controller in your right hand is the sword", "The joy-con controller in your left hand is your shield"

So... what if you're left-handed?

For context: as a left-handed person in a world where 90% of the population is right-handed, I have had to grow used to using right-handed objects in everyday life: for just one example, I found a way to use right-handed scissors (or as a right-handed person would call them, scissors) with my left hand without it being awkward just so I wouldn't have to pay absurd amounts for "scissors designed for both hands" that look no different from normal scissors. However, when it comes to playing video games on consoles, handedness is usually not an issue: the main effect of handedness is on things involving precise motion and hand-eye coordination: writing, sports, using a pair of scissors, etc., and a standard controller has none of that: it's pressing buttons and tilting a control stick while relying more on the physical feedback of the buttons and the stick than on the visual feedback of the game, so me being left-handed has virtually no effect when playing most consoles.

Console gaming was generally the one area where my handedness didn't matter at all. With the Wii and the DS, however, it was a different story. 

The DS Zelda games: Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, accommodated being left-handed: the game right away asked if you were left-handed or right-handed, and it adjusted the UI on the touch screen accordingly. More than that, almost every aspect of the gameplay utilized the DS pen, so there was never a situation involving having to use the control stick and the DS pen at the same time; something I heard was a major issue with Kid Icarus: Uprising to the point where Nintendo released a right control stick attachment (and of course, that attachment costed money rather than coming with the game, so there was a whiff of that "double-priced scissors that both hands can supposedly use equally"). Nintendo remembered to be inclusive towards the left-handed.

Plenty of Wii games, such as Wii Sports, also took left-handed players into consideration. The design of the Wii remote also took it into account: the Wii remote and nunchuck were symmetrical and could be held easily in either hand. And yet, for Skyward Sword, left-handed players got nothing. The game was designed around motion controls that favored being right-handed, and there were no options to alter the controls. Every time I went to the store and came across Skyward Sword on the Wii, this is the thing that ultimately kept me from purchasing it. 

Now, with this HD re-release, I was really hoping that would finally be addressed, but, while it's certainly possible that the game may have a "left-handed mode" that simply wasn't announced, the trailer could not have leaned more towards being right-handed if it tried: not only those descriptions of the combat above, but also the special themed joy-cons they announced with the right joy-con being the sword and the left joy-con being the shield.

The worst part is that the Switch re-release could actually end up being less inclusive than the Wii version if this is ignored: I know of a number of left-handed players who simply played Skyward Sword with the Wii remote in their left hand and the nunchuck in their right; it was awkward for them because motion controls rely entirely on visual feedback and Link's using the sword and shield in the opposite hands, but it was something. The equivalent for the Switch version would be swapping the very asymmetrical joy-cons and awkwardly holding them in the opposite hands. This is a problem that even occurred with Super Mario 3D All-Stars: in the Wii version of Mario Galaxy, handedness didn't matter one bit. However, for the 3D All-Stars version, all the motion controls were mapped to the right joy-con. A Wii game where handedness didn't matter became a game that disadvantaged the left-handed when ported to the Switch, and unlike the problem with the camera controls in the 3D All-Stars version of Mario Sunshine, Nintendo has yet to fix this. 

You would think that Nintendo would want to be as inclusive as possible for its audience even from a simple business standpoint; that was certainly the reasoning behind all the handholding in late Wii-era games such as this one. 

 

Adding to this, when it comes to Skyward Sword and handedness, it isn't just the controls that bother me: the left-handed like myself have hardly any representation in gaming. For the longest time, Link was the only left-handed hero of any noteworthiness, and he had been left-handed since the very first Zelda game (though for that game you'd have to look at the artwork to confirm it due to sprite-mirroring in 8-bit games). Then Skyward Sword changed that; he was made right-handed to mirror the motion-controls and cater to a right-handed audience, and though the 2D Zelda games that have come after have kept Link as left-handed, Breath of the Wild: a game with zero motion controls and with no animations or programming ported over from Skyward Sword, had a right-handed Link. At E3 2016, in response to questions about this, Eiji Aonuma had this response: 

"In terms of right-handedness of things, when we think about which hand Link is going to use, we think about the control scheme. With the gamepad, the buttons you'll be using to swing the sword are on the right side, and thus he's right-handed."

There's no way to describe this statement except as complete bogus; the attack button's been on the right side of the controller since the NES, yet Link has always been left-handed. Adding to this, in another interview in 2017, Eiji said this:

"It is a matter of chance that Link is left-handed in the first episodes, for a reason that we could not really explain today"

It was most certainly not chance; the reason is that the series creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, favours his left hand and enjoys adding left-handed characters in games. He made Bowser Jr. left-handed, he made Rosalina left-handed, etc.

So, one thing we aren't getting from Nintendo about the reason for why is the truth, and I think the reason for that is simply that there was no reason they made Link right-handed in Breath of the Wild, and now after being asked, they're just trying to make it sound like there was a good reason. They've even gone so far as to say that Link is "ambidextrous" and I honestly think they don't realize what they're doing: they're reducing the number of noteworthy left-handed heroes, not just in gaming but in pretty much all of fiction, from one to zero, and that's a real shame.

 

Anyway, these are my thoughts. Sorry this is a bit long, but I wanted to mention everything I could about this and cover all my thoughts on this. What are your thoughts on this?

Edited by vanguard333

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I agree with you 100%.  Skyward Sword is my least favorite game and while I did beat it, it was a royal pain playing it left handed.  I never could complete some of the side quests and other "filler" content because the controls were too touchy.  I was really sad when I saw the direct and how Nintendo once again said who cares about left handed players.  The sad thing is I feel Zelda probably has a higher left handed fan base the most games, since Link being left handed was the reason I got in to Zelda and I have met other fans that are the same.  The only good thing about the HD version of Skyward Sword is that there is going to be an option to play it like in hand held mode so you won't have to use the motion controls at all if you don't want (I rarely use motion controls) so there is that. 

Edited by EricaofRenais

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Technically, this would require making an entire set of animation for the left-handed mode...Which shouldn't be too hard, considering that it's another port.

 

But exactly how much dexterity do you guys need for this game? Since I've made it past the Fire Temple and the only enemy that gave me a challenge was Ghirahim. It isn't exactly as precise as writing or playing something on the DS; but you just need to pay attention to which way that electrified club is facing...But then again, I'm right handed.

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Skyward Sword is my favorite game of all time, and I am left-handed. Personally, I found that being a lefty made any difference*.The animations looked a little off, but it caused no problems. Although tbh all you need is the shield bash to beat the game 

*I think that the stabbing move was odd, but it's an attack that you'll use so sparingly that I found that it didn't matter.

I get that my experience with SS was different than basically everyone else's,  but I felt that functionally, it only looked slightly visually strange. (Plus, you can stand farther to the right or move the motion bar to the left to correct that if the game is having issues picking up your movements.)

Edited by Benice

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42 minutes ago, Armchair General said:

Technically, this would require making an entire set of animation for the left-handed mode...Which shouldn't be too hard, considering that it's another port.

Couldn't they just do what they did with Twilight Princess and invert the whole game? I don't think there's even any relevant text that would need to be fixed.

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Nintendo flipped the world of Hyrule in Twilight Princess for the Wii version, and you can choose how you want the world to be in the HD version of TP (granted it's tied to Normal mode and Hero mode, but you get the idea). I can't imagine that it'd be too difficult to add the option to flip the world to cater to left-handers, especially since they had the time to port SS to Switch instead of working on BotW2 to begin with.

I'm not left-handed, but damn do I feel the frustration. Even I'm frustrated about it. The control stick option is... something, I guess, but I don't think that it fixes the core issue.

Also, while reading your post, I was reminded that Alm was made left-handed for Shadows of Valentia. Not too important, just a detail that I remembered that I felt was worth sharing.

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I guess my biggest gripe with right handed link is that it jeopardizes my theory about Link being the same person across time, just with a new body and no memory of past selves. Miyamoto always said Link was the "link" between player and game world. So any allusion to him being the same person the way the player is the same person from game to game always felt right.

If you're a left handed gamer, then you're already used to the concept that the left hand moves the character while the right hand handles the action buttons. As I recall, the game world does have a lot of text that would need to be rewritten in the mirror world. Otherwise the hylian script, which does have its own alphabet, would be turned to gibberish in that mode. I can't think of any reason why they'd have a graphic designer on staff for this port, so mirror mode was probably a scrapped idea early on, if it ever came up. But it is is the most simple solution. Re-animating Link to hold or reach out for stuff with his left hand would be ultimately more time and effort than a mirror mode would. Furthermore, the right joy con is the only one that handles motion controls because it is the only joy con with that sort of functionality. A left handed motion control option was not feasible for the Nintendo Switch. In terms of strict gameplay, they probably thought the buttons only mode was sufficient enough for left handed players to have an easier time. I guess it really does come down to how much the game designers care about keeping left handed link a thing, conceptually. 

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I feel for you. Hopefully the stick controls will be enough to mitigate the problem for you.

Nintendo is so forward-thinking when it comes to creative game design but they're still stuck in the 80s in terms of accessibility and industry-standard, basic QoL options. They're a very traditional Japanese company in that sense. It's extremely frustrating, and I know doing better would be as easy as lifting a finger for them, but they just can't be bothered.

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1 hour ago, Florete said:

Couldn't they just do what they did with Twilight Princess and invert the whole game? I don't think there's even any relevant text that would need to be fixed.

That's kind of an strech, but it would be a lot easier to rig one character into being an lefty than it is to reverse the entire world.

The only thing it will break is the boss keys, which is a minigame where you trying to twist it so it'll fit inside a slot.

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1 hour ago, EricaofRenais said:

I agree with you 100%.  Skyward Sword is my least favorite game and while I did beat it, it was a royal pain playing it left handed. 

(I'm replying to your whole paragraph and cutting it for space)

Thanks. That's really interesting; as I said, I didn't play the Wii version, so it's always fascinating for me to read and hear the opinions of left-handed people that have played the game. The most common opinion I see seems to essentially be, "I put up with it without too much trouble, but I would prefer a left-handed mode, and Nintendo can say Link's ambidextrous but they'll never take left-handed Link away from me!"

I got into Legend of Zelda before I was actually fully aware that I was left-handed (it wasn't until grade 2 that I actually noticed which hand I preferred to write with; did I mention that I have high-functioning autism?), so I didn't get into the Zelda games because of my left-handedness, though noticing that Link was left-handed like me gave me some comfort in a right-handed world.

 

1 hour ago, Armchair General said:

But exactly how much dexterity do you guys need for this game? Since I've made it past the Fire Temple and the only enemy that gave me a challenge was Ghirahim. It isn't exactly as precise as writing or playing something on the DS; but you just need to pay attention to which way that electrified club is facing...But then again, I'm right handed.

I don't know; as I said, I didn't play it. Can someone who has played the game please answer this?

 

47 minutes ago, indigoasis said:

I'm not left-handed, but damn do I feel the frustration. Even I'm frustrated about it. The control stick option is... something, I guess, but I don't think that it fixes the core issue.

Also, while reading your post, I was reminded that Alm was made left-handed for Shadows of Valentia. Not too important, just a detail that I remembered that I felt was worth sharing.

Thanks. It's always nice to get understanding. Yeah; the control stick option is there, but whether or not it fixes the core issue is one of the questions I was trying to raise with this thread. Personally, since the game was built around motion controls, the control stick helps in that I could use that, but I don't think relying on the stick option for playing a game built around motion controls solves the handedness issue.

Yeah; I remember that. It was the same year that Breath of the Wild released, so I was thinking, "the Gaiden artwork shows Alm as a righty; was it changed to appease people who disliked how Link was made right-handed?" It certainly was nice to see a left-handed FE lord; if only it had been a left-handed FE lord that was well-written...

 

33 minutes ago, Glennstavos said:

I guess my biggest gripe with right handed link is that it jeopardizes my theory about Link being the same person across time, just with a new body and no memory of past selves. Miyamoto always said Link was the "link" between player and game world. So any allusion to him being the same person the way the player is the same person from game to game always felt right.

If you're a left handed gamer, then you're already used to the concept that the left hand moves the character while the right hand handles the action buttons. As I recall, the game world does have a lot of text that would need to be rewritten in the mirror world. Otherwise the hylian script, which does have its own alphabet, would be turned to gibberish in that mode. I can't think of any reason why they'd have a graphic designer on staff for this port, so mirror mode was probably a scrapped idea early on, if it ever came up. But it is is the most simple solution. Re-animating Link to hold or reach out for stuff with his left hand would be ultimately more time and effort than a mirror mode would. Furthermore, the right joy con is the only one that handles motion controls because it is the only joy con with that sort of functionality. A left handed motion control option was not feasible for the Nintendo Switch. In terms of strict gameplay, they probably thought the buttons only mode was sufficient enough for left handed players to have an easier time. I guess it really does come down to how much the game designers care about keeping left handed link a thing, conceptually. 

Yeah; I don't think that Link was ever intended to be the same person across time. A Link Between Worlds Link even heavily implies that the old man in that game is the Link from A Link to the Past.

1) I already pointed out how the button and stick controls don't matter. I played all my Wii games with the Wii remote (which has the action buttons) in my left hand and I honestly didn't notice a difference. My right thumb felt a little awkward at first when moving the nunchuck's control stick, but that very quickly faded.

2) How much would have to be changed? In the Wii version of Twilight Princess, all that had to be changed was any text saying "west" or "east". The Hylian text was gibberish in the Wii version of Twilight Princess too. 

3) Really? I didn't know that about the joy-cons. But, if that's the case, then how come lifting the left joy-con raises the shield in the announcement? Wouldn't raising the shield have to be mapped to a button if only the right joy-con has motion-control functionality?

 

38 minutes ago, cluesagi said:

I feel for you. Hopefully the stick controls will be enough to mitigate the problem for you.

Nintendo is so forward-thinking when it comes to creative game design but they're still stuck in the 80s in terms of accessibility and industry-standard, basic QoL options. They're a very traditional Japanese company in that sense. It's extremely frustrating, and I know doing better would be as easy as lifting a finger for them, but they just can't be bothered.

Thanks. Maybe, but I don't like the idea of being forced to use the stick controls. 

Yeah; that's true. It is a shame.

 

27 minutes ago, lightcosmo said:

As a lefty, adjusting was hard, but not as hard as 3DS controls were. Playing KI: Uprising is godawful for a lefty.

I see. Thanks for the input.

Yeah; I heard that game is a nightmare if you're left-handed. Did you end up getting that 2nd control stick add-on?

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1 hour ago, vanguard333 said:

3) Really? I didn't know that about the joy-cons. But, if that's the case, then how come lifting the left joy-con raises the shield in the announcement? Wouldn't raising the shield have to be mapped to a button if only the right joy-con has motion-control functionality?

 

Gyro. Sorry, what I meant was the right joy con is the only one with IR/pointer functionality. Technically the left joy con is capable of "motion controls" to the same degree the wii nunchuk was. More even. But the moment link takes out the bow, we'd have a problem.

Edited by Glennstavos

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7 minutes ago, Glennstavos said:

Gyro. Sorry, what I meant was the right joy con is the only one with IR/pointer functionality. Technically the left joy con is capable of "motion controls" to the same degree the wii nunchuk was. More even. But the moment link takes out the bow, we'd have a problem.

Ah; I see. That makes sense; I guess that explains the pointer-controls for the 3D All-Stars version of Mario Galaxy being mapped only to the right joy-con, though it certainly doesn't explain the gyro controls for that game only being mapped to the right joy-con (I mean, you can make Mario spin by shaking the left joy-con, which is what I do, but seemingly only because it thinks you're shaking the right joy-con for whatever reason as it doesn't work if you aren't holding the joy-cons close to each other; I tested this out when playing Mario Galaxy on the Switch). 

I thought that the Wii version of Skyward Sword used the gyro rather than the pointer for the bow? I remember it because I remember various reviews criticizing the bow being "unnecessarily" changed from using the pointer in the Wii version of Twilight Princess (which enabled very precise aim and no recalibration issues) to using the gyro in Skyward Sword, which was less precise for them and did have recalibration issues to the point where, upon obtaining the bow, the text box that describes the new item tells the player to press up to recalibrate whenever experiencing calibration issues. 

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1 hour ago, vanguard333 said:

Yeah; I heard that game is a nightmare if you're left-handed. Did you end up getting that 2nd control stick add-on?

Well, I actually managed with ALOT of practice. 

Took forever, though!

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2 hours ago, Glennstavos said:

As I recall, the game world does have a lot of text that would need to be rewritten in the mirror world. Otherwise the hylian script, which does have its own alphabet, would be turned to gibberish in that mode.

Is there actually any in-world text that isn't Hylian script? Because no one's reading the Hylian text as they're playing so that being backwards really shouldn't matter.

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19 minutes ago, Florete said:

Is there actually any in-world text that isn't Hylian script? Because no one's reading the Hylian text as they're playing so that being backwards really shouldn't matter.

It's POSSIBLE that the goddess walls could be effected, but I'd doubt it.

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21 minutes ago, vanguard333 said:

I see. I can't imagine what that was like. 

Well, admittedly I never really was great at the game, so take that as you will.

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I don't remember having that much trouble with skyward sword (in fact I could have sworn that there was a left handed mode) but honestly it could just be fake memories.

And replaying Kid Icarus uprising (without the right stick add-on for the record) I find that the controls are fine except you try to make use of the powers or try to move precisely

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9 hours ago, Guill0 said:

I don't remember having that much trouble with skyward sword (in fact I could have sworn that there was a left handed mode) but honestly it could just be fake memories.

And replaying Kid Icarus uprising (without the right stick add-on for the record) I find that the controls are fine except you try to make use of the powers or try to move precisely

Okay. I see. Do you think a left-handed mode would help/improve the game (Skyward Sword) for you?

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7 hours ago, vanguard333 said:

Do you think a left-handed mode would help/improve the game (Skyward Sword) for you

I think it would be great for 2 things: it would be better for some of the "high precision puzzles" and for a better identification with Link (it would be great if he was doing the same movement as me instead of being a weird mirror version) 

 

edit: Oh and keeping one of the few left-handed heroes as a left-handed

Edited by Guill0

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7 hours ago, Guill0 said:

I think it would be great for 2 things: it would be better for some of the "high precision puzzles" and for a better identification with Link (it would be great if he was doing the same movement as me instead of being a weird mirror version) 

 

edit: Oh and keeping one of the few left-handed heroes as a left-handed

I see. Thanks for the feedback. As one might guess from what I said at the start of this thread, I completely agree. 

Just wondering: how many different "high-precision puzzles" are there in the Skyward Sword? The two I always see brought up in discussions about Skyward Sword and handedness are the key puzzles where you rotate the key to fit inside the lock, and rolling the bombs. 

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7 hours ago, vanguard333 said:

"high-precision puzzles" are there in the Skyward Sword? The two I always see brought up in discussions about Skyward Sword and handedness are the key puzzles

High precision might be a little exaggerated. Obviously there's the key one but it isn't impacted by left-handness. but I remember having trouble with a "cut the tree quickly in various direction" mini game and a few bow things. (it has been too long since I last played Skyward sword but I might try it again to see if my opinion on its lefty-friendliness has changed)

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On 2/24/2021 at 5:26 PM, Guill0 said:

High precision might be a little exaggerated. Obviously there's the key one but it isn't impacted by left-handness. but I remember having trouble with a "cut the tree quickly in various direction" mini game and a few bow things. (it has been too long since I last played Skyward sword but I might try it again to see if my opinion on its lefty-friendliness has changed)

Ah, I see. What about rolling the bombs? I saw a few people say that they had trouble with that because of their left-handedness.

 

Anyway, recently, someone asked me, "Wouldn't it be awkward swinging your sword with the joy-con that has the control stick for moving Link?" Now, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be awkward since I know where my thumb is and which way it's pointing without having to look at it, but more to the point: can Link even move while swinging his sword? I remember that was a thing in Twilight Princess that he could swing his sword while continuing to run, but I'm pretty sure Skyward Sword didn't have that. Is that the case?

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