Link and Zelda's skyward home

What you see above is the heavenly city of Skyloft, Link and Zelda’s aerial home in Skyward Sword.  However, it didn’t always look quite like this.  Official concept art of this city in the sky has been released depicting what Skyloft looked like in its early days, consisting of many multiple islands, differently stylized buildings, and even some previously unseen art styles.  Read on to see the development team’s vision for creating the beautiful city of Skyloft.

Skyloft looked very different in its early days

A look at what could have been...

One tottering mountain island

It appears that during the preliminary development days, the concept artists and design team were considering structuring Skyloft as more of a mountainous mass of many small islands, as seen in the first image, or as one large, rickety structure, as seen in the latter two images.  Both would be a drastic change from the large, stable island that appeared in the final product, connected to a few smaller sub-islands.

Lots of houses along the paths

Skyloft, before the final days

Some images depict Skyloft as being a much more lush village than it ultimately was, and the art style above mimics the bizarre style of Picasso more so than the impressionistic mimics of Van Gogh, as seen in official art.  Looking at the last image, perhaps Skyloft was also considered as a much larger city, as well, which could have lead to many changes for Skyward Sword’s non-playable characters.

Another possibility for Skyloft Yet another possibility

The possibilities are endless

The neverwere homes

Seeing all of these changed or unused ideas reminds us that every Zelda game goes through a rigorous planning stage, and that there are so many concepts that we will never see.  If you could choose only one concept seen in the above images that didn’t make it into the final run of Skyward Sword, which one would you choose?

Source:  History of Hyrule (via Zelda Dungeon).
  • Some of those pictures remind of the Hobbits' houses in Lord of the Rings, as they're stationed beneath the hills. Come to think of it, I'm wondering if the development team was inspired by that idea and decided to use it.

  • DARK LINK

    like alwayz

  • Keimori

    Lovely Concept art!
    I like the first one alot, the structure is realy cool with all the bridges interconecting.
    I also like the european esque houses in the latter drawings.

    Still I'm realy happy that they went with the final design they went with, the Idea that they must fly to get from island to island realy makes their culture centered on their bond with their loftwings much more important.

  • occultfan

    Its all so awesome! Miyazakian in some form and color use!
    Laputa: Castle in the Sky is an inescapable comparison here,
    where as in the game, we don't see that much at all, if at all.

    So beautiful. Impressionist, even.

    You have to imagine the artists were given the most tacit of
    descriptions to go by, "its a village in the sky with trees and small houses… go!", say the directors, giving the artist the most freedom and lack of influence over what could develop into such wonder.

    Now, I see the multi-layered/leveled Skyloft and I think, how way-cool would be to travel up and down through the sky on bridges like that. But I feel a flat Skyloft somehow adds itself more usefully to the birds coming in-and-out of the town.

    HAI! Don't fall now, you'll never make it to knighthood! YA!

    *update*: It seems like a few of those pictures, the one with the two small village houses at 90 degree angles, reminds me of some Final Fantasy towns, Nibelheim namely.

    • linkintime

      Miyazaki ftw

  • ChainofTermina

    I really like the more vertical ones. I wish they used those in the game.

  • Baker1000

    It looks like it would have been a real pain going from one place to another for all the sidequests. Although I do wish they had used it for another island in the sky, away from Skyloft. Another town perhaps, one which wasn't so central and hub-like and didn't require you to run from one part to another. One of the things I found disappointing about the game was the fact that only one island was populated. It should have been like Wind Waker with a few different towns, only not as far apart obviously.

    • fluffy776

      All of Wind Waker's populated islands felt too empty to me. I wish Skyward Sword had used one or two of these as different towns spread out, as you said. Having the birds doesn't make nearly as much sense when their whole world is pretty much that one town :

  • RobertStyx

    I prefer the vast majority of those over what they went with in the final product. Not that there is anything wrong with what we got, I like that style as well, just some of these are better I think.

  • Ezluke

    I like the version in the game more than any of these concepts… EXCEPT maybe the first one. I love that vertical, mountain-like structure to it, and I love the interconnecting islands. Someone said it'd be a pain to traverse, and that might be true, but I think it would be more fun that just running across the island in ten seconds (like you can do in the actual game's Skyloft). Also, I think the feeling of standing at the top of that Skyloft looking down or standing at the bottom looking up would be a truly memorable and beautiful experience.

  • Punisher_skull

    well the truth is that i don't like any but one called a little bit my attention 9th drawing with two houses because it resembles me of Hyrule Castle on ocarina of time 😀

  • I think that the last drawing could've been a nice throwback to Ocarina of Time, if Link had his own little tree-home. ^.^ But, then again, maybe that would've been to similar…

  • Hyrule Castle Resident

    I prefer the final version it’s much more beutifull

  • I was there! It was freaking amazing! I could not for the life of me recognize the last song as the Ballad of the Wind Fish, then again, I've only heard the song twice in my whole life, but the orchestrated version was the best piece of them all. Link's Awakening isn't one of my better memorized Zelda games. I was disappointed that no music from Majora's Mask was played, but the small clip made me think there would be, but was disappointed when it faded out. :/
    The symphony actually made me cry with memories from my childhood of playing Zelda.

  • TTL

    The vertical nature of some of these would have been a lot more impressive. Skyloft, ironically, seemed too flat to me and a little underwhelming for the last bastion of humans in the sky.

    Like much of the game, it just feels kinda' small, which isn't always bad, but when you do that, details amount to quite a bit more and, like most Zelda titles, details to characters and live in general take a pretty rigid backseat to gameplay.

    Honestly, I think the gameplay could be served to freshen up if they merged its relevance with story, atmosphere and character. Just saying.

  • I actually like the concept art a lot more. Especially that first one.

  • RagingWendigo

    Reminds me of the studio Ghibli film: Castle in the Sky

  • neos

    i really liked the way skyloft turned out. i liked how it was east to get where you were going, it was fun, amaginative, and most of all a true legend. i think that nintendo did an amazing job at this peacfull place, so much goes on in skyloft it makes it a perfect place for link to grow up even as you play through the game.

  • Such potential…

  • Zarco

    These are all very nice, I have to say I'm a fan of the first one with the many connected islands. I think a "vertical" expansion is necessary in many games, especially Zelda, in creating a deeper/more content-dense world. It's an interesting concept that is rarely explored, and Skyloft would have been perfect for it (as well as eldin volcano, the giant tree, and areas like the one before the sand harbor) and incorporating the use of flight into a vertical environment would have been amazing. That said, most of these concepts work with the big city/depth vibe, one I'm extremely disappointed wasn't more explored.

  • ZeldaGurl_

    It's so cool to see all the ideas that were brought to the table throughout the making of Zelda. It really allows you to see their thought processes; and that's not even all of them! As I see each concept, I try to imagine what it would be like to travel as Link throughout the isle. Each one of them seems unique and fresh. Personally, I love the isle they decided on, it seems to fit just right. The only thing I wish we could have more of would be the NPC's. It just seems a little hazy to me how the population could eventually grow from that little mount of people.

    Nevertheless, I'm glad I got to look at these, I can't wait to discover more about the making of the games, and I hope and pray that an English version of the book comes out. It's so cool to discover all that could have been for the series, and, it is rather exciting that some of the best concepts are saved for future makings. I can't wait!

  • Sanity's_Theif

    I like the second picture… a lot, I wish they went with that

    • Sanity's_Theif

      By second I mean the second image on this page, or rather, the first concept art picture, with all the disconnected islands connected by bridges

  • aeolus

    The Shire in the sky?!?!?!?! That would have been AWESOME!!!!! Skyloft is pretty amazing how it is though. No complaints.

  • Sanguiluna

    Shades of Jonathan Swift.

  • Abrahm Zeles

    What i never really understood is what fed the perpetual waterfall that fell upon Skyloft O_o

  • Soulless Creature

    The one second from the top reminds me of the windy valley from Sonic adventure, I'm pleased with the design they chose.

  • First thing I noticed when I saw this is that it doesn't even remind me of Zelda at all. The art seems so different to the concept art that we're used to from the other games. I do like the second concept art though, wouldn't have minded if Skyloft looked like that.

  • ApolloSerenus

    One thing I noticed in the game is how few people are in Skyloft. From a population standpoint, there are not enough people to sustain a population for as long as Skyloft is to have existed.

    So I wish they had implimented a few more islands connected to what we got, most with residential dwellings on them, one with a farm, one with trees, and the last a source of mineral materials in the form of a large mountain.

  • jeremy

    the first one….maybe. Or the two after the waterfall