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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

MotionPlus Impresses In New Zelda: Skyward Sword Demo

While the 25th anniversary of the Legend of Zelda series had a prominent presence at the beginning of Nintendo’s E3 press conference, Skyward Sword was barely mentioned. Due out this year, we haven’t  heard much lately on the progress of Link’s next adventure. Despite the lack of updates, the upcoming Wii title was playable on the show floor in the form of a new demo. I got a chance today to try out three different sections of the game - a bird riding race, a dungeon area, and a boss fight.

Bird riding was a fun segment that featured Link out of his standard adventuring garb. He resembled the farmer version from Twilight Princess, and was participating in a high-flying race for a trophy. It starts with the four participants diving off a cliff, followed by grasping and mounting a giant bird. Shaking the Wii remote makes the bird fly higher into the clouds, and the A button activates a speed boost system not unlike Epona’s carrots from previous games. Your objective is to reach a bird that’s carrying a trophy before any of your opponents, and they’ll eventually get more aggressive. After my first win, my fellow riders started shooting eggs back at me in an effort to slow my progress. Upon catching it the second time, I was treated to a cutscene of Link and an impressed Zelda flying off atop the bird.

Second on the agenda was the dungeon demo. This allowed me to experience more traditional Zelda gameplay, with a focus on finding keys, using items to solve puzzles, and defeating enemies. Like in Ocarina of Time’s Deku Tree, giant Skulltulas drop down from the ceiling if you get too close. Unlike those, however, there’s no immediate way to attack their weak spot. Destroying them is a mini-puzzle in itself, and it first requires you to snip their line of web with the flying beetle item. Once they’ve fallen to the ground, they’re still protected by their hard shell. Thanks to the added control afforded by MotionPlus, you can hold the sword near the ground and pop the enemy up to expose their weak point. A few stabs and a dramatic finishing move later, and they’ll be defeated.

After disposing of several of these Skulltulas, I started searching for a key. Flying my beetle around exposed a switch that opened a door, leading me to another puzzle. A gate guarded a treasure chest, and three ominous wall-mounted eyes watched me as I got close. They’d follow the movements of my sword like a haunted house portrait, but would quickly shut if I aimed at them with my bow. Looking around the room, I spotted a box hanging from the ceiling. I cut it down with the beetle, shoved it near the eyes, and stood on top. Now that I was close enough, all three eyes were open and following my sword. I still couldn’t shoot at them, so I spun my sword around in circles. After a few rotations, the eyes got dizzy, turned red, and disappeared. The gate opened, and I received the key I was looking for.

The final section of the demo was a boss battle that relied very heavily on directional sword swipes and well-timed blocks. It was a ghostly white female, although it wasn’t clear what species in the Zelda universe she was. Rather than the immediate action of many Zelda boss fights, this woman slowly made her way towards Link. Her hand followed the movements of my blade, and she would catch it whenever I attempted to strike her. I learned that I had to get her hand set in a specific location, then quickly alter the direction of my swipe and get the upper hand.

After striking her numerous times in this manner, she started backing up and throwing projectiles at me in lines of five. I initially dodged them by jumping to the side, but you can also deflect them with your sword if you swipe accurately enough to hit all of them at once. The boss started charging me, and I got another chance to get some hits in after parrying with my shield as the strike approached. When she finally fell, it felt like I had played an entirely different boss fight than any of the dozens I’ve encountered before in the Zelda series.

Gamers have complained for years that Zelda is a franchise content to rely on an age-old formula. You may be collecting keys, taking on bosses, exploring dungeons, and pushing blocks again in Skyward Sword, but the 1:1 MotionPlus swordplay really does make a difference. Many encounters with standard enemies feel like miniature puzzles in their own right, as you have to perform actions like flipping the spider on his back before you can take it out. With a new take on enemy encounters, a visually pleasing art style, real-time weapon switching, and fantastic motion controls, Skyward Sword looks to be a great addition to the Zelda lineage.

Comments
  • I think any fan would find that the overall experience is great. No need to reinvent the wheel.
  • I am more excited about this than ever.

  • I was really disappointed that this game was barely mentioned during Nintendo's press conference. It's nice to hear somebody say that the game is coming along nicely. Can't wait to play it!

  • nintendo...

  • I don't know, I am having a tough time getting excited about this.  I know like almost every other Zelda it will be great, lots of puzzles fun environments some sort of music instrument and so on.  However with games like Rage and Skyrim, and Battlefield 3 and Ghost Recon and Assassins Creed and so on.  I just don't think I am even going to buy on launch.

  • I feel much more enthused about this game now.

  • Mod

    Will most likely be the last great wii game.

  • Glad to hear some news about this, I've been waiting for more info since they announced it last year. Can't wait to get my hands on it.

  • Thanks for the awesome preview Dan.

  • A shield meter?

  • Getting game will be my last game unless they reveal a new Pokemon 3D Battling coming to Wii.

  • I might get the Wii U just to get this.
  • that is an epic picure im curious to know who this boss is?

  • I'm definitely getting this at launch. The Zelda series never fails to impress but this particular game seems like it might just be amazing in every way.

  • So that's what Link's been missing this entire time... bird racing.  That's the ticket to Zelda's pants, err, dress.

  • I can't wait for this. I guess I'll have to pick up a Wii and trade it in for its HD sibling when it becomes available.

    Zelda is still my favorite game series, bar none. What makes Zelda so special has little to do with the tried and true gameplay (which is still extremely satisfying despite the lack of innovation) and more the feelings it evokes in the player. Still, I'm glad this game is doing a lot to switch things up a bit.

  • Is there any way to play the game without the motion controls? Sometimes I don't want to bother with such things - I just want to sit down and play a game. Also, will it come bundled with a Motion Plus? Some people, like me, have only purchased one or two Wii games in the last two years, and didn't need a Motion Plus.

  • I will be buying this of course since its a Zelda game but I'm looking forward to trying out Wii MotionPlus.

  • Can you play this without MotionPlus?

  • Atleast it comes out this year.  :D

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