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Wii

How I Learned to Play Skyward Sword

by Andy Goergen - November 18, 2011, 3:06 pm PST
Total comments: 20

Here's a pro-tip for those picking up Zelda this weekend.

Caution, very minor gameplay spoilers below:

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword implements one of the most impressive control schemes I’ve ever seen in a video game. I know this, because for the past seven days I’ve immersed myself in the NWR review copy, putting close to forty hours in. Almost everything the game does, it does flawlessly. Swordplay is fantastic, and using the Nunchuck as your shield is rewarding. Unfortunately, not everything is problem free.

One of the first things I noticed in Skyward Sword was that the on-screen pointer didn’t seem to be controlled by the infrared sensor bar like most Wii games; rather the Wii MotionPlus attachment seemed to take over for the IR. I tested this by pointing my remote in the opposite direction of my TV and experienced no interruption in pointing by doing so. This is why you can, at any time when you are pointing the remote at the screen, press down on the D-Pad to re-center your pointer: it’s all relative to where you start. If you start pointing while your hand is raised upward, then that becomes the center point on the pointing mechanic. It works just fine, but for long-time Wii owners, it could be a bit jarring.

Sometime in the first dozen hours of the game, Link receives a harp. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to most Zelda fans, as musical instruments have long been a staple of the series. To play the harp, you merely hold down the A button on the Wii Remote and swing your arm from side to side as if you are strumming the strings yourself. Much to my surprise, I found that I had difficulty getting the harp to work properly. As I moved my hand from side to side, I saw Link on screen acting as if he was having a seizure, his hands moving quickly back and forth without any real fluid motion. Eventually I got the thing to work properly, but I was perplexed by the challenge; everything else up to that point had worked beautifully.

I ran into a similar problem a few hours later when I was asked to use the Master Sword to draw an object on the screen. My pointer was jumping all over the place, the same way it does when it’s a sunny day out and I have the windows open. That’s when it clicked: Skyward Sword uses both IR *and* MotionPlus to detect the pointer. When the sunlight interferes with the IR, as happens fairly often in my house, the game experiences problems trying to reconcile how you are aiming the Remote.

To test, I held my finger over the top of the remote as I drew the object requested, and sure enough, the problems went away instantly. A few hours later I was asked to play the harp again, and tried the same trick; as long as I was physically blocking the IR detection from working, the MotionPlus picked up the slack and everything worked just fine.

So here’s a pro-tip for anyone having problems with the controls in Skyward Sword this Sunday and the many hours afterward that you play the game. If you are getting interference and the Wii MotionPlus appears to be uncalibrated, even in what appears to be a gesture-based mechanic, try putting your finger or maybe some duct tape over the front of your Wii Remote. It worked for me.

Talkback

NbzNovember 18, 2011

Thanks for the tip Andy! Could you possibly also just remove the sensor bar from on top of the TV as an alternative? That way you don't have to worry about covering up the wiimote.

Andy's problem was with external IR (the sun), so no, not in that case. I wonder if this was the problem with the demo unit I played at E3; there are often stray IR sources. I have to wonder just how the game is using the IR signal since it doesn't seem to use it directly.

EyothrieNovember 18, 2011

I've heard that you can completely unplug the IR sensor from the back of the Wii, and large portions of the game are still 100% playable

Kytim89November 18, 2011

Hopefully No More Heroes 3 and Red Steel 3 incoporate this same system into their iteration on the Wii U.

I would guess that the IR sensor is used to calibrate MotionPlus as you play, so you don't have to do it manually all the time as in Resort and some other early MP games. If you're moving around and aiming at the sun, the orientation would recalibrate in strange ways and confuse the game.

RasNovember 18, 2011

Now Miyamoto has been vindicated for his E3 2010 performance.

Kytim89November 18, 2011

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

I would guess that the IR sensor is used to calibrate MotionPlus as you play, so you don't have to do it manually all the time as in Resort and some other early MP games. If you're moving around and aiming at the sun, the orientation would recalibrate in strange ways and confuse the game.


Any chance Nintendo could use this in the next Wii Sports game?

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

I would guess that the IR sensor is used to calibrate MotionPlus as you play, so you don't have to do it manually all the time as in Resort and some other early MP games. If you're moving around and aiming at the sun, the orientation would recalibrate in strange ways and confuse the game.

It's a shame they didn't add a magnetometer to MotionPlus like Sony did with Move. At least the Wii U tablet will have it.

CericNovember 18, 2011

Quote from: MegaByte

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

I would guess that the IR sensor is used to calibrate MotionPlus as you play, so you don't have to do it manually all the time as in Resort and some other early MP games. If you're moving around and aiming at the sun, the orientation would recalibrate in strange ways and confuse the game.

It's a shame they didn't add a magnetometer to MotionPlus like Sony did with Move. At least the Wii U tablet will have it.

And the Move is still not as good as the base WiiMote in Practice.

broodwarsNovember 18, 2011

Quote from: Ceric

Quote from: MegaByte

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

I would guess that the IR sensor is used to calibrate MotionPlus as you play, so you don't have to do it manually all the time as in Resort and some other early MP games. If you're moving around and aiming at the sun, the orientation would recalibrate in strange ways and confuse the game.

It's a shame they didn't add a magnetometer to MotionPlus like Sony did with Move. At least the Wii U tablet will have it.

And the Move is still not as good as the base WiiMote in Practice.

After many attempts across half a dozen Move games to get one to work right, I quite agree.  Because of how the Move works (a really bad camera trying to track a ball of light), games tend to lose calibration if the Move wand is outside the camera's view for more than a second.  And I've found it very easy to accidentally shift that device outside of that camera's pitiful range, which leads to constant recalibration.  And that's when the Move actually works.  Child of Eden was completely unplayable with that thing because the game wouldn't track the wand right, leading to shuttering reticules.

I found the note about the IR sensor getting interference from the sun interesting, as I've thought for a long time that I always had the most motion control problems with my Wii remote during the day (despite my blinds being shut, my TV sits right in front of my window).  On today's episode of Invisible Walls, Shane Satterfield also commented that he had a lot of trouble getting the controls in Skyward Sword to work right during the day, but 2 AM play sessions worked great.

Lady MushroomNovember 18, 2011

I had a big trouble with the pointer spazzing all over the screen last Christmas. As soon as I turned of the flashing Christmas lights it was fine.

GoldenPhoenixNovember 18, 2011

Thanks for the tips.

Quote from: broodwars

I found the note about the IR sensor getting interference from the sun interesting, as I've thought for a long time that I always had the most motion control problems with my Wii remote during the day (despite my blinds being shut, my TV sits right in front of my window).

Blinds tend to have those little holes for the drawstrings... those let in points of light that look a lot like the Sensor Bar LEDs to the Wii Remote.

broodwarsNovember 18, 2011

Quote from: MegaByte

Quote from: broodwars

I found the note about the IR sensor getting interference from the sun interesting, as I've thought for a long time that I always had the most motion control problems with my Wii remote during the day (despite my blinds being shut, my TV sits right in front of my window).

Blinds tend to have those little holes for the drawstrings... those let in points of light that look a lot like the Sensor Bar LEDs to the Wii Remote.

Well, that's unfortunate but due to how the outlets were (stupidly) set up in my room and how my furniture has to be arranged, the TV can't be moved at this point.  I'll just have to keep in mind the next time I move not to plan out my room so the TV sits in front of a window.

Luigi DudeNovember 18, 2011

Yeah my TV is next to blinds as well but the light from the string holes shines directly in front of the TV.  This made certain Wii games like Metroid Prime 3 impossible to play at certain hours of the day depending on the time of year.  At least it gets darker early this time of year around 4-5 so the sun shouldn't be too much of a problem unlike the summer were I'd have to wait until 7-8 just to play certain games sometimes.

Of course this would explain why there's a big gap with how some reviewers felt about the controls.  Depending on when and where they played the game, the quality of controls can literally vary by a great deal.  Actually this really would explain why some of the reviewers opinions on the controls are like night and day.  Those who played at night love them and those who played during the day hate them.

joshnickersonNovember 19, 2011

Thanks for the tip! Fortunately my living room doesn't get a lot of sunlight, but if I get any wonkiness while playing, I'll know what to try.

RasNovember 19, 2011

For those with blinds near the TV (like me), you might want to look into cellular shades.  You might get a little light around the edges, but none from the bulk of the shades.  I don't think they're very expensive.

tyrian3November 20, 2011

nice tip, thanks andy, anyway I'm still annoyed by how often I have to recenter my pointer, especially using some items (i.e. the leafblower-thingy)

HyawattaNovember 21, 2011

Isn't there an option to toggle the use of IR for automatically recalibrating the Wiimote? I'm sure I have see that option before in another game.

KDR_11kNovember 22, 2011

Sounds like it's just giving you the worst of both worlds, shitty sensitivity by aiming with motion plus and IR trouble by incorporating the pointer somehow.

Also another hint for players: Enemies block towards where you're holding your sword but your swipes are triggered only by the direction of your controller swipe, it doesn't matter where you're holding the sword. So hold it to your right and swipe it even further right to catch enemies off guard (and hurt your arm...).

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