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.