Nunchuk sword swings, pointer aiming, fishing, and a cool boss battle in the Wii version of Twilight Princess.
A large corner of Nintendo’s Wii booth is dedicated to demos of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Unfortunately, there are no GameCubes on the show floor to compare the Wii version to the current GameCube build, but the Wii version is shown in widescreen, the graphics are very crisp, and the framerate is much steadier than the demos at E3 last year. Nintendo has two demos set up: a fishing area and a dungeon.
The fishing demo takes a place at a gorgeous lake with tall rock formations jutting out of the water and weeping orange-leaved trees. A rustic looking gal is at hand to teach you all you need to know about fishing with the remote. You can choose to fish with either a bobber or lure. Lures have to be reeled in after they are thrown, while bobbers allow you to lie in wait for a bite. It seems that bobber fishing is done from the shore and lure fishing gives you access to the canoe.
Once you’ve picked a fishin’ hole, you’ll swing the remote to cast and jerk it to hook a biting fish. You then pull the remote back hard and hold A to reel. Once the fish gets close to the boat, you’ll have to act quickly and press the B trigger for Link to reach down and grab it. Not all the fish are popular in Hyrule apparently, so you may see Link give his catch a hilarious look of disgust.
The dungeon being shown is the same one demoed at the media briefing and shown in the released screen shot. The stage begins in a canyon with boardwalk paths over water. The mysterious creature, Midna give you instructions, much like fairies in past games, and it seems she is available to give hints at any time by pressing up on the cross pad. The other three directions on the cross pad are mapped to specific items. The boomerang, bow, and iron boots are there by default, but there are other items in the menus, such as the Claw Shot (same as hookshot), a lantern, potion, and lantern oil. Accessing the item menu is as simple as pointing the remote at the items icon on the screen and pressing the A button.
The basic Zelda controls are pretty much intact. You move with the nunchuk’s analog stick; center the camera or lock on with the Z trigger; and do basic sword moves with the B trigger.
Items like the claw shot, bow, and boomerang, make use of the Wii remote’s pointer function. You hold down the corresponding button on the cross pad, aim with pointer, and release to fire. The target will then remain active until you move so you can quickly aim and fire again. The boomerang has added multi-target functionality – before you set your new winged boomerang out, you can use the B trigger to click multiple targets for it to hit in a specific order. The feature is used in one puzzle in the current demo. Since Zelda was the very first Wii game I tried, it took quite some time to adjust to the pointer sensitivity. Only slight movements are needed, anything more causes the cursor to zip across the screen. Representatives on-hand stated that the pointer is more sensitive as you get closer to the sensor bar, so standing farther back makes it somewhat easier. There is also hope that Wii or individual games may have some sensitivity calibration for those of us that have trouble making teeny tiny movements. I did eventually get the hang of it and was able to pick off some pretty long shots.
Less intuitive are the motion-sensitive sword fighting moves. Pushing the remote forward, causes Link to bash and stun his enemy with his shield, which isn’t too difficult to pull off. However, the nunchuk is used to perform Link’s spin attack and down-stabbing finishing move. The down-stab is performed by swinging the nunchuk downward, and since your enemy is already on the ground, it isn’t too vital if it doesn’t work. But spin attacks are necessary for some of the clusters of enemies that surround you, and I only seemed to get it to work once in a while. Even though it was explained in the game and by representatives on hand, I never felt sure of what I had to do. Am I supposed to swing it in a circle, shake it, twist it, or what? The reps seemed to be able to do it whenever they liked, so I know it’s not impossible to get down, but the necessary motion didn’t seem to be clear.
Rumble on the Wii controller seems to be much more noticeable than on GameCube, perhaps because the entire body of the remote is held in your hand. I was not able to hear the remote’s speaker amidst the roar of E3, but representatives stated that the bow, sword, and fishing reel all make use of the speaker.
The layout of the dungeon is fairly simple since the demo is only about eight or ten minutes long. There are scarecrows set up as targets to teach you how to swordfight and shoot your bow. Outside, you come across the occasional foot soldier, but most of your opponents are archers, that you have to take out from a distance. Attempting to fire up close tends to result in getting hit before you can even get the enemy in your sight. There is a spot to try out your claw shot, a puzzle involving the boomerang, and a new means of using your iron boots. You put the boots on to push down a big switch, which in turn activates a huge magnet dangling from a crane of sorts. Putting on your boots again under the magnet causes link to fly upside down and stick to it – inverting the entire screen. The magnet takes you to another area in the level, but you can even fire weapons while dangling upside-down.
The second section of the dungeon is in a cave with a couple of lava pits. After you use your bow to cut a rope holding a drawbridge, you’ll encounter several large groups of enemies that encircle you. You then move on to a very cool battle against the huge fiery boss that we’ve seen in previous trailers.
When you enter the room, the boss is chained and dormant, your very presence activates a jewel on its forehead, ignites its body in flames, and causes it to tear its chains from the walls, dragging them and swinging them as effective weapons to smash you and the pillars encircling the room. It’s also capable of sending out waves of fire in all directions. To combat the boss, you first have to get a safe distance away and fire an arrow into its forehead, temporarily stunning it. Then you have to quickly run up to the chains connected to its ankles and grab one with the B button. If you simply tug at it with your own strength, it will have no effect. Put on your iron boots though, and you’ll have the weight to hold your ground, pulling his leg out from under him, causing him to fall forward and his flames to go out. You can then take off your boots, run up to him, and give his face a beating with a few jabs of your sword. Manage to do this several times, and you’ll defeat him – but the demo ends before you can see your reward.