We store cookies, you can get more info from our privacy policy.

North America

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

by Jonathan Metts - June 12, 2011, 11:42 am EDT
Total comments: 20

Here's how Zelda will prevent MotionPlus exhaustion.

I played two of the three demo levels shown at E3 2011 and viewed the third one a couple of times. My first priority was to try the flying level, as I wanted to get a sense of how it might be integrated into the larger game experience. The scene begins with a group of people challenging Link to retrieve a certain item from the target bird. Link himself is riding on a huge red bird with which he seems to be building a relationship, like the flying creature in James Cameron's Avatar. From here, you're given control and must run and jump off the world, into the clouds below. The really interesting thing is that Link will continue to freefall for an indefinite time until you press a button to call his flying mount. The sensation of falling is very strong and almost disturbing; I felt relief when the bird finally resonded to my call.

From there, it's a kind of race in which you fly the bird (using Wii MotionPlus, of course) and try to catch the target before your competitors. Running into anything, fellow bird rider or floating rock islands, will slow you down. You can flap with a downward motion to gain altitude, although this isn't needed very often. There is also a regenerating boost activated by the A button; this works exactly like the carrots when horse-riding in previous Zelda games. The whole scenario feels familiar, yet more challenging and more exciting thanks to being free-form and three-dimensional. I also like how the race has no goal line, but instead ends only when the target bird is caught (twice, as it turns out). The target takes sharp turns when you get close, making it a nice challenge to finish this level. Still, the whole sequence comes across as a kind of mini-game that you probably wouldn't do more than two or three times in the course of a Zelda game. I'm more interested in how flying might figure into exploration, transportation, and more dramatic story-based sequences like the caravan escape in Twilight Princess.

Next up was the "dungeon" level. This demo was time-limited, but I was able to explore a fair bit of it. The environment was circular but very tall, with an inner chamber that was initially locked by a mechanism. Giant spiders were hanging around the perimeter, and there were also crates suspended by thin lines of spider web. In either case, I could knock down the hanging spiders or boxes with a well-placed arrow from Link's bow. The bow felt very accurate, but oddly complex to use, since it involves multiple buttons and gestures across both the Remote and Nunchuk. It seems like overkill for an item that you might use once, then put way to reposition, and then extract again for a second shot. If you could easily move within the aiming mode, that might help, but I couldn't figure out how to do so. I also got to use the flying scarab that was first shown at last year's E3. This item is quite easy to control and feels really good. It's also a bit overwhelming in just how much it expands your reach through the environment. It forces you to observe and fly to places much higher than Link can normally reach, not unlike the seagull in Wind Waker (but now used indoors and more often). The "dungeon" demo level featured a series of small tunnels, placed high in the outer wall, that could only be accessed by the scarab. Entering and surviving these tunnels was exciting, because the scarab will crash if it touches any walls or obstructions, such as the large mushrooms crowding out the tunnels. However, the pressure to fly well is balanced out by Link's endless supply of scarabs that let you try over and over without any apparent penalty.

What's really interesting about both of the demo levels I played is that neither featured much sword-fighting. You could brandish the sword to finish off those giant spiders, but a bomb would also do the trick, or you could simply choose to avoid these particular enemies. I think this may be a clue to how Nintendo is planning to prevent sword combat fatigue. We saw another clue in the week's first developer roundtable event: extended "Siren Realm" sequences in which Link's sword is embedded in the ground, and he is left helpless while running around to collect magical droplets. The more we see of Skyward Sword, the more I'm convinced that the game will feature a variety of gameplay mechanics that will allow you to relax and take a break from big sword swipes and intense combat. Yet there is still a place for epic sword duels, and the "boss" demo level made it clear that these moments will deliver formidable foes and require true skill from the player. I am very encouraged by this game's progress and can't wait to see more about how the complete experience is tied together.


Killer_Man_JaroTom Malina, Associate Editor (Europe)June 12, 2011

Fantastic to hear. One site had an interview with Nate Bihldorff, one of the localisers from NoA Treehouse, and he was saying that they are going for a denser overworld and there are puzzles that must be solved in order to move from place to place. Sounds great.

It's been a long time coming, but the end of the wait is in sight.

Ryan CannonJune 12, 2011

Can't wait for this game!

leahsdadJune 12, 2011


I think this may be a clue to how Nintendo is planning to prevent sword combat fatigue

Thank you, Nintendo.  I was really worried about this.  A little after I heard about Skyward Sword and its use of Motion Plus, I got my hands on a cheap copy of Red Steel 2, and after playing it for 20 minutes, I had a scary thought:  "Oh my, is this what Skyward Sword is going to be like?"  I was generally scared, as that would make this the 1st Zelda game  I took a pass on.

EasyCureJune 12, 2011


The sensation of falling is very strong and almost disturbing

Nintendo did this to me back in OoT. The first time I accidentally jumped off the cliffs edge just outside Gerudo Valley, I felt vertigo. Hell I might get me a copy of OoT 3D just to see how much worse it'll feel this time around..

ThomasOJune 12, 2011

The MotionPlus in the game seems to be truly adapted from Wii Sports Resort -- Swordplay for controlling Link's sword, Bowling for rolling the bombs, and Air Sports for controlling the bird and scarab. Maybe Frisbee will be used for throwing shurikens.

Mop it upJune 12, 2011

I'm pretty sure most of the games in Wii Sports Resort came about from testing concepts for Zelda, so it's really the other way around: Wii Sports Resort was adapted from Zelda.

StogiJune 12, 2011

Notorious MIP, that could explain why the built M+ to begin with.

EasyCureJune 12, 2011

and here I thought that was everyone's realization all along!

Ian SaneJune 13, 2011

It's encouraging to read about Nintendo likely taking into the possibility of waggle fatigue.  The more they ask for the player in sword fights the less they have to emphasize sword fights in the gameplay.  They have to "save" it for when it matters and that means not relying so much on combat to fill the rest of the game.

This game is sounding more and more like it will be worth the long wait.

broodwarsJune 13, 2011

I don't know, I liked what I saw of the Beetle item in the demo footage that's been released, but the footage from E3 looks like the same Zelda game I've been playing since at least Ocarina of Time.  It also doesn't speak well of your sword combat when you seem to actively discourage players from participating in it, but it's a concession I can live with.  I'm still looking forward to this game since Zelda has been my favorite Nintendo franchise outside of Smash Bros., but this game so far just doesn't look like it lives up to the boasting of it being "new and different!"

I dunno, I think fewer instances but more depth is the right way to go. Seems like it would make each battle feel special and more important than if you were using it all the time. And a lot of the new stuff we've been hearing about is in the overworld, which I don't believe was playable at the show.

Playing the game makes the game feel similar but not. It's like the Zelda games you know and love, but it plays differently. That excites me.

The stupid Siren Realm, which looks like it is exactly the same damn thing as the Twilight Realm, makes me think this will be nothing new outside of the controls.

Prove me wrong, Nintendo. For the love of those three Triforce gods, prove me wrong!

Ian SaneJune 13, 2011

I think motion control's appeal is limited by the limitations of the human body.  It doesn't matter how well you design those controls or how close they are to real movement, any game that requires sword fighting to the extend that previous Zelda games have had is going to be unbearable backbreaking labour.  You just couldn't do it, it would not be fun at all.  So you have to rethink it.

And they have rethought it. That's big: Nintendo built the game around the controls. If they'd done more of that and less forcing motion where it isn't needed, they could have seen better results this generation.

StogiJune 13, 2011

Quote from: The

You can be lazy if you want. I've been looking forward to this.

I'd play it standing up the entire time if I have to. I'd play it on a broken 13" TV with magnets fucking up the picture. Hell, I'd even play it decked out in cosplay riding a wooden horse bird if I had to.

Ian SaneJune 13, 2011


If they'd done more of that and less forcing motion where it isn't needed, they could have seen better results this generation.

Nintendo's biggest mistake with the Wii was getting hung up on the idea of motion control being the "new standard" for controlling videogames.  They jumped WAY ahead of themselves with that idea.  Videogame standards are not enforced, they grow on their own.  You cannot say "this is how we do it now" and then just do it and have it turn out right.  So they shoehorned it into every game they could regardless of whether it made sense to or not or if the gameplay lent itself to it.  And they kind of had to because they pinned themselves in a corner not only by running their mouth about this "new standard" but because they also didn't include the CC with every system so they had to cram everything into the remote/nunchuk combo.  They also went with a refurbished Gamecube so using normal controls when it made sense to (ie: 99% of the time) would have made the Wii like an outright rip-off because its games were no different than anything that could be done on the Cube.  Motion control was ALL the Wii had going for it so they had to use it every single time, regardless of how annoying or innacurate or just plain shitty it was.

With the Wii U they at least got the idea that they needed something normal there as well.  It is a hardware boost with the Wii and it does have a normal controller within the screen controller so they can make normal games and not look like jackasses.

The general way things work is the second you set out to specifically change videogaming with innovation, you're fucked.  You can't force that stuff.  You come up with gameplay ideas or ways to solve problems or ideas to improve this or accomodate that and then things start to gel as everything forms naturally.

StogiJune 13, 2011

Have you played a shooter on the Wii?

Have you at least played RE4 on the Wii?

There was nothing to cram. Everything could and has worked. The main problem we didn't see blockbuster third party games was because of HD. A game like Uncharted or Gears of War could have been amazing on the Wii. Stop hating on the wiimote/nunchuck combo. It's awesome and comfortable.

broodwarsJune 13, 2011

Quote from: The

Have you played a shooter on the Wii?

Have you at least played RE4 on the Wii?

There was nothing to cram. Everything could and has worked.

Tell that to Donkey Kong Country Returns, a game made significantly worse by unnecessary forced motion control.  Motion Control has its place, and not everything works for it.  It functions best in a complimentary role, offering a different way to play some games to those interested in it.  Let the player decide how they want to play their game.  I hope that's a lesson Nintendo's learned going forward.

StogiJune 13, 2011

A laps of judgement doesn't disprove its usefulness. Besides, Pointer Control is what I was talking about.

Share + Bookmark

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Box Art

Genre Adventure
Developer Nintendo

Worldwide Releases

na: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Release Nov 20, 2011
RatingEveryone 10+
jpn: Zelda no Densetsu: Skyward Sword
Release Nov 23, 2011
RatingAll Ages
eu: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Release Nov 18, 2011
aus: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Release Nov 24, 2011
kor: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Release Nov 24, 2011
Got a news tip? Send it in!