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.