The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - Wii

  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Genre:Action, Adventure
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Date:Nov 20, 2011
  • # of Players:1 player
  • ESRB:E10+ - Everyone 10+ (Animated Blood, Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence)
  • Platforms:
Game Description: The next installment of the venerable adventure franchise promises to be a fresh and exciting take on Link's adventures in Hyrule.
G4TV Rating
4 / 5
  • Avg User Rating
    (543 Ratings)
    4.8 / 5
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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword E3 2011 Preview

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword E3 2011 Preview

By Jeffrey Matuef - Posted Jun 09, 2011

I know it's terribly cliched, but my favorite game series has always been The Legend of Zelda. There's something that's always appealed to me about their harmonious blend of puzzles, exploration, and combat. Despite following a familiar formula of moving from an overworld to a dungeon and back again, there's always been a unique flavor to each Zelda title. From the garish melancholy of Majora's Mask, to the bright cartoon world of Wind Waker, to Twilight Princess' earthly beauty each game has had a unique look and feel to it if not a unique structure. It's not yet apparent if Skyward Sword will rock the boat there, but it definitely feels unlike any other Zelda mechanically due to it being the first game in the series to use Wii motion plus controls.

This opens up a lot of possibilities, but for a controller that's supposed to make games more accessible, I found it rather difficult to adapt to.

In my brief hands-on demo, I was given a glimpse at how the game handles traversal. Instead of traveling by boat or train, this time Link takes to the skies by sailing on a bird. The demo began with someone instructing Link and a few other NPCs how to fly before tasking them with chasing after a golden bird, not unlike quidditch. As soon as control reverts back to Link he's able to plunge off the pier of a floating island and latch onto a large fowl while falling before climbing onto its back.

Swooping around the clouds is predominantly motion based. Players point in the direction they want Link to go and alter his pitch by adjusting the wiimote's angle. To gain altitude, you wave the wiimote up and down, causing the bird to flap its wings. You gain speed by rising up before swooping down to gain momentum. There are also three feather icons on the bottom of the screen that grant a boost, not unlike Epona's carrots in Ocarina of Time. These too refill over time.

It takes some getting used to and initially I found it very frustrating as I'd repeatedly miss my mark and have to slowly swing back around for another go. Eventually I started to get the hang of it, but I also may have just gotten lucky a couple times.

What made sailing in Wind Waker enjoyable for me wasn't the mechanics -- you weren't doing much outside changing the direction of the winds for the most part -- but the atmosphere of being lost and adrift in an endless world. I didn't quite get that effect here as clouds obscured much of my view, but if its weather system is as robust as that in Wind Waker, Link's aerial traversal could prove wondrous. While not immediately apparent, there is some detail in Skyward Sword's bright textures, giving it subtle painted look.

 The next demo I tried showed off a boss battle against a monochromatic androgynous harlequin-like adversary. He'd often block Link's sword strikes or dash towards me. The idea was to catch him off guard by luring his attention to the tip of your sword before swinging around at his blindspot. I found this finicky and had a difficult time telling what I was doing differently between when he'd block and not. Maybe it'll make sense after practice, but the whole time I found myself thinking "why can't I slice him at the knees" when Link strikes him across his chest despite my low swings. It appears that you can only change your swing angle, not position. As a result, sword fighting didn't feel very authentic and instead merely confusing. I'm hoping this just takes practice.

Afterwards I played a demo of a more ordinary dungeon section of the game. Controls here have been altered since previous iterations, too. The A button no longer makes Link roll, but instead causes him to sprint. This is faster and less annoying than his constant yipping and somersaulting. Link also puts his shield up by yanking the nun-chuck up, but since there's no Wii motions plus on the nunchuck it's not tethered to his movements in the same way. Once up, it stays up. This is convenient, though it's easy to forget to draw it out after every hit makes him put it away.

Bewilderingly, the sword is grafted to your right hand, while pulling back the strings on your bow and arrow is set to motion controls on the nunchuck in your left hand. I'm not sure who this backwards setup is going to appeal to as it displeases left and right handers alike.

It pains me to say that my impressions weren't especially positive, but this isn't the first time a Zelda game has had a poor showing before being polished in time for release. Twilight Princess' E3 showing on Wii didn't fill one with confidence, and I recall not being taken by Spirit Track's demo before actually playing the final game and having it be one of my favorite Zeldas ever (and by extension, favorite games ever). In those cases it was due to new control systems being refined or showing off the easiest, least creative parts of the game's early sections to save the good stuff for later. Lets hope that's the case again.

Comments are Closed

  • swordwardsky

    Wait, so you're suggesting we should switch hands every time we use the bow and arrow? Where's the facepalm icon?

    Posted: August 4, 2011 9:57 PM
  • VeggieWokker

    First, let's get some ranting out of the way: I want my Link to be lefthanded.

    Ok, that takes care of that.

    M+ has great potential for sword combat, I'm really looking forward to trying it out.

    The art style looks great, really magical, as a Zelda game should look. The overworld, as little as we have seen of it, looks pretty empty and drab. I suppose it's only a small part of the game, so that won't be a problem. Enemy design looks pretty detailed. I like the hydra-thing, can't wait to see if heads grow back if you don't cut them all off at once.

    Another big plus is No Trains! I love Zelda games without a single train, don't you? Having no trains is such an important part of any Zelda game.

    Posted: June 15, 2011 2:23 PM
  • Griml0ck1985

    Ok nintendo i thought the idea of the wii motion was gonna be cool. I never thought about not being able to enjoy one of my favorite franchizes of all times. I mean come on really. The best part of twilight princess was that it could be played on the cube. I personally do not want to spend hours trying to do a back flip in my living room just to defeat even an average enemy. It just looks aweful. Ok now come on guys, everyone saw the E3 review right i mean even the guy playing the game seemed to be having a hard time. Zelda games where reasonably long and had... I dont want to say hard but a chalanging aspect to them. how long are you really going to stand in front of your TV to play this game. I personaly will not be wasting my money on this one. I know I buy games play the hell out of them then set them on a shelf to collect dust. This one isnt even gonna be played for a month. I know i would buy it then not wanna take the time out of my day to play cause i want to sit and enjoy a game not. Nintendo I'm really sad about this one... really sad. Thanks for messing up a great game. I was really excited when i first saw it but the more i thought about it the worse it seemed to be. I just know i'll be saving my money.

    Sorry about the spelling and grammer really wanted to take the time to get this on here before work. Come on guys think about it does this really look like its gonna offer the hours of fun you had with past Zelda games.

    Posted: June 13, 2011 8:48 AM
  • sims796

    Seriously, stop acting like blind fanboys for one minute. This isn't like the other games, where you'd have a static controller. The Wii is all about having a whole new degree of control (hell, it was advertised as such), and I for one am baffled at why Nintedo is hell bent on forcing static controls on such a hands-on controller.

    You don't "suck at games" for having trouble with unfriendly controls. You are a raving fanatic when you'll happily lap up whatever they shell out to you. Poor controls has always been regarded as a negative, and it being a Zelda game does not disqualify that (especially when innovative controls are the main draw). I love Zelda, and I hope they fix these controls. It should be so simple for a system that relies on it's hands on controller.

    Posted: June 11, 2011 1:32 PM
  • Emeryy11

    Omgg I'm soo excited!!! Finally!!!

    Posted: June 11, 2011 8:44 AM
  • MJimiD

    Whether it 'sucks' or not, I'm getting blazed beyond belief to play "Skyward Sword".

    I find it hard to believe that there are many fans, if at all, who would allow the drastic change in controls to ruin the Legend of Zelda experience. I would make do.

    Posted: June 10, 2011 8:38 AM
  • sbigmang23

    Adventures of Link ftw! :D

    Posted: June 10, 2011 6:00 AM
  • icrit4heal

    i personaly despise what wii motion has done to the zelda franchise it wouldnt be so bad if they gave us compatability with the classic nintendo controller but having no option to use that instead completely cuts of alot of the gamers i just cant play a zelda with a wiii remote it isnt zelda and its not why i loved zelda so much in the first place twilight princess was wonderufl dur to the cross compatability of a normal controller when you played it i sadly will probally never get to play another next gen zeld due to the controller bs if it was on kinect i could probally play it that way but the wii remote is just disfunctional as all hell

    Posted: June 10, 2011 2:09 AM
  • penguinfish

    Looked good up until the 3min.20 mark. That spider was a game killer for me.
    I hate spiders more then anything.
    Still to this day walking under trees scares me as I think a giant Skulltula from zelda oot will fall out of it and land on me.
    Why do people think everyone likes seeing giant ugly spiders?
    Including giant spiders seems to be a must in games now days.

    Posted: June 9, 2011 11:55 PM
  • Happy_Nintendo_Nerd

    Spirit Tracks, while the better of the two DS games, should not be your favorite Zelda game (even though it's your opinion that you're entitled to). It sounds like you haven't played many Zelda games at all...

    Posted: June 9, 2011 10:53 PM
  • rvgarafola

    Spirit tracks was the worst zelda game ever made...

    Posted: June 9, 2011 10:48 PM
  • CujoSWAoA

    Looks, horrible.

    Posted: June 9, 2011 9:47 PM
  • Rinku

    so basically he doesn't like it cause he had a hard time while everyone else didnt find nothing wrong with it and they said the controllers were great hmmmmmmmmmm

    Posted: June 9, 2011 7:31 PM
  • Aaron82

    So what you're saying is that you suck at videogames.

    Posted: June 9, 2011 6:48 PM
  • Blue_Vortex

    I get the feeling this game will get many complaints for being too hard by reviewers, which will make me laugh considering the past complaints about the wii.

    Posted: June 9, 2011 5:03 PM
  • Ben999999

    Spirit Tracks being your favorite Zelda game and one of your favorite games ever disqualifies you from having an opinion on any other zelda game...sorry. And the tone of this whole preview bothers me. "It's different and hard, I dont like it." Wah Wah Wah

    Posted: June 9, 2011 4:59 PM
  • frankurban

    spirit tracks was one of your favorite zelda games?....... ok...

    Posted: June 9, 2011 4:23 PM