Not that this is a bad thing! What little of the story that was shown at Gamefest, seems to string the various controls together very well. Link’s sword followed my swings of the Wii remote lunge for lunge, the bird, which Link flies in this iteration of Zelda, responded at the slightest twist of my wrist and the challenges set me – to capture a trophy from another bird and to break into a locked dungeon – were both challenging and enjoyable.
The new controls add a whole other level of, well, control to Link that was sorely missing from past games. The dramatic setting of floating islands in the sky also adds to the game. In many ways, this is the game that fans were hoping Twilight Princess would be, back when the Wii was announced with motion controls.
On the other hand it might struggle to live up to Twilight Princess’s reputation, as Skyward Sword’s graphics severely let it down. It would be all too easy to count the pixels that make up Link’s hat and the bright colours don’t help with this. Far from making the game prettier, they just highlight the graphical deficiencies of the game. I would say “the graphical deficiencies” of the Wii, but there are many games out there that look better than this, like Metroid Prime 3, for example. There is no excuse for graphics this shoddy.
One other problem I found was that the camera wasn’t as good as past Zelda games, once you start moving around, it was very easily getting stuck in the walls. In Metroid Prime 3 this problem was solved by using the remote as a second analogue stick, controlling the camera by pointing at the screen, but with this particular game this is obviously not an option with you waving your remote around almost constantly in an attempt to defeat the many enemies that surround you all too quickly.
All the same, there are some elements from Twilight Princess that have been kept that add a solid familiarity to the game. Elements like the quick select weapon selection circle are tools that it would have been awful to lose.
Other elements of gameplay have been updated to fit the new style of gameplay are the enemies. Spiders now dangle from strings that your remote control flying scarab (don’t ask) can cut down, then a simple swipe of sword knocks the spider off its legs, exposing an underbelly that you have to dash forward and stab before the spider can retaliate. The fact that this kind of depth can be found in most monster fights now, means that your skill set for this game has to be even greater. It is also nice because the introduction of Wii Motion Plus could easily have lead to a brawler, but instead has produced a kind of game that is quintessentially Zelda – a puzzle game!
The amount of thought that has gone into this game is also astounding. There were many secrets contained in the demo, of which I only found a couple, but am convinced there are more of. More than that though, there were loads of nice touches that you only noticed if you stopped to mess about for a bit. For instance I discovered that the mushrooms scattered throughout the dungeon section of the demo could be sliced, but not cut apart, so the cut from your blade would appear on their previously unblemished surfaces.
Skyward Sword seems to have a lot of potential. Let us hope that the Gamefest demo was just an older version of the game, rather than the one due for release on November 18th 2011 in Europe and November 20th 2011 in the US.