E3 2011: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

We get some hands-on time with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword at E3 2011.

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QUICKTAKE: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword introduced Link's newest adventure at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, but this year, some new playable levels were available at the Nintendo booth to show off some different layers of gameplay. Fans of Twilight Princess (Link's debut on the Wii) will immediately feel at home with the series tried-and-true blend of action, exploration, and puzzle solving. New gadgets and Wii Motion Plus-supported combat add some welcome new variety to the series, which is looking as pretty as it ever has.

You'll need to swing your sword in different ways to penetrate enemy defenses.

THE DEMO: On tap were three different sample levels, each focusing on a different style of play. There was a sample dungeon level (simply called "Dungeon") which consisted of a central hub-like area with branching pathways. Battling monsters in the dungeon was a bit more interesting than previous Zelda games, due in large-part to the Motion Plus-based sword (and bow) control. Instead of just wildly flailing at enemies, I needed to pay attention to the enemy stances and attack patterns, and swing my sword appropriately to penetrate their defenses. I also played around with a new gadget called a "beetle," which is a mechanical flying bug that link can launch and control to do things like trip out-of-the-way switches. Link also has the ability to sprint using a recharging stamina meter, making it easier to get around the level quickly. The next level on-tap was an arena-based boss fight against a humanoid "demon lord." The swordplay in that section really drove home the new depth of the combat system. In the protracted, one-on-one fight, I had to use combinations different sword swings to connect with my foe, based on his current stance or attack pattern. Though the dungeon and boss fight were fun, the final playable level called "Bird Riding" served up a flying race that proved to be the freshest new addition. Mounted on giant griffin-like birds, I raced against other AI competitors to catch a golden bird with a prize around his neck. DETAILS: Skyward Sword isn't trying to reinvent the wheel, but the implementation of Motion Plus-based sword control adds some nice flavor (and a bit more challenge) to the combat. The tilt based controls for flying both the beetle gadget and the bird during the race level worked well, and were a lot of fun--swinging the Wii-mote sharply downward made the bird flap. Combined with a limited boost ability, flying to catch up to the golden bird was a quite enjoyable (if somewhat imprecise) experience. As a fan of the series, my brief time with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword already has me excited for my next trip to the land of Hyrule. Watch the Shacknews E3 2011 page to follow all our coverage of this year's show. You can also subscribe to it with your favorite RSS reader.
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From The Chatty
  • reply
    June 7, 2011 4:45 PM

    Jeff Mattas posted a new article, E3 2011: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

    We get some hands-on time with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword at E3 2011.

    • reply
      June 7, 2011 5:13 PM

      People are quiet about a Zelda game? Wut?

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        June 7, 2011 7:48 PM

        At this point in Zelda history it's just too formulaic; and if this one indeed doesn't try to reinvent the wheel it is very likely that many long time Zelda players will not be interested. :(
        I know it doesn't absolutely nothing for me so far.
        There have been 13 Zeldas.. Nintendo *needs* to reinvent the wheel. And updating (downgrading?) the gameplay with some motion-based flavor doesn't cut it; by a large margin.

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          June 7, 2011 7:56 PM

          Totally agreed. If this game ends up having the same outdated, archaic bullshit, I'm just going to laugh:

          * 15 second cut scene to open a chest with 15 rupees in it
          * Characters that talk with adult Charlie Brown voices
          * Endless unskippable dialogue bubbles

          The design really hasn't evolved since 1998.

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          June 8, 2011 12:42 AM

          I believe certain formulas can still be fun despite repetition and little innovation. Zelda could use some sprucing up, but it's the only series I enjoy playing with every release. I've loved them all--all the console versions, that is; I haven't played much in the way of portable games since the GB/GBC days--and I look forward to each new version. It's like visiting home: you know the lay of the land, you enjoy being there, and the furniture, while new, is in the same place as before and just as comfy.

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          June 8, 2011 3:41 AM

          This sums it up for me. I'm just not interested in playing more of the same at this point.

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          June 8, 2011 10:44 AM

          You just described my main issue with Nintendo - they've done nothing new, game-wise, in forever. Just the same tired IPs cranked out over and over again with small iterative changes that do little to liven them up. Huge yawn. :(

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        June 8, 2011 1:32 AM

        Well there are more bad Zelda games than good Zelda games IMO :c.

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      June 7, 2011 5:20 PM

      It's all going to hinge on how precise the controls are. I like motion controls when they work well, however they rarely are consistent enough to be preferable to non-motion controls.

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      June 7, 2011 6:22 PM

      Judging from Wii Resort the sword controls of motion plus are pretty damn good already. As long as the swordplay is good I won't mind the waggle at all. I didn't with Twighlight. I'm one of the few shackers here that actually likes the Wii.

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        June 7, 2011 6:41 PM

        Seriously. The fencing in Sports Resort was fun; I'd love to see a serious game with that mechanic.

      • reply
        June 7, 2011 10:57 PM

        Allow me to act as VP of the "Shackers who

        • reply
          June 7, 2011 10:57 PM

          Okay, fuck you too, new Shack. "We HEART Wii" club.

          • reply
            June 8, 2011 8:28 AM

            r {alt + num3} r =

          • reply
            June 8, 2011 8:39 AM

            Whatever Mr. Craddock, I'm sure you were actually trying to infect all of us with some malicious HTML code. I for one am glad nuShack is here to protect me from the likes of you.

    • reply
      June 7, 2011 7:54 PM

      Those visuals really do nothing for me. :( They're not bad; they're just bland.. It doesn't have style. All Zeldas always had a specfic style, this one isn't specific, and it is certainly not exciting.
      I think I'll go drown my sadness in some WindWaker love.

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      June 7, 2011 10:10 PM

      My personal issue with the Zelda franchise is these new ones (since Wind Waker) constantly feel like side stories. I know, I know, that can be a good thing: the Zeldas for GBA were fucking awesome. But Twilight Princess and ESPECIALLY Phantom Hourglass fell like Deus Ex Invisible War to me: like the team was there to do the work on the game, but there was something missing, some magic lost and when I pick it up, it doesn't feel like it used to. It feels like a piece of shit.

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        June 7, 2011 10:13 PM

        Link to the past 3D? I agree with you.

        This will probably be the first console Zelda I skip since 2 :(

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        June 8, 2011 12:22 AM

        I kinda have to agree. I haven't felt like any of the recent ones have been making a serious attempt to create a new entry in the timeline or anything; they're fine enough games on their own (and maybe that's all they're going for) but I miss the awesomeness of realizing the connections in Link to the Past or Ocarina with the prior games.

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          June 8, 2011 12:38 AM

          But there's only been one "recent one" since Wind Waker. So you feel that way about one game. Not a bad record, really.

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            June 8, 2011 7:59 AM

            No, I mean the portables, too. Links Awakening didn't feel throwaway in that sense the way recent ones have.

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        June 8, 2011 8:04 AM

        I don't know if that's the reason, but I can't enjoy them either. I loved OOT and Majora's was ok despite the time limit, but everything else....

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        June 8, 2011 10:05 AM

        Actually Skyward Sword is supposed to go back to that; and tell the events that led to Ocarina.. If they do that right it could be interesting.

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      June 8, 2011 12:45 AM

      no more rolling forever to go faster? damn

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      June 8, 2011 6:28 AM

      why can't motion controls and other non-traditional means of controlling games just die already

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        June 8, 2011 8:03 AM

        I'm willing to give this a shot since they say you swing your sword the way you move your arm (unlike the stupid-ass TP), but I'm not hopeful it'll really be worth it.

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      June 8, 2011 8:12 AM

      Is there fishing?

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      June 8, 2011 8:27 AM

      "the implementation of Motion Plus-based sword control adds some nice flavor (and a bit more challenge) to the combat. "
      Great, make the controls shitty to add "challenge".

      • reply
        June 8, 2011 8:29 AM

        It makes precision matter, unlike practically every other Action game in existence.

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          June 8, 2011 8:52 AM

          True, but I have not played a single game where I found motion controls to be actually a worthy "upgrade" instead of a hassle.

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            June 8, 2011 9:02 AM

            I agree they slapped the Wii-mote controls on Twilight Princess, and I don't agree with their decisions for motion controls on NSMB:Wii nor DKCR. However, this is the first hard core title from Nintendo to actually use the motion+ so I'm hoping for a better turn out.

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      June 8, 2011 8:53 AM

      My love of Nintendo products died with the motion controls of the Wii and the complete lack of imagination of the gameplay itself.

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        June 8, 2011 10:19 AM

        Would your love have remained if the motion controls had been used imaginatively? Or are you just against all motion controls no matter what forever?

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          June 8, 2011 11:05 AM

          I'm against all motion controls that can be replaced by the touch of a button, or are better implemented by the touch of a button. For me, console games are to be enjoyed sitting on the couch, arms / hands relaxed. The only thing that should be moving about are thumbs and fingers.

          Now if you want to add head tracking --- akin to what's being done with Track IR (see Arma I/II videos and Dirt 3 videos), plus what MSFT is trying to do with the Kinect for Forza 4. That's something new and interesting, but it should never be a requirement.

          Additionally I found that the Wii-mote nunchuck to be the quite uncomfortable to hold / use for a considerable amount of time, especially in a game where waggling/pointing was required.

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          June 8, 2011 11:05 AM

          I'm against all motion controls that can be replaced by the touch of a button, or are better implemented by the touch of a button. For me, console games are to be enjoyed sitting on the couch, arms / hands relaxed. The only thing that should be moving about are thumbs and fingers.

          Now if you want to add head tracking --- akin to what's being done with Track IR (see Arma I/II videos and Dirt 3 videos), plus what MSFT is trying to do with the Kinect for Forza 4. That's something new and interesting, but it should never be a requirement.

          Additionally I found that the Wii-mote nunchuck to be the quite uncomfortable to hold / use for a considerable amount of time, especially in a game where waggling/pointing was required.

    • reply
      June 9, 2011 4:23 AM

      So new game, new graphics, the beetle, a stamina metter, motion plus, flying andd a princess Zelda in trouble? Anyone not interested?