As I had expected, Nintendo’s E3 2011 press conference treated us with not another gameplay trailer but a cinematic trailer for Skyward Sword featuring much of the early story. It was well put together, giving us a good feel of what the beginning of the game will be like without actually revealing too much of the story itself. It’s enough to prepare us for it while still allowing us the full experience when the game finally comes out. As always there are many little things in those short glimpses of Skyloft and the land below that are very easy to miss but give a much deeper impression of the story than one could pick up from just watching it once. Scouring other materials such as the demos shown in the developers roundtable, various gameplay videos, and interviews with Nate Bihldorff and Erik Peterson, the scenes in the trailer are supplemented with more detailed information and more room for theories. Many of the larger elements in this new trailer tie in with my analysis of the GDC trailer and some smaller details with the symbol analysis that I posted at the forum shortly afterward.
A majority of the new content shown at E3 is related to the early portions of the game in Skyloft. This is our first glimpse of Skyloft besides the short clip at the end of last year’s trailer (which was retconned, a wooden platform replacing the stone cliff). The town is built on two large islands which are connected with bridges, with several smaller islands surrounding it. The residents travel between these islands by riding giant birds which are obviously very important to their society. The birdriding ceremony featured as one of the demos is one example of this. They’re a vital part of Skyloftian lifestyle, so their image finds its way into symbols all over Skyloft. It’s engraved in the stone wall behind the official screenshot of Zelda. Link acquires a statue of one as proof of his victory in the flight mini-game. The wooden shield shown in the trailer features a bird’s footprint, and the iron shield in the demo has two footprints. Different variations can be found on the belts the Skyloftians wear (which are similar to those worn by Ordonians in Twilight Princess). I think it’s safe to say that the classic Hylian bird symbol featured in the game’s logo, on the back of the leader-like character’s robes, and on Zelda’s clothing is another example of a symbol of reverence toward these birds.
Zelda herself is also important to the Skyloftians. While she doesn’t seem very princess-like, she does play an important role in the birdriding festival, delivering the bird statue and rewarding the prize. (As a side-note, she is also shown with the lyre from the GDC trailer which Link will acquire at some point.) I described in my GDC trailer analysis that this game will likely be the birth of the Hylian Royal Family. This has been a common, well-accepted theory ever since last year’s E3, and Zelda’s presence in Skyloft along with the bird logo on her clothes adds even stronger evidence. This Zelda being the first of the Hylian Royal Family raises the question of whether she’s the one described in Adventure of Link‘s backstory. I think this is impossible, and that the notion that the sleeping Zelda was the first princess with that name had been retconned in the 1990’s. Adventure of Link implies that the Triforce of Courage had been hidden in North Castle from the time of the curse up until Link acquires it within the game. But at the very least, Ocarina of Time occurs between these two titles, and it features the Triforce of Courage starting in the Sacred Realm and ending in Link’s possession or scattered around Hyrule, depending on which ending you look at. Therefore, the legend must occur after these events, and the sleeping Zelda is not the first.
How exactly the relationship between Skyloft and Hyrule evolves is still a mystery. There is a huge statue that towers over the entire town on the upper island. Lord Ghirahim mentions a goddess, and this is undoubtedly constructed in her honor. This oddly does not mesh with the creation stories told in A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, and Twilight Princess. There is only one goddess instead of three, and with goddesses one would expect the Triforce. So far there’s no evidence of that anywhere in Skyloft, not even on Zelda’s clothes. If they don’t revere the Triforce, then do they worship a different deity? The people of Termina looked up to the Four Giants as their guardian deities, and the Triforce could only be found in a few obscure places in Majora’s Mask. Given that this game is set to be the earliest game so far, one would expect the creation story to be repeated, or perhaps expanded upon. Is it only a legend from the land below? Will Skyward Sword present something new to replace it? If my previous theories about the interlopers and the Triforce are true, then the Triforce will have to be introduced somehow. It will be interesting to find out from which perspective the story will be told.
It’s interesting to note that Link carries a sword while flying with Zelda even before anything bad happens and before he meets Phi. However, in the very next scene he has a different sword, the same sword from the GDC trailer, the new official artwork, and the new demos. Ghirahim cites this sword as the reason Link still lives after their first battle, as if it’s more than just an ordinary sword. Phi is shown to be with Link during gameplay, appearing on the d-pad if he’s low on hearts (note that this icon no longer looks like the Fairy Queen), or in person to give tips about items and other gameplay segments. I think all this proves that despite the sword in the logo still depicting the Master Sword, this smaller sword is the Skyward Sword, the second sword you obtain in the game. Nate Bihldorff stressed that upgrading your items would be a big part of the game, and Aonuma stated in the roundtable that the game revolves around forging the Master Sword. Miyamoto said last year that the Skyward Sword becomes the Master Sword. Think about the wings being added in a similar manner to the mandibles being added to the Beetle, or its evil-repelling power coming in a similar way as the Picori Blade becoming the Four Sword.
To go along with his new sword, Link receives his green tunic from an old man dressed incredibly similarly to Rauru. This excerpt from my first article at Zelda Dungeon is now even more relevant.
With Zelda coming from Skyloft, this old man fits the descriptions of “ancestor of the Hylians” and “ancient sage” very well. (He states in Ocarina of Time that “we ancient Sages built the Temple of Time,” casting himself as one of the originals.) Of course, the common belief around the time of Twilight Princess is that the ancestors of the Hylians are the Oocca. I am now finding it more and more difficult to maintain the belief that the Skyloftians become the Oocca, especially with Zelda being one of them. Alternatively, it has been pointed out in many City in the Sky discussions that the shop is the only area that seems like it was designed for the Oocca. The rest of the city and everything else that has to do with the “ancient sky people” clashes with the concept of small birdlike creatures. Add to that the fact that everything we learn about the Oocca comes from Shad’s research and Ooccoo herself. The idea that Ooccoo is deceiving you and perhaps Shad as well isn’t very farfetched. It’s possible that the “sky beings” are not the Oocca, but the Skyloftians. Incidentally, the latter also live alongside a race of bird creatures, who inhabit a certain part of the island…
Link is then led to the land below where he searches for Zelda, as Aonuma mentioned last year. Zelda had been knocked off her bird by a tornado summoned by Ghirahim and eaten by a large flying whale which Ghirahim refers to as a “servant of the goddess.” There have been three large whales in previous Zelda games: The Wind Fish, Lord Jabu Jabu, and Oshus. While the Wind Fish has the ability to fly, I think Lord Jabu Jabu is more likely to be the servant of the goddess, being a guardian deity himself. This opens up the possibility for the other guardian deities to make an appearance as well. Could the large tree in last year’s demo area (which has been confirmed to be in the game) be the Great Deku Tree?
The whale takes Zelda down to the Sky Temple, where Link and Ghirahim follow. This temple is aptly named because even though it isn’t in the sky, it is riddled with bird statues and symbols. This is the dungeon I referred to as the “forest dungeon” in my GDC symbol analysis. Many scenes in the GDC trailer show the same rooms that are in the new demo, including the large central room that features bird statues, and the three-leaf motif, arches, and pillars are still recurring themes. At the center of the large room is a giant bird statue looking up to the sky. The large door at the very beginning of the GDC trailer which I speculated to be the entrance to this dungeon also features a bird shape, which we now know the importance of. Both in the main room and next to the boss door with the puzzle lock, you can see one of the bird-shaped “save statues” Nate Bihldorff refers to. This will supposedly allow you to return to Skyloft.
Also on the boss door is a distinctive swirl pattern. This same pattern is seen during the fight with Ghirahim. This is the other side of that door, and Ghirahim is the boss of the first dungeon – not the scorpion as I had originally thought. On the other door in the boss room behind which Ghirahim claims Zelda was hiding is another image of a bird, very similar to the one that Zelda wears. The fact that it lacks a Triforce is glaring. It seems even the land below doesn’t revere that sacred item as much as we’re used to. This does make some sense given how its creation is described. It’s hidden in the Sacred Realm during the time of Skyward Sword and may not be known except to those seeking it out. This wanting lack is contrasted by the presence of the Triforce in the game’s logo, implying it will be introduced later in the game. I still believe that this is what Ghirahim’s people are after, and they need Zelda’s holiness to get it. As telling as this Triforceless bird symbol is, it’s not entirely new. I’d like to draw attention yet again to this image from Twilight Princess:
I explained in detail in “Skyward Sword as an Expansion of Twilight Princess Themes” the importance of this shield in an untold war. The shield has wings, but no Triforce, just like the symbols seen around Sky Temple and in Skyloft. Also featured on the shield are two rapiers. This is very similar to Ghirahim’s sabre. These two “coincidences” make me believe even stronger that Twilight Princess makes a small reference to a little-known war. They also tell me that this war was not after Ocarina of Time as I had thought, but before the Civil War, even during Skyward Sword.
I’ve mentioned Ghirahim several times now, and he deserves his own description. We now see him without his cloak, and a belt with a large red jewel is revealed. This is strikingly similar to the blue one on Phi, strengthening the idea that they are similar entities. While he calls himself the demon who presides over the surface and certainly will appear much more often than just as the first boss, there’s no way he’s the final boss. He uses the pronouns “we” and “us” as if he’s part of group of like-minded individuals. We haven’t seen anything that could be considered his minions, so I don’t think he will be the leader of this group, but perhaps an important member. I do think that this group is the interlopers. Ghirahim uses a lot of magic in the demo that still resembles Twili magic. He teleports around much like Zant. His sabre dematerializes in the exact same way Link warps in Twilight Princess – the squares are even black. The rest of his magic is quite colorful, like the throwing knives he summons or the red cloud in the background of his scene at the end of the trailer (what is that?), but that can be explained. The interlopers became the Twili after they were sealed in the Twilight Realm. It was at that time when they “became shadows that could not mingle with the light,” and their magic probably became darker. Originally, they were ordinary people, much like the Sheikah.
On this same note, the people privileged enough to witness Nintendo’s E3 roundtable were shown a couple new gameplay elements. One of them took place in an alternate dimension called the Siren World. In this world, which is a darker parallel version of the light world much like the Dark World in A Link to the Past, Link must collect tear-shaped items in order to leave. Collecting tear-shaped items in a darkened world also occurred in Twilight Princess.
From the footage Nintendo graciously provided we can actually see the container for these tears, which looks remarkably like the Vessel of Light, except with a flower on the top. Link starts to dissolve into blue particles when he thrusts the Skyward Sword into the ground, and blue particles can be seen floating up into the sky. These all seem like a direct reference to the Twilight Realm.
If Ghirahim is indeed an interloper, then according to Twilight Princess he will be sealed in another world. I think this world will be the Siren World.
While I’ve found a few of my theories needed to be changed quite drastically, like the Oocca’s importance in the game, I found many more have been strengthened. The foundation of the Hylian Royal Family is made nearly certain with Zelda’s presence in Skyloft. More details have been added to the forging of the Master Sword and new theories can arise from the red-robed man’s involvement in this process. It has become even more enticing to look at Skyward Sword as the story of the interlopers’ attempt at obtaining the Triforce. I’m quite satisfied with this information until I’m able to play the game and see how right or wrong I am.