The folks over at the sixth axis have published a nice little article about their experience with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Essentially if you like the art style in Skyward Sword so far, you won’t like this impression, otherwise you will. Overall it’s a bit vague and doesn’t contain much information that we didn’t know already, but with things like these it’s probably the best to have as many opinions as possible.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword had by far the biggest queue of all the Nintendo games on show – so much so that people were asked to stop joining the line at about 5.45pm, even though the Eurogamer Expo didn’t close until 7pm. As the game has been designed with Wii Motion Plus in mind I was keen to see how it would stack up now that Sony has released the Move, and if the fairly awkward E3 demo was really just a one off.
Zelda makes a slightly odd first impression, which is entirely down to its visual style. I can see what Nintendo are trying to do, which is create a watercolour painting style effect, but at the moment it isn’t quite working and instead things look a bit fuzzy – I’m not a huge fan of this new direction and find it overly fussy. In still pictures it looks fine, but on screen is where the problem occurs. Saying that though the game is instantly recognisable as being part of the Zelda franchise – Nintendo are masters of trying something new whilst never alienating the fans of previous game instalments.
The demo I played did well in terms of showing off its Wii Motion Plus credentials, and actually reminded me a bit of the gladiator part of Sony’s ‘Sports Champions’. Flicking the Wiimote out unsheathes your sword which generally does rotate and move according to what you are doing with the controller. Enemies have been designed to take advantage of this new found freedom, and the first one I came across could only be defeated by slashing in the direction of its big, tooth filled mouth. With the first one dispatched easily, I moved forward to the next but the Wiimote to screen transition wasn’t as good this time and it took several attempts to recognise what I was doing.
Holding the Wiimote vertically above your head fills your sword with an energy charge which can be stored for a short period – and slashing up or down releases this charge as a ‘Sonic Boom’ style projectile which is very handy for ranged combat. Flicking the Nunchuck brings up your shield, which not only gives you added protection, but bats back enemy projectiles if you stab the Nunchuck forward at just the right moment.
I managed to explore the surrounding area for a few minutes, and like I said earlier there is no doubting it is a Zelda game. Slashing grass reveals Rupees – the game’s currency – whilst vines that you can climb on house Skulltulas, which can be picked off with your slingshot. I then encountered my first dungeon, housing a typically large scorpion boss with big bulbous eyes located in between its massive pincers (gee I wonder if that’s the weak spot).
At set periods the scorpion rotated its pincers, meaning to attack the eyes you have to slash in a certain direction – once again taking advantage of the Wii Motion Plus. Obviously poking this creature in the eyes doesn’t fill it with love and affection for you, so it attempts to sting you or swipe you with its tail. Fortunately Link is an athletic chap and a press of the dodge button sees him flip out the way. Eventually you wear down the scorpion enough so it drops it’s guard, and thrusting the Wiimote forward translates into a stabbing motion where sword tip meets scorpion face – and sword tip wins.
Obviously it’s hard to pass comment on a game that normally takes 20+ hours to complete, and is months away from release. I would love to get a ‘hands on’ with it at a later date, because at the moment the control scheme can be a bit hit and miss in terms of accuracy – albeit more hit than miss. So what I will say now is that The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Swords feels almost identical to The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, only with a more refined control scheme. Make of that what you will.