Will Skyward Sword be Ruined by Poor Controls

We’ve been doing a bit of Skyward Sword horn tooting since E3. Okay, it’s not really “a bit”. We’ve been going all out to say that it very well could be the best Zelda game to date, meaning that it could even finally knock Ocarina of Time off its perch! Personally, I’ve said it will be as big as the two Galaxy games, Nate has suggested that it very well could be the best Zelda game, and Lex – after his experience with it at E3 – stated that it is poised to be the best.

Sure we may be putting undue pressure and hype on the game, but we’re confident that it is going to deliver. Even if it doesn’t knock Ocarina of Time off its figurative perch, it will still be one awesome gaming experience. Well, it very well could be. Skyward Sword has a great story, great mechanics, great dungeons – I’m sure of that. But what it all comes down to is the MotionPlus controls. They will make or break this game. If they are not the perfect one-to-one controls that Nintendo claims then Skyward Sword is already setting itself up for big disappointment.

At E3’s 2010 reveal, there were problems. No doubt it was embarrassing for Nintendo to have rehearsed it all, and then for the motion controls not to work due to wireless interference; or so they claimed. It was not a great first showing for Skyward Sword and its control gimmick. The good news was that the problems didn’t extend to the show floor. Those who played the demos during the week at E3 felt the controls for themselves, and said they worked fine – one-to-one.

This year at E3 we didn’t get a stage demonstration. Perhaps it goes without saying why we didn’t. We did get the three show floor demos though – flying, the first dungeon and a boss battle. Overall feedback on the controls have been positive. They do truly work one-to-one. You will just take a while to get used to it. In a lot of videos I’ve seen lots of people at E3 being wagglers, going by their Twilight Princess instinct. Once you figure out that you need to take large clean swings with your sword and really act it out yourself, then things start to work out.

We cannot confidently state that the controls are entirely seamless though. There are those who have given negative reports, perhaps because they were not patient enough to get the hang of what Wii Motion Plus wanted, or perhaps the controls do have some slight glitches. The most commonly mentioned issue, of course, is the dreaded recalibration.

Who remembers Wii Sports Resort and its good old Wii Remote recalibration? Of course it was annoying and slowed down gameplay, but is it really a problem? In Wii Sports Resort I tended to find that if you recalibrated at the start, then you could get a decent sessions of at least an hour before it was necessary to recalibrate it because the controls were a little askew. Not fun, but not a big hassle.

With Skyward Sword at E3 this year, some reports can talk about nothing but having to constantly recalibrate. Maybe it’s more of a show floor issue, whether the excessive use of the remotes, setting or whatever, because I doubt it will seriously pervade our home experiences. It is MotionPlus so there will be need for recalibration, but if you do it before every play, it shouldn’t be a hassle.

Skyward Sword Link Bow

Alex has reported from E3 that there is a quick access button to recalibrate if necessary. Remembering Nintendo’s recent trend of telling gamers to take breaks, if you’re recalibrating lots per session, then maybe you’re playing for too long without a break! Yeah, I know – I’ll probably play it through in minimal sessions too!

MotionPlus is known for needing recalibration, which may be one of the simple reasons for why it hasn’t really gained the popularity that it should have. We may have to wait for the day that technology does not require recalibration before one-to-one motion control gaming catches on. Regardless, Skyward Sword is coming soon with the current technology.

Be prepared to recalibrate, but so long as it is at the start of each session, and maybe every hour at the very most afterwards, I’ll be satisfied. The quick access button is a great idea because we need to have control over recalibrating when we feel there is the need to tighten up the controls. Such as if the feel off, or before am important boss battle. Besides, how annoying would a pop-up pause message similar to the battery is dead one, that stops the gameplay be?

When it comes to visuals, design, graphics – Skyward Sword is a candidate for best game of the series. When it comes to controls, they will either promote Skyward Sword to be atop the proverbial podium, or shun it down into obscurity. Motion is the be all end all for Skyward Sword. There will be the need for recalibration, which depending on regularity, will greatly affect the final game.

I do not doubt Nintendo. If MotionPlus wasn’t going to be bearable, or wasn’t going to pull of the seamless gameplay in one-to-one fashion, Nintendo wouldn’t be doing it. What we need to expect is not completely perfect controls, but near perfect. I don’t think they will ruin Skyward Sword, but they are likely to prevent it from reaching its full potential.

Reviews will most likely mark it up for innovation with MotionPlus, but mark it down for some slight hiccups like recalibration. Ultimately though, reviews don’t matter, just our personal experience does. I believe that Skyward Sword will deliver on controls that provide the best experience possible with the current MotionPlus technology, but to expect them to be hiccup free is ignorant.

After all, this really is the first time MotionPlus has been used to this extent. Even with Sports Resort and Red Steel 2, this is MotionPlus’s first real break. Skyward Sword’s controls are clearly destined for greatness, just not perfection. It would be best to learn that now to save future disappointment.

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