E3 2010: First Impressions: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

We got hands on with Nintendo's flagship E3 title.

If there's one first-party game that's getting most of the attention at Nintendo's E3 booth, it's got to be Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword with the line to play it snaking around the entire Nintendo booth several times. So you can imagine the dirty looks I received when I was whisked up to the VIP area of the booth to sit and play the Nintendo first-party games with no one else staring over my shoulder.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was the first game I played and it didn't disappoint. The Wii MotionPlus controls give the game an extremely playable and accurate feel, and having to learn to use your shield and sword in a more realistic manner gives the gameplay a ton of variety. Even the smaller enemies in the game require you to observe and exploit each enemy's weakness and of course this plays an even larger role when you begin running into the game's many bosses. It's here that you'll see exactly what the 1:1 control of the Wii MotionPlus system is all about in the game.

As the developers have repeatedly emphasized during this year's E3 show, making the play controls of this new Zelda titles was a big priority for Nintendo and it's done a fantastic job of making these controls easier to use on the fly, not to mention much more intuitive. Getting Link to whip out his sword requires nothing more than a small shake of the Wii Remote, and you then have full range of control over the sword with the Wii Remote. You can then just as easily sheath the sword by pressing the "A" button. Next up is your shield, which also plays an increased role in this title as you're going to have to use defensive maneuvers from time to time in order to survive. Raising your shield is also quite easy to accomplish by simply lifting up on the Nunchuk as if it were a real shield in your hand. You can even punch forward with the Nunchuck to make Link thrust the shield outward in order to bounce enemy projectiles back at them.

Next up is the items. Rather than the usual sub-screen that generally has to be pulled up in order to set and make use of specialty items, now you merely press the "B" button on the Wii Remote to have the item ring pop up and you then merely twist the Wii Remote around to highlight the item you want to use and it becomes immediately available for your use. Everything from bombs to the brand new flying beetle can be used to open up areas and solve puzzles needed to progress in the game. You'll even find increased control flexibility with the various items such as the ability to toss bombs in different ways: you can still drop a bomb where you stand or you can get creative and either toss the bombs with various trajectories or even roll them on the ground to get them under tight areas.

Everything about the new control scheme just feels so much more natural and allows you the freedom to make use of everything at your disposal without taking your mind off playing the game. The sword fighting controls are done extremely well and when used in conjunction with the standard targeting system, you'll find yourself hacking up enemies and bosses in no time. Toss in the unique gameplay mechanics brought into play with the list of specialty items at Link's disposal and you have what is one of the most playable Zelda titles to date and a game that no fan of the series will want to miss.

As if the new and improved control scheme wasn't enough, the developers have still found time to toss in a brand new visual styling that gives the game a very vibrant and almost storybook-like graphical presentation, making for some absolutely gorgeous scenery and screen-filling bosses. Throw in a beautifully orchestrated musical score and you've got a game that should now be at the top of most Nintendo fan's most-wanted list. And while it might not have been my favorite Nintendo first-party title at the show, it was easily the most popular one with the media members who are still standing in line as I type this waiting to get their hands on it.

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