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

Posted by Corbie Dillard

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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User Comments (71)

Supermarioman

#1

Supermarioman said:

So the on stage Miyamoto screw up was all just a one time thing? Thats great to know and this answered all my questions I had for you :P

nintendogamerftw

#2

nintendogamerftw said:

A couple things I hope they fix is the Wiimote on the screen that tells you how to play. I found that completely unnecessary and obstructive. Additionally, I'd rather you not have to twist the remote around in order to pick an item. It'd be much easier if I used the control stick.

RaylaxStaff

#4

Raylax said:

This looks fantastic, love that they've gone back to cel-shaded graphics again.

Chrono_Cross

#9

Chrono_Cross said:

@7
It's far from being completely developed. It'll probably come out November of 2011. Wait until it comes out, play it, and then get back to us.

Cia

#10

Cia said:

How does the camera work? Do you still have the option to center it behind you or is it constantly fixed?

WaveWarlock

#15

WaveWarlock said:

Visually THIS is how I've always wated a 3D zelda to look. But I have to say, I've missed out on a few 'key' Zelda titles that I'm actually kind of ashamed of :p Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask flew right be since I was just too into the PSOne at the time. Ocarina of time 3DS on the 3DS should be a nice treat, but I need to get these on the VC.

Crystalking18

#16

Crystalking18 said:

The game looks pretty nice, but the whole 2011 release window is very hazy. Early 2011? Late 2011? Which one? The longer I wait for this game, I'm afraid I may lose interest

Chris720

#19

Chris720 said:

I assume it'll be released Early 2011. The game looks almost finished, but you know Nintendo. They don't release anything until its absolutely perfect!

I doubt a Late 2011 release, mainly because if it was, they would most probably showcase it at E3 2011.

I'd say it'll be released February-July.

Highly doubt January, and anywhere after July, my interest would start growing thin...

@7 I highly doubt a November 2011 release. That's a whole year and a half I have to wait to get my hands on it! I'm sorry, but that's just outrageous!

They've hyped it up to an enormous degree, and having to let people wait a whole year a half!?!

I'd be very surprised if Nintendo did. And also very outraged!

Luigi-La-Bouncy

#21

Luigi-La-Bouncy said:

@7 I agree

Everything is fine and dandy in the report except this part "very vibrant and almost storybook-like graphical presentation". That kills it for me

All hope for Zelda is lost :-(

greenellow

#22

greenellow said:

this is probably one of the few games that looks even better in still screen shots i might just get the strategy guide just to look at the pictures

Chris720

#23

Chris720 said:

@21 It worked on WW, it wasn't great, but it was fun. I like the charm they put into SS.

But... I will miss the darkened edge of TP.

However... TPs darkness, WWs charm, it fits in a way only Nintendo coould make possible and it sounds awesome!

SpriteKing

#24

SpriteKing said:

I am officially pumped.

And for all the graphic style haters, suck it up. I think it combines both looks of toon link and regular link quite nicely.

turtlelink

#25

turtlelink said:

I can't wait, i need a release date. If it is 2011, i will be so happpy if it is on my B-Day (which i doubt :P)

aaronsullivan

#26

aaronsullivan said:

Some abstraction is always better for the longevity of these games. Otherwise, in a couple years, it just looks like mud. Wind Waker has aged very well, graphically. Pixel Art has become timeless and people use the style to this day even though it is unnecessary.

All of that said, I'm not entirely satisfied with the look. The leaves on the trees are distractingly angled, and most of the foliage is so symmetrical and garishly colored it agitates my eye. Link himself? Love it. Can almost see the paint strokes. The ground is beautiful, the long shots and the tree trunks are great. Unfortunately, I don't feel a very cohesive style to the monster and item design as in previous games yet. This could all change once more is shown.

Ultimately, the visuals don't even bother me! When my brain put Zelda and the idea of the Wii (before launch) this is what I wanted. Let me take the swings, perform the actions. I still imagine starting a fire with flint and actually lifting the lid of a treasure chest open -- maybe even having to do it gently and peeking to see if there's a trap mechanism inside. It's not there yet, but this is a big leap. I'm excited.

Yeah, and the orchestrated music. Miyamoto said something like they couldn't leave Zelda out after doing it for Mario. :)

MrWout

#27

MrWout said:

About the graphics well they don't look super, but in the presentation when they went really high with the "remotecontrol" bug and you could see the whole landscape, it looked awesome. And I've heard in a few places that flying is going to be part of the experience in this game (rumours ofcourse) and Myamoto kind off stressed the fact that there was a big view. So maybe this al fits right in gameplaywise.

brandonbwii

#28

brandonbwii said:

@2
miyamoto said during the round table it was just so everyone could get right into the game demo without any problems and it won't be there in the final build.

Unfortunately for the core, Zelda is becoming more fun as in Mario fun than Final Fantasy fun so I doubt Nintendo will care too much about the immersion factor as much as they'll care about tight combat and puzzle pacing. Fine by me if that's the case though.

Winslow

#29

Winslow said:

It still bothers me how on the stage presentation, they called the "business shrubs" octoroks.

FonistofCruxis

#30

FonistofCruxis said:

I don't get why the graphics are getting complaints, I think they look great. I have a question: Do you actually twist the remote to select an item or do you select it with the wii remotes cursor.

warioswoods

#31

warioswoods said:

It looks particularly wonderful in motion; don't judge it based on any individual screenshots.

brandonbwii

#34

brandonbwii said:

@30
A bit of both. Mainly since this uses motionplus, you can simply guide the wiimote to the selected item. Much like using the pointer.

@Panda
Well it is Ocarina of Time STYLE graphics but NOT N64 quality graphics.

timp29

#35

timp29 said:

That looks like the zelda I've always wanted. Cel shaded cartoon style graphics are perfect for a fantasy role playing game and, the decreased graphical workload of the simple textures probably means smoother animation.

Corbie, was there any hint of the ability to parry (block stuff with your sword)? I mean Wii Motion +, they could so do it! Imagine having the big goron sword and being able to parry! Fun times :D

IAmNotWill

#36

IAmNotWill said:

@12: Just your average, everyday troll. :)

I love the graphical style for this game. Can't wait for this. :)

NeoShinobi

#37

NeoShinobi said:

The game's not even finished and the combat aready looks way more advanced than TP's. And thats not just becuase of the Motion+ either. Enemies look like they actually put up a fight this time (which was a rarity in TP).
I also like how you have compete control over your shield. It always annoyed me that your sheild was always in a fixed position during combat in TP.

CorbsAdmin

#40

Corbs said:

I didn't see any ability to block with the sword. I guess you could, but I never thought to try it considering the shield is so easy to use.

Legerdemain

#43

Legerdemain said:

Pro: Enhanced Motion CONTROL and Fighting Experience
Con: Nintendo's Very Own "Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs"

wes008

#44

wes008 said:

I hope they add a storyline to this one and it's not mindless saving of the day.

Bassman_Q

#45

Bassman_Q said:

The graphics are... okay I guess, I mean I like the style and everything... but all of the environments look like "Been there, done that" sort of thing.

And I REALLY hope they add something to freshen up the Zelda formula, like say... using a dragon to roam the world. Cuz otherwise, it just sounds like more of the same, just with better motion controls. But I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Ickaser

#46

Ickaser said:

I wonder if Link will have a personality, like in WW, PH, and ST. TP Link didn't seem to have much of one.

kevohki

#47

kevohki said:

@46 Yeah I agree. Practically every non-Wind Waker Link (Majora's Mask Link being the exception) had as much personality as a tree trunk that kept using the same three facial expressions: shocked/angry (the same in-game animation pretty much), stoic (standard expression for 80% of the game), and smiling (rarely used unless in cutscenes).

Elvis444

#48

Elvis444 said:

Anyone who things that every videogame should have realistic graphics needs to take a look at Okami. Okami still has the best visuals that I have ever seen in a videogame. As for this art style, I think it's okay. I liked both Windwaker's and Twilight Princess's styles better. But I am of a strong belief that graphics are the least important part of a game. Otherwise people wouldn't still be saying that Ocarina of Time is the best game ever.

Link-Hero

#51

Link-Hero said:

Besides the obvious graphics that is Wind Waker mixed with Twilight Princess, it also reminds me of A Link to the Past because of the simple but yet bright colors. Just look at my Avatar and compare, you'll see what I mean.

@Elvis444:

You can edit and delete your posts by clicking the "Edit" or "Delete" button that is located after your name and the time of your post was made, which looks like this: "16 Jun 2010, 21:24 PDT".

Deviant_Mugen

#53

Deviant_Mugen said:

Excellent first impressions, Corb-man. I'll be waiting with bated breath for your Other M first impressions... don't let me down, sir!

JebbyDeringer

#54

JebbyDeringer said:

It's too early to tell. From the shots the graphics look fairly washed out (low contrast). There's almost nothing in shadow and the character shadows are quite faint. I imagine this will change by the time of release. I liked Wind Waker's graphics and that game still looks very goodt. The animation was stunning as well which added a lot to the game. I also found that it could be dark when it wanted to be despite Link being "cute". I agree that the environments look stale in this. I also agree that this game is starting look like Mario in terms of graphical look. I wouldn't be surprised if the environments get an overhaul or if some of these are just test environments. Link looks very polished though.

Bobpie

#56

Bobpie said:

I like the brighter, happier design and title - this could make for a very fun, enjoyable game!

citizenerased

#57

citizenerased said:

Yoshi's Island, Wind Waker, that new Kirby game...

it seems like more and more people finally "get" what Nintendo is doing with all the unique styles, but with this game there's still some doubters. Fine, just wait until you get your hands on it and it turns out to be one of the most beautiful games of all time.

Although I do admit they could've picked a slightly less boring demo-area. They clearly wanted people to just focus on the controls.

Cia

#58

Cia said:

^THAT, is so true. Nintendo has never failed me when it comes to their main franchises.

Token_Girl

#59

Token_Girl said:

The graphics could use a lot more polish. Very polygonal compared to what you see in Mario Galaxy. I'm assuming this is because they're working on nailing the controls, since it seems the stage show was a one time thing. Great character models and such, though I was promised a more mature link looking then we've ever seen before, and he looks about the same age as TP. (honestly, although a child, I think the Majora's Mask Link was the most mature, though that was just from his expressions in the opening cut scene...so jaded of the world.)

citizenerased

#60

citizenerased said:

^ Nintendo did say they're basically done with the game but need time implementing the graphics, so I think it's fair to say we'll be blown away with the next trailer.

Kinda wish they had redesigned Link, btw. Every Link should be unique, but this one looks like a carbon copy of the TP one.

abdullahbinmustajab

#61

abdullahbinmustajab said:

I was watching E3 online, just for Zelda. This is most probably the most anticipated game of my life as Zelda games have become my favourite since I played Ocarina of Time my first Zelda game. I played when I was around 6 and beat it in nearly an year. After that my life completely changed. I got Majora's Mask then. I then played all the classic Zelda's on my PC using emulation. I then got a second hand Gamecube and played Zelda Wind Waker on it. I didn't get to play the DS Zeldas yet. I played Zelda Twilight Princess and I can only say it was a master piece. I couldn't wait for all those games because they were already out when I knew about them. This was the only Zelda game that I could anticipate. Okay back to the main story...I was watching E3 online, just for Zelda and suddenly I watched the trailer it made me weep some tears after hearing that music and watching that beginning in the clouds, and suddenly my spirit raised when I watched Link taking his sword out but suddenly in cell shading! I went what the hell but after watching the trailer I became SUPER MEGA HYPER excited!!! The graphics started to look amazing though they seemed kinda blurry. Anyway I like the gameplay and I would give a 10/10, and yes I know there were some technical difficulties but Nintendo would get rid of that and would surely polish the graphics a bit more though they look amazing but I think if Nintendo went with mature graphics both parties would be sattisfied, the current haters and likers. I am completely shocked with the stunning gameplay, it look amazing and finnaly you will experience "FIGHTING ENEMIES"!!! And regarding those that don't like the outlines on the screen(maybe that includes even me!) I read somewhere that you will be able to turn it off. And if the gameplay is SOOOOOO amazing there is no point in asking about the story and there's another reason-Every(yes every stop asking silly questions) Zelda game till now has a marvelous story. But there was something missing in the trailer I mean a FEW things. First up is the LEGENDARY EPONA! Where is she??? They did a nice job in TP adding horseback fighting but removing it is stupid!!! It can't be perfect without her. Second is Zelda herself she didn't appear in the trailer but I hope she will be there, after it's a "The Legend of (Zelda)" game! I just hope that it does as well as Ocarina of Time did it. That's all

JimLad

#63

JimLad said:

People hated Wind Waker's style (including myself)
Then they loved it.

This will be the same.

abdullahbinmustajab

#64

abdullahbinmustajab said:

@62 I'm really sorry now with paragraphing :)

I was watching E3 online, just for Zelda. This is most probably the most anticipated game of my life as Zelda games have become my favourite since I played Ocarina of Time my first Zelda game. I played when I was around 6 and beat it in nearly an year. After that my life completely changed. I got Majora's Mask then. I then played all the classic Zelda's on my PC using emulation. I then got a second hand Gamecube and played Zelda Wind Waker on it. I didn't get to play the DS Zeldas yet. I played Zelda Twilight Princess and I can only say it was a master piece. I couldn't wait for all those games because they were already out when I knew about them.This was the only Zelda game that I could anticipate.

Okay back to the main story...I was watching E3 online, just for Zelda and suddenly I watched the trailer it made me weep some tears after hearing that music and watching that beginning in the clouds, and suddenly my spirit raised when I watched Link taking his sword out but suddenly in cell shading! I went what the hell but after watching the trailer I became SUPER MEGA HYPER excited!!! The graphics started to look amazing though they seemed kinda blurry. Anyway I like the gameplay and I would give a 10/10, and yes I know there were some technical difficulties but Nintendo would get rid of that and would surely polish the graphics a bit more though they look amazing but I think if Nintendo went with mature graphics both parties would be sattisfied, the current haters and likers.

I am completely shocked with the stunning gameplay, it look amazing and finnaly you will experience "FIGHTING ENEMIES"!!! And regarding those that don't like the outlines on the screen(maybe that includes even me!) I read somewhere that you will be able to turn it off. And if the gameplay is SOOOOOO amazing there is no point in asking about the story and there's another reason-Every(yes every stop asking silly questions) Zelda game till now has a marvelous story.

But there was something missing in the trailer I mean a FEW things. First up is the LEGENDARY EPONA! Where is she??? They did a nice job in TP adding horseback fighting but removing it is stupid!!! It can't be perfect without her. Second is Zelda herself she didn't appear in the trailer but I hope she will be there, after it's a "The Legend of (Zelda)" game! I just hope that it does as well as Ocarina of Time did it. That's all

JamieOStaff

#65

JamieO said:

To me these graphics look completely stupendous, I was blown away by Skyward Sword during Nintendo's conference. With the 1:1 control & a completely lush visual style, this is the most excited I have been about a Zelda game since The Wind Waker (I was more hyped for GCN cel-shading style, than for the realistic Twilight Princess).

I love the way that this mixes Wind Waker's art with that of Twilight Princess, I especially like how Nlife tweeted that the trailer's visuals harked back to A Link to the Past, when they were covering the conference.

The detail on the controls is the icing on the cake, which I did not appreciate as much with Nintendo's awkward gameplay presentation (not that interference was their fault). Cheers for this Corbie. :)

Radixxs

#68

Radixxs said:

@Corbie: Great impressions, I really can't wait for this game. But I think when you write, "now you merely press the "C" button on the Wii Remote to have the item ring pop up and you then merely twist the Wii Remote," I think you mean the "B" button. At least, that's what I thought it was.

abdullahbinmustajab

#69

abdullahbinmustajab said:

The graphics are starting to feel really nice, after looking at the images. They really feel very vibrant and colorful to whoever who is still not satisfied with the graphics look at them a with a new feel instead of looking at the pictures and thinking about mature graphics. I'm very sure you're start to like the graphics! They just feel amazing.

Most probably this game will perform as well Ocarina of Time and become the best Zelda game, maybe even the best Wii game and no one knows that it will do like Ocarina of Time - Take place as one of the best or simply the best game ever created

@66 I agree!

GC-161

#70

GC-161 said:

As a long time Zelda fan, the whole graphics issue is just a bunch of baloney. One of the MAJOR problems we Zelda fans have had with Wind Waker & Twilight Princess was with the GAMEPLAY.

Wind Waker was boring whenever you were not inside one of the (few) dungeons or temples. Having to sail to your destinations wasn't as exciting or even relaxing as Ninty might've hoped for. The difficulty level was also a problem. It was way too easy. Even for a Zelda game.

With Twilight Princess, the dungeons were too linear at times. Not enough backtraking. Another problem is that the enemies are too weak or don't take enough damage when they hit you. So you don't feel scared of them like you did with the OoT enemies that took away several hearts with one hit.

Now here's the thing... Both Wind Waker and TP have rather beautiful graphics. None of them disappointed in that department. And none of that mattered when it came to deliver a game that you would stick to because the gameplay was lacking and really uninspired.

So to read almost all of you complain about graphics is kinda sad. Because graphics never have been Zelda's strong point. If you want that, then play Final Fantasy.

Just give me a Zelda game that has gameplay that is at least as good as the one that made OoT such a great N64 title.

The thing about this new Zelda, is that Nintendo said that they already have the game finished but are now centering in polishing the graphics. Maybe that will calm some of you... but not me. I wished they would spend that time working on the gameplay.

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