All the speculation can finally end: we've seen the new Legend of Zelda game, subtitled Skyward Sword. And it looks good.
Taking a graphical style that combines the cartoon palette of Wind Waker and the grown-up visuals of Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword is Nintendo's attempt to make the game much more accessible to gamers. With the Wii Remote – for which you'll need MotionPlus – and Nunchuk displayed on screen at all times, the controls seem more streamlined, with swapping between items as simple as picking from a radial menu and then pressing B to begin.
The Skyward Sword in the title refers to the ability to hold your Remote (and therefore sword) aloft in-game to begin charging a beam attack that can be launched at enemies. Yes, for the first time in many years, Link can shoot beams from his sword again. Happy days.
Although the on-stage demonstration suffered from some technical glitches it was still clear that MotionPlus looks to add a great deal to the game, with Link's swordfighting and other items taking on a new dimension of control. Certain enemies can only be conquered by slashing them in a particular direction, and there was an eye guarding a door that could be confused by moving the tip of the sword around: as the eye followed the sword, it became hypnotised and disappeared.
Taking out familiar items such as the slingshot and bow are in place, with the slingshot using pointer controls and the bow handling rather like the archery in Wii Sports Resort: holding up the Remote aims the bow, with the Nunchuk used to draw back the arrow. Again, technical difficulties prevented this from being shown off to its full potential, but our hands-on First Impressions should be available soon to give you a better idea of how this part of the game handles. Bombs have returned as well, and can be thrown as well as rolled underarm to fit through small crevices and gaps.
When it comes to new items, the game delivers with a flying beetle and a whip. The beetle flies around to access new items and other areas and the whip can be used to pull opponents and items or take out large groups of smaller enemies such as Keese.
On the whole this was an impressive first showing for the title, but the one fly in the ointment was the announcement that the game will not launch in 2010, with Mr Miyamoto announcing a 2011 release date. Here's the first trailer to whet your whistle: