News Article

Skyward Sword Nearly Had Button Combat Controls

Posted by James Newton

Things could have gone very differently

We know that Nintendo nearly dropped MotionPlus from Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, but it nearly had even less motion for your money, with the revelation in a recent Japanese Iwata Asks article that combat was nearly a button-based affair.

The interview (via Siliconera) reveals that Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma was sceptical about the inclusion of Wii MotionPlus controls until Wii Sports Resort came along, at which point it seemed a natural fit and he made the decision to support MotionPlus. Design lead Ryuji Kobayashi, however, was just putting the finishing touches to the button commands for combat: something of a tea-table moment for the team, no doubt.

The team also confirms that the boomerang item won't be in Skyward Sword, despite claims to the contrary in other publications, and that at one point the game contained a flying hand item that whizzed about the place grabbing things. It's now the rather less frightening beetle item.

[via siliconera.com]

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User Comments (56)

NintyMan

#1

NintyMan said:

Yuck, I'm glad they decided to drop that! Skyward Sword should be the real motion-based sword fighting we expect it to be. The bit about the wallmaster-like item sounds interesting, but a beetle does sound better.

Spoony_Tech

#3

Spoony_Tech said:

Good I'm glad it didn't use button commands. Hopefully it will add that added difference that stands it apart from all other games out there!!

AbuJaffer

#4

AbuJaffer said:

What! The boomerang would have been a great fit! Just put it in there for us to mess around with, like in Awakening!

Meta-Rift

#5

Meta-Rift said:

It's not like Skyward Sword is going to be any better or worse because of motion controls.

Meta-Rift

#6

Meta-Rift said:

@vonseux: I'm sure the motion controls will be great, but they won't have any effect on how good or bad the game is. Reviewers that like or dislike motion controls will probably rate it higher or lower because of them, sure. Everything I've seen in trailers could have somehow been done with buttons, and most of it has been done in past Zelda games.

Basically, Skyward Sword looks like it will be great. It wouldn't be any more or less great if Nintendo had gone with a normal controller. Good gameplay doesn't make a bad Zelda game good, or vice versa.

Haywired

#7

Haywired said:

@vonseux

Are motion controls immersive though? Motion controls put the focus on actions you're performing outside the game environment, rather than the actions taking place within the game environment, so how can they possibly be immersive? Good, intuitive, immersive controls should be unnoticeable, motion controls rarely are. Immersion comes from within the game environment (the atmosphere, the story, the characters, the sights, the sounds, etc.), not from controls and certainly not from gimmicky controls.

Not that I'm trying to rain on anyone's parade. I'm sure this game will be great. I just want to get in there early in case this thread becomes full of "Oh God, that would be terrible! I don't ever want to use button controls again! They can't compare to miming, waggling and flailing!" and other such blasphemy.

grumblebuzzz

#8

grumblebuzzz said:

I kind of wish that they had kept both control schemes. Waggling and wobbling isn't for everyone. I think that may be the main reason I'm kinda meh about Skyward Sword.

SpaceKappa

#9

SpaceKappa said:

Good decision to keep motion controls in, they're a big part of why I'm so excited for the game. When they first showed off the Wii Remote, all I could think about was swinging it around to control the Master Sword. Twilight Princess let me do that, albiet rather clumsily, so I'm REALLY excited to take advantage of the MotionPlus functionality here. My dream from 2006 will finally come true!

jkshaz

#10

jkshaz said:

@haywired
I agree and disagree with you in a sense. I agree that motion controls have seldom, if ever been immersive. However, I disagree that controls cannot be involved in the immersion process. I would agree that traditionally they have not been part of the process, but I feel more and more they are becoming part of the overall experience.

CorbsAdmin

#11

Corbs said:

I wish they'd have dropped the motion controls and made it all button-controlled.

Meta-Rift

#12

Meta-Rift said:

@jkshaz: I don't think he meant controls can't be involved in immersion, just that immersion doesn't come from them. The less you think about controls, the more attention is on the game (i.e. more immersive).

Adam

#14

Adam said:

They might as well use motion. It's their last chance to prove the motion control idea was useful outside of mini-games. When the DS XXXXXL comes out (called Wii U in some regions), it's going to mostly be about normal controls plus touch screen for games of this sort.

Ryno

#15

Ryno said:

No boomerang? Is this the first Zelda to have no boomerang?

Overall I think the Wii really lacked good motion control games even though that was what the system was predicated on. Metroid Prime Trilogy being one of the few shining examples of great motion control implementation. Looking forward to seeing how Nintendo pulls off motion control at its best with the Wii's last big hurrah!

Xiao_Pai

#18

Xiao_Pai said:

Majora's Mask doesn't have it...well, kinda...I mean there's the Zora fins that you throw....but whatever, lol.
Anyways can't wait for the game, finally get to play a real Wii Zelda game with motion controls like I was promised in Twilight Princess.
(only to find out TP was just a wag-fest)

DarkLloyd

#19

DarkLloyd said:

@Eureka

so a wag-fest only occurs to a stiffy motion controls then and not swinging the sword motion controls in general?

if so then that doesnt sound like bashing motion controls

p.s i prefer button based but thats only because i been used to that for almost my whole life

SanderEvers

#20

SanderEvers said:

They should've allowed two control configurations. So buttons AND motion controls as an option

shingi_70

#21

shingi_70 said:

@21

The way the motion controls work for swordplay it wouldn't have worked correctly.

Meta-Rift

#22

Meta-Rift said:

@shingi_70: It's really not that different from the combat in OoT/MM/WW/TP. I'm kind of surprised that there was never an emphasis on swordplay before Skyward Sword.

drumsandperc92

#23

drumsandperc92 said:

I take two things from this article..the Zelda team didn't know what to expect with Wii Motion+ so they originally didn't use it, until they saw how it was used in the sword minigame when it first came out. Makes perfect sense...they'd rather be safe with such a killer franchise than tack on motion controls that may or may not have worked (now we know they do, very well from what I hear lol)
The other thing I take from this is that not only did they not want to take a risk on M+ yet, but they in fact didn't want any random wrist waggling going on. THANK YOU! The motion controls of TP were pathetic and broken. They annoy me to this day, as much as i love the game. It doesn't make it unbearable it's just rather annoying...i'd rather hit a button to make my sword attack. Only thing about TP that makes it difficult to go back to older zelda's is the motion control with the bow, slingshot, clawshot, etc. That was great in TP.
So perhaps the button controls of skyward sword were still going to use the wiimote, perhaps just asign the sword to "A" or something to make it less gimmicky and tacked-on. I would've enjoyed that, but the premise of skyward sword now with motion+ is awesome. Can't wait.

Linkuini

#24

Linkuini said:

Based on the footage we've seen already, I fail to see how button controls would make the swordplay work the way it appears to. Moving the sword to a specific position and then swinging it in a certain direction are aspects that were not entirely addressed in past Zelda games.

And I must disagree vehemently with the assumption that button controls distract from the game world more than motion controls do. If the player wants to do one action, but forgets which button to push, that clearly takes the player out of the game world. The problem applies to both button and motion controls alike. In prior Zelda games, in fact, I sometimes performed the wrong action with my sword because I forgot that the B button did different things if I was targeting an enemy. That's one problem I don't foresee having in Skyward Sword, thanks to motion control.

Meta-Rift

#25

Meta-Rift said:

@LegendofPasta99:

"Based on the footage we've seen already, I fail to see how button controls would make the swordplay work the way it appears to. Moving the sword to a specific position and then swinging it in a certain direction are aspects that were not entirely addressed in past Zelda games."

Link has been able to slash in different directions for a long time now. Skyward Sword is just the first game where it matters.

aaronsullivan

#26

aaronsullivan said:

The immersion arguments:
I feel like I'm more part of the world of the game I'm playing in the Wii Sports Resort games, particularly the sword games, than wiggling my fingers on controllers. I do get the other side of the argument however, in which a book is FAR more immersive than any video game as it forces you to consume your mind with the ideas being read to understand it.

As far as the game being better or worse due to the control method. Of COURSE it has an effect. I suspect that very few gamers would neglect controls from their criteria for judging a game.

I'm trying to imagine button controls for the sword actions you can take in this game and I'm seeing either a hold a button and then press a stick in the direction of swinging or multiple buttons for different directions, but none as intuitive and fun as simply swinging the way you want link to swing or stabbing, etc.

It's like saying that the way mario controls in super mario bros. had no bearing on whether it was a good game or not. Imagine if there were 5 or 6 different jump buttons to decide how high and fast to jump rather than a combination of a sprint button and holding the jump button down for a variable amount of time. Does anyone think it would be the same well-loved game, or think that it wouldn't make it worse?

Just throwing that out there.

Xiao_Pai

#27

Xiao_Pai said:

The motion controls in TP was just last minute, slapped on, feature (mainly cause its really a GameCube game)...but before I thought the motion controls would give us more control over the sword itself...no, flick remote, slash sword...wanna kill an enemy? Flick remote like crazy. Only thing I really enjoyed in Wii's TP is the aiming.

Skyward Sword seems like the controls I've been expecting years ago when TP first came out.

shoopdawoop70

#28

shoopdawoop70 said:

I'm glad they kept motion. However, I'd like to see Zelda U have the option to use Wii Remote Plus or the U Pad

NX01Trekkie1992

#29

NX01Trekkie1992 said:

no boomerang? darn, as for no button controls, good, if they had done that I think the fans would have revolted and burned down half of Kyoto in revenge, lol

TKOWL

#30

TKOWL said:

Most of these comments prove to me how bad the Zelda fanbase is getting. You complain about the series growing stale and repetitive, but when they try out an awesome and intuitive new control scheme, you all start complaining about how it would be better with buttons. Seriously?

I've never head complaining this bad outside of the Sonic fanbase.

OptometristLime

#31

OptometristLime said:

I'm sure I won't miss the boomerang, but it does seem well suited to motion controls. Time to play that Frisbee game on Wii Sports Resort! :D

Reggie4Life

#32

Reggie4Life said:

I think motion controls would be best. You're right, TP's motion controls were less than perfect, so they're trying to show the world that controlling a sword with motion controls can be easy, or more importantly, fun to use in combat. Can't wait for this game. :)

FonistofCruxis

#33

FonistofCruxis said:

I'm glad they changed the mind as this looks to be one of the best examples of motion controls.
@Sir_Dragoon Are you sure you haven't heard complaining this bad outside the Sonic fanbase? Take a look at the Metroid fanbase.

FluttershyGuy

#34

FluttershyGuy said:

They really need to give people the option of which control scheme they want to use. I want to use the good old fashioned control pad, like I have since the first Zelda. It's not right to force people into the motion controls, just so Nintendo can say how fancy and technically advanced the game is motion wise, in an effort to gain an advantage on PS3 & Xbox 360.

I love Nintendo (well, sometimes love to hate them LOL). But, sometimes they have a way of taking their latest technological "thing" to the extreme and cramming it down the player's throat. Like the N64 era, when just about all you saw was 3D games because Nintendo wanted to show off how powerful the system was.

Personally, I think as you make things more complicated, you take away fun. NES & SNES games especially were so easy to just jump right into. They were very accessible. That was one thing that made them so fun! Games today usually aren't that easy to start into and really get involved in. But, that's a separate debate.

I'm sure the motion controls will be just fine, fun even after getting used to. But, when my arm is tired after swinging it around for an hour, I'd like the option to go back to regular old buttons. I'm not buying Wii Fit Plus. I'm buying a Legend of Zelda game!

Kagamine

#35

Kagamine said:

guys, link has been able to slash vertical and horizontal, but skyward sword is going to require more angles and precision. thats why buttons wouldnt work.

TKOWL

#36

TKOWL said:

@FluttershyGuy It's called Twilight Princess. Two versions were released, one with motion controls, and one without. So there is your said option.

timp29

#37

timp29 said:

Wii Motion Plus... the ability to swing your sword in 8 different directions. I don't think it is 1-1 yet.

RYBlast

#38

RYBlast said:

To everyone complaining about motion controls, can you please explain how the game would work without them?

Seriously, instead of the B button act as the "win" button, you actually have to know where the opening of the enemy is and hit it in it.

God, people are so whiny these days.

AlbertoC

#39

AlbertoC said:

I think some people are missing the point, reading some of the comments.

Twilight princess had motion controls AND button combat controls. Those actions you performed with the a button to roll and then give a slash, or to finish an enemy. Is is a completely DIFFERENT point to going backwards to a conventional-style controller, like Wind Waker or ocarina of time, where you had to actually press a button to slash your sword. Or are you going to tell me that in a brand-new game they weren't planning on reusing the "move-to-slash" mechanic, unique to Wii console, introduced back in 2006?

Aside, i kinda liked those moves. It felt like (lazily doing) you were bashing right-on enemies. So if they aren't going to appear on Skyward Sword, some replacement stylish-looking, secret sword techniques will follow, right?

BulbasaurusRex

#40

BulbasaurusRex said:

Well, of course motion controls can make this game better! It's so much more fun to play with them when they're done right. DBZ: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 & 3 and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (the first one, not the second one) are multiplatform games where the Wii versions are superior because of their excellent motion controls, and FPS games control much better with Wii motion controls.

@38 No, WM+ lets you swing in absolutely any direction, which would be impossible to replicate with button controls, so they can't be an alternative control scheme for this game.

WiiLovePeace

#41

WiiLovePeace said:

Wow I could've sworn this is the 3rd time I've read an article with the same information on NL. "Skyward Sword wasn't going to use WM+! !" Oh well :p

TheGreenSpiny

#42

TheGreenSpiny said:

@8 Haywired: Have you even played a Wii before? Of course motion controls are immersive, that's the whole point. I don't see how pressing a button rapidly to kill someone in Manhunt 2 would be more immersive than flailing you remote as if you were really beating someone to death. Likewise, the controls in Red Steel 2 made that game. Of course the fighting system in the game was top notch (it's kind of like playing Soul Calibur in 1st person), but without the motion controls it would have been pretty boring. Mad World would be terrible on a standard controller also. It would probably use some over cluttered button configuration instead of the elegant controls that the Wii remote afforded it. It feels not as if Mad World was specifically designed with motions in mind but specifically made for the Wii Remote. All the best games should be designed around a consoles specific controller. Of course that doesn't matter if your console is sporting a generic dual analog pad.

@13 meta-rift: I agree with you there, the less you think about controls the more immersive the experience. I don't recall many motion based games that I had to think about the controls. Using most dual stick pads I have to stop look and think about what the controls are. I can't stand the diamond button configuration that has become standard since the SNES days, never can tell the damn buttons apart half the time. Same with old dual shock shoulder buttons. Unintuitive control set-ups can be just as bad as "broken" controls.

Meta-Rift

#43

Meta-Rift said:

This "immersion" argument is ridiculous. It doesn't matter whether you use buttons or motion controls, as long as you don't need to focus on what your doing outside of the game (and it can go both ways for either control method).

@27:

"As far as the game being better or worse due to the control method. Of COURSE it has an effect. I suspect that very few gamers would neglect controls from their criteria for judging a game."

"It's like saying that the way mario controls in super mario bros. had no bearing on whether it was a good game or not. Imagine if there were 5 or 6 different jump buttons to decide how high and fast to jump rather than a combination of a sprint button and holding the jump button down for a variable amount of time. Does anyone think it would be the same well-loved game, or think that it wouldn't make it worse?"

I'm talking about buttons vs motion for a modern Zelda game. If you insist on dragging a 25-year-old 8 bit platformer into the argument, consider this:

Metroid Prime 3's motion control makes its GameCube predecessors' stationary analog aiming seem awful in comparison. Metroid Prime still blows Prime 3 out of the water, even with its vastly inferior controls.

Ernest_The_Crab

#44

Ernest_The_Crab said:

Didn't the Motion control version of Metroid Prime prove to be better than its analog counterpart? That seems like a far better comparison.

warioswoods

#45

warioswoods said:

@Meta-Rift

"This "immersion" argument is ridiculous. It doesn't matter whether you use buttons or motion controls, as long as you don't need to focus on what your doing outside of the game (and it can go both ways for either control method)"

There are two different definitions of "immersion" here. I appreciate your perspective, but it's only one way of approaching the topic.

You define immersion as purely mental, and a matter of dimming the world around you in order to get into the game. Call it the "darkened theater" kind of immersion.

Others (myself included) also appreciate video game immersion in terms of the match between what is happening in the game and what is happening with you (your body). It's immersive when the tension of a battle extends to your real arm, so that you must work to remain calm and swing precisely even as the fight's pace grows more intense. Pushing buttons doesn't capture the tension. It's immersive when different actions feel different, so that my use of the bow is a completely different kind of experience from my use of the sword. I feel better unified with the character, sharing his need to switch-up and move differently in a different context, instead of just toggling a shoulder button.

When different actions in the game all feel exactly the same, you feel more like you're watching a movie than playing and interacting with that world.

Meta-Rift

#46

Meta-Rift said:

@TheSolarKnight: Metroid Prime Trilogy's motion control is a nice addition, but I'd still give the original 10/10, and it's definitely a lot better than Prime 3.

@warioswoods: I agree on the point that there are two types of immersion, but I think that the unity you described between the player and the game also exists in mental immersion.

warioswoods

#47

warioswoods said:

@Meta-Rift

Fair enough, I do appreciate both kinds of immersion, but perhaps it just depends on what the game hopes to achieve. In this case, they're trying to create a Zelda that is more fundamentally interactive; it might alienate some players, like Wind Waker did, but I love these more divergent takes on core franchises.

The_Fox

#49

The_Fox said:

Meh, I would have preferred buttons. I feel the novelty of the motion controls is going to become annoying 20 hours into the game.

BenAV

#50

BenAV said:

It's really getting annoying when people complain about being forced to use motion controls.
If you don't want to play Zelda with motion controls, then don't buy Skyward Sword.
Every other Zelda game in existence (excluding DS I guess) use button controls so go and play one of those, or wait for the next Zelda game on the Wii U which I'd assume will too.
Maybe some people enjoy motion controls and are sick of being forced into using button controls for games. :P
I don't think I'd want every single Zelda game to use motion controls exclusively... but just for one game it is a nice change, and considering how well they've managed to implement it I'm really looking forward to it.

Meta-Rift

#51

Meta-Rift said:

@BenAV: Just to clear something up, I'm not complaining about Skyward Sword's controls. I really don't care, I would play the game either way. What annoys me is people acting like MotionPlus is going to make it a great game. I have no doubt that the controls will work great, but the game will be great because of the game, not the controls.

If Nintendo had somehow decided to make Skyward Sword into a linear, repetitive hack & slash with the exact same MotionPlus gameplay it has now, would the game still be great because of the motion control?

If Miyamoto wants realistic sword controls, awesome. Sounds great. There are still lots of more important things I expect from a Zelda game, and the are still more important things the series needs to work on.

motang

#52

motang said:

Why not have that option for people who want to play the game that way? :-/

Ichabod

#53

Ichabod said:

I'd have to agree with several people here. The motion controls will be fun, but it won't make the game. Plus, since they were finishing up the button controls, it makes no sense why they wouldn't include that as well. I for one will take this game slow. I like my motion control, but I'm in no way going to be swinging around that control for hours on end. 45 minutes at a time will probably be it. Kind of sad when you think of it. I'm the kind of guy that'll put several hours in at a time, but not now.

jkshaz

#54

jkshaz said:

@meta-rift
I'm with you there. If the motion-controls were good but the rest of the game was subpar the controls wouldn't save the experience for me. Having said that I'd be lying if I didn't say I was intrigued and a little bit anticipatory of trying out this new control scheme. Ultimately for me I come from the "old-school" the game needs to be fun, whatever you define as such, above all else and the control scheme just needs to 'work' as seamlessly as possible. If the control scheme happens to add to fun all the better.

lalalalalalal

#55

lalalalalalal said:

My friend played this at Comic Con. NY, and said that the controls were super smooth. I believe him, i mean swiping links sword has never been so controlled.

Shining-Void

#56

Shining-Void said:

I wonder, if nintendo hadn't used motion controls, if microsoft and sony would have made the move and kinect. I think we all should encourage nintendo to innovate by buying this game. :D

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