Plus XP

The Next Level In Gaming

So at this year’s E3, Nintendo started off one of their greatest conferences yet with a long look at the latest Legend of Zelda game, now revealed to be subtitled “Skyward Sword”. Now, granted, the demo didn’t go entirely the way they wanted it to, but one thing looked for certain: Nintendo had done it again with the Zelda franchise. The game looked like a glorious mixing of the cel shaded Wind Waker game and the more serious Twilight Princess game. The game plays with the Wiimotion Plus, and looks like it fully incorporates it to produce new puzzles and ways to defeat enemies. The game featured new ways to use previous weapons, such as throwing bombs accurately, or rolling them, as well as using the whip from Spirit Tracks in a manner more reminiscent of Indiana Jones. By aiming the sword upwards, you can charge the sword, then release it to fire a beam at enemies. At the end, we were told the game was to be delayed another year in order to maximise its potential. But what about behind closed doors? What else was there about Skyward Sword that had yet to be told? Well, that’s what I’m here to tell you.

Skyward Sword’s Link has been born and raised on Skyloft, a floating island above the clouds. That most awesome moment of the trailer, where Link jumps off that ledge and flies through the clouds? That’s a pivotal moment in the plot, wherein Link discovers there is a land below where he lives.

Previously, he wasn’t aware there existed anything below him. Upon arriving in the land below (though how he lands is anyone’s guess, seeing as he clearly didn’t bring a parachute with him for the jump), Link discovers the land is ruled by an evil force. Link’s new task is to then defeat the evil force and bring peace to the land, which involves him travelling between Skyloft and the as yet unnamed land below. Okay, so that second part doesn’t sound entirely new and fresh, but I’m someone loving the idea of Skyloft, and what can potentially be done there.

When a new Zelda was announced for the Wii, all anyone had to go on for a long while was the single concept image of Link and a silver woman. Rumours went around everywhere, but the top one garnering the most coverage was the idea that the silver woman was in fact, the personification of the Master Sword. Oddly enough for a Zelda rumour, this turned out to be remarkably accurate, and she is in fact, the Skyward Sword in a humanoid form. In fact, the Skyward Sword is the one who leads Link to the land below, and gives him guidance and direction, acting as the game’s Navi/Tatl/Midna. Later on in the game, it has been revealed that the Skyward Sword ends up becoming the Master Sword. A Zelda fan rumour turning out to be true? I’m as surprised as you are.

Other little factoids include the ability to sprint, the HUD having the ability to be turned off if you want it to, and the visual style being heavily influenced by impressionist paintings, and was one of the first parts of the game locked down and decided during development. The game is rumoured to take place in that wonderfully complicated Zelda Timeline before Ocarina of Time and possibly most Zelda Games, which would make sense, seeing as the Skyward Sword does in fact become the Master Sword. The other major rumour to come about is that the game will feature flight heavily, with air travel and air battles being a new addition to the series. The odd phrasing being banded around is that the sword itself helps you to travel between the lands. Watch this space.

After the E3 conference, Nintendo had a series of developer interviews on their website, one of which being with Miyamoto and Aonuma talking about Skyward Sword revealed a lot of additional details, too. For one, the game was named after the development idea that the sword could be charged up to gain energy by pointing the wiimote upwards, rather than holding a button, which felt less natural. The sword pointing upwards became a symbolic idea, and thus inspired the game’s subtitle. Another thing expressed was the idea that people felt that Twilight Princess was too big a game, and that affected the need for a strong foundation during development. The developers expressed a desire to increase the game density and amount of ideas within the world without making it a smaller world.

One idea I found particularly interesting was the internal debate over the Motionplus. Aonuma, during early development, felt that being able to swing the sword around freely and making that fun were two separate things, and because it lacked effectiveness, the Motionplus was given up on for a time during development. It returned in the game when Miyamoto told the producer of the Wii Sports Resort games to challenge Aonuma, as if Wii Sports Resort could use sword fighting mechanics effectively, why couldn’t Aonuma and Skyward Sword? This caused some of the technology from Wii Sports Resort to be borrowed, and Motionplus to come back to Skyward Sword for the Swordfighting, which now felt a lot more natural. The double hookshot was also mentioned from the Twilight Princess games, saying that they loved the idea of it, but they wanted the idea to be more natural and freeflowing. The sense of immersion in the game will be key to helping you understand its universe and to enjoy the denser world you’ll then be given.

Finally, some of the older traditional puzzles probably won’t find their way into Skyward Sword. Miyamoto and Aonuma mentioned there would be no more giant block pushing. They laughed and joked about how the whole idea of pushing giant blocks, especially ones bigger than Link himself was silly, and they found the whole idea ridiculous, so puzzles like that may not be prevalent, or even existant within the game. Aonuma and Miyamoto instead expressed a great affection towards the “Back to Basics” idea, and taking the great core ideas and making them denser, rather than overcomplicating the formula.

Skyward Sword will be out in 2011, and as PlusXP’s Nintendo fanboy, I’m already preparing to call it next year’s Game of the Year.

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On July - 3 - 2010

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