NYCC 2011: Hands on with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Posted By | On 20th, Oct. 2011 Under Previews

Aside from Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, the longest line to play a video game at NYCC was The Legend of Zelda: Skyward sword. Currently, we’re weeks away from launch and fans are in a frenzy to get whatever time they can on the game, no matter how short. I was given the chance to play Skyward sword this weekend, and now I’ll give all of you who did not have a chance to play the demo the low down on this new title.

Skyward sword marks the first Zelda game designed specifically for this generation of consoles, Twilight Princess having been made for Gamecube and adapted for the Wii. While I can’t say that Skyward sword took advantage of the Wii’s superior graphics any better than Twilight Princess had (though I do love the art style), I can say that the motion controls are markedly better. Perhaps being a little spoiled on the Playstation Move, the new motion controls didn’t particularly wow me, but you will have much greater control over your attacks than Twilight Princess where you could just flail your hand at the screen and kill any thing that got in your way. Everything from thrusting to overhead and lateral slashes can be controlled by how you swing the remote. Link’s shield is also controlled via raising the nunchuck, but I found this to be difficult, as several times when I raised the nunchuck I got no response. This could have possibly been due to lack of practice rather than a flaw in the game. I was engaged in a pretty intense boss fight after all.

Speaking of which, I suppose I should detail just what I did get to demo. I had three choices between a Bird Race, Dungeon, or Boss fight, so naturally I went with the boss fight. It was fairly challenging and the gentleman that was guiding me through the demo did not know what “Z targeting” was, but I figured it out myself. The shield was imperative to the fight, and being able to use it correctly meant the difference between life and death. Very odd, as I never found myself needing to use my shield this much in a Zelda title before even compared to Ocarina of Time. Not that I’m complaining, of course. I’m quite glad that good use of your shield is just as important as use of your sword. The boss fight itself had a small exposition given by what I assume to be one of the main villains of the game before the fight and piqued my interest in exploring this new Hyrule. I’ll refrain from giving away too much as I know how people feel about spoilers, but I will say that there exists the potential for the developers to take classical Zelda in a new direction while staying true to the series roots.

After dispatching the boss quickly, I was given the opportunity to play through one more mode so I chose bird racing as it seemed both quick and interesting where as a dungeon is… well… a dungeon. Not really much to discuss with this mode other than the fact they took something that could easily be done with a normal controller, translated it into motion controls, and it didn’t feel too bad. You had to steer the bird you were riding by pointing the remote left, right, up or down. You could also gain altitude by “flapping” the Wii Remote. I was unable to finish this part of the demo as my time had run out at that point, but I assume the rest of the bird race was roughly the same.

Overall, while I didn’t walk away from the demo floored and impressed, I wasn’t disappointed either. You just can’t distill a Zelda game into a boss fight and half a mini game. Zelda is about exploration and adventure, problem solving and ingenuity. In hindsight, doing the dungeon probably would have given me a better idea of what to expect out of the game, but who wants to do a dungeon when you have the option to play against the boss!? I still plan on purchasing this game and playing through it in one long gaming binge. It remains to be seen how this will stack up against previous Zelda games, and it has some pretty big shoes to fill, but I don’t need it to be the best Zelda ever. I just want a Zelda game I can get lost in and have some fun, and really, that’s all that’s needed to make a Zelda game good.

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