With all of the fuss over Nintendo's new Wii U and 3DS, a comparatively lowly Wii title risks getting lost in the shuffle. Even though the clock is winding down on Nintendo's current home console, there's still one more major release to come as The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword closes out the Wii era near the end of the year. This latest adventure of Link has a new demo on display in West Hall at E3 this week and I took advantage of the short line to check it out. The good news is that I still have my serious Zelda skills, as the booth attendant told me that I was the first person she'd seen at E3 who finished the demo before time expired. On a more general note, the other good news is that Skyward Sword looks to continue the Zelda tradition. Hopefully it's still enough.
My time with Skyward Sword set me inside one of the game's dungeons. The emphasis on this particular dungeon involved training the player to use the bow and arrow set as well as a flying mechanical beetle that can be used to trigger distant switches. Link's sword is now fully motion controlled, allowing players to swing, slash, stab, and perform other maneuvers that begin with the letter S. For instance, large spiders sometimes drop from above, and in order to defeat them, one must perform an upward slash to knock the beast on its backside and then stab twice at its soft underbelly. Swinging the sword in constant circles can dizzy some obstacles. On the whole, using the sword was very responsive, although I wonder how long players will want to perform the expressive sword movements in a single sitting. As for the bow and arrows, these are used by holding one's arms out, drawing back with the left hand, and firing with the C button. Again, it's complex and takes some practice.
The dungeon itself felt like standard Twilight Princess fare. I can't say I was particularly impressed with those dungeons, so seeing what felt like more of the same was discouraging here. The main idea in the demo involved using the bow and the beetle to trigger red gem switches which opened doors. Standard stuff, really, and I'm assuming this dungeon is an early spot in the game. Notably, the characters and environment had a fuzzy, low resolution look to them that took me out of the experience at times. Granted that this is a Wii title running on a large television screen (so it's not going to look too great), I'm hoping that this issue is due to the game being unfinished as opposed to unpolished.
Skyward Sword could end up being a mixed bag, as I can see the positive and... well, not negative, but less than positive aspects of it. More than any of Nintendo's other franchises, The Legend of Zelda needs to move on to more advanced hardware to truly make the development team's ambitious ideas shine. The Wii is just too constraining a platform for Link to really take flight. Judge for yourself in this new trailer: