Detailed impressions of the Zelda demo.
The E3 demo showed the new Motion Plus controls to add value and challenge to the gameplay, and having one to one control with the sword on-screen brings new possibilities.
Skyward Sword uses the Wii controls in a new way, with the sword and shield controlled by holding up the nunchuck and remote. This is shown immediately as Link starts in the level and encounters biting Deku Baba plants. A fairly wide area is needed to be able to swing the sword far enough and at the right angle.
Some of them have jaws opening horizontally, and some vertically so to do damage to them you have to slice in the same direction that they are open. A golden plant later on in the demo changes from horizontal to vertical. Slicing grass. Mushrooms were placed all over the level, some larger some smaller. What was nice is that they could be used to demonstrate the sword action, slashes appeared when you sliced into them that disappeared again. It's very precise due to the one to one mapping.
The sword also charges up over a few seconds to release a beam when you swing. This may have been only when all heart containers were full.
The shield is only armed when you raise and push forward with the nunchuck. This was required to deflect attacks from Deku Scrubs. Holding the shield up doesn't deflect the attack back at the Deku Scrub, it only blocks it from damaging Link. You need to time the shield with the attack to deflect and kill this enemy.
Walking around is controlled with the analogue stick as usual, with A used as the context button to dash and climb. When leaping up a wall, there is a limit to how much energy he has, shown by the sections fading on a green circle. It automatically refills after time.
Holding the remote and nunchuck together and swinging them to the side executes a spin attack. Upwards and downwards does a somersault while attacking with the sword, allowing Link to flip towards enemies to attack.
Holding minus brings up the potion menu, with four slots. To take a potion you need to point the Wii Remote in that direction, directly left, right, up or down. The items menu works in the same way, brought up by B.
Five weapons were visible from the total. The bombs could be dropped or rolled along the ground when selected. The bow and arrow uses the remote to aim and nunchuck to draw back and shoot. Aiming controls worked smoothly.
The flying beetle was also selectable, demonstrated in the video with picking up bomb flower and drop it elsewhere. To control the beetle, you tilt the Wii Remote to the left or right to turn, and up or down to go higher or lower. If you hit an enemy/obstacle the beetle returns. The control here I thought was more difficult to manage, but this style of "driving" has been seen in other games before.
The whip has the same one to one control and swings to wherever you swing the Wii Remote. If you swing wide you get a wide arc, and if you just throw it forward it goes straight ahead. This was best demonstrated by sweeping away sections of the grass. Swinging the whip to a rupee and then drawing it back can pick it up.
The slingshot can be used to aim and point to shoot or Z-target to shoot. The target stays locked even if you point elsewhere, so you can shoot while aiming at a different part of the screen. The aiming cursor turns red when target is locked. In general, Z-targeting works the same way as previous Zelda games.
I got to the boss, a large scorpion with eyes in the claws. The eyes were the targets, and the claws turned and closed so you had to aim the remote to cut at the right angle while you had an opening. If one of the eyes turned red, the claw would try to grab Link and you would have to break free by shaking the remote and nunchuck. After the two claws had been defeated, the eye in the body would open up and needed to be attacked with a forward stabbing motion. Each part needed to be hit four or five times.
A giant Stallfoss wielding two swords inhabited another cave. Here the aim was to dodge the attacks and find an opening to slice in with the sword at a clear angle.
These impressions are from playing the demo over two sessions. The first time I had difficulty with the controls as there was not enough space to swing the remote around as much as you need to. You do need to use large enough movements for the sword strikes to register. I can see where the Motion Plus controls adds new possibilities and how the puzzles will take shape that require the use of the sword and shield in this way.
The shaded art style looked beautiful, and scaled well for larger displays. This is set to be an incredible Zelda game.