By the power of Greyskull!
This is going to be yet another first class instalment in one of the greatest gaming series’ of all time - we’ll bet our little pixie hats on it
The unveiling of Skyward Sword may not have been the slickest of presentations, with video game god Shigeru Miyamoto plagued by what he claimed was wireless interference causing him to perform slightly, if we’re being kind, poorly at the game during the Nintendo press conference at E3 in June, but there is very little else about the game that suggests anything other than another instalment of epic adventuring genius.
In development for over three years so far, the Skyward Sword team began their work following the completion of 2007’s DS title Phantom Hourglass – although half the team worked on this year’s Spirit Tracks at the same time as developing Skyward Sword, so those numbers are slightly skewed.
Nintendo being Nintendo, there’s not much by way of plot information out there yet. We know that it’s a direct prequel to Ocarina of Time and that Link is an inhabitant of a group of floating islands known as Skyloft. All we know of the general set up for the game so far though is that Link one day discovers the Skyward Sword and that there is a previously undiscovered world lurking beneath the clouds which is ruled by some particularly naughty evil forces.
The sword gives Link the power to travel between Skyloft and the world below, and it gradually becomes apparent why the two worlds became separated – one must assume that the overall goal will be to expunge the evil forces and rejoin the two worlds in harmony... or something of that ilk. Although you know what they say about those who assume! One final tidbit of information is that the Skyward Sword will transform into our old friend, the Master Sword, at some point in the story.
Hands on play points at some pretty sweet new inclusions to the series however. Visually, the game has a very different style to that of Twilight Princess, harking back to the series’ brighter and more cartoony heritage – and we’re happy to say that the whole thing looks particularly gorgeous, especially given the Wii’s technical limitations.
The necessity of MotionPlus in order to play the game is certainly welcome, and offers players the (almost) 1:1 responsiveness we had all hoped for when Twilight Princess was announced. The choice to make it MotionPlus only was taken by Nintendo to ensure that the titular sword represents its wielder’s movements as accurately as possible, so as not to result in the occasionally fiddly gameplay which irked some about its predecessor. The increased fidelity offered by MotionPlus really makes all the difference, and has enabled Nintendo to deliver a fully involving gameplay experience, even at this early stage.
Once you get used to the fact that you’ve got to readjust the WiiMote before entering battle so that you’ve got the correct virtual stance to fight, everything flows impressively smoothly. The variety of attacks on offer has also increased, ranging from the regular slashes to vertical and horizontal attacks, to charged attacks and, most fun of all, over the head swingy jobbies. Anyone remember Barbarian from back in the day? If so you’ll probably love this!
Even the use of your shield is intuitive – a simple upward flick of the nunchuk and Link will defend himself from any incoming attacks. We didn’t get much hands on time with the game, but then nobody did so we can’t really complain. What we did see however was enough to convince us that this is going to be yet another first class instalment in one of the greatest gaming series’ of all time - we’ll bet our little pixie hats on it!
Nintendo are being their usual coy selves when it comes to release date – they’ve never been ones to rush titles – but they have claimed that we’re likely to see Skyward Sword at some point in 2011, so there’s no need to rush out and get your lovely green tunic dry cleaned just yet!