Skyward Sword was first teased at E3's 2009 expo with a bit of concept art showing off an adult Link and a mysterious woman. Now two years on there's a slightly bigger offering on the table. At an E3 hands-on session I was shown three segments from the game: Dungeon, Boss Battle, and Bird Flying. They essentially do what they say on the tin, but despite sounding simplistic, it's a surprisingly heft Wii-centric Zelda title with gameplay tailored specifically with Wii Motion Plus in mind.
In fact it goes as far as taking notes directly from Wii Sports Resort and applying them to its basic combat system – a game that provided the standard for Wii combat during Skyward Sword's development period. The result, in this demo anyway, is quintessential Wii mini-games fleshed out within Zelda's universe.
Boss Battle takes a page from Sports Resort's Swordplay mini-game by applying its sword fighting style – one that uses the Wii Remote as a weapon stand-in - and catches the precision of your moves as well as Swordplay ever managed. The basic combat is thrown into a slightly fuller narrative, however, which pits you against a ghastly blond called Ghirahim who can teleport around the room and shoot the occasional burst of spells in your direction for you to dodge.
Using the Nunchuk, you are able to bring up a shield and redirect his spells back at him as they ricochet off the front of the armour. Both the Wii Remote sword combat and Nunchuk shield are featured in the next level, Dungeon, along with clutches of new items.
A bow and arrow follows, once again, in line with Sports Resort. This time it resembles the Wii title's archery mini-game, asking you to draw your Wii Remote back like an arrow as you aim with the Nunchuk. Additionally you can access a Beetle, a mechanical flying bug that is piloted by gingerly bobbing the Wii Remote back and forth in order to fly through - and destroy - vines and spider webs.
There's an element of nonlinearity to deciding how to overcome certain obstacles. Plants can be shot with arrows or cut down with the beetle, and similarly spiders can be shot at when hanging from a web or cut down from the web and taken out with a sword.
Bird Flying is essentially a game of chase. Town elders announce the start of the Bird Rider's ceremony, telling Link that the first to catch up to one of three golden birds and snatch a Bird Statue from their talons will be crowned winner. As it begins you're prompted to sprint off a ledge and call upon your bird using the D-pad. The bird has a basic dash ability for a speed boost, and can be directed using the Wii Remote. Shaking the controller causes it to flap its wings, gaining both speed and altitude.
The series' producer Eiji Aonuma has additionally announced that Link's sword can be used for purposes other than combat. The sword is said to be used as a way of finding treasure, with Link using it as you would a dousing rod, causing it to beep and glow the closer you get to a pertinent object in the game.
So far it seems like a strong title that legitimately makes use of the motion controls the Wii can offer.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is due for release on Wii this holiday.