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Tuesday 15 June 2010

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Revealed

In Zelda news

Well, Nintendo’s E3 press conference just finished, and the general reaction on the twittersphere is overwhelmingly positive. After two shaky years of showing shovelware and mediocre third-party titles as major games, Nintendo have learned their lesson, and showed a huge number of new titles from well-known first-party franchises. The new 3DS was shown, Donkey Kong, Kirby and Kid Icarus all make a triumphant return, and Iwata and Shigsy got sucked into a DS and chased by Bowser while Reggie looked on and laughed. No joke. But we’ll get onto that in a later post. Because there’s one reason why you’ve came to our lovely new Zelda site today: the next Wii Zelda game was finally announced, Skyward Sword.

The game was the first thing to be shown at the conference, kicking off a huge stream of announcements. Two short trailers sandwiched a gameplay demo led by Shigsy (who made an appearance with his now signature “I’m announcing a Zelda game” Master Sword and Hylian Shield). So where do we start? The game has an art style which is directly half-way between the cel-shaded cartoon graphics of the Wind Waker, and the dark, atmospheric Twilight Princess - the character designs are similar to that of Twilight Princess, but the whole thing has been given a pastel shading effect, leading to a very soft, but very colourful feel. This is bound to polarise fans, so form your opinions now.

Two main areas were shown in the trailer - a colourful mushroom-themed land (possibly part of the overworld), and a generic lava cave. Shigsy talked us through the game’s controls in the mushroom area. As announced, the game uses Wii Motion Plus - Shigsy first showed off the sword, which moved more or less as he swung it. Showing how this would be useful in the game, he fought with chomping plant enemies who had to be slashed across their mouth, and moblin-type enemies that used their sword to block in certain directions. Holding the sword to the sky powered it up (Holding your sword skyward, eh? That sounds familiar). He also demonstrated the shield, which can be used to block and reflect attacks, the slingshot, which works pretty much as you’d expect, and the bombs, which can be dropped, thrown and (new to the franchise) rolled along the ground. All the weapons had new motion controls based around the Wii Motion Plus.

Then things started going wrong. The dreaded Technical Difficulties started to arise as Shigsy wrestled with the new bow mechanics, which he joked were due to too many people using wireless - ring a bell?

Finally, he showed off two new weapons - the Beetle, which looks kind of like a flying variant of the bomb-chu, and the whip, making its first appearance in a home console Zelda. He then closed the demo by apologising for the technical difficulties, but assuring the press that when they play it on the show floor, they will see the controls for themselves. He confirmed that the game will be in development for the rest of the year, and won’t be out until 2011.

And that was that. A very brief glimpse of the next Zelda game. We saw a lot of how the game will play and feel, and the art style, but there is still a lot to show. For example, we still have no idea about the plot and scenario, and we were shown very little of the game’s world. We’ll just have to wait and see what comes next, as Nintendo begin the trickle of facts, screens and trailers.

You can view the whole press conference here (http://www.gametrailers.com/e3/livefeed/nintendo) - the Zelda segment starts at one hour and two minutes, and lasts about 17 minutes. Sorry for the ugly link - as a mere newswriter I still need to work out how to work this new site!

We’ll be writing some more about the conference in the coming hours. But right now I have a pizza on the way. Stay tuned!

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