The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is the final Legend of Zelda title for the Wii. The game is directed by Hidemaro Fujibayashi, with Eiji Aonuma taking up the role of producer. Announced in E3 2009 and unveiled at E3 2010, Skyward Sword is the first Wii-exclusive Zelda title.
The game requires the use of the Wii Motion Plus accessory. Motion Plus is implemented to give players a greater degree of control over Link’s sword swinging and other abilities with near 1-to-1 motion control. Originally intended to be released before 2010, the game was delayed and ultimately released in 2011. No word was mentioned of it by Nintendo until Satoru Iwata’s keynote at GDC 2011 where a new trailer was unveiled.
Finally, at the opening of Nintendo’s Press Conference at E3 2011, it was revealed by Shigeru Miyamoto and Bill Trinnen that the game would come out during Holiday 2011, featuring a fully orchestral score. It is widely being considered the Wii’s “swan song” as the last-known major release for the platform.
When first revealed at E3 2009, the only bit of information that Nintendo provided was a single piece of concept art drawn in a style reminiscent of the previous console Zelda title, Twilight Princess. When the game was officially unveiled for the first time at E3 2010, the in-game art design was significantly different.
Not a truly cel-shaded game, the graphics resemble a mixture between the cel shading of Wind Waker and the more realistic Twilight Princess. Aonuma stated that this change in art direction was necessary in order to exaggerate enemy animations and therefore make them easier to combat.
On the most basic level, Skyward Sword’s gameplay design is similar to previous 3D Zelda entries. Like the Wii version of Twilight Princess, the Wii Remote is used to control Link’s sword while swinging the Nunchuk performs actions with his shield.
The game’s motion controls were designed based off of some of the control templates originally conceived and used for Wii Sports Resort.
Sword and Shield Motion
However, with the implementation of Motion Plus, the player now has more control over the sword’s exact movements, which works itself into the gameplay and puzzles. For example, some enemies may only be defeated with a sword strike delivered at a specific angle.
The sword is also used to open doors. One such method involves doors with large eyes in them. When Link stands before the door, the eye follows his sword’s movement. The door can be unlocked by moving the sword in a circular motion until the eye becomes dizzy and the door opens.
As mentioned before, the shield is controlled with the Nunchuck in a manner similar to that seen in the Wii version of Twilight Princess. After locking onto an enemy with the Z Button, thrusting the Nunchuk forward allows Link to perform a shield bash.
One notable new feature is a shield meter which appears below the heart meter. If Link’s shield takes too much damage, it will break and needs to be replaced. Shields have had to be replaced before in Zelda games, but it has never been an element of this degree.
During the E3 2011 showing, it was unveiled how Link would be getting around — by riding a giant duck-looking bird. By just jumping off of a floating island, Link’s bird will catch him which then allows players to navigate the overworld.
The bird is controlled by using the Wii Motion Plus, allowing users to tilt the controller around to navigate the skies. This isn’t too dissimilar to how the planes were controlled in Wii Sports Resort.
Exploring a Sea of Clouds
The hub of the game is said to be this “sea of clouds” with numerous flying islands for players to land on and explore, in the vein of Wind Waker’s numerous islands. One of which is Skyloft, Link’s home in the game, which players as apparently meant to return to multiple times during the game. There are also wormhole-like breaks in the clouds, allowing Link to drop down and explore the world below.
One of the points made at the E3 2011 showing was that the lines are meant to be blurred between the dungeons/temples and the overworld. The paths to the temples are like dungeons in-and-of themselves. Players are also meant to return to the various temples once their arsenal increases so that they can explore further than they could upon their initial trek.
Players will also be using the Skyward Sword to enter another dimension at points in the game. These are reflections of locations players have already explored, though slightly altered. Entering this world, however, leaves Link unarmed until he returns to his own dimension.
Unlike Twilight Princess, in which the slingshot and bow had to be aimed by pointing the remote at the screen, players can simply move the remote without ever having to point it directly at the screen.
The inventory system has also been completely redesigned. By pressing B, a radial inventory wheel is displayed from which items can be selected. Shigeru Miyamoto described this tweak to inventory management “as easy as taking something out of your pocket.”
The upgrade system has also received an overhaul. According to Nintendo representatives, unlike other games where players would merely find numerous chests with an overflow of rupees (the game’s currency), players will now additionally be looking for numerous ingredients that are used to upgrade Link’s equipment.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is set at the very beginning of the Legend of Zelda timeline taking place before the establishment of Hyrule, the royal family, and the creation of the Master Sword. Many of the actions Link and Zelda undertake in Skyward Sword set the stage for future events in the Legend of Zelda series.
The story starts off in Skyloft a city in the sky that was created by the goddess Hylia as a means to protect the Triforce from the Demon King Demise. After Zelda is swallowed down through the clouds and down to the surface, Link is determined to save his childhood friend. After acquiring the Goddess Sword and being introduced to Fi, a spirit that resides in the sword and sent by the goddess to aid Link, he sets off on his journey to find and save Zelda.
After visitng the Sealed Temple and meeting up with an elderly woman who gently pushes Link in the right direction, his search for Zelda on the surface brings him first to the Faron Woods where he eventually tracks Zelda to the Skyview Temple. After getting through the temple, Link is ambushed by the Demon Lord Ghirahim and learns that Ghirahim is responsible for Zelda getting sucked down to the surface. After besting the demon lord, Link finds Zelda. The reunion is brief as Link is blocked from getting to Zelda by her guardian, Impa before they dash off.
After concurring the Earth Temple in Eldin and another brief reunion with Zelda, Link follows Zelda’s trail to an old mining facility in Lanayru. After making through mining facility, Link once again encounters Zelda and her guardian at the Gate of Time. Ghirahim ambushes the group in an attempt to get his hand’s on Zelda. After a short clash between Impa and Ghirahim, Zelda gives the Goddess’s Harp to Link just as she and Impa make a dash through the Gate of Time just before it is destroyed.
At a loss for where to go next Link returns to the Sealed Temple to seek information from the old woman. There the old woman shows Link a Gate of Time that exists within the Sealed Temple and reveals that by using this gate he will be able to reach Zelda once again. However, in order to open to the gate, Link needs to strength the Goddess Sword by infusing it with the power of the Sacred Flame. Before heading out, the seal holding a beast known as The Imprisoned breaks near the temple. Link acts quickly in pushing back The Imprisoned and resealing the beast.
After returning to Skyloft and discovering the hidden location of Thunderhead and learning new song, Link sets off to return to the three locations on the surface to find the Sacred Flames and proving his worth to the Goddess. After collecting the three Sacred Flames and proving his worth, The Goddess Sword transforms into the Master Sword and is now capable of opening the Gate of Time.
Link returns to the Sealed Temple and prepares to go through the Gate of Time, but before he can open the gate, the seal holding The Imprisoned breaks once again. Link rushes out the temple and with the help of former rival Groose, once again reseals The Imprisoned. After this is completed Link finally opens and goes through the Gate of Time where is reunited with Zelda.
In the past Zelda explains to Link that she is a reincarnation of the goddess, Hylia, in mortal form after the goddess gave up her immortal form in an effort to create Skyloft, save the people of the surface and seal the Demon King preventing him from taking control of the world. Zelda also informs Link that The Imprisoned is in fact Demise, The Demon King. She further explains that the seal holding Demise has become weak and that the only way to truly defeat him is to obtain the power of the Triforce. Zelda asks Link to find the Triforce and awakens the true power of the Master Sword before transforming herself into a seal to hold back Demise until Link has recovered the Triforce.
Link returns to Skyloft seeking information about the Triforce, which leads him to the dragon, Levias, who roams the Thunderhead. After catching up with Levias, Link learns of the “Song of the Hero”, which was broken up into three pieces and entrusted to three guardians: the Water Dragon Faron, the Thunder Dragon Lanayru and the Fire Dragon Edlin. After visiting each of the dragons and learning their piece of the “Song of the Hero”, Link returns to Levias who teaches Link the last part of the song. With the “Song of the Hero” in his hands, Link discovers that the Triforce is located in Sky Keep, right underneath the statue of the goddess.
After making his way through Sky Keep and obtaining the Triforce, Link returns to the Sealed Temple, traveling into the past to awaken Zelda from her slumber. However, after awaking Zelda, Ghirahim appears and snatches Zelda from Link and begins to feed her soul to the seal in order to resurrect Demise. Link finally defeats Ghirahim once and for all, but not before the seal is broken. Zelda tells Link that he must descend into the seal and defeat Demise once and for all. After a long and hard fought battle with Demise, Link is victorious in ridding the world of the Demon King and trapping his presence in the Master Sword. Before he departs, Demise warns Link that although he is defeated his hatred will be reborn and will haunt the descendants of both Link and Zelda for eternity.
After returning the Sealed Temple, Impa reveals that she will stay in the past to watch over the Master Sword to ensure that the Demise is never allowed to reek his havoc. After saying their goodbyes, Link and Zelda return to their time where it is revealed that the old lady in the Sealed Temple is actually Impa who had been watching over the temple the entire time. Zelda also reveals that now that Demise is gone, that she would like to stay on the surface and start life there anew.
At the same E3 2010 round table interview, Shigeru Miyamoto was questioned about whether or not the the music would receive a fully orchestrated treatment. In response, he stated, “I don’t think we could do what we did with Mario Galaxy 2 and not try to match that with Zelda.”
Zelda composer Koji Kondo was reportedly disgruntled when an orchestral soundtrack was not commissioned for Twilight Princess, given size restraints for GameCube discs.
The following year, it was confirmed alongside a live-orchestra that Skyward Sword would be receiving a full orchestral soundtrack. The new main theme was played at Nintendo’s press conference to open the show.
The music CD bundled with all copies of the game will include the following 8 orchestral tracks:
- The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Medley
- Kakariko Village Twilight Princess Theme
- The Wind Waker Symphonic Movement
- Gerudo Valley
- Great Fairy’s Fountain Theme
- Twilight Princess Symphonic Movement
- The Legend of Zelda Main Theme Medley
- Ballad of the Goddess from Skyward Sword
As in other Zelda titles, Skyward Sword brings back a number of traditional Zelda weapons and items while also implementing new ones. Some of the items that have been revealed so far include the following:
|“The Skyward Sword”|
|A strong metal shield emblazoned with the Triforce and a crest of Hyrule’s royal family.|
|These highly prized, highly ornate heart containers add one extra heart to Link’s health meter. They tend to magically appear out of thin air after boss battles.|
|These glistening rupees are the currency of the land and come in various colours which indicate their value.|
|One of the most traditional items of Link’s arsenal, it is now possible to throw bombs using different methods. By making a throwing gesture with the Wii Remote, Link tosses the bomb in the standard manner seen in earlier games.
However, if the player makes gesture simulating the act of throwing a bowling ball, Link will roll the bomb along the ground. Miyamoto has stated that with finesse, spin can be added to the roll.
|This weapon looks like a crossbow except that it fires a mechanical beetle instead of a bolt. After a beetle is launched, Link takes remote control and can use it to grab bombs and other items.
He can also pilot beetles into areas that he is otherwise unable to access.
|This trusty shlingshot will aid Link with puzzles and help him take out minor foes.|
|Link’s standard bow can be used to take out smaller enemies at distance, larger enemies will require something with more grunt.|
|This strengthened bow shoots faster and with more power, helping Link take down larger foes.|
|A short range weapon that can be used to cut grass and solve puzzles. However, it does not actually damage enemies.|
|The Gust Bellow allows Link to suck up items and blow away incoming enemy attacks. Once upgraded it will allow Link to blow out air and increase it’s target distance.
The Gust Bellow echoes the “Gust Jar” first introduced in The Legend of Zelda The Minish Cap.
|Link can use this aptly named net to catch a plethora of bugs. A selection of bugs are needed to upgrade regular health potions to “potion +” versions. Nets with other specialised use can be found in the game also.|
|The Mogma Mitts are used to dig up treasure and burrow through underground paths.
The item echoes the “Mole Mitts” found in The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap.
|These sporty looking Mogma Mitts speed up Link’s digging ability.|
|The Scattershot is used for attacking larger enemies, it does so effectively by scattering multiple pellets as opposed to one, with the regular Slingshot.|
Skyward Sword’s gameplay was first unveiled at Nintendo’s E3 2010 press conference and given a live demo controlled by Shigeru Miyamoto. The demo began with a video of Miyamoto explaining how he came up with the game, showing the sword and shield he’d come on stage with when he announced Twilight Princess. The video then depicted the sword and shield becoming a Wii Remote and Nunchuck.
After this introductory video finished playing, Miyamoto took control of the game and began functions of and changes to the gameplay as he demonstrated. However, the presentation was marred by imprecise controls. A similar issue was also encountered during a gameplay demonstration of Epic Mickey later in the press conference. Nintendo representatives claimed that these issues were due to a large amount of wireless interference in the presentation hall.
Following the press conference, members of the press were able to play Skyward Sword on the show floor. General consensus from the press indicated that there may have indeed been some form of interference present during the stage presentation, as the game controlled remarkably better in the exhibition hall demo stations.
Skyward Sword was shown again at Nintendo’s press conference the following year. However, this was limited to simply an on-screen trailer, likely intended to avoid the issues during the E3 2010 on-stage show. The game was part of the show’s opening segment intended to celebrate The Legend of Zelda’s 25th Anniversary, alongside Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, as well as news that as of that day, Link’s Awakening DX was available on the Nintendo 3DS eShop and that a free version of Legend of Zelda: Four Swords enhanced with new content and support for wireless multiplayer would be coming to the DSiWare store in September.
The show-floor demos consisted of three sections: a flying segment, a dungeon, and a boss fight. The flying section had an early-game section with Link (not yet garbed as a hero) riding a bird, competing with other boys from his town to catch a statue, and win a date with Zelda. The second demo featured a Sky Temple, filled with spiders and bokoblins for Link to battle. The demo had players fighting a dual-wielding Stalfos in order to gain an add-on for their flying beetle tool.
The last demo had a boss fight against the new villain Ghirahim, admitting to attempt capturing Zelda. A battle ensues between him and Link. Players had to attempt to confuse Ghirahim with their sword, as just swinging at him would have him tauntingly catch the sword mid-swing.
Skyward Sword was received with critical acclaim, receiving perfect scores by multiple publications, being EDGE the most noteworthy. EDGE would later on give Skyward Sword the 2011 Game of The Year award.
According to Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, Skyward Sword is the fastest selling title in the Legend of Zelda franchise. As of April 2012, it has sold 3.52 million units worldwide.
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