Click the orange header links in the Table of Contents below and you'll jump straight to that section in the article, saving you a lot of tedious mouse-scrolling and text scanning if you want to read about one particular element. We try to go as in-depth as possible with just about every topic here, but if there's anything you want to ask about that's not covered here, send me a message and I'll try to answer it as best I can.
Table of ContentsI. About Skyward Sword
II. Wii Motion Plus takes Zelda to the next level
III. Other new gameplay features in Skyward Sword
a. Loftbird Flight
b. The Stamina Meter
c. The Shield Meter
d. Dowsing Mode
e. The Silent World
f. Item Upgrade System
h. Treasure in the Sky
i. Choose your own Dialog
j. Item Pouch and Item Bank
V. Visuals and sounds
VI. Story and plot details
VII. Other game information
VIII. See Skyward Sword for yourself
a. E3 2010 Reveal Trailer
b. GDC 2011 Gameplay Trailer
c. E3 2011 Story & Gameplay Trailer
d. E3 2011 Dowsing Mode & Silent World Footage
e. San Diego Comic-Con 2011 Scenery Trailer
f. Eldin Volcano Game Informer Reveal
g. 3DS Conference Gameplay Footage
h. 3DS Conference Gameplay Trailer
i. Item Upgrade System Trailer
j. Treasure-Hunting Game Informer Reveal
k. Skyward Sword Cinematic Trailer
l. Skyward Sword Romance Trailer
m. Skyward Sword Combat Tutorial Video
n. Skyward Sword Intro Legend Video
o. Skyward Sword Faron Woods Dowsing Trailer
p. Skyward Sword Skyview Temple Trailer
q. Skyward Sword Lake Floria Trailer
r. Skyward Sword Ancient Cistern Trailer
I. About Skyward SwordI'm sure almost everybody bothering to visit this site at least knows what Skyward Sword is, but for comprehensiveness's sake, I'll start off with the basics:
a. What is Skyward Sword?After wrapping up development for Twilight Princess, the Zelda team began thinking about how to approach a second Wii installment, built from the ground up for the console's motion controls. The game was mentioned in passing as Zelda Wii at E3 in 2007, 2008, and 2009, but was finally revealed as The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword at E3 2010.
b. Development historyThe Zelda team had already begun to form ideas about a new Zelda game as early as late 2006, and had decided that they wanted to use 1:1 sword controls by E3 2007. However, the designers struggled to build up anything beyond the concept stages in the project's early years, and were on the verge of cutting 1:1 swordplay when Wii Sports Resort designer Katsuya Eguchi asked Aonuma if he wanted to use the Wii Motion Plus framework from that game in the next Zelda. Sure enough, Aonuma found Wii Sports Resort to be a good starting point for sword combat and other functions like aiming the bow, so the team set at once to convert these controls to Zelda.
By E3 2009, the overall story and game concept had been thought out, but the team had nothing tangible to show except for a single piece of concept art showing an older Link like the one seen in Twilight Princess and a mysterious feminine figure floating behind him. Link lacked a sword in the artwork, and Shigeru Miyamoto mentioned that both the missing sword and the feminine figure were clues as to the story setting for the game. Many fans correctly guessed that the art signified that the feminine figure was a personification of Link's sword in the game, and that the game would tell the origins of Link's trademark blade, the Master Sword.
Gameplay footage we saw more game footage, this time focusing on environments, more advanced combat, and puzzle-solving. The end of the trailer revealed a new character, who seemed to be the game's central antagonist.
A few months later a trailer showcasing the game's story and sky setting popped up at E3 2011. This trailer finally revealed both Zelda and the mysterious feminine figure from the E3 2009 concept art, as well as the game's flight mechanic and a number of new environments and enemies. The villain from the GDC trailer also appeared. Three demos were shown: a short introduction to flying, a snippet of dungeon gameplay, and an initial boss battle against the GDC trailer's villain.
c. Release dateSkyward Sword will enjoy a worldwide launch this November. Confirmed dates so far include a Europe date of 18 November, a Japanese date of 23 November, and an American date of 20 November (just in time for the Thanksgiving holidays and the early holiday shopping rush). Australians can play the game starting 24 November, less than a week after the game's initial launch in Europe.
II. Wii Motion Plus takes Zelda to the next levelThis time, Nintendo's banking heavily on Wii Motion Plus's accurate motion tracking, implementing it with essentially every item and in all kinds of other contexts. You'll use Wii Motion Plus to swing your sword, raise your shield, aim your bow, keep your balance, and even open up locked doors with special keys that you have to twist to insert properly. It's shaping up to be the most involving control scheme we've seen in any Zelda game so far.
Wii Motion Plus is mandatory if you want to play the game. Fortunately, Nintendo's planning to bundle a limited special edition classic Zelda Gold Wii Remote Plus with the game. It'll sport the Hylian bird crest and looks really snazzy. You can pick up a bundle for only $69.99 by pre-ordering at any game specialty or retail outlet.
I got a chance to play the game at E3, and I learned all about the controls for the items we've seen so far. Check out what I've learned:
a. Using your swordWhile your sword is brandished, Link's arm will follow the motions of the Wii Remote. Some enemies will track your sword's movements and try to fight back accordingly. Others will defend against attacks from various directions, which means you'll have to slash them in the proper way to hit them. It's a massive improvement over previous 3D games, where most enemies didn't have a means of blocking your attacks and were as easy as walking up and spamming the attack button.
Basic sword swingsSwing the Wii Remote in any direction and Link will swing his sword the same way. Swing it up and he'll perform an uppercut; swing it down and he'll do a vertical slash; swing left or right and he'll follow your every move. The remote will even track diagonal movements and forward stabs! To win, players will have to watch the enemies' moves carefully and strike them at the right time and in the proper direction. Nintendo representatives have described enemies in this game as "combat puzzles," but I think they're more comparable to the ones from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, which would block based on the height of Link's swing.
Should you fail to avoid hitting the enemy's defenses, the recoil will knock you back for a moment, leaving you vulnerable to a counterattack. This mechanic's been borrowed from Twilight Princess but is more important than ever in Skyward Sword.
Advanced techniquesThe Spin Attack from previous games is back, but this time you have to perform it by swinging both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk at the same time. A horizontal movement will unleash the traditional Spin Attack, but a vertical movement will send Link into a spinning flip that can slash enemies above him as well. It's more powerfulthan your typical sword swings, but there are limits on how many times you can use it (see section IIIb on the Stamina Meter for more details).
For the first time in a 3D Zelda game, Link can unleash a Sword Beam attack while he has full health, called the Skyward Strike this time around. (Okay, you could expend magic in Majora's Mask if you were wearing the Fierce Deity's Mask...) Not all sword slashes will fire off magic beams, though. First you must charge energy in your sword by pointing it at the sky with the Wii Remote until it brims with energy. From there, your next slash will fire off a Skyward Strike. It's a good attack for hitting enemies from outside of their range.
As in Twilight Princess, sometimes your attacks will send enemies sprawling onto the ground. In some contexts, this allows you to perform a Finishing Blow by shaking the Wii Remote and Nunchuk together while targeting the enemy in question. It works in exactly the same way as the Ending Blow: Link jumps into the air and thrusts his sword down into the enemy, defeating it instantly.
Other sword abilitiesMotion tracking with Wii Motion Plus can be used with the sword in other ways besides combat. Certain obstacles such as the infamous "dizzy eye switch" will try to follow your sword. If you move your sword in a circular motion, you'll make the eye dizzy, unlocking a sealed gate or door. More complex dizzy eye puzzles will show up later on which require you to manipulate the environment so you can position yourself to confuse multiple eye switches at once.
The Goddess Sword, which is the name of the game's primary sword, also offers a couple additional abilities:Dowsing Mode and the power to open portals to the Silent World. You can read about these powers by clicking the links to visit the guide section devoted to each.
Newly revealed in Game Informer magazine is the ability to fire your sword beam at certain rune-crested chests to send them up to the sky, where you can open them up and find treasure. Apparently the Hylian crest is deeply connected to the Goddess Sword in this game, meaning that we'll likely see its origins alongside those of the Master Sword.
b. Defending with your shieldThis game's increased focus on defense isn't restricted to the enemies - blocking with your shield is now more important than ever. It's so important that the designers have incorporated more shield-related functions and features than we've seen in any other Zelda game to date. Fortunately, using the shield is literally a snap:
How to use your shieldTo brandish the shield, all you have to do is flip up the Nunchuk. Link will snap his shield into a defensive position and can then block enemy attacks. Depending on the strength of the attack, it could just bounce off or it could break Link's guard, causing him to stumble from the recoil. If Link loses his guard, flick the shield back into position as soon as he regains his footing to resume your defensive stance.
A well-timed Nunchuk flip will cause Link to meet the enemy's attack with a Shield Bash, which can launch certain projectiles back at enemies as well as knock enemies off-balance if used to parry a melee attack. Shield Bashing can be key in particularly tough sword fights, since it gives you a small opening.
Different types of shieldsSkyward Sword is not the first game to introduce different types of shields, but it may be the first to feature them so prominently. Three shields have been revealed so far: a Wooden Shield, an Iron Shield, and the classic Hylian Shield. Each features varying degrees of durability (see the Shield Meter from section IIIc for more information) and appears to have different strengths and weaknesses. For example, while the Wooden and Iron Shields took damage from physical attacks, the Hylian Shield could shoulder anything the demo had to throw at Link.
Presumably the Wooden Shield would take cues from the previous games and burn up when hit by a fire attack. The Iron Shield likely resists fire, but still isn't as hardy as the Hylian Shield, which seems to be weak only against powerful magic.
You'll likely start with the Wooden Shield and gain access to the other varieties later. You can switch between shields by holding down the minus (-) button to open the secondary item wheel, which contains bottles and shields. (More on the inventory wheel system in the next section.)
c. Brandishing items with motion controlsThe developers have stated that every item will utilize Wii Motion Plus in some way, and they weren't kidding. Projectile weapons make use of the technology to point and shoot more like the real-life items they're based on, new items use gestural controls to guide their movements, and so on. It doesn't look as though there will be an overabundance of items this time, as the developers want to focus on creating a more dense, compact play experience in order to avoid the sparsity seen in Twilight Princess.
Accessing the inventorySkyward Sword utilizes an advanced version of the "inventory wheel" seen in Twilight Princess. Items are arranged in a ring on the inventory screen, and Link uses the on-screen pointer - controlled this time by Wii Motion Plus - to select the item for use. Access standard "B button" items by holding the B button and moving the cursor with Wii Remote gestures, similar to reaching your hand in a virtual "pocket," and release the B button when you've selected the appropriate item. While an item is already assigned to the B button but not in use, a quick tap of the B button will bring it out again. Other items like shields and bottles are found on a separate menu, accessed by holding the minus (-) button.
While you're searching your inventory, the action continues, so enemies and obstacles will still move around the screen and attack you and you can still navigate Link to avoid them. Not having to stop the action to switch items makes for more streamlined inventory navigation, and it's even quicker than the touch-screen inventory system from Ocarina of Time 3D.
SlingshotThe Slingshot is the simplest of all the game's items in terms of control, especially if you've played the Wii version of Twilight Princess. You'll aim the Slingshot by moving the Wii Remote around - you don't have to point the Remote at the sensor bar this time, but the controls feel almost just like the IR pointer aiming from previous Wii games.
A cursor shows you where you're pointing, meaning you won't have to guess where your seed is going to travel. Press the A button to shoot - this takes a bit of getting used to, since inTwilight Princess all items used the B button to fire. It's quick and good for mid-range targets, but falls a bit short against enemies and objects that are further away.
The camera will switch to an over-the-shoulder view while using the Slingshot so you can track what's going on around you. You can still move around while aiming using the Control Stick, so you're not stuck in one place or forced to hold the Z button to strafe as you were in other 3D Zelda games.
BowThe Bow is your weapon of choice for long-range targets and powerful projectiles. It's a bit slower to fire and more difficult to aim than the Slingshot, but its arrows pack a lot more power and travel much further than the seed pellets. Controlling the Bow feels almost just like Wii Sports Resort - you'll hold the Wii Remote upright and move it around to point the Bow, then press and hold the C-button to nock an arrow before pulling back the Nunchuk to draw the bowstring.
Holding the bowstring down will "charge" your shot; the longer it's held back, the farther the arrow will fly. A small meter located on the bow's cursor indicates the level of charge. Once you line up the target in your sights, release the C-button to fire!
Like the Slingshot, you can still use the Control Stick to move around while aiming. The Bow is controlled from a first-person perspective, however, meaning you'll have to pay attention to your surroundings while you set up your shot so as not to get ambushed.
BombsBombs work in much the same way as previous titles, but the way you throw them is now dependent on your motion gestures with Wii Motion Plus. Tap the B button to ready a Bomb, and swing the Remote to toss it.
You can throw Bombs in the traditional overhand manner with an upward swish of the Wii Remote, but you can also roll them on the ground like a bowling ball with an underhand swing that, like the Bow, feels very much like something you've done before in Wii Sports. You'll need to roll Bombs to place them underneath certain obstacles in order to destroy them.
Because there are two ways to use Bombs, a trajectory line will help you trace their paths as you throw them, allowing for more accurate tosses and rolls.
BeetleThe Beetle was the first new item revealed at E3 2010. It is a remote-controlled mechanical flying object that Link can use as a scout and as a guided projectile of sorts. It can chop through ropes, vines, and even Deku Baba stalks, as well as strike switches hidden in hard-to-reach alcoves.
Players launch the Beetle by pointing the cursor and tapping the A button, at which point it takes off from Link's arm. While airborne, pointing and twisting the Wii Remote guides the Beetle's movements, allowing players to navigate it to any spot within its range. Striking a solid object head-on can cause the Beetle to disable, and it will also time out after a certain duration in flight. Red flashes will indicate when the Beetle is close to the end of its flight time. Players can also tap a button to cancel the Beetle's flight and return control to Link at any time. A green pillar of light indicates Link's present location while the Beetle is airborne.
The Beetle is one of many items that will receive upgrades throughout the game. A set of pincers will allow it to pick up cargo such as Bomb Flowers and carry them on its flight path. Pressing the A button will cause it to drop its payload on a target situated below. While flying, holding the Z button switches to an overhead view so it's easier to gauge what's directly underneath the Beetle. Another upgrade allows the Beetle to fly faster, meaning it can travel farther before timing out.
WhipThe Whip's borrowed straight out of Spirit Tracks and appears to work in much the same way. Flick the Wii Remote while it's equipped and Link will move his arm accordingly. The Whip will lash out, striking whatever enemies and grabbing whatever items it comes in contact with. The end of the Whip seems to have a magical grip that will likely be used to pull items towards Link.
Though not confirmed, it's likely that the Whip will also allow Link to latch onto overhanging objects so he can swing across gaps, just as it could in Spirit Tracks. It may also utilize features of the Grappling Hook from The Wind Waker, including the ability to snag loot from certain enemies and possibly haul up objects while traveling by vehicle (or in this game's case, by bird).
The Whip was first spotted in the E3 2010 demo, but did not appear at E3 2011. It does not seem to have been removed from the game, however, since it still showed up in the GDC 2011 trailer.
Harp/LyreA harp heavily resembling the one owned by Sheik in Ocarina of Time 3D appeared in the E3 2011 flight demo, held by Zelda. (It's actually a lyre, but in Zelda games there seems to be no distinction.) This will be Link's musical instrument in the game, as seen in the GDC 2011 trailer thanks to the harp being equipped to the D-pad. Most likely we'll play it using Wii Motion Plus.
An interview with the game's composers revealed that the harp will play an important role in the plot, and that its existence was supposed to remain a secret. Since Sheik's harp was featured prominently on the Ocarina of Time 3D boxart, almost everyone agrees at this point that the harp is intended to be a reference to Sheik's harp.
The Skyward Sword boxart revealed some sort of emblematic artifact in the background that appears to include a musical score as part of its design. Could this have something to do with the musical system in this game? It seems to include a rhythmic element, which corroborates a developer statement suggesting that playing the harp will be timing-based. We'll see how the harp works later on.
Bug-Catching NetHere's a classic item that we haven't seen in Zelda in over 20 years. The Bug-Catching Net returns! Link can use it to...well, catch bugs.
Insects are used as key ingredients for upgrading your potions, so every bug you catch has potential to be put to good use. We don't know if there's anything else that bugs can be used for - perhaps there's some kind of trading mechanic in this game as well?
Press the B button while the net is equipped to whip it out, and hold the Wii Remote upright and swing it just like a real net to snag a bug. Bugs you've caught are added to your Collection screen. I wonder if there's anything else you can catch with this thing...
Of course, the Bug-Catching Net isn't the only newly-revealed returning item. Other more recent series additions are set to rear their heads:
Double ClawshotsThe Clawshot from Twilight Princess is back - and you can still use two of them! It looks as though this item functions the same way as its predecessor. Point the Clawshots with the Wii Remote and fire them at certain surfaces to latch on and pull yourself towards them. While hanging, you can aim your second Clawshot at yet another target to climb even higher!
Of course, this time the Clawshot sports a much cooler, more detailed skin that makes it look really, really nice (especially its icon), and the interface has gotten a similarly awesome makeover (check out the targeting reticule in the 3DS Conference Footageand you'll see what I mean). I hope we get to use it a lot more than we did in Twilight Princess...
At this point we still don't know if you'll start out with just one Clawshot and get the other later, or whether the second one is actually an upgrade you can get from the upgrade shop, but I suppose it's possible that you could just get both right off the bat. We'll see how it's integrated into the game come November!
SailclothAnother "new" item is the Sailcloth, which Link gets from Skyloft and uses to slow his descent as he falls from the steep heights of the sky world down to the surface. I put "new" in quotation marks because the Sailcloth basically borrows the Deku Leaf's gliding function from Wind Waker.
Take out the Sailcloth when prompted while falling from your bird towards a sky island or the surface and Link will whip it out just in time to parachute the rest of the way, avoiding heavy damage. Though we haven't seen this firsthand yet, it's implied from gameplay footage that you can also use the Sailcloth while jumping off of a ledge to glide, getting a little more distance. The Sailcloth also gets you some major air from wind updrafts that appear at various points.
When you approach a bird statue, you can choose to return to the sky. This will cause a massive magical gust of wind to shoot you skyward, and the Sailcloth will catch the wind and drag you back above the clouds.
Gust BellowThis item may seem brand-new, but it's more or less a modified version of the Gust Jar from The Minish Cap, a game also directed by Skyward Sword's director, Hidemaro Fujibayashi.
You'll point the Gust Bellow to unleash blasts of wind that blow away debris and even some enemies. Point it with the Wii Remote to aim its streams - it's looking very similar to the infamous F.L.U.D.D. from Super Mario Sunshine. You can probably also use it to manipulate loose items or keep enemy projectiles away. We'll get more details on this item when we can.
Bottles and Bottled ItemsThe E3 2010 demo gave Link multiple Red Potions and a Bottled Fairy, confirming that Bottles and Bottle Items will reappear inSkyward Sword. Bottles are accessed from the same inventory screen where Shields are found rather than the B button inventory used for the rest of Link's arsenal. Once a Bottle is selected, press the A button to empty it of its contents. While Link has a Bottle equipped, he can still move around to avoid enemy attacks, and he won't pause to take a gulp of potion.
As in previous Zelda games, Link can collect a number of environmental substances in Empty Bottles. When Link struck one of the many giant mushrooms seen in the Sky Temple demo with his sword, Fungal Spores popped out that Link could collect and save for later. I was unable to confirm firsthand what they're for, but the rumor going around the show floor was that they work as a backup Potion.
III. Other new gameplay features in Skyward SwordAside from applying Motion Plus to old items and actions, Skyward Sword also offers a number of fresh gameplay mechanics that range from offering more of a hardcore gamer edge to the game to expanding on and fleshing out the game's setting. A number of them are serious overhauls of gameplay concepts we've seen before, while others are 100% brand-new.
a. Loftbird FlightBecause Skyward Sword begins in a world high above the clouds, Link will need a flying mount to travel between the various floating lands that make up the initial setting. The result is a combination of the island exploration ofWind Waker and the short bird-riding minigame from Zora's River in Twilight Princess. Flight will make up a large part of reaching new places in the overworld, at least in the early parts of the game, so it's a core mechanic that will constantly be involved throughout the game.
To take flight, Link must first take a skydive off the edge of one of Skyloft's floating islands and call his bird by tapping the D-pad. His flying friend, known as a Loftbird, will then soar underneath him and scoop him up. From there, control the bird in the same way you controlled it in Twilight Princess - point the Wii Remote to determine the flight trajectory and press the A button to give your mount a quick burst of speed. Your speed boosts are limited by the number of feather icons that appear at the bottom of the screen, a mechanic borrowed from horseback riding in the Nintendo 64 games and Twilight Princess.
You can only fly up to a certain height and dive down to a certain depth, indicated by a height meter on the left side of the screen. Swinging the Remote causes your bird to flap its wings to climb higher faster, and pointing the remote downward sends it into a speedy dive that sometimes is more helpful than the old-fashioned speed boost.
The demo had Link competing against his classmates to try to capture a small bird statue from a golden Loftbird in order to win a prize from Zelda. Link had to catch up to the gold bird and press the A button to grab for the idol. The first attempt would result in an unruly rival ramming into him, forcing Link to give it another go. From then on Link's opponents would try to block his attempts by either shoving him or tossing bird eggs his way.
An interview with Nintendo representatives suggests that exploration of the sky will work in much the same way as maritime exploration in The Wind Waker. There'll be various islands to find and scout out as we soar across the clouds. To get down to the surface world, we'll have to find specific points from which to dismount the bird in midair and free-fall to the ground. We'll unlock more of these entry points as we progress.
Once you've dismounted, you'll free fall and can control your fall by moving the Wii Remote. Line yourself up properly and you'll make it to the ground, at which point you just whip out your Sailcloth at the right time to make a safe landing. You can also set your own beacons to mark important places on your sky map, making them easier to track down in the vast sky.
b. The Stamina MeterOne brand-new addition to Skyward Sword is the Stamina Meter, a pie-shaped indicator that depletes as you perform certain strenuous actions. It adds new restrictions to Link's actions, making certain situations such as stealth navigation and climbing up vines and walls more challenging than ever.
Conserve your energyOnly a few different moves have been seen to deplete stamina: dashing and rolling (which I'll explain in more detail momentarily), pushing and pulling blocks and other heavy items, climbing up walls using rough surfaces and vines, and using more powerful sword techniques like the Spin Attack. Certain actions like dashing constantly run the meter down, while others like the Spin Attack expend it in large bursts.
If you run out of stamina, Link will tire out, rendering him unable to use items including his sword and shield and slowing his movements to a snail's pace. If you need to dash quickly through a group of powerful enemies to avoid being spotted by enemies, you'll have to make sure you run at the right time and in the right direction so you can make it past without running out of juice. You don't want to spam the Spin Attack against a tough enemy, since doing so might leave you defenseless. The stamina offers a new layer of depth and forces you to strategically plan your every move both in combat and in exploration.
Dashing and rollingIn previous Zelda games, pressing the A button caused Link to perform a Rolling Attack. In Skyward Sword, the A button's primary function is Link's new dash move.
Hold the button while running and Link will sprint as fast as he can. This runs down the Stamina Meter fairly quickly, though, so only sprint for short bursts and when necessary to get away from enemies. You can still perform a Rolling Attack while flicking the Nunchuk while dashing, but beware: rolling also depletes stamina, and at a much faster rate than just dashing.
While Link's dashing, the increased momentum also helps him get a leg up on any relatively low ledges. He'll also kick himself up slightly higher walls. Its added speed is a must when climbing up steep slopes like the ones you encounter on the ascent up Eldin Volcano.
c. The Shield MeterAnother new meter is the Shield Meter, which tracks the durability of your shield. In previous games the only times you could "lose" your shield were if it was made of wood and burned up or if a Like Like devoured it. InSkyward Sword you'll now lose your shield if its Shield Meter runs out, forcing you to use your defenses wisely.
Different shields have different degrees of durability, indicated by varying Shield Meter lengths, as well as different weaknesses based on the type of material the shield is composed of. Even if you block correctly with your shield, it'll take damage from attacks it's vulnerable to, causing the Shield Meter to gradually deplete. When the meter runs out, the shield will break, leaving Link defenseless until he equips a new one.
You can of course buy new shields at shops, and later on you'll be able to carry at least three shields at once so you can have backups at the ready. The Shield Meter appears right under the life meter, in place of the Magic Meter seen in previous games.
d. Dowsing ModeThe Goddess Sword has a treasure-seeking ability, which the developers refer to as "Dowsing Mode." While this mode is active, Link will use the Skyward Sword to examine his surroundings in a first-person perspective. The Goddess Sword will act as a treasure-detector, similar to the metal detectors used by obnoxious real-life beach-goers. When Link finds a buried treasure, he can use special digging gloves, compared to the Mole Mitts fromThe Minish Cap, to unearth it.
Dowsing Mode is said to replace the Compass in this game. You can use it to track a certain hidden treasure on your radar or to point yourself in the direction of the missing Zelda. This will bring up a compass-like pointer that will show you the right direction to go for your next objective. For footage of Dowsing Mode in action, see the E3 2011 Dousing Mode video alongside the other game trailers.
e. The Silent WorldThe Silent World is a spiritual plane that exists alongside the real world. Link accesses it in order to complete "spiritual trials" that help him tap into his full potential. The world is a "parallel world" like the Dark World of A Link to the Past and the Twilight in Twilight Princess in that the physical design of the world resembles the main game world.
Link will have to leave his items behind to enter the Silent World, meaning he is mostly defenseless against the enemies there. Moreover, powerful guardians patrol the realm and will knock Link out with a single blow if he's spotted, so you'll need to tread carefully as you travel.
Like the Twilight, it seems that Link will have to collect Tears of Light in order to complete his trek through the Silent World. Grab a Tear of Light to stun the Guardians and shine a pale blue light on the realm for a short time. A meter on the left side of the screen tracks how much longer the Guardians will remain stunned. Pick up a Light Seed to reveal all the locations of the Tears of Light for about 30 seconds. Unfortunately, sentries patrol the area that will shatter the Tears' spellbinding effects if they spot you.
Because of the realm's guardians, it seems as though the Silent World will have a more threatening and dangerous feel than the Twilight, but we'll have to play through it for ourselves to say for sure.
For footage of Link entering and exploring the Silent World, see the E3 2011 Silent World video as well as the3DS Conference Gameplay Footage alongside the rest of the Skyward Sword trailers.
f. Item Upgrade SystemThis time around, Link is able to take his items to certain upgrade shops and give them more flair. Doing so requires that you collect certain collection items in the field, such as weird gobs of goo, shards of amber, or enemy skulls to use as materials for strengthening your gear.
Bring these to the item upgrade shop in the Skyloft Bazaar and the smithy there will use them to improve your stuff - for a small fee. We saw Link upgrade his Wooden Shield to a sturdier Banded Shield as well as heard rumors of a Slingshot upgrade that adds a scattershot effect. Reportedly most items in the game will come with some kind of upgrade, so we're looking forward to see just how deep this system will get.
You can also spice up your Potions by bringing bugs to the potion shop. The lady who runs it can power up your potions. It's unknown what effects this will add, but I'm sure we'll learn more soon enough.
For footage of the upgrade system in action, check out the Item Upgrade System Trailer.
g. SwimmingOkay, so Link's technically been able to swim in most Zelda games, but this time the player's freedom to explore underwater has fewer restrictions than ever before.
Aesthetically the swimming mechanic looks a lot like what we saw with the Zora Armor in Twilight Princess, except this time Link can dive freely no matter what tunic he's wearing. Guide Link by pointing the Wii Remote to change the direction he's facing, and press the A button repeatedly to stroke.
A small blue Air Meter similar to the Stamina Meter will pop up to let you know how much time Link has left underwater. We're not sure what the consequence for running out of air is yet - it could be that you'll start losing health instead, be forced to take a hit and be sent back to a certain point, or just get a game over outright. No matter the case, swimming looks like a much more integrated process this time around, which is great.
h. Treasure in the SkyLink's sword beam is actually dual-purposed: not only can it strike enemies from afar, but its magic can actually manipulate certain objects and items bearing the Hylian crest. One such item is a certain kind of treasure box, which when struck by a charged beam will actually get teleported up to an island in the sky. Once in the sky, Link can travel up to the sky island where these chests come to rest and open them up to access their contents.
To see some footage of this new treasure-seeking mechanic in action, click here.
i. Choose your own DialogApparently this time around you have multiple dialog paths when speaking with non-player characters. It's unclear whether this will go for all scenarios or just a select few, but we know at least that you can do this with the main players in Skyloft during some scenes. You can respond in a cordial way or a more antagonistic, snarky manner - and this even applies to close friends like Zelda! Will this result in some kind of affinity system akin to those seen in many modern RPGs? Does the manner you choose impact what kind of information these characters give? Or is this just a way of making each playthrough a little different? We'll see for sure in just a few weeks!
j. Item Pouch and Item BankOne of the ways the development team is balancing the difficulty in Skyward Sword is by limiting the number of items you can carry at one time. I suppose the reason for this is to make sure that Link's inventory doesn't overpower him too much compared to the enemies in various areas. You'll have to swap out equipment out of your Item Pouch at the Item Bank in Skyloft's Bazaar.
Fi can help you determine what equipment is suitable for the area you're in by asking for an "Analysis" when speaking to her. She'll report your current equipment stock's balance and appropriateness for your current region as a percentage when asked.
I suspect you'll be able to carry eight different equip items, based on the radial inventory wheel, and possibly only one of each kind of gear - tunics, boots, gloves, and the like.
k. MedalsReports have surfaced indicating that we'll be able to equip "medals" to add various effects during gameplay. They seem to function similarly to the Rings of Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages. The only one we know exists is a potion medal that increases the effects of potions you use while it's equipped, but there are sure to be others as well.
IV. Characters on the journeyNon-player characters and enemies have been an important part of the Zelda experience right from the beginning, and Skyward Sword is no different. Link will start off with many friends and encounter many foes over the course of his adventure. Take a look at some of the key players on each side below:
a. Fellows and friendsOf course Link's most important ally is the series' titular character: Zelda. In this game she'll start off as Link's close friend and a fellow denizen of Skyloft, but she'll soon after be kidnapped by evil forces from the world below and spirited to the surface. Link will take up the sacred Goddess Sword and make chase, like he always does. Zelda keeps her precious harp close at all times and is a bit reckless. In the E3 2011 demo we saw her leap off of a cliff, and Link had to swoop underneath her to keep her from plummeting to certain doom.
Speaking of the Goddess Sword, even it is a character - at least in some sense. The mysterious feminine figure revealed at E3 2009 is actually the spirit of the Goddess Sword. Her name is Fi, and she'll give Link hints and clues and guide him as he searches for Zelda and navigates between Skyloft and the surface world. She takes on a fairy-like appearance and speaks in a mechanical manner, suggesting that she may not be a "living" being in the technical sense. The secret that ties her to the Goddess Sword remains to be seen.
Link begins the game as a student at a boarding school up in the clouds called the Knight Academy. When knight students graduate, they receive a green tunic much like the one we're used to Link wearing which is a different color based on the year of the graduating class. Link receives his from the character seen at right, Gaepora, who is the headmaster of the Knight Academy as well as Zelda's father. He knows all about many of Skyloft's legends, including those related to the Goddess Sword.
Pipin is the island's resident Loftwing expert, and will guide Link has he learns the way of a Skyloft warrior. There's also a sword instructor who Link can meet in the Sparring Hall to learn a thing or two about using his blade in combat. Many more Skyloft residents are sure to play a role in the game - Eiji Aonuma even compared the city in the clouds to Majora's Mask in terms of the depth of NPC-related content that players can enjoy.
Link also encounters several friendly tribes on the surface, including the fruit-like Kiwki in Faron Woods, the mole-like Mogma nearby Eldin Volcano, and the familiar Gorons. An aquatic tribe and a technological tribe have also been spotted.
b. Fiends and foesThe surface world is ruled by evil forces, which means it's crawling with monsters and fiends both old and new. We've seen classic enemies like Bokoblins, Octoroks, Deku Babas, Keese, Stalfos, and others appear so far, and more are sure to follow. A slew of new baddies like the weird rolling enemy from the GDC 2011 trailer, a three-headed dragon-like monster, and a giant scorpion join the enemy roster as well.
Commanding these minions is the Demon Lord Ghirahim, the lord of the surface world. He leads a group of magic-wielders who seek to capture Zelda and use her holy power for their dark purposes. Unlike previous villains in the series, Link will challenge Ghirahim multiple times over the course of the game. Naturally, he'll increase in power each time. He already showed himself to be delightfully cocky and a villain that we'll surely love to hate in the E3 2011 boss battle demo. You can see him catching Link's blade between his fingers like a badass in the image at left.
Ghirahim also happens to be part of a clan of demons who serve under a demon king who threatened the land long ago. One of Ghirahim's objectives this time around is to revive his old master - presumably he'll need the help of a servant of the Goddess to accomplish this end.
Link has enemies up in Skyloft as well. His longtime rival is named Groose, and he's a bit of a sleaze who always likes to muscle in on Link's relationship with Zelda. Groose has two lackeys named Cawlin and Stritch, who unfortunately for Link happen to be the two other knight students who compete with Link during the Wing Ceremony. The competitive nature of their relationship will play out over the course of the game.
V. Visuals and soundsThe game's graphical and musical direction promises to be much richer than any previous Zelda, since it boasts a new artistic style and will use live instruments for its soundtrack. Check out the specifics here:
a. "Like a moving painting"Skyward Sword's graphical style blends the non-realistic coloring and shading concept seen in The Wind Waker with the more realistic and detailed models and textures of Twilight Princess to create a truly unique visual presentation. The game's graphics have been described as attempting to emulate a "painting come to life," and several visual effects are designed to showcase this. Objects and environmental features will sort of blur into the distance in a way that highly resembles impressionist art, and small dabs of color that look like splashes of paint can be seen on dungeon walls and floors throughout the game. It's a graphical presentation that fits well with the fantasy setting.
b. Live music recordingsSkyward Sword is slated to be the first Zelda game to feature a soundtrack consisting of mostly live recordings. Full orchestras will be used for many tracks, while others use folk instruments like the ones synthesized for previous games' scores. The game's composers have revealed that several remixed tracks will show up in the game as a celebration of the series' musical history. A concert series will tour several countries throughout the world in honor of the series' 25th anniversary, and will feature a few songs from Skyward Sword to promote the game.
"Encounter themes" will return in this game to let you know when you've engaged an enemy. There are multiple songs with varying intensity based on the enemy you're facing. The Stalfos's miniboss theme sent a shiver up my spine. The musical flourish Wind Waker put behind your sword hits also returns. You'll hear an orchestral chord progression as you beat down your enemies.
If you want to hear the game's sounds from E3 2011, click here to watch a video showing off sounds from all three demos.
VI. Story and plot detailsOnly sparse details exist about the game's story, mostly related to the opening scenario in Skyloft and the game's timeline placement. Of course, given that we're the best Zelda news site on the web, we've gathered them all here. Naturally, spoilers are everywhere. Read at your own risk.
a. Game synopsisLong before the events of the game open, there was a fierce war in the world. The ultimate evil emerged and decimated the land, all in the hope of stealing the absolute power protected by the Goddess. In the end the Goddess was forced to intervene, and a chosen people were elected to take refuge in a heavenly land in order to save the world from utter destruction. Left in that land were the Goddess's sword and her sacred harp, treasures that would prove useful should danger rise up against the heavens.
Generations later, Link is a student at the Knight Academy in Skyloft, the heavenly land, where giant birds known as Loftwings are the primary mode of transportation. His childhood friend, Zelda, has been chosen to play the role of the "Goddess" in the annual festival, and all the aspiring knights of the city take part in competitions as part of the celebration. When a giant tornado appears, Zelda is sucked down below the clouds to a mysterious world on the surface below. Naturally Link wants to rescue her, and to this end he is called by Fi, the spirit of the magical Goddess Sword, christened with the green garb of knighthood, and sent down to the land below to rescue Zelda.
Guided by Fi, Link discovers and explores the mysterious Skyview Temple and confronts the Demon Lord Ghirahim at its heart, but is unable to track down his friend. The remainder of the story will follow Link's exploration of the surface as he attempts to unravel the mystery behind this strange new world in order to catch up to Zelda and defeat Ghirahim.
b. Timeline placementSkyward Sword is a prequel to Ocarina of Time and will explain the origin story of the Master Sword. Aonuma revealed that the Goddess Sword will become the blade of evil's bane at some point during the adventure, and that a number of other elements from the game will be familiar to players who recently experienced Ocarina of Time 3D. He also mentioned that Skyward Sword will set up for the appearance of Ganon in later games, most likely by setting the pieces in place for the Triforce epic to unfold starting with Ocarina of Time.
VII. Other game informationWe've picked up various other tidbits through interviews and gameplay demonstrations that are worth pointing out:
- Miyamoto reports that this game features elements from all 25 years of the Zelda series.
- The Zelda team hopes to mix up the traditional overworld-dungeon formula by including some areas that aren't necessarily clearly one or the other. This was elaborated on further at E3 2011, and we now know that this mostly refers to field areas being structured less like open fields seen in previous 3D games and more like dungeons.
- They've also learned from their mistakes when making Twilight Princess and instead of focusing on large open fields, they're going for a more "dense" approach to world design in order to maximize the content and produce a more satisfying play experience.
- Should the Wii Motion Plus controls malfunction at any time, you can recalibrate the controller by engaging an item or function that uses the pointer, aiming the IR sensor at the center of the screen, and pressing Down on the D-pad.
- Eiji Aonuma compared NPC interaction in Skyloft to Majora's Mask in terms of characters' level of integration into the game. In the most recent trailer we saw glimpses of a number of NPCs including a blacksmith who can upgrade your items.
- Gorons will return in Skyward Sword. They appear to live on the surface world, showing that it's not a completely barren wasteland. It seems as though Hylians are the only people who live in Skyloft while the rest of the Hyrule peoples inhabit the surface.
- There is a day/night system in this game. You need to "go to bed" in-game to switch to nighttime. Enemies will appear in the sky at night, such as the usual bats and slimes and even demonic cat-like creatures.
- Three interface/HUD options: Standard (E3 2010 demo), Light (E3 2011 demo), and Pro (practically invisible).
- Both Skyloft and the surface world are designed to be fully-fledged overworlds with rich content and exploration.
- Battles and boss fights are designed to be tackled in multiple ways and avoid forcing you to use the dungeon item to hit the boss's weak spot.
- There won't be as many recovery heart pickups hidden in the tall grass. Instead, there are heart plants scattered throughout the land.
- Upgrading your items will involve collecting various loot that you can use alongside your Rupees to enhance your weapons at workshops.
- Ganon won't appear in Skyward Sword, and the Triforce plays a different role than in previous titles.
- Statues that serve as save points and portals to the world above the clouds are scattered about dungeons and the overworld. Link saves the game by "praying to the goddess" at these statues. From the sky, you can return to any activated Save Statue on the surface.
- Your Bomb Bag actually allows you to stock Bomb Flowers for later.
- You're only required to return to Skyloft between dungeons and at certain plot points.
- There are musical cues in the game that long-time fans will appreciate, including a surprising use of the overworld theme from the original Legend of Zelda. This is the song you hear before starting the game.
- Skyward Sword will have anywhere from 50-100 hours of gameplay, depending on player experience levels, and will include 100 minutes of cutscenes.
- Just as with Ocarina of Time 3D, there is a Second Quest option as well as a Boss Challenge mode and Sheikah Stone hint system.
- Link has multiple premonitions involving the strange pointy-toothed creature seen gobbling Zelda up in the original E3 2011 trailer.
- The red-headed rival seen antagonizing Link in Skyloft is named Groose. He has a major crush on Zelda. His lackeys are Cawlin and Stritch.
- Zelda's father is the headmaster of the Knights' academy and is named "Gaepora." An ancestor of Kaepora Gaebora, perhaps? Apparently his laugh sounds kind of owl-like.
- Pipin is the island's resident bird expert. There's another character named Fledge who's apparently something of a "wimp."
- Link and Zelda have a VERY trusting relationship. She wakes him up to show him her new dress at the beginning of the game and even shoves him off the edge of Skyloft playfully early on in the story to force him to practice flying!
- The game starts off with Link waking from a nightmare, as he has in previous games such as Ocarina of Time. In this nightmare he is trying to escape a "world-eating darkness, with a snarling fanged mouth and furious red eyes." Sounds like the monster that he later dreams of gobbling Zelda up, but perhaps it's the ultimate evil from the intro.
- After this you leave your house and explore Skyloft, where you are told to talk to a professor about some local drama.
- The ability to full-on run is once again mentioned. However, the reviewer refers to something called wall-running, where you can run at a wall to make Link automatically jump and cling to it. This works with a number of different surfaces. There is a difference between sprinting and running.
- You can replenish your energy using green bulb plants that are located all over Skyloft. We've noticed some fruit in trees in other parts of the game, so there will be a number of ways to refill the stamina meter.
- When Link finds the professor he is asked to help catch a cat that belongs to one of Skyloft's residents. You'll find the cat by jumping and climbing across rooftops.
- After the kitty quest you meet up with Zelda for the first time.
- Zelda thinks Link is a "lazy, starry-eyed boy who is not fit for Knighthood," but her father thinks differently. He notes that Link's connection with his red bird is an indicator of hidden talents.
- Zelda shoves Link off a platform and into the sky to prove Link's hidden abilities with his bird, but the bird doesn't appear and Zelda calls her own bird to save Link.
- Your bird is missing and you have to find it, but while you are looking you run into Groose, a girl named Cawlin, and a boy named Stritch.
- The confrontation leads Link to acquire his first sword, which he learns how to use at the academy's sparring hall. Link's instructor lets him keep his pratice sword after Link explains the situation.
- You now have a sword to destroy public property with, in the good old Zelda fashion, whether it be grass or pumpkins from Skyloft's pumpkin patch. The reviewer once again notes the detail in Skyward Sword, mentioning that sliced pumpkin bits will stick to the sword after you cut them. You can fling your sword to toss the pumpkin bits. Now that I know I can throw pumpkins, I will be throwing them at the all Skyloftians.
- You find your bird trapped in a cave that is barred with wooden boards. You'll have to fight a few minor enemies (bats, jellies, etc.) and solve some simple puzzles to free your bird.
- Next is the bird race, which we seen full footage of. The golden bird statue you catch (did somebody say Snitch?) fits into a carving at the base of the Goddess Statue.
- At the top of the statue, Zelda gives Link her sailcloth as a prize for winning the race. You can try out the item by doing some base-jumping from the statue.
- Link's bird is called a Crimson Loftwing.
- Pipit is the yellow-tunic fellow I posted a screenshot of earlier.
- Tunic colors correspond to the wearer's graduation year; this year's color is green.
- Fi wakes Link up after the tornado steals Zelda and guides him to the Goddess Sword's chamber.
- Gaepora knows all about the Goddess Sword - makes you wonder what else he knows?
- You could easily push quickly through the tutorials if you wanted, possibly skipping some sections entirely? Definitely focused on letting players do things their own way.
- Zelda is on the verge of telling Link something she's been holding in for awhile when Ghirahim's tornado appears. She falls to the surface, but Link's Loftwing swoops down and saves him.
- Skyloft is apparently HUGE, with a full-blown residential quarter, the bazaar we've seen in other trailers, and the plaza areas we've gotten glimpses of which has the Goddess Statue at their center. There's also a bath-house and even a toilet!
- Like in Wind Waker, you can knock a lot of background objects over.
- The treasure cubes we've seen in a recent Game Informer feature are called "Goddess Cubes," and the sword beam is referred to as the "Skyward Strike."
- The second dungeon of the game is actually called the "Earth Temple." Is the Sky-Earth-Water triumvirate from Wind Waker returning for this game?
- Scaldera's official name is the "Pyroclastic Fiend Spaldera."
- One scenario has you run up a hill while Bokoblins throw bounders from above - you have to use certain types of swings to take out this enemy, and when you do they'll hit the hill below and roll down to the bottom before they disappear. Bokoblins will also stomp on your hands when you're climbing up ledges and swing at you with their maces. Some Bokoblins have horns that allow them to call in reinforcements, others hide in wooden towers that you have to blow up with bombs. Aonuma credits director Hidemaro Fujibayashi for these new additions.
- Lizalfos can block all sword attacks at first, but if you dodge his move you'll make him taunt and then you can attack.
- When speaking to Fi, you have several options. You can ask her for Advice, which will tell you what you need to do to move forward, you can ask her for an Analysis of the area that you're in, which will give you clues as to which items from your inventory you'll need to store in your pouch, and you can ask her to tell you rumors, which will give you gameplay tips (for example, we learned about the medals through "rumors.")
VIII. See Skyward Sword for yourselfWe've got so much Skyward Sword footage that we don't quite know what to do with it at this point. The game's come a long way since its E3 2010 showing, and you can really see this in the graphics, the presentation and refinement of the gameplay, and the effort to balance and fine-tune the game. Check out each of the trailers below:
a. E3 2010 Reveal Trailer
b. GDC 2011 Gameplay Trailer
c. E3 2011 Story & Gameplay Trailer
d. E3 2011 Dowsing Mode & Silent World Footage
e. San Diego Comic-Con Scenery Trailer
f. Eldin Volcano Game Informer Reveal
g. 3DS Conference Gameplay Footage
h. 3DS Conference Gameplay Trailer
i. Item Upgrades System Trailer
j. Treasure Hunting Game Informer Reveal
k. Skyward Sword Cinematic Trailer
l. Skyward Sword Romance Trailer
m. Skyward Sword Combat Tutorial Video
n. Skyward Sword Intro Legend Video
o. Skyward Sword Faron Woods Dowsing Trailer
p. Skyward Sword Skyview Temple Trailer
q. Skyward Sword Lake Floria Trailer
r. Skyward Sword Ancient Cistern Trailer
There you have it: everything we know about Skyward Sword. I'm almost certain I've packed in every bit of info here somewhere, but if there's anything I've missed leave me a comment and I'll review it and possibly add it if I can confirm it and it's worth mentioning. ;)
The Official 'The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword' Thread (Updated):