Skyward Sword hands-on preview – playing through the first dungeon

When we left our heroes in our last hands-on preview, Zelda had just been kidnapped by a tornado monster and Link was suiting up to leave Skyloft and venture down to the surface world to find her. Equipped with the sail cloth – an item that allows Link to survive a fall from any height – plus the Goddess Sword, wooden shield and a potion (just in case), we set out through the break in the cloud barrier to see what secrets lie below.   

It's fair to assume that the surface is much bigger place than Link's home in the clouds, but thankfully our mysterious companion Fi (who talks in probabilities and statistics like a computer, by the way) steps in to tell Link about dowsing, a concept Pokemon fans should be familiar with. With an indicator of which way he should go, Link sets off into Faron Woods.

Above: Link can search for Zelda (and Kikwis) by dowsing

We're soon introduced to the adorable forest people known as Kikwis, and their leader (the big guy pictured above) tasks Link with his first real quest – to find a number of his missing kin and make sure they're safe from the monsters that have been terrorizing their verdant home. Luckily, we can use our dowsing powers to find the Kikwi too, so we soon track each of them down through the forest's labyrinthine terrain.

As we encounter some of the forest's more hostile inhabitants, one thing becomes incredibly clear – the "Wii waggle" doesn't work here. It took awhile to break ourselves of the automatic spastic response, but the Goddess Sword is best wielded with deliberate movements. The Wii MotionPlus controls work well, and many enemies can only be defeated by specific sword movements – you have to look for visual cues in the enemies stance/appearance to know how to strike. If you waggle, chances are the random movement Link makes won't be the correct one you need to take down your enemy.

Above: To do any damage, you must slice in the direction the Deku Baba's mouth opens

And lo! What do we find in the heart of the woods? Why, a temple, of course! We played through a portion of Skyview Temple during Skyward Sword's Comic-Con demo, but this time we got to play through the whole thing from start to finish. It's not a huge dungeon (it is the first one in the game, after all), but it does feature its fair share of Zelda-style puzzles, including plenty of switch hitting and even some raising and lowering of water levels.

Before heading in though, we use the goddess statue (goddess statue = save point) outside the temple to return to Skyloft to rest and prepare. Link can return to his home from any save point, and not only that, but he can then teleport back down to any previously encountered save point too, making travel around the surface quite easy.  

Above: Some highlights from Skyview Temple

After spending more time with Link's new beetle item, we feel a little bit better about the flying controls than we did during our previous demo. Sitting on a sofa in a typical gaming configuration, the motion controls are much more manageable, if still not our favorite thing ever. It helps that it's a multi-purpose item too – you can use the beetle not only to hit switches, but also to explore areas you can't see from the ground, and its pincers can clip Skullwalltula webs.

We won't go into all of the puzzle solutions here (that would be a bit spoilery, wouldn't it?) but suffice it to say we eventually acquire the boss key and head through the boss door for our first encounter with Ghirahim. Again, this is the same boss fight from the demo we played at Comic-Con, and he's still just as tough – like a good Zelda boss, Ghirahim puts the skills you've learned to the test.

Upon defeating Link's creepy antagonist (or at least, forcing his retreat), we've played about eight hours into the game at this point. After a full day playing Skyward Sword, we can't wait to play through the rest before its November release.

Oct 7, 2011


  • sirtomski - October 12, 2011 7:40 a.m.

    Dont know about this one, a clone of twilight princess? or some originality? All I know is, the motion plus controller should make combat a bit more interesting than your garden variety hack'n'slash format.
  • ShortFuse - October 10, 2011 8:21 a.m.

    I really want this game to be excellent but I have massive reservations especially after Twilight Princess... I quite like the art-style on the whole in this...but it really just doesn't grab me like other zelda games have done. Every zelda game that has come out since I was young (starting with LTTP and Links Awakening) I have seen screenshots/brief clips for and got really excited for. I don't know if it's just because I've grown up a bit...but I'm really not getting excited about this. And to counter my own argument about growing up...I'm playing pokemon black at the moment so it must be another reason why I'm not feeling this Zelda... Anyone feel the same way?
  • CitizenWolfie - October 11, 2011 2:37 a.m.

    I know what you mean and totally agree. I played the demo and it made me even less enthusiastic about it. I keep trying to psych myself up for it but I can't help but feel a bit "meh." Personally I don't think Zelda got any better past Wind Waker.
  • Yeager1122 - October 9, 2011 9:33 p.m.

    Will have to try this at a freinds house seeing as i got rid of my wii awhile ago looking foward to trying this out though.
  • iluvpkmnmonday - October 9, 2011 8:18 p.m.

    I would have loved to see Brett do a FAP for this game. Sad face :(
  • HankVenture - October 9, 2011 5:49 p.m.

    why is there a huge ball sack with a mustache in a Zelda Game?
  • Plan10FromOuterSpace - October 9, 2011 12:44 p.m.

    Dont own a Wii and still dont see the point in getting one, its a shame as ive been wanting to play a lot of Nintendo classics for ages, like Zelda, Mario ect...the solution turned out to be buying a gamecube for less than £20, ive discovered so many great games. Ill rejoin the Nintendo wagon with the WiiU I think....
  • shawksta - October 9, 2011 2:06 p.m.

    Im sorry but your argument is HORRIBLY Invalid. If anything, the main reason for owning a Wii IS the huge amount of Nintendo First Party Goodness, and the unique 3rd Party exclusives. Its not mainstream, I have a 360 for that, the wii is used for its special games the PS3/360 wont get, and its ALLOT.
  • ShortFuse - October 10, 2011 8:13 a.m.

    Don't think his argument is invalid at all...why should he pay through the nose for Wii titles at the moment...If WiiU is backwards compatible, just wait til then and then get all the good wii games that there are for cheap. I've pretty much done the same thing with my DS. Got it on launch day. Loved it for a year then never really played on it regularly until now. Thanks to the 3DS being out the price of DS games is so cheap now and I can afford all the amazing games I missed out on. And frankly the 'unique 3rd party exlusives' is a bit of rubbish really....There's probably about 4 or 5 games off the top of my head worth getting that are 3rd party. Hardly a convincing argument for getting a console.
  • ShortFuse - October 10, 2011 8:15 a.m.

    plus judging by your below comments you are fortunate enough to own two consoles. Not many people can afford such a luxury, such as myself. Used to be a massive nintendo fan boy but to be honest, the Wii has been a massive let down besides the Mario Galaxy games and No More Heroes.
  • Plan10FromOuterSpace - October 10, 2011 3:30 p.m.

    it wasnt really an argument, I was just saying that ive personally found grabbing a cheep game-cube to be a great way to enjoy the Nintendo franchises ive been missing out on without forking out £100 or having to deal with motion control. Ive found a hell of a lot of great games for it and ive not spent any more than £30. Ill buy a WiiU because it will actually run decent graphics and cater for third party's as well as having zelda, mario, metro ect
  • jonno469 - October 9, 2011 3:46 a.m.

    It's the same thing Ninty have been doing since the NES, just shiney-er! But why do they keep succeding? Because they're damn good a repackaging! Should cross platform it, nobody has a wii these days anyway......
  • shawksta - October 9, 2011 10:35 a.m.

    Stay Salty and keep hating, its not re-packaging because only Nintendo knows how to keep a series alive and still innovative without ruining it and rehashing. People like you wont understand. Allot of people have wii's, and their mostly Cross-platformers, like me. I have a 360 for Mainstream and a Wii for unique and awesome games only a Nintendo console can do. And frankly I pity anyone who stops playing their wii after Brawl.
  • shawksta - October 9, 2011 10:37 a.m.

    I read your sentence wrong, my bad, ignore some aspects of my comment.
  • soranamineforever - October 8, 2011 5:29 p.m.

    This game had sure as hell be fantastic, considering its probably the absolute last quality game for the Wii at this point. I'm sure those who held onto their Wiis would feel cheated otherwise.
  • shawksta - October 9, 2011 1:29 a.m.

    To be honest, not really, Im STILL playing the high quality games the Wii already has that keeps me satisfied, This game and Kirby's Return to Dreamland will be awesome additions.
  • JoeMasturbaby - October 8, 2011 4:56 p.m.

    so a pair of mustachioed tree testicles talks to you?
  • NightCrawler_358 - October 8, 2011 12:01 p.m.

    I love the art style, and setting in this one, but the motion controls look too freaking complicated. I know they need to switch it up, but it looks so clumsy and Link looks ridiculous running around with his sword out straight. At least it'll give me a reason to take Brawl out of my Wii.
  • Rezindez - October 8, 2011 1:49 p.m.

    Link doesn't have to run with his sword straight out. You can always just move it into a different position...
  • shawksta - October 8, 2011 4:55 p.m.

    What? Dude, link puts his shield and sword on his back, then runs, and you dont walk around with the his stuff sticking out, you put it down. It LOOKS complicated, but its not really.

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