As you may or may not be aware, during yesterday's Nintendo Press Conference, the new Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was finally unveiled to the world. During the presentation demo, Shigeru Miyamoto and Bill Trinen chose to focus soley on the gameplay aspects of Skyward Sword, without telling us much about the game's story. Thankfully Miyamoto-san and Eiji Aunoma were on hand after the show to present a roundtable, and give us those all important story snippets.
First, and perhaps most important, they answered the question that has been bugging us since E3 2009; "Who is the girl in the artwork?" Big surprise here folks, it's the Master Sword -- but not as you know it. Much like Ezlo from Minish Cap, the sword can take on human characteristics when necessary, in order to give advice and guide the player. It appears that when you start the game, you will control the titular Skyward Sword, but after some story events, it will transform into the bane of all evil, the Master Sword.
As you may have noticed from the trailer below, it ends with Link jumping off a cliff and into the clouds -- "Why?" In Skyward Sword, Link is a young boy growing up in Skyloft, a city above the clouds. One day, he learns of a land below the clouds (presumably Hyrule), but finds that it has been overrun by evil forces. Due to a series of fateful events (and because he's a nice guy, really), Link is forced to explore the land below, ridding it of all evil. It also appears that the Sky will play a large part in this game, and Aunoma-san believes the new art style complements this notion perfectly.
I've seen people feel unsure of the art shown for Skyward Sword, but gosh, I can't be more excited. This image shown above, in my opinion, is absolutely beautiful, as though it was hand painted by a brilliant artist -- and to think it's an in-game screenshot! We have more images available on the next page (click here to view) and each of them looks stunning in my opinion. A more vibrant and colorful take on the cel-shaded Wind Waker theme, Skyward Sword looks almost nothing like any previous Zelda game (Miyamoto claims the impressionist Paul Cezanne was a large influence on the game's visual style), and yet it looks almost perfect.
Check it out in motion, and I think you'll agree:
Moving on from the visuals, Miyamoto-san and Aunoma-san were quick to explain why the game won't make its original promised 2010 release date -- it's simply not ready yet. Miyamoto explained there is usually a lag between the time when a game's graphics are finalized, to when the game itself is complete -- whilst Skyward Sword is mostly finished, there are a few more dungeons to finalize, and this being a Zelda title, they want to make sure that it's as good as they can make it before it goes out to release.
As we've already mentioned in our hands-on preview, Skyward Sword focuses on a liberal use of Motion Plus, really attempting to harness the power of near 1:1 control. Miyamoto said that with the latest Zelda, they really wanted to nail the gameplay before anything else. To this end, they've also redesigned the way the adventure will unravel, and will do away with the typical 'Overworld-Dungeon' rinse/repeat formula of previous Zelda titles. They've also confirmed that the game's overworld will be smaller than Twilight Princess', but won't have less content. It may be smaller, but it will be more densely packed. Hey Nintendo -- if you're looking to change the formula, take some cues from Majora's Mask, will you?
The final aspect of Skyward Sword that Aunoma and Miyamoto revealed was the use of an orchestral soundtrack for Skyward Sword. There's pretty much only one response to this and that's "Oh my god yes." Miyamoto stated that, seeing as it was already present in Super Mario Galaxy 2, it would be silly to not include it in the next Zelda title. They've already hired people specifically for the game's soundtrack, so you can bet it will be beautiful. The question asked also mentioned voice acting, but Miyamoto's answer was unclear when it came to that part, so I wouldn't worry too much either way. Even if voice actors were called in, you can bet it would be the best voices for the job.
That's pretty much all Nintendo were ready to reveal, folks. But if we think back for a moment, way back to Ocarina of Time, the Great Deku Tree told a story of how Hyrule came to be, and the creation of the Triforce. Is it possible that Skyward Sword may also link to the story of the beginning of Hyrule as seen in Ocarina of Time? Take a look at the video to refresh your memory!
It may sound trite, but watching that video brought back a huge number of happy memories connected with Ocarina -- not to mention a few sad ones. I've always wanted to see how the events of that cutscene truly played out in the game world -- seeing as the story is a Legend, it's likely to have been exaggerated by each succeeding generation. To that end, perhaps Skyward Sword 2 will talk about the Hyrule flood from Wind Waker? One can but dream!
So, what do you think of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword? Are you excited, or did yesterday's poor conference demo put you off? What do you think of the game's artstyle? Let us know in the comments below.