If you watched the live Nintendo media briefing from E3 2010, you experienced Nintendo's worst nightmare. Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of "Mario" and "Zelda," was up on stage demonstrating the much-anticipated "Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword," a new installment for the franchise coming to Wii in 2011. Despite the focus of the game being on fluid sword controls thanks to Wii Motion Plus, the system wasn't cooperating, with Link's sword simply not following the movements of Miyamoto. Wireless issues from all the network cards in the crowd? Seems so, as I had the chance to play "Skyward Sword" after the presentation and it worked exactly as advertised.
It was a brief demo, but enough to show off the unique controls that set this installment apart from "Twilight Princess." Moving the Wii Remote around your body, you'll see Link making the exact same movements on screen. Horizontal strikes in real life result in horizontal swings from Link, and the same with vertical and even diagonal strikes. You can lift your Wii Remote skyward to gain the power of the heavens and shoot out a projectile slash and you can even reflect enemy attacks with a flick of the nunchuk.
The visual style of the game is a middle-ground between "Twilight Princess" and "Wind Waker." The characters in the game have a subtle cel-shaded look, but Link is definitely an adult, and the enemies you fight are more nasty than cute. I'm glad Nintendo went this route, as "Twilight Princess" suffered somewhat from the Wii's hardware limitations, and by going a more artistic route, it helps to hide some of the aliasing that goes along with a non-HD 3D title.
It's too early to say if this "Zelda" title will really set itself apart from the pack, but the controls definitely help. I think for this to really be a special title, "Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword" needs to offer up some other unique gameplay element beyond the new controls, but given the game's 2011 release date, there's undoubtedly more secrets left to discover.