A few weeks ago, I played a lot of The Legend of Skyward Sword. I got up to what I'd call the lava temple, but Nintendo calls it the earth temple. OK. There's lava in there, Nintendo.
I ran out of time while fighting through the temple. By then I realised that everything I'd seen in trailers had come from moments of the game leading up to that second temple in the game. Maybe I'd missed some trailers, but the feeling I got was that Nintendo's really only shown us the beginning of Skyward Sword, despite how much they've appeared to reveal.
Today, they released a trio of trailers that show some of what I played in my final hours with the game. I'll try to explain what's going on...
First up, we've got the Eldin Volcano area. As with other areas in the game, you plummet to it from Skyloft, the hub world and main town of Skyward Sword. In this opening area, I met the Mogma, little ground-burrowers who taught Link how to use bomb plants. Since Skyward Sword uses Motion Plus, Nintendo's designers are able to create challenges that require you to bowl bombs with a half-bowling/half-wrist-flicking motion. You can also toss bombs with an overhand throw. The bowling part was tricky — I had to do it standing up — but it enabled some clever puzzles. I liked some of the toss puzzles, one of which had me lobbing bombs into the holes on the shells of turtle-like enemies. A Nintendo rep told me I'd eventually be able to re-plant bomb plants, but I didn't get to that.
I also acquired the Digging Mitts, which let Link dig up buried treasure. Nintendo wants people to think of the pre-dungeon areas as dungeons themselves. The Volcano area would qualify, as it was full of puzzles and required as much thought and ingenuinty as a Zelda dungeon usually does.
I didn't get that far in the Earth Temple. The two lizard guys that you can see beat the tar out of me — about five times! I've never died so much in a Zelda game, not at one point. You have to strike them precisely at the right angles. That was tricky when there was one of them, but much harder to do with two people. I think I'd have fared better if I wasn't racing against the clock at that point.
As you can see in the clip, you also walk on a big rolling ball that floats in the lava. That was a lot of fun.
This last clip shows Goddess Stones or, specifically, what happens when you complete a Goddess Stone task. On the surface level of the game world, you find a lot of these Stones. You strike them and they activate something in the clouds. You won't know what they've activated until you fly back up and track down new icons on your map.
As you can see in the trailer here, the sky map is enormous (it reminded me of Wind Waker's immense sea), so there are lots of places where Goddess Stones might have activated something. There were also tons of these stones on the ground, even just in the volcano area, so I imagine we'll be going up and down in this game a lot, activating things on the ground and then soaring to the clouds to track down the results.
And that's it for what I've seen in Skyward Sword. I have a feeling Nintendo won't show that much more before the game's out. What I've played, I've liked a lot. I see a cleverness in puzzle design and a density to activities in the game world that were absent from the Wii's Twilight Princess. I'm optimistic about this Zelda.