An unapolegetic rant - Suckward Sword Part 2: Controls



[IMG](Remember Skyward Sword Collector’s Edition with that Golden Wiimote? I bought it. The Gold Wiimote and the Orchestral CD turned out to be the only things I liked in the bundle.)

Now let’s actually get into breaking the game down. The best place to start is the Motion Controls. The game as a whole was made to have what was supposed to be a quality showcase of what Motion Controls could really do. In the Wii version of Twilight Princess you could swing the remote to have Link attack with his sword. It wasn’t accurately registering the swings you were making though. So Skyward Sword’s focus was 1 to 1 Motion Controls for Link’s sword. The way you swing your Wii Remote, Link, in the game, is supposed to mirror perfectly.

After the game released I did research and found out that the extra year of development towards the game was really took because the promise of 1:1 Motion wasn’t even close to being fulfilled by 2010. While being interviewed Aonuma even mentioned that he set up a team to implement the traditional Wii Remote to Skyward Sword because he had doubts that 1:1 Motion could be possible with the Motionplus.

“Fujibayashi: We tried a bunch of things for Wii MotionPlus, but it was really quirky.

Iwata: Wii MotionPlus is an incredibly sharp device, but a little distinctive. It's like an unruly horse.

Aonuma: Yes, exactly. No matter what we did, we couldn't tame it. Then Wii Sports Resort came out as the first game for Wii MotionPlus.

Iwata: That's right.

Aonuma: We played that and realized all you could do with it. Wii Sports Resort has all kinds of games like Swordplay and Frisbee and you can play each one as its own separate game, but in The Legend of Zelda, you play everything on the same field.

Fujibayashi: That's right. You may be fighting with your sword and the next instant use the Clawshot or shoot an arrow or throw a bomb, so it was really difficult to make the game so you could use Wii MotionPlus to do those things smoothly all on the same field.

Aonuma: So I proposed to the staff to not use Wii Motion Plus afterall.

Iwata: You gave up once.

Aonuma: Yes. Then we started making a Legend of Zelda game that you would play using the original Wii Remote and Nunchuk. But then I fell under intense pressure from some other producers, who said, "Aonuma-san, why aren't you using Wii MotionPlus?!" (laughs)

Iwata: They were like, "Don't run away from it!" (laughs)

Aonuma: Exactly. (laughs) So I was like, "We got to do it!" I gathered the staff and we puzzled over how we could make it work. As a result, Kobayashi-san and those guys had a hard time. (laughs)” - Dialogue from Iwata Asks: (Volume One: Wii MotionPlus inspires new controls)

But let’s face it, the finished product was far from perfect, it isn’t even 1:1 motion. Let me explain.

Your actions aren’t mirrored in real time, there is some slight lag between what you do, and Link’s response in the game. This is because the response is being triggered by your motion, rather than being synced in real time. If that were the only issue, I’d overlook it, unfortunately it wasn’t. The controls could oftentimes screw up. Start swinging the remote too fast and it’d mess up the center position of Link’s sword, you could be holding the remote straight and pointed right in front of you but in the game Link is holding the sword out to his far right (and this same issue made that pumpkin shooting mini game with the Bow and Arrow a pain in the ass, and the Bamboo Cutting mini-game). You could remedy this with calibration, but this made an already frustrating game less immersive. In order to avoid needing to recalibrate you’d have to purposely use medium paced movements, which at points was fighting the impulsive actions you wanted to make but knew you couldn’t because it’d screw up the alignment, it was hard to really get lost in the game doing that, and with recalibrating the remote it was also a break in the immersion. Some people say they had no issue with the controls, but a lot of people did.

Some things felt shoehorned into the game just to utilize the motion controls, and I feel like they could have worked fine with just regular analog controls. Like swinging the remote to swing on a rope, holding the remote vertical and upright to balance on a tightrope, or a ball in lava. Dowsing felt like it was thrown in just to have a little purple dot appear on the screen that you can move around.

I also hated how everything became so repetitive, to beat many of the enemies took the same method. This bokoblin is blocking me from hitting him to the left, I’ll just hit him to the right instead with my sword. Similar thing with Lizalfos. Even some of the bosses. Moldarch coming to mind. Moldarch opens his claws a certain way requiring the players to make a sword strike to hit between his opened claws. However, what really irked me was that the final 2 boss battles of the game were narrowed down to this same thing. Ghirahim is holding his left hand up and his right hand down, so I have to swing my sword accordingly. Demise, I can try a sword strike to the left which he will block, but immediately respond by striking to the right while there is a brief opening to attack. Sword combat in no way evolved to be any more interesting than it was at the beginning of the game for me, and I’d have liked to see more weapons being used in atleast the Demise fight.

I could try to continue on in my own words, but a fellow Zelda Dungeon Forum member, Spirit, hit the nail on the head in a post to a thread she recently brought to my attention.

Spirit said:

Skyward Sword was flawed on a conceptual level due to introducing and integrating the Wii's motion controls into every facet of the game's design.


And what happens next in the thread? The member Cfrock puts the final nail in the coffin!

Cfrock said:

This is why so many people hate SS. It's not a game. It's a sales pitch. It's a tech demo, a showcase of what Wii Motion Plus was capable of.


To add, Wii MotionPlus being implemented into SS was appealing to a fad, and it missed the height of the fad by about 3 years. Regardless of opinion of Motion Controls in Zelda back in 2011, it is clear now it isn’t really what the majority of fans wanted.

My own thoughts, I didn’t care for motion controls, it didn’t immerse me into the game more, it actually worked counter productively in that aspect, they really prevented me from being able to get lost in the game.

Comments 1

  • I cannot imagine the amount of pressure for Aonuma to go back to the Wiimotion after having decide to try conventional controllers. I mean, for him to go back to normal controllers would mean the poor man and his team had exhausted their effort to try to deliver on that 1:1 promise. I missed on it, so once I realized it wasn't real time, perfect. I didn't feel cheated, i just took it as the limitations at the time.

    I can understand it could take people out of the immersion more than helping them ease on it. I feel like the controllers require some time to get used to it. I find easy to pres sthe button to recenter if it moves to my left or right. I rarely had the need to recalibrate, instead the game would force that calibration: every.. single.. time. XD

    That said, I agree with the shoehorned activities and mechanics done specifically to give you an excuse to use the pointer or the moving to an angle.

    In general once I got the handle I guess the way I played passed to the background a bit. I had hiccups but nothing too big like to frustrate me out of the game.