LOS ANGELES--We got our first hands-on time with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the Wii on the show floor at the Electronic Entertainment Expo today. The demo is the same that was shown during Nintendo's pre-E3 press conference on Tuesday. It takes you through a dusty canyon filled with platforms and a bunch of rather antagonistic imps.
The demo began with some simple combat training. You use the analog stick on the left-hand nunchaku controller to move Link around. He is guided by a floating black spirit that comes up out of his shadow.This shadow helper could also be called upon at any point during the demo by tapping up on the D pad, at which point he would either give general advice or specific pointers, depending on where Link was at the time. Using the Z button on the front of the nunchaku to lock onto a practice dummy, we were able to mash on the A button on the Wii remote to perform sword slashes. We were also able to perform Link's spinning slash attack by flipping the nunchaku to the left and right, which took a bit of getting used to, since you really have to put some force behind your movements to produce the spinning attack.
From there we moved forward, dispatching a group of imps with our sword when a rain of arrows came down on us from a group of imps on a raised platform that was out of our reach. Here we had to use Link's bow and arrow to take care of these archers, which was done by simply holding down on the D pad on the remote, aiming with the remote itself, and then letting go of the D pad to fire an arrow. The point-and-shoot mechanic here was fairly intuitive, though we found the aiming to be fairly touchy, and it took a few tries before we were able to hit the imps.
We were then presented with our first Zelda-style puzzle, which consisted of a large stone door with four small turbines mounted on pillars and a series of markings on the floor. By pressing right on the D pad, we were able to bring up Link's boomerang, which could be aimed much like the bow and arrow. However, when we pointed the aiming reticle at each of the four turbines, we could then tap the B button on the underside of the remote to "paint" them in succession. Letting go of the D pad then caused the boomerang to create a whirlwind that would hit each turbine in the order in which we originally targeted them. This didn't produce the effect of opening the stone door that we had hoped it would, as it seemed we weren't hitting the turbines in the correct order.
After trying a few more times, we decided to explore the level's alternate path. When you are simply running Link around with the analog stick, the remote causes a glowing sprite to move around the screen, and we were able to select the item bar on the left-hand side of the screen, which brought up a menu that would allow us to assign different items to the left, right, and bottom directions on the D pad. One of the items we had at our disposal was the claw grip, which we pointed at a metal grating across the level, which then took Link flying across the level to cling to the side of the metal grating. After pillaging some rupees from a treasure chest, then slicing up a handful of imps and using our rapidly improving archery skills to take care of a few others, we went through a large circular door, which brought us to the second area of the demo.
After immediately leaping off a platform into a pit of rather uncomfortable lava, we ran around for a bit, enjoying more of Link's swordplay when we encountered a raised bridge supported by a pair of ropes. Unfortunately, we had spent a bit too much time with the turbine puzzle earlier, and the time-limited demo ended before we could get much further. Knowing what we know now, we're definitely eager to go back later and make a more expedient effort through the beginning parts of the demo.
Our initial feeling of the demo is that, despite the very unusual controls, the game definitely felt like the 3D Zelda that we've come to know through Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker. That said, the controls were also quite dense, with virtually every button on both parts of the controller used, and since this was the first Wii game we were able to get our hands on, the whole experience took a bit of getting used to. Graphically, the demo was running in a widescreen aspect ratio and generally felt like a rather high-end GameCube game. While the newly revealed speaker feature in the Wii remote was one of the more interesting revelations during the Nintendo press conference, the cacophony in the Nintendo booth made it difficult to tell if any sounds were actually coming out of it.
Before we had to part ways with the Twilight Princess demo, we also very quickly checked out the second half of the demo, which consisted of a fishing game. With Link sitting in the front of a canoe and a female guide riding in the back, we used the analog stick to paddle out into the middle of a sizable lake, then pressed a button to bring out our fishing pole. Holding the A button while raising the remote up and back, we then whipped it forward and released the A button simultaneously, which caused our line and lure to fly out into the water. The A button again was used to draw the line back in slowly, or if we didn't feel like waiting, we could press down on the D pad to reel it in quickly. We tossed the line out a few more times, and even though we didn't get any actual bites on the line, what we experienced with the fishing felt extremely natural and was a good pantomime of actually throwing out a fishing line.
Though we struggled through portions of it, we remain eager to get back and play more of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and explore more of the demo.