Link vs. Bat, round 1.
It took me hours of standing in line, but I finally got to have my hand at the Wii version of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
I was treated to an immediate visual wonderland at the start of the demo, which put Link standing on some kind of pier. Animation was very smooth and detail was quite incredible. Twilight Princess, at this stage, appears to be one of the most attractive-looking Nintendo games of all time. There were very few storyline details present in the demo version that was running.
Controls will be the most daunting part of this game, especially for those that are inexperienced with the Wii's motion-sensing controller. You know that game where you're supposed to try to rub your stomach while simultaneously patting your head? That's what the controls initially felt like to me, though the more I played, the more I became accustomed to them. Attacking enemies at close range was easy enough; a simple press of the B button (the remote's trigger button) will cause Link to slash his sword, and repeated presses will cause him to unleash powerful combination attacks, and the targeting system was present, exactly like in previous games; this essential feature can be implemented by holding the Z button (the nunchaku's trigger button). The targeting system felt really solid and natural, and it should feel that way to anyone who is familiar with it from previous games in the series. Link could be moved around using the nunchaku's control stick. After picking up crates, he could throw them by means of a vigorous shake of the nunchaku, though the response time seemed to be a little unnatural, making the feature feel slightly gimmicky instead. The A button helped Link dodge attacks; while targeting a foe, pressing this allowed him to perform a backward leap. Finally, different items were mapped to different directions of the D-pad for use at any time. Surely, in the actual game, these will be able to be changed, but in the demo, I had available to me a bow and arrow, a boomerang, and a pair of heavy iron boots, all of which were essential to complete the simple puzzles I encountered throughout.
The bow and arrow could be used by holding down the button it was mapped to, targeting carefully using the remote, and then letting it fire. The bow control for me was wackily sensitive, as I barely had to change the direction I was pointing at all in order for the targeting cursor to fly across the screen. After several uses, however, it gradually became more intuitive to play, and by the end of the demo, I was at least fairly used to it. It would be very nice if a sensitivity adjustment option were to be included in the release version of this game, though. The boomerang was interesting and fun to use. By holding down the button it was mapped to, I could select multiple targets using the remote and the B button. Upon letting go of the boomerang button, it would fly forward to hit all targeted points in sequence. Iron boots were less complicated; by pressing their button, they are instantaneously equipped, and while movement is slowed significantly, it was possible to walk upside down on magnetized ceilings in order to travel to new places in the demo dungeon.
Wolf with a robo claw.
At the end, I fought an enormous, fiery demon-like boss character that illustrated exactly how creative the game developers have been aiming to be. He was very challenging. To defeat him, I had to hit him on the top of his head with the bow and arrows, and then run behind him while he was storming about in order to grab onto one of many tentacle-like appendages trailing behind him. By quickly equipping the Iron Boots, I was prevented from getting dragged along with them, and by pulling the remote backwards, the boss quickly fell on his face. This element of the motion sensor felt very "good;" the rumble elements really help to make the experience feel more natural than one might expect. After tripping the monster, I could cause some real pain by running up to his face and performing a multiple-hit sword combination, before he got up and I had to repeat the sequence. Overall, this boss was quite creatively imagined, and finished the demo off on a high note.
In the end, Nintendo Wii's The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess should be a very exciting game for RPG and adventure players. While the complex controls will take some getting used to, the experience does look extremely promising, and it is evident that a lot of work has gone into the title. Look for it on the launch day of the Wii sometime late this year!