Wii Motion Plus makes this a very different adventure.
As excellent as it was, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess never truly embraced Wii's technology, primarily because it was first developed as a GameCube game. In the years since Twilight's release, Nintendo perfected its motion-based controller, allowing for true 1:1 tracking and movement. Though there was a certainly thrill in shaking the Wii remote to cause Link to swing his sword, those actions were simply substitutes for button pressing. Using the IR sensor for shooting arrows aside, Wii's innovative ideas were lost on its Zelda launch title. It's only now, with the arrival of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, that we'll see a game in the franchise that fully realizes the true potential of motion gaming.
You know what's remarkable? You're not going to want to go back.
Skyward Sword's control scheme is simple and fairly intuitive. The remote itself is tied to Link's sword movement. Executing a horizontal swing or motioning to the right with your arm will cause Link to do the same. The game is able to detect any degree of input, including a jab or thrust of the remote. The A button allows for contextual input, 1 accesses a gear menu and 2 will bring up help prompts.
The nunchuk deals with your shield and camera. A quick push of the nunchuk will cause Link to pull out his shield for defense. The C button is used to bring up a first-person view while Z allows players to lock on to different objects and enemies.
The opening moments of Skyward Sword will teach you all of these concepts, even running you through a sort of "training dungeon" to make sure you have an understanding of the fundamentals. Most Zelda games have attempted this sort of acclimation in their early hours, and while we've seen some games handle it better than others, Skyward Sword certainly has one of the smoothest introductions I've seen. Fusing story, character and training with skillful balance, it's likely the first couple hours of the game will quickly pass by, even if you have a strong understanding of everything the game wants you to know.
Combat mechanics work very well, though it will take some time to adjust and understand how Skyward Sword wants to be played. Broad, sweeping motions with the Wii remote are not necessary to swing a sword. There's no reason to get tired while playing. I played for hours and had no issues.
Yet swinging precisely will take some work, as it's difficult to break away from a "waggle" mentality. If you're anything like me, when you see your first enemies you'll simply start swinging wildly, calling back dozens of hours of experience with Twilight Princess. However Skyward won't accept that type of unskilled action. Early enemies might go down easily, but before long you'll encounter creatures that take multiple hits. You'll be punished if you don't have patience.
That's exactly why you'll need to master all the game requires of you, too. It's not enough to swing vertically or horizontally anymore. You need to swing from the lower right to the upper left. You need to do a piercing thrust. You need to do a spin attack (done by moving the remote and nunchuk together either upwards or to the side). The game's ability to register very specific movements means the designers have created obstacles and foes that require the same.
Beyond swordplay, Skyward uses Wii's motion controls in different ways. Everything from menu navigation to aiming to balancing requires some degree of precision swinging or movement. What's actually a bit stunning is that Nintendo didn't bother to use the IR no matter what the situation. Surely aiming weapons or selecting items from a menu would have benefited from the precision of pointing directly at the television. Yet that's not what happens here. Instead you'll be pivoting your wrist and remote to find your way around. It can certainly be confusing at first, as your brain will no doubt default to wondering why pointing at the screen doesn't seem to be having an effect.
Some applications work better than others. Flying is a highlight as the concept of controlling a gliding bird, and shaking the remote up and down to gain altitude, feels natural. Tightrope walking is a little less than ideal. For whatever reason I couldn't quite get the remote to respond properly, throwing Link's balance off greatly. I should also mention that I was forced to re-calibrate my controller several times, which is done by placing the Wii remote upside down on a table and waiting for a few seconds.
Yet you will acclimate to this Zelda's new way of doing things. Skyward Sword's controls aren't always the most logical, but they fit the larger concept of the game, and together they complement each other very well. Moving completely to a Wii Motion Plus-centric design was certainly a risky move for the Zelda team, but so far it's implemented so well that it was a risk worth taking. In many respects, I never want to play a game from this franchise with any other method of input. After some practice, I'd be surprised if you didn't agree.