Combat focuses on enemies who will block both horizontally and vertically, meanwhile, which means that tackling even standard foes requires really quick responses as you work out the best way to strike, while fighting the demo's giant scorpion boss quickly turns into a frantic struggle as you slash at eyes concealed by snapping mandibles before lunging, at just the right moment, to stab a final concealed weak spot.
If the design team has made the battling a little more complex and thoughtful, it's also been refining the inventory-management system with a new radial wheel available on the B trigger, which means you won't have to duck into the pause menu to switch items in and out of play.
There's a good range of toys to mess with too, from returning favourites like bombs - which can now be rolled along the ground as well as flung, with a Gears-style arc indicator - and the slingshot, to new gadgets like a whip, that can fly out to collect rupees, slice grass, flatten bats and stun the larger enemies, and a kind of weird gun that fires off a little winged beetle. Once he's loose, you can then take control of the buzzing critter with the Remote, flying off into the sky to collect distant objects, or just get a better sense of your surroundings.
The world of The Skyward Sword is an interesting balance of realism and caricature - it has the grown-up Link and detailed Hyrule from Twilight Princess, but there's a subtle watercolour dappling on textures creating a look that is almost reminiscent of Street Fighter IV.
Distant forests settle into blurred washes, which is a much better solution than the alternating jagged edges and fuzzy horizons of the last Wii game, and the landscape is far more colourful than it was the last time around: bright greens, pinks and purples make up the environments, while there are clusters of huge bouncy toadstools all around for you to refine your sword skills on.
While the changes to the control scheme may not seem too significant, they really enhance the feel of the game, allowing you to mix up your approaches to problems as you switch in and out different gadgets, turning even the humblest of battles against a Moblin into an encounter that feels a little more significant than it normally might.
Such a focus on the basic mechanics, however, means it's impossible to get a sense of whether the wider game has had a similar recalibration in terms of structure and pacing. With its swing attacks, bombs, and slingshots, the tiny slice of The Skyward Sword shown today currently feels like a smart refinement - time will tell if it has enough to please those players who are after a touch of reinvention, too.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is due out for Wii in 2011.