It looks like the desert zone of Skyward Sword involves both Wind Waker-style sailing and Ocarina of Time/Majora's Mask-style time travel. Link will have to sail the desert seas in a little ship (complete with canon) in order to fully explore this vast area.
In the desert dungeon, Link will have the ability to travel between the past and the present. Long destroyed or deactivated elevators, robots, and other mechanical devices will become fully functioning in the past. How you manipulate and interact with these functioning objects will effect how they will turn out in the present. The jump between past and present is activated by hitting "time stones" that are strewn about the dungeon. Perhaps most importantly, those robots I mentioned look awesome, like a cross between Wall-E and Wolverine.
Just more evidence that if you ever loved a Legend of Zelda game, you owe it to yourself to play Skyward Sword.
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