E3 2013: Eiji Aonuma on Zelda Wii U Development

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

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Eiji Aonuma is probably only second to Miyamoto at Nintendo, as far as game design is concerned, as the head of pretty much every Legend of Zelda game since Ocarina of Time. He also recently sat down with Engadget, and some of what he had to say was very interesting.

E3 2013 Nintendo Direct The Legend of Zelda - The Wind Waker HD 2013-06-11 07_22_26

One of the bigger revelations explains why The Wind Waker HD exists, rather than an entirely new Zelda. Instead, he’s using it as a training tool to better understand the Wii U hardware, and HD development. Interestingly, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword were both considered for HD upscales, but neither of them had the same dramatic effect as the Wind Waker‘s cell shaded style. Essentially, the port is a crash course for him and his team on how to develop an HD Zelda for Wii U, without the risks of a new game. This seems to indicate that future HD ports are unlikely.

He also commented on “franchise fatigue” and why it’s very hard to change Zelda, commenting that “with regard to… breaking the mold or changing the formula, I certainly hear the thoughts of fans. The impressions of fans that maybe it’s getting a bit stale… [but] if we change it too much, I’m also concerned people will say, ‘Okay, is it no longer Zelda if we don’t have this formula?’” It’s a pretty interesting question, although his final comments in the interview may be the most interesting: “The concept of the item will be completely different than what you’ve experienced before” he said, referring to upcoming games in the Zelda series. It’s a very cryptic hyperbolic remark, but the possibilities are very striking. Is there going to be more choice as to what’s needed for items? More ways to use each of them? Are they going to be rarer, or somehow more endearing to the player? We may not know until Zelda Wii U is announced, but it’s certainly food for thought.

In another interview at Eurogamer, Aonuma deflected speculation that the Wind Waker HD would add in the fabled “missing dungeons” (one of which would have taken place after the Forbidden Woods) by saying that the cut dungeons were “used in other games”. He says that the majority of the games revisions have focused on the games pacing, particularly with regard to sailing and the time between different dungeons. However he says he wants to be true to the original.

If you want to read the full interview, and you probably should, you can find it here. Our very own Jonathan Higgins got his hands on Wind Waker HD, and you can read his thoughts here.

About Daniel Gulyas

Daniel is a third year business student from Texas who got his start in JRPGs with Final Fantasy 8 and has loved them ever since. His three biggest passions are video games, technology and baseball, with anime being a growing fourth. He occasionally Let's Plays on the side as a hobby.




  • Nicholas Perry

    “‘Okay, is it no longer Zelda if we don’t have this formula?’”

    Hence is the problem with fans of any kind. People complain when it’s too samey. Too different. Even when the series is built on being somewhat formulaic.

    Finding that middle ground is very difficult. You’ll unfortunately never please everyone.

    • Indeed. Even for a series known for reinventing itself like Final Fantasy, there is a huge clash between purists that loved the originals and those that love the new ones. Even more amazing is how little backlash there was at Mario and Zelda initially transitioning to 3D; it really speaks to the quality of Ocarina and Super Mario 64.

    • tyrants rave

      I think back then it was the culture of games too, 3D was “the future the way and the light”. Nobody would ever say “lets keep it 2d” at the spark of one of gamings biggest transitions. Don’t forget, today and tommorrows gens dont really transition into anything to that degree. I feel old saying this, but until there is virtual reality or something, gaming will be looked upon with enormous skepticism and comparison. Back in the N64 days, we werent nearly as critics as we are today, and that also in my opinion, is why gaming was great, and developers had more freedoms. We were given dirt and saw gold, now we are just over pampered.

    • Herding_sheep

      Which is why I’m the type of person who thinks that a creator should do what THEY want to do. Don’t start letting fans rule your creative process. Tune out all that noise and think about what YOU really want to create, not what you think fans want you to create. People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. Thats true with every kind of product. Mario 64 was so innovative because Nintendo stumbled onto a problem before others had even realized a problem existed, the problem of free range motion and the concept of a user-controlled camera. They solved it with an analog thumbstick and camera buttons. Which opened up the floodgates of creativity. That problem solving was driven by their own desire for creation, not a desire to listen to fans, who at the time had no idea how 3D game design should work and wouldn’t even begin to know what things to ask for.

      You can’t relive the same experience twice. Fans want an Ocarina of Time moment again. The only way they’ll get that, is not by making a better Ocarina of Time, but by making something as fresh and bold as Ocarina of Time thats completely different. However, fans think they’ll get that moment again by getting a better Ocarina of Time. Which is why you can’t let fans rule your creativity. The majority of fans are incredibly unimaginative.

  • James Best

    The cut dungeons aren’t in there? NOOOOOOOOO!

    • Zimmer Remmiz

      They are in other games, it wouldn’t make sense to put them back in Wind Waker…