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.