High fantasy action-adventure series The Legend of Zelda, by game designer superstars Shigeru Miyamoto and Takeshi Tezuka, has been a living room and Nintendo console staple for over 25 years. To date, over 67.9 million copies of the original The Legend of Zelda for NES have been sold, making it the fourth best-selling NES game of all time.
But Miyamoto and Tezuka didn’t do it alone. Producer Eiji Aonuma has been involved with The Legend of Zelda for over fifteen years. Recently, Aonuma produced The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD remake for the Wii U, as well as The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for 3DS, slated for release on November 22.
While he was in America for New York Comic Con, Mashable sat down with Aonuma to hear about these new games and to discuss his influence on the franchise overall. During the talk, he teased that more information on Wii U’s HD The Legend of Zelda will be revealed next summer at E3 2014.
Can you tell us anything about the Wii U Zelda game?
I’ll say more at E3 2014.
What do we know so far?
Back at E3 2011, an HD prototype on the Wii U delighted Zelda fans everywhere, but a full game has never actually been revealed. Like the Final Fantasy VII and VIII tech demos of years past, it was received with glee, but anticipation has died down somewhat in the intervening years thanks to the release (and re-release) of other titles in the franchise.
At E3 2012, Miyamoto confirmed that the game was still in the research and development stage, and addressed the schism between gamers who want sweeping in-depth storylines and traditional gameplay and those who are looking for a more casual experience.
“One thing that’s interesting is we’re seeing how the way that tastes are broadening in video games, and you have some people who prefer more casual experiences, and you have some people who prefer sort of those more in-depth experiences. Obviously, as a company that’s been making games for a very long time, we tend to be more on the deeper, longer game side of things. But really what we continue to ask ourselves as we have over the years is, ‘What is the most important element of Zelda if we were to try to make a Zelda game that a lot of people can play?’
“So we have a number of different experiments going on, and [when] we decide that we’ve found the right one of those to really help bring Zelda to a very big audience, then we’ll be happy to announce it.”
Earlier this January, Aonuma spoke more about the project in a Nintendo Direct about the scope and ambition of this new project although he declined to do a full unveiling of the Wii U The Legend of Zelda. In essence, Nintendo has been “rethinking the conventions of Zelda.” Traditional staples of Zelda gameplay like dungeons needing to be completed in order, and single-player only adventuring will be set aside as the Nintendo team focuses on “returning to basics” in order to create a reborn Zelda.
Aonuma was a little chattier on the subject in January, because he also discussed Nintendo’s new visual approach for the game, which appears to be completely different to the HD demo shown in 2011.
A little later in June, Aonuma spoke with Nintendo Life, announcing that Nintendo is interested in exploring the use of DLC for future installments of the Zelda franchise:
“We’re certainly looking at different ways to add on content that would enhance the experience for the user – maybe more places to explore or just to enrich the experience beyond what is on the disc.
“… we also have to take into consideration that if we charge for this content then it needs to be worth it for the user. … So it’s certainly a balancing an act, but I can’t say that it is something we’re not considering.”
So what now?
Longtime Zelda fans may be a little dubious of the changes being wrought to their beloved franchise. After all, the dreaded DLC question still hangs heavy over any franchise that has insisted on nickel-and-diming the player over everything from early skill unlocks to costume changes. Will Zelda fall to such tasteless money-grubbing strategies? Will we see a Four Swords requirement for 4-player Nintendo GameBoy Advance in order for some parts of it to be even playable?
The use of non-linear gameplay will not be unique to the Wii U The Legend of Zelda HD; it has already been implemented in the upcoming 3DS title, A Link Between Worlds. After November 22, we’ll have a better idea of what kind of effect breaking the linear requirements will have on creating an in-depth environment and cohesive storyline. Similar things could be done in Majora’s Mask after each temple has been explored the first time, but at that point, there was no new story being revealed in the subsequent runs; they were a functional means to an end.
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Hopefully the E3 2014 announcement will include a trailer and a glimpse at the style of the reborn, restyled Zelda.