Posted on July 14 2013 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
Eiji Aonuma has been on the Zelda team since Ocarina of Time. He’s practically been running the show since Majora’s Mask, even though he is given a bit too much credit for that particular game (it actually wasn’t his idea, but that’s a topic for another time). The point is, he has overseen most of the Zelda series as we know it to date. With Miyamoto stepping away as lead after Ocarina of Time, Eiji Aonuma has been “the man” for the series for eleven, soon to be twelve, games in the series. Even the Capcom Zeldas had to get Eiji Aonuma’s final approval before they could be released. He helped oversee them, while not directly developing them himself. I say all this, because now Eiji Aonuma is tired of the formula he helped maintain and establish:
“It’s not that anyone is telling me we have to change the formula. I want to change it. I’m kind of getting tired of it. If I’m getting tired of it, then I’m sure other people are getting tired of it. There is an essential ‘Zelda’ I feel we need to stay true to. We are still testing things, exploring our options. We haven’t landed anywhere at this point. We’re still seeing what we can do.”
Previously he told us that Zelda U would focus on non-linearity, specifically in dungeon design. I can understand where he is coming from as a long time series veteran. While there are many newer fans in the last 6 or so years that haven’t reached that saturation point, it is true that many long time fans have grown weary of the same tired formula rinse and repeated in every single game. In this sense, I think many of us can sympathize. However, it’s also true that many people are afraid of change, specifically the type of change Eiji Aonuma may want to bring to the series.
You see, Eiji Aonuma is the type of gamer who couldn’t complete the first game in the series, stating the combat was simply too difficult. This, among other things, has led to much of the “easy” combat we have had lately in the series. This will worry some folks, because the type of changes he may seek could be too far gone from the formula itself, and potentially may fundamentally change what the Zelda series is all about. At the same time, as they say, things must change and adapt or face extinction. Such is true with human beings in how our bodies adapted over time, and the same is true of long standing franchises. Call of Duty went from a World War II shooter to a modern shooter… to a futuristic shooter. Mario went from 2D platformer to 3D platformer… to eventually outer space and gravity defying mechanics. All of this coupled with spin off games like Mario Kart. After Zelda hopped to 3D, it has stayed largely the same in how it goes about things.
I welcome change with open arms. I just hope Eiji Aonuma’s vision lines up perfectly with what we, as of yet, don’t know that we want. Giving us what we want hasn’t always worked out, but surprising us with things we didn’t realize we wanted always seems to work out best.