We finally reach the end of our translation of a very interesting interview by 4Gamer of the one and only Eiji Aonuma. We've talked about so much, with parts 1 and 2 focusing in on The Wind Waker HD and A Link Between Worlds, we finally get to sit down and chat about the future of the series. We learn just a bit about Zelda U and that possibly remakes are going to be put on hold for awhile. Maybe. Per usual, nothing is set in stone.
4Gamer: Wind Waker HD and the Ocarina of Time 3D were both remakes, do you have plans on having other remakes?
Eiji Aonuma: We have talked about that from the get-go, but we need to see how well Wind Waker HD does in order to set up our next title. Remakes are popular now, but we don't know whether or not we will keep doing them from this point forward.
With Ocarina of Time 3D, we wanted a world which could expand using the feel of the 3D effect, that's why we chose Ocarina of Time. So, it wasn't just a regular revival, it was more of a rebirth in that case. We don't know how many years it will be until the next remake, nor do we know what sort of hardware there will be. Perhaps, when there is a new piece of technology, we would look at existing Zelda games and decide if we would like to remake one of them.
4Gamer: It's necessary to have new titles right?
Eiji Aonuma: Exactly! A Link Between Worlds was also in development and is on the verge of being released.
4Gamer: How is that coming along?
Eiji Aonuma: Well the overseas version won't be available until the end of November. It's a shame it didn't come out in time for the Summer (laughs). But that may be a good thing.
4Gamer: The portion we played at E3 was pretty interesting.
Eiji Aonuma: Players tend to think that it's easy to make a sequel to a game like Link to the Past, the appearance alone encourages that thought. Even though it looks like a sequel, the content will not leave you unsatisfied, please stay tuned.
4Gamer: This is the first time that the series has a direct sequel like this. Why did you choose that title?
Eiji Aonuma: At first, we had a different title in mind, but the world ended up being exactly the same as the one in Link to the Past. In a 3D world, set in a different time, with different characters, it would be silly to not call it Triforce of the Goddesses 2. We had considered adding a subtitle to Triforce of the Goddesses 2, but decided against it (laughs).
4Gamer: Then it would be the subtitle of a subtitle (laughs).
Eiji Aonuma: We also didn't want to interfere too much with the main title "The Legend of Zelda." After much debate, we decided on the name we have now.
4Gamer: We are all looking forward to it.
Eiji Aonuma: I think it will be fun to play this after playing through Wind Waker HD.
4Gamer: How is the new Wii U title coming along?
Eiji Aonuma: Of course it's moving along. We also have to reflect on what we did with Wind Waker for our next title. Since Wind Waker HD was a remake, there were limits to what we could do with the Wii U GamePad, but for a new title, we can utilize it to the fullest.
4Gamer: So people who have played Wind Waker HD can expect some of those elements to carry over onto the next game.
Eiji Aonuma: I believe so. For example, on the Wii U GamePad, you have a map display on the screen. This map isn't just for the sea, it's also for other locations as well. We will reflect on these sort of things for a new game.
4Gamer: By the way Mr. Aonuma, what is your favorite game in the Legend of Zelda series so far?
Eiji Aonuma: People always ask me that one, I always say the one I am making now is my favorite. When I'm making a game, I think it about everyday from the moment I wake up, until I go to sleep at night. So right now it's A Link Between Two Worlds (Triforce of the Goddesses 2).
At this moment, there are still some portions I am working on. The fun part as a Producer is to see which portions fit in neatly, and which ones will be rejected by Miyamoto. Because I work so closely with my staff, there are still various things that go over my head (laughs).
4Gamer: So you are involved with the development more intimately.
Eiji Aonuma: Yes. With Link Between Worlds, the concept of entering the walls and presenting the 3D side view was something that was decided on by the producer and myself from the beginning. Having the top view and the side view is like viewing something in stereo, the terrain itself becomes a puzzle you have to solve.
Miyamoto was always saying "The gameplay should be based on Link to the Past." On the DS I was a little nervous about having a Zelda game operating with the touch pen. We were able to make a new game by making the the contents of the game a little different as if we were directors, we had to decide on the "core of the gameplay" and I was able to realize this as producer of those games. I feel pretty good about handheld games as a result.
4Gamer: What about consoles?
Eiji Aonuma: It's been quite rough! (laughs) You you have to do far more work than the handhelds, creating a sense of feeling lost and lots of stress every day.
4Gamer: How was it like with Wind Waker?
Eiji Aonuma: At that time, Ocarina of Time had come out, so we had to decide how we were going to change the world. Because I was young, the ambitious side of me was working. I had a plan to use the sea and have the word be that of a toon world. That's why when you consider Wind Waker, you wonder if he did his job well... right?
4Gamer: How has the response to the HD version been so far?
Eiji Aonuma: I said to myself, am I really going to make an HD version? (laugh). With Wind Waker, there are those who have said "I don't like cat-eyed Link" or "You're going to remake that one?" I had no reply for those who felt that way, I was already set on making it. I know that the next new title would be a plus, but I didn't want to lose sight at that moment. So when I peeked out, I got lots of good responses and realized that the times have changed.
4Gamer: What a deep story. By the way there is something I'd like to talk to you about.
Eiji Aonuma: What in particular?
4Gamer: A little while ago, in an overseas interview, it was said "Mr Aonuma is tired of making Zelda" all over the internet.
Eiji Aonuma: What? Really!?
4Gamer: Ah, so you didn't know. In short what you had said was "I have been feeling tired, others have said so as well. That's why I would like a new change to occur." That was misunderstood and relayed as "Mr Aonuma is tired of making Zelda."
Eiji Aonuma: I see (laughs). I did say I was tired but not of making Zelda. The components of Zelda have become a little obvious though. Recently, I have been keeping things traditional, but I wondered why must I feel compelled to keep things traditional? That's why in A Link Between Worlds we decided to take a different approach than we did previously. We intend on having more drastic changes with the next Zelda title. We also have to ask ourselves, what exactly is The Legend of Zelda?
4Gamer: I understand
Eiji Aonuma: Mr. Miyamoto and I discuss this from time to time for example "Must Princess Zelda be in every game?" and of course it wouldn't be good to leave her out since she is one of the main characters. Bearing that in mind, you have to come up with ways to have "A unique experience." We have to decide on what we can include in order to make each experience in the Zelda series as if you were "Experiencing it for the first time."
4Gamer: I understand.
Eiji Aonuma: Additionally, you can have a sense of the games being copies of the previous titles, and if we do this the games will begin to lack uniqueness. That's why coming up with unique ideas to go along with set concepts is very important.
That's why I'm never bored (laughs). Instead, I'm making more and more changes that keeps me burning, and thinking "Huh, is this still Zelda?" and then realizing after playing it "Yes this is still Zelda." It's not particularly about whether or not Link and Princess Zelda appear. It's the feeling that it's ok to leave out Zelda.
4Gamer: In this vein, you can expect to see Princess Zelda in games after Wind Waker.
Eiji Aonuma: We have done various things. I have put things in the games that give you a feeling that you are having a new experience. It wouldn't be interesting to just do that with storytelling. If you can't feel the story there is no point.
When new characters appear I am always aiming for players to be hooked and to have their own feelings as to to the events that are occurring.
4Gamer: People continue to play the series, so I feel like that is true. I am always amazed by the design and planning.
Eiji Aonuma: Thank you very much. In short, I'd like to be a sort of craftsman.
4Gamer: A craftsman?
Eiji Aonuma: A craftsman works in various fields for a long time. It's not about whether or not they remain traditional, it's how they change to maintain popularity in the present. The field of craftsmanship remains relevant today, that's because craftsmen know how to be imaginative and make products that are relevant today. If they just did the same thing, they would become obsolete.
I'd like for Zelda to be the same way. I hope to become a living national treasure someday (laughs).
Eiji Aonuma: I'm just joking, but I think Zelda can truly become that. On the other hand there are many things that are not set in stone. The Master Sword and and the Triforce are set items for some of the games, but not for others, so there are always new things that can be done.
That has been reflected well, like how in battles with Ganondorf, reflecting his beams of light is similar to playing tennis (laughs). Having that sort of thing in a deadly serious battle is ok in Zelda games. By accepting many things into Zelda, we broaden the world rather than narrowing it down.
4Gamer: That's why even though Link and Princess Zelda are always there, the words are always completely different. Until Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, Link was always left handed, priority was given to making that game easier to play for most players.
Eiji Aonuma: From the perspective of others, we may be obsessed with details, but in reality we aren't really like that. For this title, we want to improve this and that, but just because it's a series doesn't mean we are forced to do so. That's why our fans psychology can be funny at times. They look for deeper meanings in things.
4Gamer: Things like "Will the next Link be left-handed?" and such?
Eiji Aonuma: Also "How does it fit into the timeline?" and so on. But we want some flexibility outside of that setting. But since this is a series, we tied ourselves to certain things.
4Gamer: Fans want consistency no matter what the genre is.
Eiji Aonuma: I'm thankful for having fans that will go that far. I even want to make games for the people who say "This wasn't the Zelda I was expecting."
4Gamer: I have played and look back on the various Zelda and have some feelings. Even though they are different products when you play them, you have that feeling that "Yes, this is a Zelda."
Eiji Aonuma: It really makes me happy to hear that.
4Gamer: In light of that, I wonder how Wind Waker, A Link Between Worlds, and future Zelda titles will turn out. But I know I don't have to worry since you are involved.
Eiji Aonuma: I never cut corners!
4Gamer: While making new products, you can entrust remakes to younger hands... seems like something mysterious right?
Eiji Aonuma: Mr. Miyamoto is here, so I will always be the younger producer, he is always the pitcher.
4Gamer: Is that so? (laughs). I'm just relieved that I was able to confirm that you are not tired of Zelda.
Eiji Aonuma: Right, I'm not tired at all, so you can rest easy.
4Gamer: Thank you so much for today.