Aonuma Gives More Skyward Sword Story Details

An interview with Aonuma from around E3 was just published in this week’s Famitsu Magazine. In it, he confirms a lot of things that we have suspected and mentions some new things for us to think about. The people of Skyloft will be an important part of the story, and some more of Link and Zelda’s life in the clouds is revealed. Aonuma equates this to the NPCs of Majora’s Mask, which is good news for those of us who loved how the NPC interaction in that game added to the story.

Aonuma addresses other interesting questions such as whether Ganon will show up, what the significance of Link’s bird is, and other small spoilers inside.

-Zelda is not a princess.

She’s not a princess this time, which is something I’ll pretty much have to put forth right now in order to talk about this title. She’s a childhood friend, but she goes away in the midst of the game and it’s Link’s job to search for her.

This is evident from her innocent demeanor in the E3 flying demo and no effort to make her seem more important than any of the adults. However, Lord Ghirahim does mention her “holiness,” meaning there’s probably more to her than the people of Skyloft know.

-The birdriders are part of a boarding school and the townspeople are intertwined with the story.

This game’s plot is something like a school drama, you could say. The flying sequence at the E3 demo is Link competing against his classmates. One of them looks kind of a like a bad guy, as you saw, and he shows up in other ways in the game too, since he has a major thing for Zelda.

The game starts in Skyloft, this city that’s floating in the air, and you’ll come back to this town multiple times. Things are always proceeding along in town, and in that respect it’s very much like Majora’s Mask. Like with Majora, there are a lot of game events involving the townspeople that get intertwined with the main story. Link, Zelda and their other friends all go to the same boarding school, and you’ve got teachers and a principal as well. It’s a bit of a different setting from previous Zeldas.

Majora’s Mask receives a lot of praise for the effect of its characters on deepening its story, and now it seems that Skyward Sword may share in this praise. This story will still be unique though, being the first Zelda game to use a school as a way to connect the characters. So far, Miss Marie in The Wind Waker has been the only teacher depicted in a Zelda game in a school environment, playing a minor role connected with the Killer Bees. (update: I forgot about the school in The Minish Cap! Still, these schools have never been important for Link.) Now, this structure has been expanded and placed at the forefront of Link’s experience in Skyloft. My guess is that the old man speculated to be Rauru or Kaepora Gaebora is the principal that Aonuma mentions, and the person giving instructions for the birdriding competition is one of the teachers.

One example he provides of a character who is more involved with the story is the ‘class bully,’ who tries to cheat in order to win the competition and receive Zelda’s gift. With Skyloft acting as a hub world, you won’t just beat him and forget about him like you could in previous titles. He seems like a bad guy, so will he show up to hinder Link’s quest? If he has a thing for Zelda, I think he would be more interested in saving her before Link does so he will get the glory and Zelda’s thanks. This is a similar role to Ralph from Oracle of Ages, trying to protect Nayru without your help.

-A lot of neat new items appear early on in the game.

With previous Zeldas, the common pattern was that the really neat items wouldn’t show up until later on in the game. You need to have the basic item set or it wouldn’t be Zelda, so the new items tended to get shunted to the latter part of the game. [Shigeru] Miyamoto said that had to change, like ‘This is neat, let’s bring it out from the start.’ So a lot of neat new items will show up pretty early on.

No doubt the Beetle is one of these neat new items. It’s a great showcase of Wii Motion Plus control and has many different uses and upgrades. Aonuma suggests that there will be more items like this that we can use early on. I think that will help Skyward Sword stand out as a unique adventure, with new items to use throughout the game rather than the classic boomerang and bombs. This also means that some of the unoriginal items may be pushed to later in the game. Having to wait a lot longer for the bow gives the slingshot more importance than just a temporary weak substitute.

-Skyloft is the entire ‘world’ in this game.

Yes, it’s only the people in Skyloft. Nobody on there thinks anything of it, though, because living in Skyloft and flying around on birds is normal to them. They don’t have any awareness of there being a mainland beneath the clouds and so forth — that gets expanded upon once Zelda goes missing, and you get access to the areas under the clouds.

Here Aonuma responds to the question “Is Skyloft the entire ‘world’ in this game?” The question itself seems rather strange, but Aonuma just repeats what we already know of the people’s ignorance of the land below.

-Each person has his own bird, and Link’s is special.

It’s the custom for each person to have one bird. Link has a red one, and it’s actually a special and very rare breed of bird — which is something that makes him get picked on, like ‘Why do you get this fancy bird and we don’t?!’ But it turns out that you need that red bird in order to access the mainland. So the hand of fate gets involved here, like it always does in Zelda games sooner or later.

What could be so special about the red bird that only it could allow Link to travel to the land below? It looks just like Zelda’s blue one to me. Yet its importance is reflected in the red bird symbol of the Hylian Royal Crest, displayed on Link’s Hylian Shield. Maybe it has some connection with the bird statues on the surface which are said to enable Link to warp back to Skyloft. Maybe the fact that it is important could make it a symbol of some sort to prove something.

-Lord Ghirahim will require you to change your strategy, and his character will change throughout the game.

The demo shows when you first meet him, and plainly he’s looking down at Link, stopping his sword with his fingers and so forth. In terms of story image he’s kind of like Dark Link [from Ocarina of Time]; he sees right through Link’s moves in battle. You can sort of swing your sword wildly and still hold your own against a lot of foes, but there’s no way you can beat Ghiraham like that. You need to keep your distance and watch his moves, and it’s something you’ll need to change your strategy for. I think he’s a pretty good change of pace as bosses go, and he’ll change gradually throughout the game.

I love the character of Lord Ghirahim. I think he’s a much stronger villain character-wise than previous ones like Zant. Even more, the idea that he exhibits character development is important to me. While Zant was all tough and mysterious until the end, Ghriahim’s development is bound to be much more interesting, constantly changing throughout the game. Even as a boss character, the gameplay of battling him will be very enjoyable, watching him use more and more power as you battle him many different times, in many different ways, requiring a different strategy each time.

-Ganondorf’s presence in Ocarina of Time will be touched on, but he may not be in Skyward Sword.

This game talks about the birth of the Master Sword, and it touches on why Ganondorf showed up. If you play it, I think you’ll get some understanding on that. It connects to Ocarina, so if you play Ocarina of Time 3D and move on to this game, I think you’ll catch on to a lot of things.

Since E3, it’s become very evident that Skyward Sword will be deeply entwined with the events leading up to Ocarina of Time. At the forefront is the creation of the Master Sword, and things like the birth of the Royal Family, the Sages, the Temple of Time, and perhaps even the pre-Twili interlopers could be integrated into Skyward Sword’s story. Ganondorf is another one of these elements that has some mystery in exactly how he came to be deceiving the king in Ocarina of Time.

There has always been debate about whether or not the description of Ganondorf’s childhood in Four Swords Adventures could be referring to the same Ganondorf as in Ocarina of Time.

But this child, its heart
grew twisted with every
passing year.

The child became a man
who hungered for power
at any price.

We’ve also seen a more compassionate side of Ganondorf in The Wind Waker.

My country lay within a vast desert.

When the sun rose into the sky, a burning
wind punished my lands, searing the world.
And when the moon climbed into the dark
of night, a frigid gale pierced our homes.
No matter when it came, the wind carried
the same thing… Death.

But the winds that blew across the green
fields of Hyrule brought something other
than suffering and ruin.

I coveted that wind, I suppose.

Will we see more of Ganondorf’s motivations? Skyward Sword probably takes place too long before Ocarina to actually see Ganondorf himself, so maybe we’ll only see some of the external things that would come to affect him in the future. Ganondorf’s surrogate mothers Koume and Kotake are quite old in Ocarina of Time, so they may make an appearance.

-The game is complete and is in the localization stage.

The whole game is complete, and we’re fine-tuning the balance right now. We were going to have it wholly done by around E3, but there’s so much volume to it, neither I nor Miyamoto have gotten to fully play out every aspect. The non-English localizations are proceeding along now, and we’re trying to make this a simultaneous worldwide release. You have to put Zelda all out at once or else the story’s going to get spoiled — although, really, there’s a ton to enjoy here even if you know a little about the story beforehand.

The non-English localizations are in progress, and we’ve already seen some of the English localization, so it’s safe to say that it’s pretty much done. We’re just waiting for some balance adjustments and an opportunity for simultaneous global release.

Source: Famitsu, via Zelda Informer