Link Falling through the Sky

ONM: Is the range of weapons more diverse?

EA: Of course some of the old items are back – things like the slingshot – but I really think that people will play this with MotionPlus and the items will almost feel new because of the technology. But of course if you look on the weapons menu you will see a couple of question marks – those are new items that aren’t available [in old Zelda games].

So every question mark on the item screen in the demo is a new, never before seen item? This just excites me even more. Given the wide range of items we have had in the Zelda series, having so many new items is really a big plus in my book. Of course, this isn’t all he had to say about Skyward Sword, and of course we haven’t even dipped into the bits on Ocarina of Time 3DS. Prepare yourself for a big wall of quote text.

ONM: What’s the significance of the game’s title and how does it relate to the piece of artwork that was released at E3 in 2009?

Eiji Aonuma: Did you happen to watch the trailer? That last scene where Link dives off the big cliff and goes flying through the clouds is a key hint as to the connection between the game and the Skyward Sword title.

Link lives on Skyloft, a series of floating islands that are above the clouds. He’s a normal kid living up on these islands above the clouds, but then an incident occurs and Link is forced to travel to the land beneath the clouds. This other world below the clouds has been captured and is being ruled by evil forces. So he has to go down there and start his adventure. The juxtapositon between the two worlds is very important.

What leads Link on this adventure is the Skyward Sword and when that Sword is actively guiding Link, it actually transforms into a feminine figure. I wouldn’t say that it’s female per se but it’s a feminine figure.

ONM: So that’s Zelda, right?

EA: It would be nice to keep this a mystery but I can tell you right now that it is not Zelda.

ONM: Why have you changed the art style?

EA: The graphical style is the result of a collaboration between myself and Mr Miyamoto. We are both interested in art and it is a style that we like – we are very pleased with what we’ve done this time. One of the reasons we’ve chosen the art style we have is that we wanted to showcase the exaggerated characteristics of some of the characters, not only of the enemies, but the representation of the sword spirit itself.

Swordfighting is an important part of the gameplay, and Link is carrying the weapon and the shield. Because of the way we have put everything together you have to focus on how the enemy is carrying the weapons and there are a couple of different ways you can go about that – you can be super-realistic or not so realistic. We thought that because we wanted to highlight the swordfighting, we had to exaggerate the features and the art style we chose was suited to doing that. You have to match the art style to how the game plays, and we thought this worked better.

ONM: Is this a major reboot for the series then?

EA: It’s hard to introduce major changes to the Zelda gameplay, and one of the reasons for this is that we have some traditional elements that we have protected and continued throughout the series. You have a field, you have dungeons and there is a distinction between which area you are in and which style of gameplay you are participating in. So what we’ve tried to do is to introduce some new elements – this time we have larger fields and there are dungeons that don’t really feel like dungeons but will incorporate some of those elements. So we are reimagining some of the traditional gameplay elements.

ONM: Where does Skyward Sword stand within the Zelda timeline?

EA: There is a master timeline but it is a confidential document! The only people to have access to that document are myself, Mr. Miyamoto and the director of the title. We can’t share it with anyone else!

However, I have already talked to Mr Miyamoto about this so I am comfortable in releasing this information – this title takes place before Ocarina Of Time. If I said that a certain title was ‘the first Zelda’, then that means that we can’t make a title that takes place before that! So for us to be able to add titles to the series, we have to have a way of putting the titles before or after each other.

ONM: Will there be any famous Zelda characters in the game?

EA: I believe there might be! We really haven’t decided whether certain characters will re-appear or not appear. One of the things we talked about with our staff is how a character could be used in this game or would it be fun to tie in a connection that the fans would be appreciative of? I am pretty much letting the team decide how and when we implement that sort of thing.

ONM: Has MotionPlus made it possible to create the Zelda game you’ve always wanted to make?

EA: Yes, when I first saw the Wii Remote that was one of the first things we thought about too. When Wii MotionPlus came along, and we saw how it was implemented in Wii Sports Resort’s swordplay game, we saw what we could now do in Zelda. Mr Miyamoto had thought the same thing – we then decided that we could do this in a Zelda game.

ONM: Is it a lot of fun coming up with new and different uses for M?

EA: Once we found that we could move the sword around as freely as we wanted, then we were like, ‘wow’! Through working with the sword we saw what MotionPlus could add to the game. Through that experience, ideas were born to implement the technology in other ways. So we were able to think of new ideas and items, and this time we really do have really new and unique ideas using the MotionPlus technology. I really hope you look forward to seeing how we have used it.

ONM: Will there be any vehicles in the game?

EA: Link does have to travel between Skyloft and the world below, so there will be a means of conveyance for him, but we don’t want to reveal that at this time.

ONM: Moving onto 3DS, can you tell us more about the new Ocarina Of Time game?

EA: I am excited. We are at the planning stages at the moment. I don’t want to give away too much right now, but I am looking forward to showing everyone what we have.

The 3D technology is perfect for The Legend Of Zelda series. It’s everything from the depth that you get from riding through vistas, or a more accurate sense of distance between you and the enemy you are fighting. I think it is perfect for this series. Of course we are very excited to see what it can do.

ONM: Is developing for a 3D console more demanding?

EA: One of the things that I want to take up further going forward is how playing in 3D effects things – does it make you tired? Do you want to create a game where players are sitting in front of their systems for a long period of time? Obviously there are things that can be done in 3D but we don’t have to shoehorn it in.

If it’s beneficial, of course we’ll want to use it. So what I would like to do is to take a look at what other people are doing out there, see what the reaction is, then go back and figure out exactly what I want out of 3D.

ONM: Do you have a favourite Zelda game?

EA: It’s such a tough one to answer – all of these titles are very special for their own reasons. I don’t think I could say that I have a favourite, but certainly my first experience with the Zelda franchise was Ocarina Of Time. It was very pivotal for my career so for that reason and because it was my first experience with the franchise it was probably the most memorable work that I’ve done.

ONM: Have any other games influenced you?

EA: I know that some of the younger staff members and everyone else for that matter play a lot of games. I may say ‘I really like this game’ but I never look at a game and think to myself that I like a particular element and that we should try and do something with that.

One thing that we try and do is look at the other DS titles that we have created. Because we spent so much time making the DS Zelda titles easy to play, we really want to try and do the same with the home console version of the Legend Of Zelda. One of the things that has prompted that this time is to make a bunch of changes to the map system.

And one of the things that I think has been really helpful is to create games for different systems at the same time, so for example creating a Game Boy Advance title at the same time as a GameCube title, or creating a Wii title at the same time as a DS title. So we come across an idea and think ‘this would be great in this game, but might be better used on this system.’

If we are looking at two different platforms then obviously it affects how we design things for each. Now that we are concentrating primarily on the Wii, we are also thinking about what we can do on 3DS. I think that’s its really nice when you have two different platforms and you create a title that branches over both platforms, and each influences the other.

So there you have it. A lot of old information repeated with some small new tidbits mixed in. Certainly a lot to digest for one sitting. He had a bit more to say in the rest of the interview, mostly pertaining to what he would need to do if he wanted to ever develop a game that wasn’t a Zelda title, and on how badly he really wants to get Skyward Sword out there to the public.

Source:[Official Nintendo Magazine]

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