Aonuma talks <I>Skyward Sword</I> with <i>Famitsu</I>” src=“×266-8036.jpg” width=“475” height=“266” class=“mt-image-center” style=“text-align: center; display: block; margin: 0 auto 20px;” /></a></p>
<p>Eiji Aonuma sat down with famous Japanese gaming magazine <i>Famitsu</i> to discuss details about <i>Skyward Sword</I>. We’ve got a few of the juicier details – which break from the usual <i>Zelda</i> tradition by focusing largely on story – and I’ve of course got my own thoughts and observations about <i>every single detail</I>. I’ll let those of you who will care know in advance: he compares this game to <i>Majora’s Mask</I> in some way.</p>
<p>Want to find out how? It’s here somewhere – you’ll just have to check through all the new info.</p>
<p><em>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.</em></p>
<p>This first bit we actually knew already based on the trailers and demo for the game. Zelda’s just an ordinary girl living in the clouds who Link has known since childhood. She may have some kind of special role up in Skyloft, but it sure isn’t royalty. Who knows, though – she may have descended from a long line of princesses who used to live on the surface world, like <i>The Wind Waker</I>‘s Tetra. We’ll just have to wait and see how her non-royal role will play out.</p>
<p><em>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.</em></p>
<p>This is technically “new” information since we’ve never really heard it before, but I actually kind of gleaned as much from the flight demo. Link flies alongside a number of other birdriders who seem to be preparing for some kind of ceremony. I’m guessing now that it’s their graduation ceremony and they’re about to become full-fledged birdriders. Perhaps Link’s green garb is the traditional clothing of the defenders of Skyloft? Could they be precursors of the Hylian Knights?</p>
<p><em>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.</em></p>
<p>Ah, there’s the <i>Majora’s Mask</I> reference. I’ve got to say, I’m <i>positively loving</i> the idea of strong NPC incorporation. If this really is anything like <i>Majora’s Mask</i>, that only furthers my theory that <i>Skyward Sword</I> is basically a “Best of <i>Zelda</I>” in terms of its design philosophies. Take the best features and most iconic ideas from each game and mix them together, tossing in new approaches here and there. It’s been a winning formula for <i>A Link to the Past</I>, <i>Ocarina of Time</I>, and <i>Twilight Princess</i>, and while sometimes fans might find it too derivative there’s no denying that players tend to respond positively.</p>
<p>Looks like I wasn’t too wrong about Skyloft being a game hub after all – it’s just the city, not the sky world itself, and Aonuma says you’ll be returning there constantly. Maybe there’ll be a few other settlements on the other floating islands? Actually, I kind of doubt that, but there could still be dungeons, sub-dungeons, and hidden items that you can only reach by bird.</p>
<p><em>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. 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.</em></p>
<p>After 25 years of <i>Zelda</I>, Shigeru Miyamoto, you’ve still got it. This will certainly change up the feel of the game right from the outset, rather than limiting us to the same-y inventory we’re used to for the whole first half of the story. I’m assuming they’re talking about the Beetle and its various upgrades here given its role in the Sky Temple dungeon. (Find out more about how you use the Beetle in the Sky Temple in our <a href=Skyward Sword E3 2011 Demo Walkthrough.)

He also alludes to other new items showing up early – since he says there will be “a lot” of them I’m guessing he means more than just the Whip. Perhaps we’ll get that mystery item from the GDC 2011 trailer as well? (Now that I’m thinking about it, that could be the digging tool alluded to at the exclusive press event.)

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.

For those of you wondering about the context: Aonuma was asked whether Skyloft would consist of the entire world. His affirmative answer seems to say that Skyloft is the only place where regular people live. Obviously we’ve seen denizens of the lower world in the form of Ghirahim and his demons as well as the Monmas, but we haven’t seen any human characters. This kind of affirms the idea that Skyloft really is a haven for humankind while the world below is ruled by demons.

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.

Aonuma specifically affirms two things here that are useful for theorists. First, that Link’s red bird is rare – thus the fact that Link is connected to this bird is indeed important. Second, that Link’s bird is connected to the surface world. This lends all kind of suggestion towards the idea that Link’s bird is the same bird found in the Hylian crest, which adorns the Hylian Shield. I’ve already suspected this since I first saw that Link had a bird and that bird was red, but now that idea seems to be all but confirmed.

UPDATE: Kishin, one of our readers, watched the interview on nicovideo and caught a mention of the birds as “Loftbirds.” Guess that’s their official name! Thanks for the tip, Kishin!

[About Ghirahim] 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; 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.

Aonuma’s right – you can’t just wildly slash at Ghirahim and expect to beat him – he’ll teleport out of the way before you get the chance. You have to coordinate your attacks as responses to his in order to fight him effectively. And for anyone who thinks he’s overplaying how different Ghirahim is from previous bosses in the series – I can affirm for you that he’s not exaggerating. Ghirahim really does come with a totally different, “freer” feel compared to what we’re used to.

Another detail is “confirmed” here, although we technically already knew it from the context of the boss demo – Ghirahim will be a recurring boss.

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.

I think Aonuma just indirectly denied Ganondorf’s actual presence as a villain in this game. He does however seem to be suggesting that Ganondorf’s future actions are kind of a looming threat, which is likely the reason for the Master Sword’s creation. I wonder if the Twinrova sisters will play a part, though? They seem to be a huge part of bringing Ganondorf to power, and I imagine they were instrumental in planting evil in him to begin with given their role as his surrogate mothers. The game already connects to Ocarina, so I wouldn’t be surprised…

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.

I can tell you one thing – if the game’s in localization stages, it really is complete apart from tuning the gameplay. A commitment to a worldwide release is excellent though! Localization already being in progress could mean that the game launches sooner rather than later (particularly given that he’s suggesting here that the English script is already complete), though I imagine the November 25 date we reported on yesterday is sort of an absolute deadline. I think we can safely rule out an August release, though, given that localization’s still coming along, although late-September may be possible (especially with Xenoblade Chronicles set for early in that month in Europe).

UPDATE: That neither Aonuma or Miyamoto have really played through the entire game at such a late stage truly is a testament to how huge and content-rich it must be! Of course, it’s also a sign of good faith in Mr. Fujibayashi, the new director for the title, that they trust him enough to be so hands-off. That they’re paying attention to game balance is also key: recent Zelda games like Wind Waker and Twilight Princess don’t seem to have focused enough on combat tuning – Link was usually overpowered compared to other enemies.

UPDATE 2: I think that the statement about them hoping to have the game totally finished by E3 probably explains why Europe had an August date listed. Since they’re still working on it, obviously the date will have to be pushed back a bit – specifically to later in the fall or the holiday season. I think this might further point to a possible early release depending on how long the remaining work takes to complete.

I was really happy to have the chance to bring these details to you guys and discuss them in-depth, and I hope to track down a more complete transcript of the interview and hopefully provide the full thing! For now, though, feel free to talk all of this up! What are you most excited about out of what was revealed here?

Source: Famitsu via 1up

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