Update: It appears there may be some photoshop action going on with the staff badge, thus this rumor is more than likely fake.

Honestly, I love rumors; if for nothing else they get us talking about a future that is unknown. That being said, I have been sitting on these details since the end of July because I wasn’t sure enough really post them. People make claims they are from Nintendo in almost every single rumor out there. I mean, would a Nintendo Employee really risk his job to leak details to us? It’s never actually happened before. Then things started to come full circle in recent weeks. A Nintendo of America former employee has supposedly been the person behind the

Smash Bros. leaks—all of which have so far turned out to be 100% correct. Naturally we don’t know that it was a Nintendo of America employee, but given the current evidence, it’s pretty easy to believe that it was.

Moving past that, I had a recent conversation with the support team at Nintendo trying to find a way to merge two Nintendo Network accounts. At the end of the day, it was possible, but really risky and I could potentially lose a lot of my data and not be able to recover it (e.g. one of the accounts would lose its digital data). Not good. In any case, one of the Network accounts I was dealing with was one I set up originally for Zelda Informer. Unfortunately, that account is no longer used by myself (silly, it’s really Nintendo’s fault). Still, when asked how to spell it he said “so, Zelda Informer… like the website right?”. Naturally I mentioned I was from that website, and suddenly things became really clear (and interesting)—a lot of folks that work for Nintendo know who we are. This was a fairly proud moment for myself, but beyond that it made me realize two things:

  • A Nintendo employee has supposedly recently leaked information that has so far been confirmed to be 100% legit.
  • Nintendo is aware of us, so if someone did want to leak Zelda stuff they may be willing to risk coming to us.

Now, none of this actually proves the following information is legit. We honestly have no idea, but I felt there was enough coincidental events piling up that It would be worth posting. Plus… I really want to talk about

Zelda U! Instead of paraphrasing, here is the email in its entirety:

Regarding the new Zelda: development has actually only been for a relatively short amount of time. The planning stages of course have been going on since Skyward Sword went gold, however actual technical implementation has only been going on for the last 20 months. What you have seen in the E3 reveal is more or less the bulk of what had been actually developed at that time; but the developer tools EAD have developed this time are very robust and streamlined. They allow for very rapid development compared to previous iterations. EAD is always very good at implementing changes relatively quickly, but the turnaround for the content we have been seeing thus far is without a doubt the fastest I have ever seen, and I’ve been here almost 10 years now.

The reason Wind Waker HD saw release is because EAD wanted to test the new lighting and shaders that are being utilized in the new iteration. These effects were actually the first ones developed for the new Zelda, and were completed before any actual assets had left the conceptual stage. Wind Waker was chosen to showcase them because they were easy to implement and didn’t require a lot of effort from EAD to re-release compared to other entries that would be much more strenuous (keep in mind, this aspect is conjecture on my part based on the correspondence we received from Japan).

Over the last 10 or so months, we’ve seen a huge shift in direction in terms of focuses of the development. The (admittedly sparse) amount of content we’ve seen has become noticeably more open and exploratory in nature from the initial build that we saw. Keep in mind this is second hand, but a good friend of mine that works in the Kyoto office informed me that for a short time there was a huge argument in EAD between Tezuka and Aonuma on what direction should be pursued for the new Zelda. The argument seems to be over, though, because while the first build we received was very straight-forward, the two we’ve had since have allowed for an impressive amount of exploration, even if the map is still very sparse. There is very little collision implemented in Hyrule Field yet which makes exploring in-game impossible. However in debug mode, we are capable of looking around at much of it.

The plot is almost non-existent in-game at this point. The only cutscene that has been implemented in the game thus far is the one in the E3 presentation, and that won’t even be included in the final product, I’d expect. The only thing we have pertaining to plot is a short blurb outlining the basic structure. And even then, this tends to change significantly over the course of development; plot is always the last thing that gets considered in the actual dev cycle and nothing is set in stone until the game is otherwise feature-complete. The blurb states that Ganondorf is not the main focus this time, but instead takes after Zelda II a bit and is actually a villain named Larenu and his followers who are attempting to revive him. Something else of note is that instead of the usual farmboy Link saves Princess Zelda scenario, in this case Link and Zelda are actually brother and sister in a small village with a Shiekah protector who has acted like a parent. They are both royalty who have been exiled their whole lives, and are only made aware of this at the beginning of the game. A possibly familial relationship between Link, Zelda and Larenu is implied, but what that may be is not made clear.

The call to action is that ancient machinery that has lay dormant for centuries are coming back to life and causing problems in Hyrule. In the case of Link and Zelda’s village, a system that has kept the river that runs through it clean and the crops growing has become unruly making the water undrinkable and the crops weaken.

Gameplay-wise, the game plays like a traditional Zelda game in a lot of aspects. You move with the left thumbstick, Z-target with the left trigger, attack with Y, roll with X, etc. The camera can at this point be controlled by the right thumbstick or gyroscopic controls. You switch weapons via the touch screen. What is interesting is that the sword is no longer a default item that is always set. Instead of Sword and 3 side items, you now have one item slot, but that item can be switched at any time, even while in combat. That is because there is a new combo system.

Currently the only weapons that can be switched between in this build is the sword and the bow (regular bow, the mechanical bow from the E3 demonstration is not as of the latest playable build). Each hit you score on an enemy fills what we’re currently calling the “momentum” bar. Switching between weapons in good flow during combat causes the bar to fill more quickly than just using a single weapon. When filled, you can activate it with the touch screen, which slows down time, and switches the input of the weapon currently equipped. For instance, slowing down time with the sword allows you to input precise and exact sword slices with the touch-pad, not unlike how Skyward Sword operated with 1:1 sword controls. With the bow during slow-time, you can mark individual enemies (or individual locations on enemies) with the touch pad very similarly to how the boomerang has operated in previous Zelda games. When slow-time is released, Link will fire multiple arrows concurrently with increased power. Not all enemies will require slow-time to defeat. Enemies in this build were bokoblins with no defensive abilities, and some really incomplete-looking Darknuts with a shield that requires more strategy and good use of the momentum bar to dispatch.

A few other things of note are that npc’s in Link and Zelda’s village have made references to things that may be promising in future builds. One mentioned other villages, plural, possibly indicating there will be more than one primary town area. A blacksmith character makes references to things that sound like a crafting system, but the system has not been implemented in this most recent build. Talking to Zelda makes it sound like it’s possible she follows you around in-game as an npc character, like Ico or similar games. But that’s only my assumption based on the dialogue. It could also possibly be a reference to co-op, as the build recognizes a second controller (Wii controller) when it’s connected, but doing so causes the build to crash almost immediately.

Based on how far along the most recent build was compared to the one previous, I would say EAD are preparing a press build in the next coming months, but they generally don’t reveal time-tables until the month before we are expected to execute them. But there will be footage of the next Zelda in the upcoming Nintendo Direct that will show off the village area (there are specific npc’s with completed dialogue) the combo system, and climbing the waterfall to the first dungeon (that does not exist in this build).

Do what you wish with this information, I only ask that my identity be kept anonymous for legal and professional purposes. I will reveal more content of future builds if I am around to see them, but the only reason I am taking this risk now is because I am planning to leave Nintendo in the coming months to pursue other opportunities.

Now there are some things to note. This was sent to us on July 31st. That means that there are likely newer builds since then, but beyond that there has actually been two (or three) Nintendo Directs since this email. All of them were game specific however, so he/she could be referencing a future Direct that isn’t for a singular game: likely one that would cap the year or begin the year next spring. They also sent me a picture of a badge to prove they are who they say they are. This picture, beyond a doubt, is either the most substantial evidence or most damning evidence. I am going to blur out certain aspects of the card to protect his/her identity should he/she still have his/her job, but I really want to know if Nintendo of America uses cards like this for any purpose—be it clocking in, door access keys, etc. It could also be a badge they use at press events for all I know. I really am unsure, so it would be neat to see if someone can confirm or deny the fact that a Nintendo Employee would use a badge like this:

Note: The image used in this post to represent Zelda U is not, in fact, officially from Zelda U. It is a fan rendition making the field screenshot look like night time to give us an idea of what the game may look like at night.

The question now is… what do you think? Is this legit? Beyond that, what about the details themselves…do you like them? There are some bigger details in there as well, specifically to the early story or general plot. Again, we don’t know what to believe, so as always this should be assumed fake until proven otherwise.

Sorted Under: Zelda News
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