Posted on July 11 2023 by Chakell Herbert
Eiji Aonuma, the producer of the Legend of Zelda series, and Hidemaro Fujibayashi, the director of Tears of the Kingdom, recently sat down with Netherlands-based outlet RTL Nieuws to discuss the latest Zelda title and the Zelda series in general. The interview covered a few noteworthy topics, including the potential return of classic Zelda gameplay and the ways the developers approach new ideas. Another topic discussed in the interview was the development of puzzles and dungeons in Tears of the Kingdom.
Introducing the t0pic of puzzles and dungeons, interviewer Bastiaan Vroegop brought up the “bizarre videos [in Breath of the Wild] in which the game is finished super fast or puzzles are solved in a completely different way” and asked if such videos were a “source of inspiration for Tears of the Kingdom?”
“We were already thinking about gameplay for Tears of the Kingdom before videos like that surfaced online. But when we saw and watched them, it felt like confirmation that we were going down the right path, because everyone was doing what we were hoping for.”
It looks like these developers are always in the know regarding players’ silly shenanigans in the Zelda universe!
Continuing the conversation, Fujibayashi was then asked about how Tears of the Kingdom allows for multiple solutions to a single puzzle.
“We already got that idea while developing Skyward Sword. In that game too there was always one answer for one problem. If you had two puzzles, then one player would find the first puzzle to be difficult and the second puzzle to be easy, while a different player would have the exact opposite response.
“We wanted to solve that problem. There was an idea to make all puzzles easier. However, that is not ideal for a puzzle game and a Zelda title.
“As such, we made all challenges a bit easier, but thought of a bunch of different ways to get to the goal. That is why you have several different powers with which you can solve the puzzles. For all the powers, we thought of a way in which they could help you get past a problem.”
It’s so interesting that the Zelda team was already considering new ways to approach puzzle-solving more than 10 years ago with the development of Skyward Sword!
Vroegop continued the interview by asserting that, “while playing Tears of the Kingdom, it felt as if you tried to stuff a game like Ocarina of Time within Breath of the Wild.” Elaborating on that point, he said, “the general idea is very Breath of the Wild: you have a big sandbox. But at the same time, there are now big dungeons with a more complex story full of mysteries. It feels like two games in one.”
Fujibayashi shared an interesting insight in response:
“Because Tears of the Kingdom is a sequel to Breath of the Wild, we did not think about games like Ocarina of Time. The focus was laid on how we could make Breath of the Wild more extensive and more interesting.”
Vroegop then followed up with this comment: “Still, in terms of structure, the dungeons make it feel like it is an old-school Zelda.”
That’s when Aunoma chimed in, saying:
“In Breath of the Wild we had Divine Beasts, which in Tears of the Kingdom we replaced with dungeons that we call temples. They look like what we also had in Ocarina of Time. However, this was not intentional but was done purely to better fit the flow of the story. During development, I have not suggested that we should look at the older games.”
It’s surprising to me that, despite much pleading from many long-time fans to go back to the classic Zelda dungeon formula, the producers didn’t look back to the past much in terms of inspiration for Tears of the Kingdom‘s temples. However, you can’t deny some of the similarities between the dungeons in this game and those in past titles.
If you are interested in reading the rest of the interview, you can find it here.
What are your thoughts on Aonuma and Fujibayashi’s comments about the puzzles and dungeons in Tears of the Kingdom? Do you wish they would stick to the old Zelda formula? Or do you like where the series is most likely heading in the future? Let us know in the comments!
Chakell (pronounced shuh-kell) is an associate editor for Zelda Dungeon! She has loved The Legend of Zelda series since she was a little girl because of its equal mix of princesses, besting bad guys, and heartfelt stories. Chakell lives in the overall tame state of Utah, but holds onto her childhood hopes to find an adventure in her backyard one day. She has a degree in English and is a full-time editor for a magazine. You can usually find her gaming (obviously), laughing with her husband, taking a long time to tell stories because she keeps getting distracted; getting sucked into books and podcasts; or snuggling her cute Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.