Posted on January 24 2010 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
This topic is most likely going to enrage many of you. Not so much because the idea or reasoning is faulty, but because it suggests something that could be deemed insane. The future of the Zelda series would be better without Shigeru Miyamoto, EIji Aonuma, and Takashi Tezuka. How could this even be remotely possible? Miyamoto is often considered a Godfather of gaming itself, creating some of the most beloved game franchises in the history of the industry. Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, and Star Fox. He has his fingerprint on the Metroid Series, Wii Sports, Wii Music, and Animal Crossing. He also had a major role int he creation of the all time best selling handheld system, the Nintendo DS. Add on top of that that he had a hand in what may become the best selling console of all time in the Nintendo Wii, you really begin to see the impact he has had. How can Zelda be better without him? Even setting him aside, how can Tezuka and Aonuma also taking a seat really make the series better?
It’s really a convoluted answer, with absolutely no evidence to back it up. There are a lot of reasons I can point to it, but without any concrete evidence this is a hard discussion to have. In part, Zelda has already moved past Miyamoto himself. He still keeps his hand in the series, and apparently is heavily involved in the next installment, but when it’s all said and done: He’s getting older, likes to create fun casual experiences, and has branched out far beyond both Mario and Zelda. I get this feeling he really wants to focus on creating new ideas, like a Wii Music, versus continuing his older material. Sure, he seemed to really enjoy New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but again, it’s a fun casual experience. Yeah, I enjoyed the game, but it’s not something I am going to spend countless hours playing. I’ll pick it up a couple times a month for about 20 minutes to play with a friend who doesn’t game. Thats about it.
This isn’t to say Miyamoto has lost his touch, or that he has gone soft as he has gotten older. I think in general, he has always been a person who likes to create fun games that have a wide appeal across all age groups. It’s no surprise that in the Zelda Documentary done before The Wind Waker came out that he admits Ocarina of Time is most likely the deepest game in the series. In part, he is right. It gained a big audience, but it definitely did not cross age gaps. My dad didn’t play Ocarina of Time. My sister didn’t. I did, and I was already someone who played games regularly. It’s also no secret that the most popular game in the series wasn’t truly even created by Miyamoto, but Aonuma. Who would of guessed that the series would of gotten better after A Link to the Past by having minimal involvment by the man who invented the series?
The argument that Aonuma needs to at least take a break and let others head stuff is much more simplified. I am not saying he lost his touch either, but it’s clear he would rather begin a path that leads to a Miyamoto sort of role. He has said in a handful of interviews that he would love to do something other than Zelda, and it can be frustrating constantly working on the next game. Obviously, he loves Zelda, and at this point wont ever “not” be involved, but it appears he wants to branch into other areas. Maybe he is simply tired of riding Miyamoto’s coattails and wants to make his own mark on gaming? It matters little what he does in the Zelda series – it will always be Miyamoto that gets most the credit. Sure, maybe not in our niche fanbase crowd, but across the whole of people who play the games this will always be the case.
I wasn’t at all surprised when I discovered Aonuma was getting tired of Zelda. Apparently, it’s all he has primarily done since Ocarina of Time. If all I did for the last decade+ was develop a singular product it could easily be tiring. I am sure he has his own ideas for games, for other franchises, and for his own franchises. In part, When I say he wants to be Miyamoto, I sort of mean that in whole. He wants to create his own series, and eventually take over the Miyamoto role in Nintendo. Obviously, I am not Eiji, I am merely guessing at his thought process when he says he is getting tired of Zelda all the time, but it only seems like a natural progression to me.
Takashi Tezuka is a much tougher case to make. This isn’t because his involvement is minimal It’s just that he is the only other major idea man behind the Zelda series that we never hear about. Link’s Awakening was his baby. Miyamoto has admitted that he had no involvement in the game at all. Despite this, he was still listed in the credits as an excutive producer, once again, putting Tezuka on the back burner. Tezuka was the main director behind A Link to the Past, and played a major role in the creation of The Wind Waker (an equal role to that of Miyamoto). On top of that, he was also heavily involved in Twilight Princess. He’s been a big part of the team for a long time, and is an essential part of the 3 headed Zelda monster.
The reason I believe the Zelda series is having a problem evolving is because of Tezuka, Aonuma, and Miyamoto. I am sure they have a lot of ideas left in the tank. I am positive that Zelda Wii is going to be masterpiece of epic perportions. The question I have is that after Zelda Wii… is every Zelda going to follow that format then for the next decade before we get another revolution? To put it lightly: This team is set in their ways. When they feel they have found something truly new and unique for a series they grab and hold tight. To evolve a series, you need to open up the creative freedom. That is something that is hard to do when you have the 3 big players controlling most of what happens.
I know if I was on the team and had a great idea for the game, it would be extremely hard for me to tell them that I think this is better then what they were planning. It just wont happen. The Zelda series is great, and I know often times I write about how I want it to change. Lets set aside change: I don’t want Zelda to stop being Zelda. I simply want Zelda to evolve with the times. For new ideas to spread, you need to bring in new people to play the major roles. When Eiji was brought on board, thats when Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and The Wind Waker happened. 3 great games in the series. When Tezuka was given freedom, he created Link’s Awakening… a game that may be the greatest handheld Zelda to date. They need to add someone else, with new ideas, to be “the guy”.
I love Miyamoto. He is, since there is no better term, a gaming god. Aonuma is a mastermind in the making, while Tezuka is a man who understands the essence of Zelda. I think it’s just time, after Zelda Wii, to bring in a new mastermind. What do you think? Can Zelda really be better if all three took a producer role and relied on a new person to take over the series?