A few days ago we posted an article from Pocket-lint which cited Shigeru Miyamoto as saying that Skyward Sword is merely “over half complete.” Though previous confidence about the game having an early 2011 release had us skeptical at the news at first, good old journalistic integrity demanded that we deliver it nonetheless. This led to some pessimism about Nintendo’s initial claims. However, the subsequent investigations of some of our visitors led us to take a second look as well.

One of the cues that casts the source in doubt involves one of Nintendo’s other upcoming games: Mario Kart 3D. The way the article frames it gives the impression that at the time of the meeting, Mario Kart 3D had not been announced – which given that the game was revealed at E3 seems to suggest that the interview might have in fact taken place before E3.

Presumably, Mario Kart looks great in 3D.

For the briefest of moments, Miyamoto looks like Pocket-lint has stolen a prized biscuit from his private cookie jar, since no announcement of Mario Kart in 3D has been made.

The way the article treats the 3DS’s ability to playback 3D movies also seems dated:

Intriguingly, Nintendo claims that the 3DS will also be able to play back 3D video content. This could be a boon for parents who don’t want to stump up for a new 3D TV simply so their offspring can watch How to Train your Dragon 3,000 times. It’s a whole new market for Nintendo to conquer, though in the absence of confirmed rights deals, Miyamoto seems keen to downplay it.

This seems like “news” but was also announced at E3, with a couple movies shown (although they only appeared in trailer form at E3). That the article mentions How to Train Your Dragon seems oddly specific, though, and the article may be referring to the lack of a mass-scale licensing deal rather than the 3DS not having any confirmed movies.

Why has this information been held back until now, though, if the interview was held that long ago? To be fair, embargoes on information revealed to press sources are common, as we saw with Four Swords Adventures some years back, but it’s been a long time since E3 and nothing from this article seems as though it needed to be held until the end of 2010. Everything else seems pretty current, from Miyamoto’s age (his birthday was in November) to the topic of competition against the other consoles’ motion control peripherals, which have both debuted by now.

So now we’re forced to look outside, to other sources about how far along in development Skyward Sword has come. A developer roundtable conducted a few months ago at E3 framed the game’s progress in a very optimistic light:

Miyamoto: In terms of where we’re going now with devleopment, we have a few more dungeons to create, and we’re looking at creating some more challenging bosses. But for the most part, we’re kind of in the final stretch at this point. So I do feel that because the gameplay structure is so solid at this point that we are in a good pace and are going to be able to put it together relatively quickly.

At first glance, it seems as though this quote gives a very different picture. Compare “over halfway complete” to “in the final stretch.” It definitely sounds as though the game was beyond halfway complete even during E3. Is this the definitive nail in the coffin? Or is Miyamoto simply being overly modest in saying that Skyward Sword is currently half complete, and we Westerners just aren’t getting it? Without the supporting context, it’s really hard to say.

Now, we could simply synthesize the more recent quote with the statements made during E3 and conclude that progress since E3 has come about “halfway” as far as the rest of the road to completion. However, this would still leave Nintendo with only a couple months or so to test the game for bugs, finish localizing it, and fulfill the business side of production and distribution before the end of the “early 2011” period.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this isn’t feasible, but it’s hard to imagine a grand action-adventure RPG like Zelda being rushed out the door that quickly. Majora’s Mask, for example, spent six months in localization between its Japan and U.S. releases. Nintendo’s localization division has definitely grown in the years since, however, and with Nintendo’s increasing tendency towards simultaneous international releases we may not have to suffer a wait time no matter how quickly the final product is finished.

In the end, I can’t say with any kind of certainty what the fruits of this investigation mean. The Pocket-lint quote could indeed be outdated, and the game may well be nearing completion rather than just past the halfway point. Since the quote lacks any immediate context, we may not be getting a full understanding of Miyamoto’s appraisal of the game’s progress. Or it could be a current statement after all – we really have no authority to know for sure. It’s at least enough for this humble writer to let things go until we get a more direct statement from Nintendo.

Thanks to Jarsh, SMALLVILLE BOY, and HeavyWeaponsFan for the tip-off!

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