Interview:E3 Roundtable May 20th 2005

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The round table discussion was originally posted over at <a href="" target="new"></a>

Creator Shigeru Miyamoto and lead producer Eiji Aonuma take the Legend of Zelda in a brand new direction. [Attention: SPOILER ALERT!]

For Nintendo, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the GameCube is the big gun for E3. The game's most noteworthy aspects are a darker, scarier storyline and a dramatic, gritty visual style. Link is also much older and a young adult in this game. Twilight Princess is generating buzz, but here's what Eiji Aonuma, lead producer, and Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of the Zelda legend, had to say about the new Legend of Zelda.

Question: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is presented in a much more gritty style. What was your thinking behind that?

Eiji Aonuma: We thought realistic graphics were the best way to do what we wanted to do which was to present a more adult Link in a more adult world.

Question: Will the new graphics style bring new gameplay to Zelda?

Eiji Aonuma: With Wind Waker we used graphics to further enhance a lighter, younger feeling we wanted to instill with the game. This time game control will reflect a more realistic style of game control.

Shigeru Miyamoto: Obviously, there's a difference between good graphics and good gameplay. At this point in development some of that needs work. I'd like to see the gameplay improve. As a team we are learning as we are going to create a more realistic interactive feeling.

Question: Does this Legend of Zelda use the Wind Waker game engine?

Eiji Aonuma: The battle system uses an enhanced version of the combo technique to create entirely new actions. But the engine has been optimized so much we can't even call it the Wind Waker engine anymore.

Question: Is Link a cowboy at the beginning of the game.

Eiji Aonuma: We wanted to bring back the horse and the horse-riding mechanic. You can name the horse by the way. But it gets back to the more realistic feeling of this game. Hyrule is a big land. It would not be realistic for Link to be able to walk across it. He must ride a horse in order to reflect a more realistic impression of Hyrule. We wanted to make sure Link was a good horseman.

Shigeru Miyamoto: He's not really a cowboy like Clint Eastwood. He's actually a shepherd or more precisely a goatherd who rides a horse to help tend his flock. But Japanese don't understand the concept of "shepherd... so we call him a "cowboy... when we work on the game.

Question: Link interacts with townspeople. What relationship does he have to them?

Eiji Aonuma: The Legend of Zelda is based in Hyrule, of course, but we wanted to establish that Link has an identity this time outside of Hyrule. So we created a town outside Hyrule where Link lives.

Question: Is this a "new... Link?

Eiji Aonuma: Yes, he is a new Link.

Question: When does this game take place?

Eiji Aonuma: This version takes place a few decades after Ocarina of Time and before Wind Waker.

Question: How will the adventure begin?

Eiji Aonuma: Link has two young friends in town. One of them is kidnapped by creatures who have invaded Hyrule from a place we call the Twilight. At first they appear as boar riders. Their leader has a horn that when blown opens the Twilight portal.

Question: Portals?

Eiji Aonuma: As the Twilight takes over more and more of Hyrule, you'll see these portals that evil beings and monsters will use to travel around. Once Link defeats them he can use a portal. They are a part of the game's transportation system.

Question: Is the child kidnapping by frightening creatures harsher than usual for Zelda?

Eiji Aonuma: If the story seems harsher than usual, we use that feeling at times to develop a sense of urgency. The sense of danger to the child creates a certain feeling. Hyrule is being transformed by the Twilight.

Question: Link also appears to transform into a wolf. Is that connected to the encroaching Twilight?

Eiji Aonuma: Yes, this is one of the key elements of the game. Basically, the Twilight is fueled by an evil magic power. As you know the idea of two realms coexisting in one plane has been used in Zelda before. You see early on that Link is mysteriously pulled into the Twilight as he searches for his friend. Link cannot exist as a human while in the Twilight area, but he is transformed into a wolf. Without giving away too much that is this Link's destiny.

Question: Early on there is someone in a robe that appears in the game.

Eiji Aonuma: It's not a secret: that is Princess Zelda.

Question: She looks sad and forlorn, which must be connected to the Twilight.

Eiji Aonuma: The robe the princess is wearing is based on a traditional robe worn in Japan for funerals. She is unable to stop the Twilight from affecting her land, so she is in mourning. She is definitely connected with Link's transformation into a wolf, but we shouldn't give away much more.

Question: How does Link becoming a wolf change the gameplay?

Eiji Aonuma: When Link becomes a wolf, he can't use his sword, but he has heightened senses like an animal. He can see things that humans cannot see, he can hear things that they cannot hear. He can talk to animals. He will meet up with another character who will be able to ride him. Some of his attributes will influenced by her.

Question: And who is this new character.

Eiji Aonuma: She is a resident of the Twilight realm who has an agenda that opposes the evil creatures. She sees the wolf, that is, Link as a means to help her accomplish her goals. So they form a cooperative relationship.

Question: Is there anything else you would like to say about The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess here at E3?

Eiji Aonuma: Mr. Miyamoto has made the comments that Link's animations were too doll-like. We are going to make them better to build a game that fulfills every player's expectations.

Shigeru Miyamoto: We want players to feel they are in the world of Zelda. With this game, we would like them to feel they are the heroes.