Interview:Electronic Gaming Monthly June 2003

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We go hog-wild on Nintendo's latest

Shigeru Miyamoto needs no introduction, but we'll give him one anyway: As the creator of The Legend of Zelda, as well as Mario, Donkey Kong, and a host of other now-famous Nintendo franchises, Miyamoto is the videogame industry's most famous designer. Eiji Aonuma is another matter—you may have never heard of him before, but as director of the last two Nintendo 64 Zeldas and, most recently, GameCube's The Wind Waker, he's been the main man behind Link ever since the series made the leap into 3D.

For Afterthoughts this month, we sit down with both men and talk everything Zelda: why the new game blows so much (the wind, that is), its cartoony new look, and the possibility of seeing another Zelda for the Cube.

EGM: So what's with all the wind-waking and breaking and what not?

Eiji Aonuma: This time we decided to set the game on an ocean. We got to talking about how you would travel; obviously, the best option is a sailboat. So that's how we ended up with a game where the wind was blowing constantly throughout the land-to let the player sail around.

Shigeru Miyamoto: Actually, for a long time we've wanted to be able to express wind in games. Sometimes we've had windy stages in the Super Mario games, but it wasn't until GameCube and some of the visual styles we can represent with that we were able to finally really show wind blowing in a videogame.

EGM: We love how a second player can play via a Game Boy Advance/GC link cable-where'd that idea come from?

EA: In the early stages of the development, Mr. Miyamoto asked us one question: "The Zelda games so far have all been single player; isn't it possible to involve another person who could cooperate with the player to solve riddles together?" I had already been thinking about using some type of online manual, where hints and supplemental information would be provided to players online. So, we realized we could [combine the two ideas] by involving another person on a linked Game Boy Advance.

EGM: Speaking of the GBA link-up, what's the deal with that guy Tingle? Is he gay?

EA: [Laughs] He's not really gay. He's just a 35-year-old man who, for whatever reason, seems to think he's a fairy. On our team, we have a lot of guys over 30 who still seem to think that they're children [laughs].

EGM: How come the stealth gameplay is limited to the Forsaken Fortress near the start of the game?

EA: We included these stealth sections because we wanted show Link's growth in power over the course of the game. There were similar sections in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask [for the Nintendo 64]. But in The Wind Waker, these sections are highlighted so the player can watch Link's attitude change once he has the power to fight against the enemies-the same enemies he had to hide from before.

EGM: Many people have mentioned how The Wind Waker feels a lot like those Nintendo 64 Zeldas...

EA: [That's] because we believe the system we developed [for Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask] is the best system for Zelda games. So there aren't many things we felt we needed to modify in in terms of the basics. You may feel that changes in the gameplay are not very noticeable in comparison with the changes in the graphics. However, we have implemented a number of improvements in the details of the game elements.

EGM: Another thing we hear a lot is that the game doesn't have enough dungeons. We heard two were cut?

EA: The reason we ended up pulling those is, as we were looking at the overall scale of the adventure, it had gotten really big. At that point we thought it had gotten too big for all ages to play. And that was the idea--we wanted anyone, kids to adults, experts to new gamers, to be able to play through the game to completion.

EGM: Do you get anything for making figurines out of every character in the game with the DX camera?

EA: There is actually a final figure that you can only get after first getting all the other figures. It's a very good one and that's the only way to get it.

EGM: N64 got two Zelda games-will you continue the tradition and bring a second to the Cube?

EA: Having finished the Japanese version [and then the English version] of The Wind Waker, and [considering] all the time I've spent at the office, it's difficult for me to even think about the possibility [laughs]. But whenever we make a game, there are things we wanted to incorporate that we couldn't, or things we wanted to do differently but didn't have time. And that was definitely the case with this game.

EGM: Will the next Zelda use the same cartoon art style?

SM: Well, [The Wind Waker] only features Link as a child. If we were to make a Zelda game where Link appears as an adult again, we'd probably have to rethink the graphical style. But since we haven't gotten to the stage of coming up with ideas, we can't really determine whether or not the style will stay the same.

[His favorite things]

The Wind Waker is packed with memorable characters-the cute li'l Korok tree spirits, Tetra, the spunky pirate girl (with a secret!), Tingle and his bizarre saying and hypnotic gyrations-the list goes on and on. We asked Eiji Aonuma for his favorite. "The talking ship who guides Link throughout the game [King of the Red Lions]-I made up his dialogue myself. He also implies the image of Link's own father, in a sense. Since I myself became a father during the development of The Wind Waker, [the ship] has become something like an alter ego for me." As for his favorite dungeons, Aonuma picked the same ones we would. "I like the Earth and Wind Temples that Link visits in the later half of the story. I think the background music goes very well with the look of the dungeons."

[time attack challenge]

Ten hours. Director Eiji Aonuma told us that's the fastest any Nintendo tester was able to complete the new Zelda, start to finish. Think you can do better? Prove it! Videotape yourself playing through The Wind Waker in under 10 hours (anything over will not be accepted), write down your name, completion time, phone number, and mailing address on a self-addressed stamped envelope, then take your tape and letter and bury them in your backyard. It'll make you feel better about all those countless hours you wasted playing The Wind Waker over and over. Maybe.