IGN May 18th 2005 (Aonuma)
IGN chats with the director of Twilight Princess, with new details revealed.
Nintendo is proudly showing off a four-level demo of its Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess at the Electronics Entertainment Expo 2005. The ambitious adventure strives to better the N64 masterpiece Ocarina of Time. IGN had the chance to chat face-to-face with the title's newly appointed director, Eiji Aonuma, about its progress and its secrets. Following, the full interview:
IGN: Is the storyline of Twilight Princess based on the movie Ladyhawke?
Eiji Aonuma: I've heard about the movie Ladyhawke, but I've never actually seen it. People have asked me about it, but obviously I don't have any inspiration from it since I've never seen it. That being said, this time around the reason that Link transforms into a wolf is completely different from what I understand is going on in that movie.
IGN: So is Link's transformation based on a day/night system?
Eiji Aonuma: No, actually in this game when Link enters the Twilight Realm he transforms into the wolf. I think there may have been some inspiration for the schematic elements of the moon rising and someone transforming into the wolf originally, but that's actually not part of the game system.
IGN: Why does Link transform into a wolf and not another animal when he enters the Twilight Realm?
Eiji Aonuma: Well, obviously one of the main themes of the Twilight Princess is the fact that Link is starting the game off as an adult. One of the primary themes in other Zelda games has been that Link matures throughout the adventure. This time because Link is starting off as a more mature Link already, it then becomes difficult to try and express that in the game as players play along. So this time around one thing that we focused on in addition to it being a more adult Link and thus being able to do a lot of things that a younger Link wouldn't be able to, was to balance that out and not only change the gameplay but also give players an option to grow mature throughout the adventure. One way we found to do this was to have Link transform into something other than a human, by which he would lose the ability to behave as a human. So obviously in wolf form he can't use his sword, shield or items since he's kind of reduced to this limited state. But then he's able to gain some of the abilities that you might expect a wolf to have and he's able to cooperate with this other character.
As to why he actually becomes a wolf rather than some other creature, obviously Link in every game is a hero. We thought a wolf was what a hero might be in animal form. We kind of decided that wolves are creatures with a certain mysticism in all cultures and they're also very heroic type creatures as well. In that sense, we really felt that the wolf was best suited to an animal representation of the hero.
IGN: What can Link do as a wolf?
Eiji Aonuma: Because the wolf is a wild animal, it'll have abilities that would normally be reserved for a wild animal such as enhanced vision. The idea that wolves have a different kind of eyesight than humans means that they can see things differently than humans. The same goes for hearing. The idea that animals can hear things that humans can't. The wolf would have wild animal abilities in that sense, but at the same time because it is simply a wild animal it's not going to be able to fight very well against some of these larger creatures that we see in the game. So the wolf would then pair up with the character Midna and the two of them can fight those creatures together.
IGN: Can you elaborate on the basic wolf mechanics, such as how it runs and jumps. Is it feasible to use this animal to cross great distances in the game?
Eiji Aonuma: Yeah, because the wolf is a four-legged animal it will obviously move faster than Link, but because it's a much smaller animal than Epona it won't move nearly as fast as the horse. So while it can certainly move faster than Link across long distances it's not going to be as good as riding horseback on Epona would be. That being said, we're kind of tailoring the action for the world, such as running and jumping, to be appropriate from what you'd expect of a wild animal. In that sense, the wolf would be better at certain things than Link.
IGN: Can the wolf and Midna separate at any time or are they glued together when Link enters the Twilight Realm?
Eiji Aonuma: In the Twilight Realm when Link is a wolf, he and Midna will always be together. Gradually, as Twilight gets pushed back and light is revealed, Link will transform back into human form and then there would be a partnership between he and Midna in a slightly different sense.
IGN: So Midna can exist outside of the Twilight Realm?
Eiji Aonuma: Yes, if you go with the strictest definition of exist then yes, she can exist in normal Hyrule. But there is a certain kind of subtlety to that which I can't reveal at this point in time.
IGN: Is Ganon in the game and if so, what part does he play?
Eiji Aonuma: Well, each piece of the Triforce has a relationship to each of the main characters and Ganon is one of those. So in that sense Ganon will have a relationship to this game. But as to how he might appear or what he might be doing, we're not going to reveal that just yet.
IGN: In the demo, Link gets stolen away to the Twilight Realm. Is he able to go in and out of the Twilight Realm at will?
Eiji Aonuma: Yeah, in the beginning he basically gets grabbed and pulled into the Twilight Realm. But it's not just Link - he's not the only one. The Twilight Realm is gradually expanding and as it expands it reaches out and grabs anybody just outside of it. Your question, though, is very tightly related to the game system in terms of how things are going to work, so you're going to have to wait on the answer.
IGN: It's clear that Link interacts with a lot of animals in Twilight Princess. Can you explain how deep the system runs?
Eiji Aonuma: I think one element that I can talk about is that when humans get pulled into the Twilight Realm they cannot exist there in their human form. So when Link goes into the Twilight Realm and transforms into the wolf, he finds that animals, unlike humans, do remain. So as a wolf he can communicate with the animals. So he'll talk to animals to get information from them. And as you can see in the show floor demo, in one of the dungeons Link actually cooperates with the animals. We're planning to implement a lot more elements like that. While it won't be Link walking hand-in-hand with animals, you may find more situations where Link is helping animals or animals are helping Link, working together to fight bosses and things like that.
So just like in the town area, you can see that Link blows the horse grass to call the horse and likewise, he can blow the whistle to interact with the hawk. You know, he's somebody who is very close to animals as it is and so we continue to develop that and have a lot of situations in the game where people will be surprised by the types of interactions we implemented.
IGN: Can Zelda change into an animal?
Eiji Aonuma: [Laughs] Unfortunately, I can't really talk too much about what Zelda will be doing as that ties in very closely with the overall story of the game. It may be that Zelda does transform into an animal... but it may not be [laughs].
IGN: Can you play as anybody other than Link, such as Zelda, for example?
Eiji Aonuma: No, not right now. We're not planning any other characters that the player would be able to control other than Link and the wolf. Also, when Midna is on the wolf's back, you may be able to do some control that would cause Midna to do something. But it's not really that you're controlling Midna as you're controlling the wolf and Midna together.
IGN: The world in Twilight Princess is huge. How will Link be able to get around? Is it just by horse, or can he boat and fly, too?
Eiji Aonuma: Oh, no, it wouldn't just be the horse. There are many other ways to move about the game.
IGN: Is there an animal that you can fly?
Eiji Aonuma: You might be able to [laughs].
IGN: We saw a little bit of canoeing. Will there be more of that in the finished game?
Eiji Aonuma: Yeah, there would be movement by paddling through waterways, that sort of thing.
IGN: Does the story start exactly as it does in the E3 demo, with Link as a cowboy/wrangler?
Eiji Aonuma: We've taken the beginning of the game and rearranged it for the show version to make it easily accessible. That would be kind of the basic flow, but it would start off setting up the idea that Link is a rancher or wrangler who takes care of the goats and also setting up his relationship with people in Toaru Village, which is not a final name at this point. Obviously, we've cut a lot of cinematics and a lot of the events that would happen in town from the demo version. Essentially what would happen is you would spend a little more time interacting with the people of the village and getting to know them and experiencing the village as Link before setting off on the adventure.
IGN: Some critics have complained that Wind Waker was too easy. Will Twilight Princess offer more puzzles, new weapons and more complexity?
Eiji Aonuma: In comparison to Ocarina of Time?
Eiji Aonuma: Yeah, as I mentioned in the roundtable yesterday, one of our primary goals with this game is to create a game that exceeds Ocarina of Time on many levels. So in that sense, we do intend to fill the game with a lot of side-quests, mini-games, and puzzles, which will make it more challenging.
IGN: A two-part question. Does the game run in 16:9 widescreen and why is there no voice acting?
Eiji Aonuma: In terms of widescreen mode, I think you'll notice that when the game goes into cinematics, the screen shifts and stretches into what is technically a 16:9 frame. However, if you were to put that up on a widescreen, then when it shifted out of the cinema scenes the top and bottom of the standard 3:4 would then pop off the screen. So it is kind of widescreen mode [laughs], but maybe not the way you were thinking.
As to voice acting, I think what you see on the show floor is pretty much what we've been doing with the series in the past, which is before the text appears you get a very simple voice that pops up and you hear that. In the final version, we do intend to do something slightly different than that. We haven't finalized exactly how we're going to handle the voice in the game, but we are looking into different things.
IGN: Finally, is there a time travel system in the game?
Eiji Aonuma: There is gameplay in the game that does take time elements into consideration, but nothing nearly as dynamic as the traveling through seven years that you did in Ocarina of Time. We think we did a really good job with that in Ocarina so I don't think we'll be doing that again.