Interview:Iwata Asks: Skyward Sword (Volume One: Wii MotionPlus Inspires New Controls)
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Iwata Asks: Skyward Sword (Volume One: Wii MotionPlus Inspires New Controls)
October 18, 2011
In this interview, the team behind the making of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword discusses how Wii MotionPlus technology and new approaches to game control made for a long, challenging, and ultimately rewarding experience.
Starting with a Detour
Iwata: Everyone, thank you for gathering today.
Everyone: It's a pleasure.
Iwata: So you're finally…
Aonuma: Yes. (laughs)
Iwata: You're reaching the end?
Aonuma: Yes. We truly are nearing the end now.
Iwata: Are you a little sad?
Aonuma: (laughs) Yes. When it is completely finished, I suppose I really will be sad. But it won't be long before I feel like making something again. (laughs)
Iwata: (laughs) We're here to talk about The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
Iwata: First, we made the Wii MotionPlus accessory, then we built it in to the Wii Remote controller in the form of the Wii Remote Plus controller, so one challenge this time was seeing how using that would change a Zelda game.
Aonuma: Yes, that's right.
Iwata: I mainly want to ask about that today, but first, I would like each of you to introduce yourself, including what you worked on with regard to this game. Aonuma-san, would you start?
Aonuma: I'm Aonuma, the producer. There have been all kinds of twists and turns since development began almost five years ago. Until completion of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, I talked with Director Fujibayashi about how we could take the project in a good direction, backed up the staff, and consulted with Miyamoto-san.
Iwata: You say that there were twists and turns, but I heard there were few detours this time compared to the last game The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
Iwata: You can't say there weren't any? (laughs)
Aonuma: Yes. (laughs) I can't say there weren't any at all. I thought I would talk about that today.
Iwata: My impression is that you were able to articulately pack in a lot of elements the team had worked on in the game, that it has turned out to have an incredibly high concentration of ideas compared to other The Legend of Zelda games.
Aonuma: That's true. We took a detour along the way, but compared to previous Zelda games, we were able to pack in so many kinds of play that it practically bears no comparison.
Fujibayashi: I'm Fujibayashi, the director. I was in charge of overall aspects of the game, from the barebones of gameplay to the script. Every time we made something using Wii MotionPlus, I showed it to Miyamoto-san, Tezuka-san, or Aonuma-san and heard their opinions, remaking it until they said it was good.
Iwata: Before this, you worked on The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, right?
Fujibayashi: Yes, I participated as the Assistant Director.
Iwata: Now that you've experienced making The Legend of Zelda for both a handheld and a home console, what was different?
Fujibayashi: The amount of work involved. With a home console, making corrections is difficult.
Iwata: So many people work on a home console game that once instructions go out, it's hard to make changes later on.
Fujibayashi: That's right. That was the biggest thing. But before we began this game for the Wii console, since it was my first time working on a home console game, I was under a lot of pressure. But once we made it, I realized it didn't change much.
Iwata: You mean that it felt like a Zelda game?
Fujibayashi: Correct, in the way that I was making a Zelda game as the director.
Kobayashi: I'm Kobayashi, the design director. All kinds of enemies and residents appear this time. Each section had a leader for coordinating those, and I oversaw them.
Iwata: Have you worked on The Legend of Zelda for a long time?
Kobayashi: About my fifth year at Nintendo, I worked on the series for the first time as a designer in charge of enemies for The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on the Nintendo GameCube system. This was my second Legend of Zelda game.
Iwata: So it had been awhile.
Kobayashi: Yes, that's right.
Tanaka: I'm Tanaka. I was in charge of coordinating the UI (user interface) section. Kobayashi-san mentioned how there were various leaders, and I was one of them.
Iwata: It is unusual for someone from the UI section, such as you, to appear here the first round of interviews. I think you are here because The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword uses Wii MotionPlus.
Tanaka: I think so. We gave a lot of consideration to how we should reflect the new Wii MotionPlus controls on the screen and to how we could make them easy for the players to understand.
Iwata: :Aonuma-san, how did development of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword begin?
Aonuma: After we finished The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, we began work on the new game in the series. After awhile Fujibayashi-san had finished making The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, and he showed us a planning document saying he wanted to make it. We had him be director and discussed something that would use Wii MotionPlus, which was developed right around that time, so players could freely operate the game. For about half a year after that, I have to say the mood was very nasty! (laughs)
Iwata: I heard. (laughs)
Fujibayashi: We tried a bunch of things for Wii MotionPlus, but it was really quirky.
Iwata: Wii MotionPlus is an incredibly sharp device, but a little distinctive. It's like an unruly horse.
Aonuma: Yes, exactly. No matter what we did, we couldn't tame it. Then Wii Sports Resort came out as the first game for Wii MotionPlus.
Iwata: That's right.
Aonuma: We played that and realized all you could do with it. Wii Sports Resort has all kinds of games like Swordplay and Frisbee and you can play each one as its own separate game, but in The Legend of Zelda, you play everything on the same field.
Fujibayashi: That's right. You may be fighting with your sword and the next instant use the Clawshot or shoot an arrow or throw a bomb, so it was really difficult to make the game so you could use Wii MotionPlus to do those things smoothly all on the same field.
Aonuma: So I proposed to the staff to not use Wii Motion Plus afterall.
Iwata: You gave up once.
Aonuma: Yes. Then we started making a Legend of Zelda game that you would play using the original Wii Remote and Nunchuk. But then I fell under intense pressure from some other producers, who said, "Aonuma-san, why aren't you using Wii MotionPlus?!" (laughs)
Iwata: They were like, "Don't run away from it!" (laughs)
Aonuma: Exactly. (laughs) So I was like, "We got to do it!" I gathered the staff and we puzzled over how we could make it work. As a result, Kobayashi-san and those guys had a hard time. (laughs)
Kobayashi: Yes. (laughs)
Iwata: In what way?
Kobayashi: As Aonuma-san just mentioned, we had proceeded with a plan that didn't involve using Wii MotionPlus. We had already made something basic using button controls to fight, and we had taken development to where we were going to start cranking out a bunch of variations. But then Aonuma-san suddenly called us in.
Aonuma: I'm SO sorry about that. (laughs)
Kobayashi: We were like, "Aw, here it comes…" (laughs) We didn't have any existing knowledge of how it worked, so we weren't even at the starting point because we had to learn how it worked!
Iwata: So the detour started right at the beginning of development! (laughs)
Aonuma: Yes. And it was a huge one!
"Have it Stop"
Iwata: What obstacles appeared in making a game for Wii MotionPlus?
Kobayashi: In Wii Sports Resort, we use Mii characters, so making them is simple, but Link has a realistic figure.
Iwata: And he's equipped with items like a shield.
Kobayahshi: That's right. And Swordplay in Wii Sports Resort uses sticks, so whichever way you swing, as long as the trajectory is right, no problem. But Link is holding a sword. You can't have him flap an enemy with the flat of his blade.
Iwata: Oh, I see. If the edge isn't facing the direction you swing, handsome Link would look rather foolish.
Aonuma: Exactly. He has to look cool when he swings his sword. He can't just have a sword stuck to his hand and simply move it. So we tried all kinds of things for that at first.
Kobayashi: Yes, we tried many things many times.
Fujibayashi: We really studied the skeletal structure of a person's skeletal structure.
Aonuma: At first we were too serious about faithfully representing human movement. Link still didn't look that cool, so we decided it was necessary to fake some parts.
Iwata: In other words, even if his movement isn't perfectly realistic in some ways, your brain smoothes over it.
Aonuma: That's right. Then Link's movement seemed more natural that way and we knew swordplay would work out. What's more, we were able to swing the sword in the direction we wanted and got to where we could think, "Which direction shall I swing from?" when fighting an enemy. But there's a really tough boss named Ghirahim who can read your movements.
Iwata: What he actually does is determine which direction he can be hit from.
Aonuma: Yes. Ghirahim fights barehanded. You'll think, "All right, I'll strike at him from this angle," but he expects that and stops Link's sword with his hands.
Iwata: At Nintendo 3DS Conference 2011, Miyamoto-san said he struggled with that.
Aonuma: That's right. Miyamoto-san kept saying, "You can't beat this guy!" (laughs)
Iwata: As a player, he was steamed. (laughs)
Aonuma: Yes. Well, he complained more than getting mad! (laughs) But he didn't tell us to scrap it, so I think he liked something about it. He said that he wanted us to make the way to win more instinctive, though.
Iwata: You can beat him by tricking him.
Aonuma: Right, you can. Ghirahim moves his hands wherever Link's sword is, so you trick him. I can't go in to it in detail, but I would like for people to fight him thinking how you can trick him with your attacks. Speaking of sword movements, before all this there was an idea about being able to stop the sword mid-air.
Iwata: You mean the sword is something you use to swing to defeat enemies, but now you're able to hold it still mid-air, and use it for other things. Who's idea was it that you could be able to hold the sword still?
Aonuma: Miyamoto-san, right?
Fujibayashi: I remember it clearly. All of a sudden, in the middle of the night, Miyamoto-san called us in and said, "Have it stop." I was like, "Have what stop?" and he said, "The sword." When I first heard "stop," I didn't think it was possible, but a moment later, I understood and was like, "Stop…? Oh, stop… I get it!" And there was more to that late-night conversation. After he suggested stopping the sword, he said, "Then you raise up the Wii Remote and while you're in that pose, energy builds up, and then you release a sword beam."
Iwata: Stopping the sword led to the sword beam?
Fujibayashi: Yes. At first, the two ideas were separate in Miyamoto-san's head, but I could tell as I listened that when he suggested stopping the sword, then he hit on the sword beam, and the two joined together at that moment.
Iwata: The ideas combined right then and there.
Aonuma: And his face lit up, right? (laughs)
Fujibayashi: He made a face like, "Pretty good, huh?" (laughs)
Iwata: It's a perfect example of one idea solving multiple problems.
Aonuma: Yes. And once we adopted the sword beam, something like a ring would shoot out, making clearly visible which direction you had swung.
Iwata: Ah, I see.
Aonuma: And once we could hold the sword up high, we hit on the title of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
Iwata: "Skyward" because you hold it up toward the sky, but I hear that there is a deeper meaning to it as well.
Aonuma: That's right. From what I heard from the NOA (Nintendo of America) localization team, the word "ward" also means to protect and guard something, so "skyward" can also mean "protector of the sky", and "one who is protected by the sky".
Iwata: That's very interesting. Using Wii MotionPlus, a device that can detect rapid movements to use it for fast-moving gameplay is one thing. I thought the person who thought up of stopping the sword as a form of play was incredible, and it was Miyamoto-san who suggested it.
Iwata: That's a bit galling, I suppose. (laughs)
Fujibayashi, Kobayashi and Tanaka: Oh, yes.
Aonuma: Argh… I wish I thought of it!
Iwata: Stopping the sword was revolutionary this time, but also important was freeing up the A Button.
Aonuma: Yes, that's right. (laughs)
Iwata: Up till now in the series, swinging the sword with the A Button was a matter of course, but using Wii MotionPlus frees up the A Button—an important point this time.
Aonuma: Yes, you can swing the sword without pressing the A Button.
Iwata: How did you decide to make use of the A Button then?
Fujibayashi: Every time we make a new Zelda game, Miyamoto-san assigns certain tasks, like "Add a new action." I wasn't involved with development, but for example, in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, you jump with a feather.
Fujibayashi: In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, you can pick up grass. So adding a new action was a theme whenever we made a new Zelda game. This time, we wanted to put in something before Miyamoto-san said anything and put in the dash action.
Iwata: You assigned that to the A Button.
Fujibayashi: That's right. Link could dash before, but if he ran into a wall or other obstacle, he would stop on a dime.
Iwata: In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, if you rammed into a tree or house, it would knock you down.
Fujibayashi: Yes, and that interrupts the flow of the game. For that reason, I had a strong desire to put in some kind of action so that whatever you hit, it reacts and won't kill your speed. Thus, we made an Link able to dash up.
Aonuma: As a result, since you're not using the A Button as you usually would for your sword, after you select an item with the B Button, you can smoothly perform the action of using the A Button to dash up.
Iwata: When you see videos of Link dashing up and over an enemy to move behind him, it feels great.
Aonuma: And you can scurry up a small cliff or steep slope.
Fujibayashi: But once your energy runs out, Link runs out of breath. His shoulders heave and he wheezes. (laughs)
Selecting Items Without Looking at the Screen
Iwata: Wii MotionPlus allows you complete control over Link's sword, and you can stop that sword in mid-swing, fire a sword beam, and dash up using the A Button, but another big point is the big change from previous games in the UI for choosing an item.
Aonuma: That's right. As alluded to earlier, in The Legend of Zelda games you have to be able to switch items in a flash.
Aonuma: Until now, you had to open the item screen and choose the Bow or a bomb, disrupting the flow of the game. And that didn't seem right even to me. But the director Fujibayashi-san and Tanaka-san in charge of UI totally resolved that big problem.
Iwata: Fujibayashi-san, how did you do that?
Fujibayashi: We were using Wii MotionPlus, so I wanted to do something revolutionary even for switching items, and what I came up with was quickly switching items without having to look at an item screen.
Iwata: Item selection without looking at the screen. That truly is revolutionary.
Fujibayashi: Yes. I thought it might be possible with Wii MotionPlus, so after I had a rough idea of it, I talked to Tanaka-san and asked for the impossible. I explained it using gestures, like, "If you do this, then this happens." (laughs)
Iwata: After he laid that on you, Tanaka-san, how did you approach it?
Tanaka: When using the Wii Remote, the most common solution is to choose items with the pointer. But this time, we wanted to select items without using the pointer.
Iwata: That way you make use of Wii MotionPlus's features.
Tanaka: That's right. We tested arranging the items on the screen in a circle, and you twist the Wii Remote Plus like a rotary switch to select an item.
Iwata: You thought of selecting items the way you used to turn a dial to select television channels.
Tanaka: Exactly. But when we tried it out, you can only turn your wrist about 120 degrees, so when choosing one item from about eight, you end up selecting the wrong one a lot. Then we realized that turning your wrist wasn't the right way to go and tried tilting the Wii Remote Plus with your arm.
Fujibayashi: That way, even if you don't look at the screen, the items are at certain angles and you can select them by tilting the Wii Remote Plus. As you play, you remember that, for example, the bow is at the top and your bombs are on the right.
Tanaka: For example, you remember with your body that if you tilt down, you switch to the Slingshot.
Iwata: So you can do it without looking at the screen. I think it was around the time you had just made that system, I remember very well that Miyamoto-san really bragged about it. He said, "Once you get used to it, you can select items with unprecedented speed and without interrupting the flow of the game. It's quite unique."
Fujibayashi: That was the first time Miyamoto-san ever praised me. (laughs)
Aonuma: Huh? The very first time? (laughs)
Fujibayashi: I'd never had that experience before, so I was overjoyed.
Tanaka: Yes. We were giving each other high-fives.
Tanaka: That's how happy we were. We were like, "We finally did it!"
Iwata: He even mentioned it to me before it was even finished, so it must have really struck a chord with him.
Aonuma: I suppose so.
Iwata: Tanaka-san, looking back at it now, what struck you the most?
Tanaka: Hmm, it's difficult to pinpoint one thing, but what made me think it went well in the end was something I noticed when we were having game testers look at it. Many playing for the first time thought the remote was for pointing at the screen.
Iwata: They didn't notice that you controlled it by tilting the Wii Remote Plus.
Tanaka: That's right. Using it like a pointer is second nature for the Wii console, so everyone has that preconceived notion. But even if you try to point, you can select items. When that went well, I thought, "Oh, this is good!"
Iwata: The pointing movement syncs with the Wii Remote Plus controller's tilt. So once you get used to it, you realize that it doesn't have to be pointed at the screen all the time, which makes it much easier to play.
Aonuma: Exactly. Another important point is how when the finger icon appears on the item selection screen, there's a string attached to it.
Fujibayashi: That was quite an invention, if I do say so myself. (laughs)
Aonuma: Yes. There's a string attached to the icon, so even if you make a big movement with the Wii Remote Plus, it moves in a circle, but no further.
Fujibayashi: In other words, even if you the Wii Remote Plus is swung all the way out, the finger icon never leaves the screen.
Iwata: Oh, I see.
Aonuma: The first time I saw that, I thought, "What's with this unsightly string!" (laughs) But when I actually tried it out, it felt comfortable. When first seeing screenshots of that string, many people may feel like something is off, but once they play it, I hope they'll realize how comfortable it feels.
Iwata: The items are much more comfortable to choose. You can use familiar items from the series as well as new ones.
Fujibayashi: Take the good old Slingshot and Bow. Until now the sights jumped around and you had to point the Wii Remote to the screen all the time, but not this time.
Aonuma: That's right. You don't use the pointer. You hold the Wii Remote Plus like a bow and use the sites to take aim, so it doesn't waver. That way, when you accurately aim at something far away, it feels incredibly comfortable.
Tanaka: When it comes to the bombs, if you swing the Wii Remote Plus from above, you throw one, but if you swing it from below, you roll it. And you can put a spin on them.
Iwata: You can spin the bombs?
Aonuma: But getting it in the UI was pretty hard, because the arrow needs to bend so sharply on the screen.
Tanaka: That's true. The bomb will curve in the direction you twist the Wii Remote, so there's an arrow on the ground showing that direction.
Aonuma: Originally, you bought bombs at shops or picked them from Bomb Flowers growing from the ground, and then you used them, but this time, you can pick them from a Bomb Flower and put them in a bag.
Iwata: You can gather bombs?
Aonuma: Yes. (laughs) At first, I thought, "Huh?! Is that all right?!" but when I actually did it, it felt incredibly natural. I've been involved with The Legend of Zelda games for a long time, so again I'm frustrated that I never hit on that idea before.
Fujibayashi: When you store them, they're shooting off sparks. (laughs)
Iwata: They don't explode in your bag? (laughs)
Kobayashi: No. The fire goes out once they're in your bag.
Rocket Fists Give Birth to an Ancient Civilization
Iwata: Could you introduce us to some of the new items that appear this time?
Aonuma: One is the flying Hook Beetle in the form of the insect it's named after.
Iwata: Could we say it's a bug robot?
Aonuma: Yes, we call it that. At first, it was a boomerang.
Iwata: Huh? A boomerang turned into a beetle?
Aonuma: Yes. (laughs)
Fujibayashi: At first, a boomerang would spin through the air, and they fly out.
Aonuma: We thought it might fun if you could tilt the Wii Remote Plus so it flew however you wanted and tried out some things, but then we started talking about how that simply wasn't much like a boomerang. (laughs)
Iwata: I'd say not. (laughs)
Aonuma: And it had a camera. We wanted to think of an item that would fit better with that feature and came up with rocket fists. (laughs)
Iwata: The boomerang suddenly became a rocket fist? (laughs)
Kobayashi: Yes. (laughs) At that time, it could also grab things, so we thought it would be cool if something like a hand were flying around.
Fujibayashi: In the end, it turned into a beetle. The way it looks like it flies out from your arm is leftover from the rocket fist.
Iwata: Got it. (laughs)
Fujibayashi: Beetle can fly quite some distance from Link, and we thought that might cause some trouble.
Iwata: It could have a markedly negative effect on gameplay.
Fujibayashi: Exactly. Players would be able to go to places and see things that they shouldn't yet. We realized that right away.
Kobayashi: The landform staff wouldn't stop complaining about it. (laughs)
Fujibayashi: They were livid, but we squeezed it in, and it turned into a very user-friendly item.
Iwata: But it makes one wonder how a mechanical marvel like a flying beetle would exist in the world of The Legend of Zelda.
Aonuma: But thanks to this mechanical item, we decided to expand on that theme, which gave birth to the ancient civilization that is part of the backdrop this time.
Kobayashi: That's right.
Aonuma: At first, we weren't thinking about having an advanced ancient civilization be part of the milieu. As you can tell from a rocket fist. (laughs)
Iwata: (laughs) So if you hadn't thought of rocket fists, the game wouldn't have involved an ancient civilization?
Aonuma: It may have been quite different.
Iwata: Ah…I think we'll make this section's title "Rocket Fists Give Birth to an Ancient Civilization." (laughs)
Fujibayashi: But that's really how the ancient civilization came about, and then we could play it out, saying, "Let's make this person a robot," and "Let's make this place ancient ruins."
Iwata: It is true that we don't make The Legend of Zelda games based on a story. The process is the exact opposite of thinking up a story at the start, coming up with various settings, and writing a proposal. Of course, both ways are valid.
Fujibayashi: That's right. The way we make The Legend of Zelda games is like solving a puzzle, so it's really enjoyable.
Tanaka: That's right.
Iwata: You all like that. Wriggling around and landing. (laughs)
Aonuma: Oh, I see. You struggle and squirm, but pull off a solid landing, which feels really good. (laughs)
Fujibayashi: That's true. And the Gust Bellows is a new item making its first appearance in a 3D Legend of Zelda game.
Iwata: That magic jar you use to blow stuff around, right? How did you come up with that?
Aonuma: That item first appeared a long time ago in The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, which Fujibayashi-san worked on.
Fujibayashi: It can do anything. I love it! (laughs)
Iwata: Yes, the Gust Bellow is one of those things you whip out whenever you're in trouble.
Fujibayashi: You say, "It can even do this! After all, it's the Gust Bellow!"
Fujibayashi: A game is fun when it has profoundly mysterious things, so we figure its best to prepare items for doing all kinds of things from the very start.
Aonuma: The Gust Bellow can blow around all sorts of things, but at first it could also suck things up.
Kobayashi: Oh, we did experiment with that.
Fujibayashi: It was a magic jar that could suck in and blow out.
Kobayashi: And you could narrow down the mouth like you might to adjust the flow of water from a hose. And if you twisted the end you could blow things further.
Tanaka: From behind Link's back, you couldn't see the mouth, so you were like, "What's going on?!" (laughs)
Aonuma: You couldn't see at all. (laughs) So we made it to only blow and realized that was enough to allow players to do all sorts of things. Then we decided to refine the satisfaction of blowing things around and it turned into a great item.
Fujibayashi: The Whip is a new item, too.
Aonuma: Oh right, the Whip. Around the time of the E3 2010, Iwata-san said the Whip was cool.
Fujibayashi: And that decided it.
Aonuma: Yes. That statement alone set us to polishing it up.
Iwata: Huh? What I said did that?
Fujibayashi: Yes. We were making a whip before that, but we weren't sure if we should actually use it. Then, before E3, we had a chance to have you look at a version still under development. The conversation turned to using this opportunity to put in a whip, and your response was amazingly positive.
Iwata: Well, I was really happy! (laughs)
Tanaka: Until E3, we hadn't done much with the Whip.
Kobayashi: It was a brand spanking new item.
Iwata: And I snapped at it. (laughs)
Aonuma: You sure did! (laughs) We thought, "Well, now we got to use it!"
Fujibayashi: We thought, "This'll work," and started seriously developing it.
Tanaka: If you swing the Wii Remote Plus, you can use it to haul in items.
Aonuma: And you can do things like snatch keys away from enemies.
Kobayashi: Uh, yes, but…
Kobayashi: Is it all right to reveal that?
Aonuma: Oh, sure. Like Iwata-san said at the beginning, there's so much packed into this game that it won't matter.
Kobayashi: That certainly is true! (laughs)
"I'll Never Be Able to Play the Old Way Again!"
Iwata: I think being able to switch the items you're carrying with ease was one key to being good at playing The Legend of Zelda games so far.
Aonuma: I agree with that.
Iwata: But this time, that element of game operation has suddenly changed and the flow of gameplay has become incredibly natural.
Aonuma: That's true. The actions from choosing an item with the Wii Remote Plus to using that item connect smoothly, so gameplay has become seamless.
Kobayashi: You can select items this time while moving Link.
Aonuma: And you can drink potion while running.
Aonuma: When an enemy is about to beat Link, you drink potion from a bottle in order to restore his hearts.
Aonuma: That scene was portrayed via cinematics-like moment while we stop gameplay through the previous title, but this time it fits in seamlessly, so, for example, if a boss is about to finish you off, you can run for your life and gulp down some potion to restore your health.
Fujibayashi: It isn't very seemly behavior, though. (laughs)
Aonuma: I guess not. (laughs)
Iwata: The other day, Miyamoto-san said, "I'll never be able to play the old way again!"
Aonuma: Yes, he's been saying that.
Iwata: But I would imagine that Wii MotionPlus presents a new challenge to the overwhelming majority of players out there. They must feel uneasy about the controls changing so dramatically.
Aonuma: I suppose so.
Iwata: Tanaka-san, as a developer of the game, what would you say to people like that?
Tanaka: I'd like people who feel they aren't very good at button controls to feel more confident about this game. I think some people have felt that with controllers until now there was a distance between themselves and the gameworld, but this time, when you want to do something, it is directly reflected in Link's movement via Wii MotionPlus, so the gameworld feels much closer. I would recommend they give it a try.
Iwata: How about you, Kobayashi-san?
Kobayashi: I was involved in development of Wii Sports Resort. I wasn't in charge of Tennis, but that game distinguished between forehand and backhand shots.
Iwata: You can swing the racket whichever way you want, from the right or the left.
Kobayashi: After growing accustomed to those controls, I played another tennis game and was like, "Oh…the racket's a button." (laughs)
Iwata: Using buttons as controls felt strange.
Kobayashi: That's right. When making this game, to confirm specifications, I played The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and tried to swing the sword in whatever direction I wanted and couldn't do it. I then thought, "I can't go back."
Fujibayashi: I feel the same way. But the controls are new, so some people will feel something is a little off for the first 10 or 15 minutes.
Iwata: Because the manner of playing is so different than before.
Fujibayashi: But they'll gradually get used to it and the next thing they know, they'll feel like something is off about games you control by punching buttons.
Iwata: And you, Aonuma-san?
Aonuma: I feel as if Wii MotionPlus, and the Wii Remote Plus, have completely become tools. With a conventional controller, there are all these things you have to remember, being presented the controller and pressing these buttons—like remembering the right sequences in fighting games. To tell the truth, I'm not a big fan of games like that.
Iwata: You're not good at them? (laughs)
Aonuma: That's right, I'm not! (laughs) I can't remember the commands. But the compatibility between The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Wii MotionPlus are outstanding. Just by swinging the remote, or tilting it, or twisting it, you can perform all kinds of actions, so there's no need to remember anything. I hope people will feel as if they have a new tool and try swinging it around.
Iwata: I suppose it's like gradually becoming able to use a brush better, or a chisel.
Aonuma: Yes, it is. Or maybe a musical instrument. As you're using it, your body grows familiar with it and you gradually master the use of it.
Fujibayashi: Like Miyamoto-san said, it's part of your muscle-memory.
Aonuma: Yes, your body remembers it. So whatever you do, you can't go back to the way controls used to be. When I watch people play at game shows, I think it's interesting how everyone plays a different way.
Iwata: You can handle this tool any way you want, so each user's personality comes out.
Aonuma: That's right. It's interesting how some people move their body a lot and swing around the Wii Remote Plus, while some people make little discrete movements around their waist to move it.
Iwata: You can use the Wii Remote Plus without moving it a whole lot.
Aonuma: Yes. When you get tired, you can use less strength and play using less taxing movements.
Iwata: Development took five years. How were you able to keep going for so long?
Fujibayashi: As mentioned earlier, Miyamoto-san really praised us when we came up with the method of item selection. At that time, we felt a great sense of accomplishment as if we had climbed a big mountain, so we just kept saying, "All right, on to the next mountain."
Tanaka: We got really pumped up then and were like, "We can do this!"
Iwata: You were giving each other high-fives! (laughs)
Aonuma: Yes. (laughs) When we made that item selection system, everyone knew which direction to go. Not that many new items appear this time, but we wanted make each item or function as good as it could be. Everyone on the staff felt like if they really polished it up, it would turn out good.
Fujibayashi, Kobayashi, and Tanaka: (nodding)
Iwata: And that's what turned it into a Zelda game with a dense concentration of content.
Aonuma: I believe so.
Fujibayashi: We really enjoyed making it.
Kobayashi: We worked every day in hopes that players will enjoy it.
Tanaka: It became a habit to say, "That's one more thing that's cool now."
Kobayashi: And "That's one more thing that the players can enjoy."
Iwata: I see. You built up hundreds of individually interesting elements, like stacking up hundreds of thin pieces of paper until there's a thick pile.
Aonuma: That's right. Well, we did get a long time for development. (laughs)
Fujibayashi: Not just to make new things, but we also had plenty of time to make adjustments.
Aonuma: I don't think we wasted any time.
Iwata: But at first, you said, "We'll be done by spring." (laughs)
Aonuma: Uh…yes. (laughs)
Fujibayashi: You plan to hold a number of "Iwata Asks" sessions over The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, don't you?
Fujibayashi: Do you plan to have one just focusing on the trouble we had with the development schedule?
Iwata: Like "Iwata Asks: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Development Schedule Difficulties"? (laughs)
Fujibayashi: Yes, yes, like that! (laughs)
Aonuma: Huh? No thanks. I'll sit that one out! (laughs)
Iwata: Good work, everyone.
Everyone: Thank you!