Interview:Nintendo Power December 6th 2011

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Nintendo Power December 6th 2011

Date

December 6, 2011

Interviewee

Interviewer

Nintendo Power

Description

With Skyward Sword released, Aonuma shares information about the game's development.

Source

[1]

Nintendo Power: What sorts of things did you have to pay attention to during the development of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, thanks to the inclusion of compatibility with the Wii MotionPlus accessory, that you didn't have to in previous Legend of Zelda games?:
Eiji Aonuma: Our top priorities during development were making sure that players could use Wii MotionPlus to freely swing their sword, and making sure that the enemy AI was resilient enough to deal with that. The big difference between the enemies in this game and the enemies in previous installments is that now enemies can see the direction Link's sword is moving, and take action to defend themselves from an attack from that specific direction. (However, there are some enemies who can't defend themselves at all.) This is something that was never a part of the series back when players simply pressed a button to swing the sword, and it has added a welcome puzzle-solving elements to the combat.
NP: How did you decide which items to bring back? Were there any items you considered but that got left on the cutting-room floor? Where's the boomerang?
EA: When we were exploring ways to use the Wii MotionPlus, we decided we wanted a projectile that players could control more directly, so we replaced the boomerang with the new Beetle item. We also considered a lot of other classic items, and winnowed them down to the ones that would be the most fun to control with Wii MotionPlus. Instead of focusing on quantity, we wanted to offered a deeper experience with each item (which includes aspects like the upgrade system).

As a result of this rigorous selection process, there were some items that ended up on the cutting-room floor. I wish I could tell you what they were, but we may end up using them in the next Zelda game, so I want to keep them a secret for now.
NP: We have to ask: What was Zelda going to tell Link before the black whirlwind seperated them at the beginning of the game?
EA: I wonder! I think I'd rather have each player come up with his own answer.
NP: Aside from the sky, the game features only three main areas, each of which is visited multiple times during the adventure. Why was the game structured in this manner instead of including more areas?
EA: We decided to simplify the world for this installment because we wanted players to feel more connected to each area, and find more of the secrets that we've hidden throughout them. Looking back at Twilight Princess, we felt that its world was too large and too time-consuming to travel through, and that's what led us to structure Skyward Sword the way we did.

The most challenging part of implementing this new structure was making it so that players could reach their destinations as quickly as possible while still making new discoveries along the way.
NP: What's the deal with the evil catlike Remlits in Skyloft at night? Did someone on the team have a bad experience with his cat or something?
EA: We wanted the nighttime version of Skyloft to feel different, so we decided to make a species of animal that was cute and loveable during the day but transformed into a horrible beast at night. And that was how we came up with the monsters known as Remlits. I don't think that the Remlits were actually based on cats (they can fly, after all), and I'm quite sure that they weren't inspired by some staff member's hatred of cats or anything, but I guess I could see how a cat-lover might raise an eyebrow at that. [Laughs]
NP: We really like Groose, and how he changes from a typical bully into a much more interesting character. How did the character evolve during development of the game? (And do you think he deserves to get a Legend of Groose game?)
EA: The Legend of Groose? That's an interesting idea! [Laughs]

In Skyward Sword, Link and Zelda begin the game as childhood friends and classmates at a boarding school, and we thought that it would make for a more interesting story if we also had a character who could act as Link's rival. After all, schoolyard rivalries are a staple element of boarding-school dramas.

One of the reasons Groose grows up and begins helping Link in the latter half of the story is that by having the characters around Link grow and mature, it helps strengthen the sense that the player's character is growing as well.
NP: The headmaster's name, Gaepora, is pretty similar to the owl's name from Ocarina of Time, Kaepora Gaebora. The headmaster even has owl-like eyebrows and a hooting laugh. Were these characters intentionally made similar, or is that just a coincidence?
EA: The headmaster holds a wide variety of knowledge (he was originally designed to be the priest who was the heir to the legend of the goddess), and so the designer made him look like that in order to present a wise and dignified image. He wasn't actually designed around Kaepora Gaebora, but since he did end up resembling him, we gave him the name Gaepora.
NP: Speaking of supporting characters, which ones are you particular fond of?
EA: My favorite is Eagus, the Knight Commander at the Sparring Hall. I actually wrote all of his dialogue myself. My grandfather used to teach kendo (a Japanese sword art) at the police academy, so I studied kendo when I was a small child. The Knight Commander acts a little self-important, but in a way, I feel like it's me who's speaking through him. (I also wrote the dialogue for the Hero's Shade who teaches Link the hidden skills in Twilight Princess.) If anyone out there is having trouble with their sword technique, please go to the Sparring Hall and pay him a visit!
NP: With all the flying in the game, we thought there's be some sort of aerial-racing minigame. Is there a reason there wasn't one?
EA: Designing courses for an aerial race is difficult, and since Loftwings fly by rising up and then gliding downard, they didn't seem very well suited to high-speed racing. Those are the main reasons we decided not to include one.
NP: This game has some of our favorite boss fights in the Zelda series. What was your favorite boss fight, and why?
EA: If you mean in the whole series, my favorite is probably Crayk from Phantom Hourglass. It could attack while invisible, but by using the two screens of the Nintendo DS, you could fight it by watching from the boss's perspective, which was a lot of fun. (I'd wanted to make a boss like that for awhile.) As for Skyward Sword, the craft swordplay in the Ghirahim fight stands as a really memorable moment for me.
NP: The Silent Realms are pretty nerve-wracking! Why did you want to include those areas, and what was your philosophy for their designs?
EA: Typically, Link uses his sword to fight through enemies, and that made me wonder what kind of game we could make if Link couldn't use his sword or any items at all. That thought ended up being the inspiration for th Silent Realms. We've incorporated the idea of battling indestructible enemies with the phantoms in Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, but this time we wanted to keep it simple by restricting players to using only Link's inherent abilities (like pressing A to dash). The time restrictions add an element of strategy, and make knowledge of the area the key to success, which is why we set them in the areas that players would be the most familiar with.
NP: Although this game focused on the tale of the goddess, Hylia, previous Zelda games talked about three goddesses (Din, Farore, and Nayru) that created the world. How do you reconcile these different deities of Hyrule?
EA: The goddess and Zelda – who had always been fated to be the bearer of divine power – are one and the same. People have simply called them by different names. The deeds of the goddess in the past marked the beginning of the Legend of Zelda, and the starting point of the destiny that was thereafter guided by the power of the three great goddesses (the Triforce).
NP: The game was a huge amount of content. How did you decide, "This is enough"?
EA: With Zelda, there really isn't any clear line where we say, "This is enough." Of course, we could try to quantify the amount of content by counting the dungeons, but with Skyward Sword, the number of dungeons wouldn't be a very good indicator of volume, because other aspects of the game are more substantial and numerous. After playing through the whole thing – even as the producer of the game – I was honestly shocked at how much content there was. We didn't want the dungeons in Skyward Sword to be the sort of thing we would cut or add to adjust the amount of content, so instead we focused on other aspects of the game. I suppose it was inevitable that game systems that repeatedly offered new reasons to explore familiar locations would result in such a huge amount of content.
NP: There definitely seems to be more challenge than in some recent Zelda games. Aside from Hero mode, what would you consider to be the most challenging part of Skyward Sword?
EA: That's a difficult question to answer. We started development of Skyward Sword determined to confront all of the conventions of the Zelda series that we take for granted, and I think that led to a lot of them being transformed into something more challenging, in the sense that they won't be what longtime Zelda fans are expecting. Now, we didn't make such decisions lightly; they came from a painstaking process of distilling years of feedback from fans and the opinions of experienced Zelda-team members who felt that certain aspects of the series needed to be reformed. Considering all that, I think it's really meaningful that we were able to complete this game when we did, on the 25th anniversary of the Zelda series.
NP: Finally, now that development of Skyward Sword is complete, have you had a chance to give any more thought to what The Legend of Zelda might be like on Wii U?
EA: As I mentioned earlier, Skyward Sword was a title where we took aim at all the conventions of the Zelda series. While that may have been difficult, I think that confronting those challenges results in something that has a great deal of value. When it comes to Wii U, we'll obviously want to add new elements that take advantage of the capabilities of the platform. But I think using that as a lens through which we once again challenge the conventions of Zelda is more important than just making another Zelda game. With that in mind, please expect big things from the Zelda series to come!