Interview:Official Nintendo Magazine July 21st 2010

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This interview does not yet have standard formatting or is otherwise incomplete. It should follow the format established in other interviews.

While it was a question and answer session between Eiji Aonuma and Official Nintendo Magaine, the topics were not displayed in the magazine in an interview format. Thus, the quotes have been pulled out and titles given to the various sections for clarity.

Wii Motion Plus

Eiji Aonuma: Yes, when I first say the Wii Remote that was one of the first things we thought about too, but it wasn't as easy as we'd hoped. The motion sensing wasn't enough for what we wanted, which got us down a little but.

But when Wii MotionPlus came along, and we saw how it was implemented in Wii Sports Resort's swordplay game, we saw that what that team done we could now do in Zelda. Mr. Miyamoto had thought the same thing.

Items in Skyward Sword

Eiji Aonuma: Once we found that we could move the sword around as freely as we wanted, then we were like ‘wow'. Through working with the sword, we saw that MotionPlus could really add to the game, and ideas were born to implement the technology in other ways. This time we really do have new and unique implementations of the MotionPlus tech.

Of course, some of the old items are back-things like the slingshot- but I really think that people will play this with MotionPlus and it will almost feel new because the technology. But of course if you look on the weapons menu you will see a question mark – a couple of question marks, in fact – and those are new items that aren't available today.

New Ways to Play

Eiji Aonuma: I really think that it is about defining your goals – what it is that you want to do. It's how you use MotionPlus to reach your goals. One of the things that was a help for us was that the Wii Sports Resort team did a tone of experiments using MotionPlus, and found out in those experiments what they were able to do. That has been helpful. But it takes a long time to narrow that down and define it. Exactly how you implement it is as important as deciding what you want to do.

Obviously we have spent a lot of time on this edition of The Legend of Zelda, but all of that wasn't spent on implementing MotionPlus. Because of what the Wii Sports Resort team were able to do with their game, we can do these new things in the new Zelda. We're hoping that other developers will do the same and realize that they can do all these things in their games too. We hope it can be an inspiration to other people to use the technology.

Basically, what leads Link on this adventure is the Skyward Sword. When that sword is actively guiding Link it actually transforms into a feminine figure. I wouldn't say that it's female per se, but it's a feminine figure. It would be kind of nice to keep this a mystery but I can tell you right now that it is not Zelda.

World in the Clouds, Art-Style, Gameplay

Eiji Aonuma: Link is a normal kid living up on those islands above the clouds. But then an incident occurs and Link is forced to travel to the land beneath the clouds, which has been captured and ruled by evil forces. The juxtaposition between the two worlds is important.

We really haven't made a set determination as to whether certain characters will re-appear or not appear. One of the things we talk about with our staff is how a character works or can be used in this game, of if it would fun to tie in a connection here… anything that the fans would be appreciative of. I am pretty much letting the team decide how and when we implement that sort of thing.

One of the reasons we've chosen the art style we have with Skyward Sword is that it is a better vehicle to showcase the exaggerated characteristics of some of the characters. Not only of the enemy characters, but as a representation of the sword spirit itself.

Because of the way we have put the game together you have to focus on how the enemy is carrying their weapon, and there are a couple of different ways you can go about that. One, you can be super realistic, and the other, not so realistic. We thought that because we want to highlight the swordfighting combat, we have to exaggerate the features.

We thought that the art style we chose was best-suited to doing that. You have to match the art style to how the game plays, and we thought this worked best. We matched the artwork so that we can highlight the over-exaggeration in the gameplay.

Keep to the Zelda Formula

Eiji Aonuma: It's hard, obviously, to introduce major change into the Zelda gameplay, and one of the reasons for that is that we have some traditional elements that we have protected and continued throughout the series. You have a field, you have dungeons and there is a line across which area you are in, and which style of gameplay you are participating in.

So what we've tried to do with Skyward Sword is to introduce some new elements. This time there are larger fields and dungeons that don't really feel like dungeons or fields, but also incorporate some of those elements. We are re-imagining some of the traditional gameplay elements.

Influences on Skyward Sword

Eiji Aonuma: I know for myself, I might say that I really like this or that game but I never look at a game and say to myself that I like a particular element and that we should try and do something with it. But one thing we do try and do is look at the DS titles that we have created. Because we spent so much time working on easy of play with the DS Zelda titles, we really want to try and match that with the next home console version of the Legend of Zelda.

One of the things that I think has been really helpful is to create games for different systems at the same time. So, for example, creating a Game Boy Advance title at the same time as a GameCube title, or creating a Wii title at the same time as a DS title. We have come across an idea and think ‘This would be great in this game, but might be better used on this system'.

If we are looking at two different platforms then obviously it affects how we design things for each. Now that we are concentrating primarily on the Wii, we are also thinking about what we can do on 3DS. I think that it's really nice when you have two different platforms and you create a title that branches over both of the platforms, and each influences the other.

With Skyward Sword I think that we want people to play the game. Once they first get a chance to pick up the Remote and Nunchuck and play, they'll understand how great the sword feels and how easy and natural to use the items it is. At E3 we are giving the folks in the US the chance to experience it, but I really want to get it in the hands of our friends in Europe as well. That's why I must get back to Japan and get this game done and released so that everyone can experience it for themselves. That's the main thing – to get it in people's hands so they can see how great it feels.

It's interesting. The problem with MotionPlus is that until people get it in their hands and paly it, it is very hard to convey the experience. And now we have put the Nintendo 3DS into the mix! Explaining the 3DS is even harder because until you see it, you won't understand. We have just created another obstacle for ourselves!

Waiting Time

Eiji Aonuma: We never really talk about what percentage we're at or anything – we create games and work on the bases and foundation that the game will really work on. Once that is solid, then we usually work really hard and there is a fever pitch, and we get things done relatively quickly. I don't think it'll be too long now. The basis we have is very, very solid. Early 2011 – that's what we're looking for.

The thing is, every platform that we work on has different technology and is implemented differently. I have such great staff and they do such splended work that with each game they keep getting better and better. With each new title they can draw upon their experiences and we keep getting better and better titles.

Zelda Timeline

Eiji Aonuma: Yes, there is a master timeline but it is a confidential document! The only people to have access to that document are myself, Mr. Miyamoto and the director of that title. We can't share it with anyone else! I have already talked to Mr. Miyamoto about this so I am comfortable in releasing this information – this title [Skyward Sword] takes place before Ocarina of Time. If I said that a certain title was ‘the first Zelda game', when that means we can't ever make a title that takes place before that! So for us to be able to add titled to the series, we have to have a way of putting the titles before or after each other.