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Zelda Producer: Why Does the Series Have to be So "Traditional"?

Nintendo's Eiji Aonuma is getting tired of the series formula and wants to make some changes.

By Mike Williams. Published 6 months ago

Nintendo producer Eiji Aonuma has been working on the Legend of Zelda series since 1998's Ocarina of Time. That's a decade-and-a-half working on a single series, enough to make any designer want to do something new. Aonuma is currently the producer on The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for the 3DS/2DS and the unnamed Zelda title for the Wii U. In an interview with 4Gamer (translated via Siliconera), Aonuma pondered trying something new within the confines of the Zelda series.

"When I say I'm tired," began Aonuma when asked about his July interview with the LA Times, "I'm not talking about making Zelda, but rather, the same constituent that has been used to make Zelda up until now. While on the subject, in regard to how we've always done things the traditional way until now: 'Why does it have to be traditional?' That's the question I've been asking myself."

"If we don't change that, we can't make something new. We're slightly approaching The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds with that mindset, and also the next Zelda title, which we intend to continue changing. However, this brings us to the topic, 'Exactly what is The Legend of Zelda about?'"

In a recent article, USgamer's own Jeremy Parish wondered if A Link Between Worlds is the Zelda series trying to evolve itself out of a rut. Aonuma admitted that the series has lost its "uniqueness" over the years by sticking closely to tradition. A Link Between Worlds shakes things up by allowing players to choose how they tackle the dungeons; weapons will be available for purchase or rent in a shop, instead of inside each dungeon.

"Something that is 'traditional' is in a sense often something that copies previous works, so if you continue doing that, it gradually takes away from its uniqueness," said Aonuma. "So we're currently working on making those parts more and more unique."

"So, by no means, am I tired of it," Aonuma added. "Rather, the more we change it, the more I get fired up. Having someone think 'Huh? Is this Zelda?!' at first, then 'Oh, it is Zelda,' is what we're going for. Something that wouldn't make it matter whether Link or Princess Zelda appear in it or not. Something where it wouldn't even matter if Zelda is actually a princess, or not."

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds will be released on 3DS/2DS on November 22, 2013.

The best community comments so far 4 comments

  • brionfoulke91 6 months ago

    I'm all for trying new things and experimenting. But I just want them to be careful of not falling into the trap of innovation through homogenization.

    For example, an open world Zelda game, although that does sound cool if it's done the right way, is hardly innovative. That's just jumping on the open world bandwagon. Everyone is doing open world games now. Similarly, I don't want to see Zelda having deeper story elements or cut-scenes, that stuff is done to death. It doesn't need regenerating health, and it doesn't need monetization.

    You know what would be great? Another 2-D Zelda along the lines of Adventure of Link, just because nobody's really making games like that anymore. The Adventure of Link formula, but more expanded and modernized is something that I've never seen done. That's just one example, but if they want to shake up Zelda, I hope they do it by trying something that's really new.

  • Thusian 6 months ago

    @brionfoulke91 your trepidation just describes how much of a corner they have painted themselves into. And while a new AoL type game might be the shake up you want, it could go over like a lead balloon to others. Zelda has been around for so long we all have expectations. We want something new, yet the same. Its a strange paradox so they have to experiment. Its possible the next one will have the problems you stated with open world, but if they listen to critics and declining sales, the have to try something.

  • brionfoulke91 6 months ago

    @Thusian Yes, of course they are in a tough position. People are crying out for change, but at the same time any major changes they make could very easily go over like a led balloon.

    But then again, some people may welcome those changes if they do them right. Doing them right is the real trick. Personally I think a new Adventure of Link style Zelda could go over very well, especially on a portable system. It would definitely qualify as the shakeup the series needs.

    I'd also like to see Zelda get a bit more challenging again, as Dark Souls has shown people are hungry for that kind of challenge. Dark Souls borrowed OoT's battle system, so I think it's only fair that Zelda should draw a little inspiration from Dark Souls.

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