Zelda: The Eiji Aonuma Interview
Eiji spoke to Official Nintendo Magazine and had some new insights into The Legend of Zelda: Skyword Sword
ONM: What’s the significance of the game’s title and how does it relate to the piece of artwork that was released at E3 in 2009?
Eiji Aonuma: Did you happen to watch the trailer? That last scene where Link dives off the big cliff and goes flying through the clouds is a key hint as to the connection between the game and the Skyward Sword title.
Link lives on Skyloft, a series of floating islands that are above the clouds. He’s a normal kid living up on these islands above the clouds, but then an incident occurs and Link is forced to travel to the land beneath the clouds. This other world below the clouds has been captured and is being ruled by evil forces. So he has to go down there and start his adventure. The juxtapositon between the two worlds is very important.
What leads Link on this adventure is the Skyward Sword and 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.
ONM: So that’s Zelda, right?
EA: It would be nice to keep this a mystery but I can tell you right now that it is not Zelda.
ONM: Why have you changed the art style?
EA: The graphical style is the result of a collaboration between myself and Mr Miyamoto. We are both interested in art and it is a style that we like – we are very pleased with what we’ve done this time. One of the reasons we’ve chosen the art style we have is that we wanted to showcase the exaggerated characteristics of some of the characters, not only of the enemies, but the representation of the sword spirit itself.
Swordfighting is an important part of the gameplay, and Link is carrying the weapon and the shield. Because of the way we have put everything together you have to focus on how the enemy is carrying the weapons and there are a couple of different ways you can go about that – you can be super-realistic or not so realistic. We thought that because we wanted to highlight the swordfighting, we had to exaggerate the features and the art style we chose was suited to doing that. You have to match the art style to how the game plays, and we thought this worked better.
ONM: Is this a major reboot for the series then?
EA: It’s hard to introduce major changes to the Zelda gameplay, and one of the reasons for this 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 distinction between which area you are in and which style of gameplay you are participating in. So what we’ve tried to do is to introduce some new elements – this time we have larger fields and there are dungeons that don’t really feel like dungeons but will incorporate some of those elements. So we are reimagining some of the traditional gameplay elements.
ONM: Where does Skyward Sword stand within the Zelda timeline?
EA: 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 the title. We can’t share it with anyone else!
However, I have already talked to Mr Miyamoto about this so I am comfortable in releasing this information – this title takes place before Ocarina Of Time. If I said that a certain title was ‘the first Zelda’, then that means that we can’t make a title that takes place before that! So for us to be able to add titles to the series, we have to have a way of putting the titles before or after each other.
ONM: Will there be any famous Zelda characters in the game?
EA: I believe there might be! We really haven’t decided whether certain characters will re-appear or not appear. One of the things we talked about with our staff is how a character could be used in this game or would it be fun to tie in a connection that the fans would be appreciative of? I am pretty much letting the team decide how and when we implement that sort of thing.
ONM: Has MotionPlus made it possible to create the Zelda game you’ve always wanted to make?
EA: Yes, when I first saw the Wii Remote that was one of the first things we thought about too. When Wii MotionPlus came along, and we saw how it was implemented in Wii Sports Resort’s swordplay game, we saw what we could now do in Zelda. Mr Miyamoto had thought the same thing – we then decided that we could do this in a Zelda game.
ONM: Is it a lot of fun coming up with new and different uses for M?
EA: 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 what MotionPlus could add to the game. Through that experience, ideas were born to implement the technology in other ways. So we were able to think of new ideas and items, and this time we really do have really new and unique ideas using the MotionPlus technology. I really hope you look forward to seeing how we have used it.
ONM: Is the range of weapons more diverse?
EA: 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 the items will almost feel new because of the technology. But of course if you look on the weapons menu you will see a couple of question marks – those are new items that aren’t available [in old Zelda games].