Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom's devs explain why Zonai Devices look like everyday items
Magic in the mundane
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is adding a ton of features to the base of Breath of the Wild, and that includes Zonai Devices. Link will be able to utilize these special, magic-powered items to build all sorts of amazing weapons, items and vehicles in the game, and it seems things will only be limited by your imagination.
While these Zonai Devices are magical technology, they have the appearance of everyday real-life items. With a game using such a fantastical backdrop and mysterious setting, why did Nintendo go with utilitarian designs for the Zonai Devices? Nintendo’s Satoru Takizawa and Eiji Aonuma explain in the latest ‘Ask the Developer’ feature for Tears of the Kingdom.
Takizawa: The initial concept of this game was to use the “supernatural power” of an unknown civilization, as opposed to the Sheikah civilization’s “super ancient technology” in the previous game, so we decided to create lots of handy items with magical properties. However, even if we describe these items as “supernatural,” players won’t use them unless they know what they are. So, this thing we were calling “magic” ultimately became…ahem, an electric fan.
Since we felt it was important for our players to get what those items are at a glance, our designers ended up creating various home appliances. (Laughs) Coming up with ways to present them as something supernatural in the world of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was quite a challenge. It was a great opportunity for us designers to put our skills to the test. (Laughs)
Aonuma: If players are shown something they’ve never seen in real life, they’ll have no idea how to use it. But if it looks similar to an everyday item, they’ll understand how it should be used intuitively. Having these items in the world of this Legend of Zelda game where magic exists surprisingly worked.