There are certain games in Legend of Zelda history that fans can point to as pivotal. For example, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past provided the format for many Zelda games after it, and Ocarina of Time did the same. Nowadays, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has achieved that status.

In an interview with Game Informer, Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma and director Hidemaro Fujibayashi talked about all things Zelda in honor of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom launching. At one point in the interview, Aonuma recognized the importance of Breath of the Wild, as it’s a franchise installment that has made the blueprint for titles to come over the next few years.

…People will look for an easy way to do something if they can avoid struggling. We want to make sure that is something that stayed in this game. When thinking of games in the past that we’ve worked on, where there was a puzzle to solve and only one answer, that’s kind of the past way of developing games. Now, I’m happy that we’ve arrived at this method where we’re giving people lots of options, and there are many answers to a single problem, and all of them can potentially be correct. I feel happy that we’ve arrived at this type of development style.

With Ocarina of Time, I think it’s correct to say that it did kind of create a format for a number of titles in the franchise that came after it. But in some ways, that was a little bit restricting for us. While we always aim to give the player freedoms of certain kinds, there were certain things that format didn’t really afford in giving people freedom. Of course, the series continued to evolve after Ocarina of Time, but I think it’s also fair to say now that we’ve arrived at Breath of the Wild and the new type of more open play and freedom that it affords. Yeah, I think it’s correct to say that it has created a new kind of format for the series to proceed from.

[Eiji Aonuma]

The open-ended nature of Breath of the Wild was an absolutely massive departure for the Zelda franchise, and that idea is only taken further in Tears of the Kingdom. That said, Nintendo’s teams have worked hard to make sure this new direction for the Legend of Zelda franchise still feels like a Zelda game when all is said and done.

Both Aonuma and Fujibayashi spoke on the importance of retaining the essence of Zelda in games like Tears of the Kingdom, as the goal is to expand what’s possible without alienating longtime fans.

EA: Well, it’s just as you said: Making sure that Zelda-ness or that Zelda feel is really in the game. I think that’s a really important point. Even if a game like Breath of the Wild has really big changes in it, as long as the fans and the players are able to feel that this is a Zelda game at its core when they play the game, that is something that is really important for us when meeting fans’ expectations.

HF: And really, when we’re talking about this, I guess, essence of Zelda, as long as we preserve that, then I think it provides us with the freedom to really build Zelda, and it can become many different things. For example, it could be a puzzle game, an adventure game, or an action game. All of these moments that can be dropped into a game help it become a Zelda-like game as long as that essence is preserved. I think even with Breath of the Wild, there are big changes in the core gameplay mechanics, but that essence was still preserved. Likewise, with Tears of the Kingdom, we’re really providing players with the freedom to use their creativity to come up with solutions, so that nervousness or doubt about whether this is okay isn’t something that we’re really worried about. What we really are focused on is that, through experimentation, making sure that the gameplay experience is something that is enjoyable and fun, and then taking that and making sure that the essence of Zelda is still alongside that. That is what I think makes it important, and that’s a field that the Zelda team really has a lot of confidence in.

[Series producer Eiji Aonuma and director Hidemaro Fujibayashi]

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Comments (2)

cheesus 2

1y ago

I honestly hope they pull a Mario Sunshine and exclude voice acting from future titles. At best it sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon, especially next to other Story heavy games like God of War


1y ago

Strangely I do really miss the old cinematics of Zelda games. Twilight Princess cinematics are much more epic, imaginative, and memorable than the cutscenes from the last two games. I can't explain why the voice acting takes away from the magic, but one thought is this (and this ties with my ONLY criticism of these incredible games):

- They are super tightly edited, so you don't get to sit back and listen to the music that is playing during the text cinematics from previous Zelda games.

I wish the BotW and TotK had more moments for memorable music. To me, Zelda and music goes hand in hand. Core memories from previous games are tied to the music. BotW had incredible sound design, but nothing of note music wise. Which is insane thinking about the legacy of these games' soundtracks.