Everyone makes mistakes
There are very few games from decades ago that stand the test of time visually, but The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is one of them. The cel-shaded approach helped make the game timeless from a graphics standpoint, with the game still impressing to this day.
Rewind back to when Wind Waker was initially revealed, and the gaming community lost its mind. Some were wowed by the visuals and intrigued by the new direction, but many were extremely disappointed to see Nintendo head in a cartoonish direction for Link and the gang. Now we know that you can count Shigeru Miyamoto among those who were upset.
The latest episode of Did You Know Gaming digs into the history of Wind Waker, which brings us a snippet of an interview with Eiji Aonuma, the driving force behind the Zelda franchise for decades now. Aonuma was indeed behind Wind Waker, and he had a feeling Miyamoto wasn’t going to like the switch to cute and colorful graphics.
The original plan for Wind Waker was to head in a more realistic direction, but when a member of the dev team came up with the Toon Link idea, a decision was made to go down that road. Everyone on the team loved it, but Aonuma hesitated to show off this style to Miyamoto. Turns out his hesitation was merited, as when Miyamoto finally saw the new design, Aonuma says that he “literally cringed.
“If I had gone and talked to him from the very beginning, I think he would’ve said ‘How is that Zelda?’ Miyamoto had trouble letting go of the realistic link art style until the very end. At some point, he had to give a presentation against his will. That’s when he said something to me like ‘You know, it’s not too late to change course and make a realistic Zelda.”
Miyamoto apparently thought it would have taken a decade to make a realistic-looking Zelda, so Wind Waker moved on. That obviously wasn’t the case, as Twilight Princess took a more realistic approach, and that title came out just 4 years after Wind Waker.