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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.

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Comments (8)

kuribo

5M ago

Wind Wakers art style is one of my favourites. Second to Breath of the Wild.


lucius6

5M ago

Sadly, he wasn't the only one. How much better would the game have performed if people had put their bias against the art style away when it launched.


pc2

5M ago

Understandable that even Zelda's creator would be taken aback by such a drastic shift in style, just as pretty much everyone else was back in the day. Thankfully it was a risk that paid off handsomely.


ridleysaria

5M ago

I never completely came around to Wind Waker's style. To this day I still hate how Toon Link looks. The enemies were what really sold me on it. In my opinion, Breath of the Wild had the perfect look for Zelda. More of a happy medium between Wind Waker and Twilight Princess.


sligeach_eire

5M ago

Who didn't? I think the majority of people did. Nintendo did a bait and switch so to speak, going from the Spaceworld tech demo, to Wind Waker. The phrase never judge a book by its cover has never been more apt. I was disappointed initially, but grew to love the game. You know, one of the reasons Nintendo go for these unique visual styles is to hide the weakness of their hardware.

I have thought about Metroid Prime 4. Metroid Prime wowed people on Gamecube. It's not going to wow people on the Switch with its weak specs, and may struggle as other games already do. Could be another Wind Waker initial reaction if Metroid Prime 4 tries a visual style to mask weak hardware. I don't think they will do that, and Switch will be lucky to see a weakened port.


daisyismywaifu

5M ago

@sligeach_eire

The GameCube was more powerful than the PS2; Wind Waker's art design had nothing to do with weakness in the hardware.


ridleysaria

5M ago

@sligeach_eire

I agree. I thought that Prime 4 would have an uphill battle to impress when it was announced years ago. Now after all the delays the Switch hardware is even more antiquated. I’m playing stuff on PS5 now, so it’s tough for Switch to impress me. Gameplay still trumps, however graphics were a big part of Prime. We’ll see.


the_crimson_lure

5M ago

I would like to see the original Japanese, as a lot of times headline bait translations like this found on the internet are very liberal interpretations of the original quote.

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