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Zelda director talks about why annualization doesn't work for the series

Though The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD only took about six months to develop, it's easy to forget there was a time when three Zelda games hit home consoles in four years. Zelda series director Eiji Aonuma told Shacknews that the series briefly flirted with annualization, but it doesn't fit with mounting expectations.

Aonuma said Shigeru Miyamoto himself proposed that Majora's Mask could be released just a year after Ocarina of Time, which debuted in 1998 on Nintendo 64. It ended up releasing two years later, then Wind Waker hit GameCube two years after that.

In the intervening decade, only two home console Zelda games—Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword--were created, though several portable titles did fill the gap.

"I think before, we did maybe try to make Zelda games come out faster," Aonuma said. "But there's so much expected of Zelda titles now, so you have to reach a certain level of quality, so that's why we started to take a bit more time now."

A Link Between Worlds is set for release in November. Its 3D, top-down take on the world of A Link to the Past may make it the most tempting portable title yet for longstanding fans of the series, but the untitled Wii U Zelda remains unseen and undated.

"It's not like we feel like we have a duty to get one out a year," Aonuma said. "Right now, we're able to split ourselves between the handheld and console games and have two teams. I think we're pretty efficient in getting games out on a regular interval."

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9 comments

  • CitizenWolfie - October 21, 2013 10:14 a.m.

    I like the fact that Nintendo currently seem to be more or less alternating development between handheld and home consoles for Zelda games. I love those inbetween times where we can speculate on what the next "big one" (console) might be and in the meantime the handheld games keep me going.
  • SnakeinmyBoot - October 17, 2013 8:20 a.m.

    The reason why we 3 Zeldas in 4 years is because they reused most of the assets from Ocarina to make Majora's Mask. That way most of the team could start on Wind Waker while some artists and level designers finished up MM. Reusing the engine and art made them think of ways to keep MM feeling fresh. And, although the time loop mechanic didn't sit too well with some players, I enjoyed it and think they should try it again someday. It would let them make 2 Zeldas that while looking similar play very differently without going away from the series' core mechanics. I wished they used the extra time gained by releasing a Zelda in 2000 to finish the cut dugeons in WW. Too bad Miyamoto decided after that to go on partial Valve Time, instead of during WW's development.
  • shawksta - October 17, 2013 2:56 p.m.

    Actually, the reason why they didnt finish Wind Waker's cut dungeons nor added them in the HD Wii U remake was because the assets were later used in future Zelda's, aka Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess used them.
  • g1rldraco7 - October 16, 2013 3:19 p.m.

    Good thing they take their time with these. Nothing worse than a Zelda game flopping on launch day, Makes me shiver thinking about a Zelda doing badly O.O
  • shawksta - October 16, 2013 9:10 p.m.

    There are on occasions, specifically CD-i, Zelda II (Which isnt really bad, as it is tedious and difficult) and not many people were fond of Crossbow Training, but they all dont really count
  • GOD - October 16, 2013 2:56 p.m.

    I love that Nintendo's only real direction is to make each game even better than the last and hope we like it.
  • shawksta - October 16, 2013 2:17 p.m.

    The whole six months pretty much shows they only did it to satisfy fans till they still working on the more important Zelda.
  • lon3wolf2002 - October 16, 2013 1:44 p.m.

    "It's not like we feel like we have a Call of Duty to get one out a year," Aonuma said. Fixed....../me runs

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