Zelda, past and future: An interview with Koji Kondo and Eiji Aonuma

GR: Every Zelda game has something that's iconic and unique about that game – what's that going to be for Skyward Sword?

EA: I would say that with this game, it's got to be the motion control that's going to set it apart, both in terms of how you use to it control and swing Link's sword, but also in terms of how it becomes a tool that lets you control the items in the game. What I mean is, we really challenged ourselves this time around to see how much we could let the player control the game the way that they want to. What I mean by that is, you use the Wii Remote to control the items, but when you're playing with a controller with buttons, it feels like you're playing with a controller and you have to do specific button combinations in order to make the items work.

What we wanted to do this time with motion control and with Wii Motion Plus, was really make it as streamlined and simple as possible for people to do the actions that they want to do with all of those different items, but almost have it be so simple and have the Wii Remote itself be the tool that you're using, that without even thinking about what they need to do, they're able to just very quickly, like "boom, boom, boom – OK, I've done it." And it feels more like you've actually used the item itself rather than controlled something with buttons on a controller. That was really our goal with the game, and I think that'll be the area where it'll really stand out this time.

GR: So do you think you'll continue to use motion control in the future? Will you ever go back to traditional controls?

EA: I don't think we could go back to button control, especially after creating something that's as natural to use as the interface that we have with the Wii Remote Plus in Skyward Sword. I think Nintendo will continue to have that focus on motion control and we'll see that continue to evolve. And the hardware as well, in a way that will let people control things very naturally just using their own motions.

GR: Looking forward, can you say anything about the Wii U Zelda project?

EA: What can I say…? It's a difficult question (laughs). We're just getting started on it even as we speak, so I'm just worried that if I let something slip that's off that mark…

The feedback that I've been getting from a lot of people on Skyward Sword is that they like the game very much, so of course I think probably the most important thing that we're focusing on right now is how do we take those elements that people seem to really love about Skyward Sword, and really bring that and connect that to what we do with Zelda on the Wii U while still continuing to evolve the game.

GR: Is there any particular feature of the Wii U hardware that you're excited to work with?

EA: Obviously, it's the new controller that's got the screen built into it, and in particular we're looking at how we can combine that new controller with something like motion control, and perhaps use the new controller in such a way that it becomes a new item that you're able to use to make the game feel fresh and new.

GR: Going back to Skyward Sword, it feels like Zelda the character has had a bigger role in recent games, is there a particular reason for this?

EA: Well, it is, of course, the Legend of Zelda. So particularly with the more recent titles, we've really been thinking about how we can express that and portray her more as the titular character of the series. Particularly we've been looking at how we can create a Zelda that's not just a princess that needs to be rescued, but as somebody who has an active role and has her own part in the story. Then it becomes more of a story of what is Link's connection to her, and how does that impact the adventure that he goes on, because I think the better job we do portraying her as a character and Link's connection to her, the easier it is for players to immerse themselves in the game and the adventure.

GR: Is there any chance we'll ever see Tetra come back?

EA: I thought Tetra was an interesting character because we created her and built that character as somebody who didn't actually know that she was Zelda, and I thought that was an interesting curveball to throw in that game. Personally, I really like the character, but the director on the DS games after that, Mr. Iwamoto, said he didn't really like her, so he didn't want to use her. So maybe if we switch directors on a future game, then maybe there's a greater chance that Tetra will return (laughs).

GR: Aonuma-san, do you have a favorite piece of music from the Zelda series?

EA: We actually have a band at Nintendo that's an orchestra band sort of, and we play a lot of songs, and one of the songs that we play is the boss battle theme from the Molgera battle in Wind Waker, which is a song that we'll be featuring in the concert tonight. Listening to that song, it just has a really great feel to it. When I heard that it was going to be in the concert I got very excited, and started realizing that that's perhaps one of my favorite songs in the series. But it's not in the CD that's bundled in with the game (laughs).

GR: And Kondo-san?

KK: I think for me it would have to be the original above-ground theme from the Legend of Zelda.

GR: Do you have a composition that you created that's maybe less well-known that you're particularly proud of?

KK: There is one that you'll hear a snippet of in the concert tonight. In the scene in Hyrule Castle, in the courtyard when you're trying to sneak past all the guards to get to Princess Zelda, that's a song you'll hear tonight as well that's one that I guess I kind of like, and even when I sit back myself I think that song was very well done.

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