Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 11, 2016

Aonuma on puzzle solving in Zelda Wii U

Here is the link. I had missed this.

Aonuma: So you know we’ve talked a little bit today about the puzzle-solving element in Zelda, and how that’s kinda taken a different shape in Hyrule Warriors. But I think people have come to just assume that puzzle-solving will exist in a Zelda game, and I kinda wanna change that, maybe turn it on its ear.

As a player progresses through any game, they’re making choices. They’re making hopefully logical choices to progress them in the game. And when I hear ‘puzzle solving’ I think of like moving blocks so that a door opens or something like that. But I feel like making those logical choices and taking information that you received previously and making decisions based on that can also be a sort of puzzle-solving. So I wanna kinda rethink or maybe reconstruct the idea of puzzle-solving within the Zelda universe.

What is this? Does this sound like a change in a positive direction?

But, dear reader, I have heard all these promises before. You and I are Charlie Brown, and Aonuma is Lucy promising to hold the football so we can kick it. At the last second, she pulls away the football and laughs as we fall on our ass. Every. Single. Time.

I cannot trust this Aonuma. He is on record for hating the original Legend of Zelda, and now he wants to make a spiritual successor to it? I do not believe him. I do not trust him.

I do not trust Aonuma to respond to market responses. When Wind Waker received a backlash on the Gamecube, his response was to make the DS games have that art style too as well as bizarre gameplay changes (stylus only controls). The market did not respond well to this. He then promises the ideal world of Original Zelda or Ocarina of Time, and then he puts in the same crap.

Aonuma’s crap is as follows: stupid storylines, stupid puzzles, and stupid art. All stupid. All Aonuma. The art of Zelda has never been an issue until Wind Waker. The puzzles first became an issue with Ocarina of Time such as the Water Temple (and who designed that temple? It was Aonuma.) I can’t remember when people began complaining about the storylines, but I think it was Majora’s Mask. It certainly was a huge issue in Twilight Princess. Stupid villagers. Stupid Kariko Village and their village idiots.

But about the puzzles, the big problem with them is that they are interrupting the flow of the game. A fantastic example is when you get the Master Sword in Twilight Princess. After you go through the Lost Woods, which is a maze, you get to the Master Sword. But you don’t! No, you go through this crappy ass puzzle.

Who ever thought this to be a good idea? Who!?

Zelda is an adventure game which relies heavily on immersion. The DIFFERENCE between Aonuma’s puzzles and the puzzles of the classic Zelda games is that the classic puzzles do not break immersion. The above picture of the Master Sword puzzle totally breaks the immersion. It makes no sense why it is in the game. It should have been cut on the editing room floor. If Aonuma wants to make a ‘direct’s cut’ where he adds in all his puzzle-junk like that above puzzle, he can add an alternate version to play that game.

Remember Chekhov? Here is Chekhov’s Gun.

And from the void comes a nasal sounding voice: “But that is theater, Malstrom. We are talking about video games.”

The equivalent would be the gameplay instead of the set. You do not have a game teach you about a gameplay and THEN ABANDON IT.

For example, in the original Super Mario Brothers, a goomba appears. The player must learn to jump or be slain by the vicious goomba. This ‘jump’ mechanic becomes useful and built on throughout the rest of the game.

If Aonuma designed Super Mario Brothers, the goomba would bring up a dialogue tree where Mario would try to out-wit the goomba from its vicious ways so Mario could pass unharmed. And then, this dialogue ‘puzzle’ would then be abandoned. This is the Aonuma way.

I’m relying heavily from memories of Twilight Princess here, but you would do many things like ride a horse and all. But none of that really lead to anything. There were gameplay mechanics that were evolutionary dead ends. Gameplay mechanics cannot have evolutionary dead ends. It must evolve into the Uber Hero.

Zelda is about being weak, at first, and becoming strong.

Zelda also is about a rich, immersive world.

“No, it isn’t. How dare you say Zelda is about an immersive world.”

That nasal sounding voice has appeared again. But yes, Zelda is about the world. Why would the rich music and all be important if it made such an impact since the original?

The world mechanics differ from the gameplay mechanics. The gameplay mechanics needs to have an evolutionary path throughout the game. An example would be Link using a sword in a clumsy way at first but, at the end of the game, he is very sophisticated with his sword gameplay. Zelda 2 is a good example of that.

World mechanics includes anything that further immerses the player into the world. These include reading signs to exploring the countryside. It is not necessary for there to be a countryside, but it is necessary in order to depict an immersive world.

I want to hear birdsong in Zelda. If you are in the fields and in forests during the day, why can’t you hear birds singing? It is a world mechanic.

Night and day is also a world mechanic. It might lead to some gameplay mechanics, but overall is a world mechanic.

Keep in mind, puzzles can have their place like in a remote cave with some switches. It fits the world. Obviously, treasure is going to be guarded by a device and not left out there easy to get. It is also why a dragon defends treasure. The dragon is not absurd because it balances the world equation of the presence of that treasure chest.

There is a problem when you have dragons around with no purpose. The same is equally true with puzzles around with no purpose.

…is a very different game than this…

I love Lolo. Lolo is a great game series.

But Lolo is not Zelda.

Aonuma Zelda plays like 3d Lolo.

Take the Ganon fight in Link to the Past. Yes, there was a ‘puzzle’ in how to defeat Ganon. You had to light the torches, then you had to hit him with a silver arrow, then you had to hit him with your sword. The issue wasn’t so much that it was a ‘puzzle’ but that it was hard to pull all that off. These were simple things but, together, was challenging. Just like Donkey Kong was simple with climbing to the top and dodging barrels, but not doing both at the same time!

I want ambition! I want the Legend of Zelda to be legendary, so much so that it deserves its golden cartridge.

I want it to have the pompous ambition to sound as delicious as this, a triumphant call to what awaits. THAT is Zelda.

You want more, little reader? Here is more.

Now THAT is an intro. “That is just an intro, it is not the game.” You do not undestand, nasal sounding voice. The grandiosity that emerges right when you put in the cartridge is 100% consistent until the end of the game. THAT IS QUALITY.

Aonuma games can have their good points (the final battle in Wind Waker, for example or the ice/Temple of Time/Temple of Sky dungeons of Twilight Princess), but they do not have consistency of the earlier zeldas. Some of these stupid puzzles seem included because no one has the heart to cut them, and they are breaking the consistency.

This is not an average game series. This is not Legend of Kage. This is not Legend of the Ghost Lion. This is not Legend of Prince Valiant. This is the Legend of Zelda. The consistency in quality and oomph needs to be there.

Make Zelda legendary.


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