The following comes from an EDGE interview with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild director Hidemaro Fujibayashi…
On the gameplay roots of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
“It didn’t come to me right away as a fully formed idea. For a long time, I went from idea to idea before I finally reached what I think are the very roots of Breath of the Wild’s gameplay: the idea of cliff climbing and paragliding back down, the keyword ‘survival’, and the idea of ‘creativity of combination’ whereby players make use of things that happen when their actions interact with objects placed on the map – for example, lighting wood with fire to create a bonfire. It was this root gameplay that I then submitted.”
On developing for the Switch in comparison to the Game Boy Color and Advance
“The Oracle games and The Minish Cap were 2D pixel-art games released on the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance. Compared to the Wii, Wii U or Nintendo Switch, graphically they can’t even begin to match up the kinds of animations, the text we can show, the audio, and storage space are definitely not comparable. The most notable difference is simply that we can no longer ‘fudge’ things when it comes to anything graphical. What we have previously left up to players’ imaginations can all now be shown for real, so continuing to use our previous methods of expression would lead to some very odd experiences for players. It might be more fun for players to see how we maintained a balance by playing the game and seeing for themselves.”
What games inspired Fujibayashi when developing Breath of the Wild
“I was rather inspired by playing Minecraft and Terraria. I was able to learn from the gameplay and the possibilities found in. I could learn from the sense of adventure, exploration and how it inspired curiosity.”
And there it is, folks! Minecraft and Nintendo are pretty funny. I tested Minecraft out when it was in alpha and raved about it on this very blog, comparing it as a spiritual successor to the old NES games like Zelda, Metroid, and such. Those classic NES games did revolve around BLOCKS too. On NPD sales charts for America, Minecraft would consistently stay around #8 while titles appeared and fell off the list for years. I kept saying, “Why is no one talking about Minecraft?” Eventually, Iwata brought up Minecraft at an esteemed Investor Q&A. Minecraft sells too good to NOT HAVE on the system. Minecraft also sells incredibly well with children. Nintendo console has to have Minecraft. Terraria too.
But what was Terraria inspired? Here is the answer:
– Which games have particularly inspired you?
“Minecraft is the obvious one, but I also consider games like Liero, TLOZ: A Link to the Past, and Dwarf Fortress as definite inspirations too!”
*gasp* That is a non-Aonuma Zelda! *gasp*
This is Liero for those who don’t know:
Above: Looks way more fun than Western AAA gaming!
With these Switch sales, we should ask, “What is the Golden rule for consoles? What is Console Business 101?” It is: SOFTWARE SELLS THE HARDWARE. or… PEOPLE BUY THE HARDWARE TO GET TO THE SOFTWARE.
It is not so much the switch that is selling, it is a game on it that people want. What game could this be, dear reader? Could it be 1, 2 Switch? Could it be Just Dance 2017?
“It’s Othello!” says the dastardly reader.
I think you solved it, reader. Switch sales must be due to that incredible demand for Othello.
Above: Still more interesting than Western AAA gaming!
As Nintendo’s business began to go south starting in 2008 and especially after 2010, I began talking more about software. How do we fix, Zelda? Or Metroid? People angrily told me, “Talk about business like Blue Ocean Strategy. Why you talking about Zelda?” Talking about the software IS Nintendo’s business. Games people want will drive the hardware sales. No one wants Aonuma Zelda. No one wants ‘baby baby’ Sakamoto Metroid. Nintendo can do better.
Breath of the Wild shows that quality software can really drive hardware sales. Can it last forever? No. Wii Sports didn’t last forever. It wasn’t the Wii that was selling, it was Wii Sports that was selling. Wii Sports just happened to be inside the Wii box! Nintendo is going to come out with more games.
“Oh no!” cries the reader.
Yes. Nintendo cannot have the Switch sell on Zelda forever.
“Does Nintendo know this? Do they know they must make more games once the appeal of Zelda wears off?”
Oh, they know. This is a momentum based business after all. All this has been planned. It is amazing how hard it is to make a quality video game, let alone an entire fleet of video games to launch one after another to support and grow a game console. It is very, very, very hard!
BTW, did you know that Notch made a game in 48 hours that is Zelda 1 and Minecraft hybrid called Minicraft (or Minitale)?
For comparison, here is the Zelda 1 prototype of Breath of the Wild:
I don’t see anyone going back to Aonuma’s puzzles/NPC games for inspiration. Why is that, reader?