Posted by: seanmalstrom | June 9, 2017

Miyamoto points out that Aonuma doesn’t understand Zelda

Here’s the story.

For example, the most frequently asked question from the reporters is about that “Zelda-ness (What makes a game a Zelda game)” It’s a hard question to answer, even for us. Even Mr. Miyamoto is inconsistent with his answers; In one interview he answered, “Zelda games are unique”, and then in another he suggested, “Zelda games demonstrate growth.” I’m like, “which one is it?” (laughs)

Maybe if Aonuma would finish the Legend of Zelda, he might find out!

But in an interview, I must give an answer to every question. So I would talk about that “Zelda-ness” just as Mr. Miyamoto would describe, only to be interrupted by Mr. Miyamoto himself disagreeing with me saying, “No, that’s different,” in front of all the reporters!

Aonuma is so confused!

But still, hearing Mr. Miyamoto’s comments, I started thinking about the meaning and came up with vague ideas about “what it takes to be Zelda.” Of course, we should not get caught up in Mr. Miyamoto’s comments because it changes depending on time and place, as he said.

Aonuma still doesn’t know what Zelda is.

Actually, we made it possible to attack the obstacles with many methods in this product. In the existing “LOZ,” if the player clears the stage by going up to the wall or the foot of a mountain without solving the puzzle, then it becomes a bug. Of course, there were no stage that the player could go through without solving the puzzle in the existing “LOZ” and [any such instances were] eliminated in the debugging stage.

However, we decided that “we need[ed] no puzzles for this LOZ.” So it is okay that the player clears the stage by just climbing up the wall or the foot of the mountain.

Above: 35 seconds in… HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH!

I guess this product fulfills the player’s desire to cheat. However, you could say we didn’t give up on showing what was behind the mountain to the players. Until now, “LOZ” has tried to show the enormousness of the world by putting a scene where the player comes down from the wide open sky or by hiding the gaps between various places. It was all we could do at that time, but it was still a “lie.”

So, this time we really decided to make a big world and we did. Now, the player can decide, “I’m going to take this route in this vast world!” And when it really happens, they can say, “Yay, I did it!” That’s what I like about this game.

Folks, I am going to explain Aonuma-ism, and why it failed for Legend of Zelda.

Legend of Zelda is a revolutionary Open World game (NES standards) that perhaps was the first Perfect Scale type game (though caves/dungeons existed on a different plane than the overworld). As such, Legend of Zelda is a spiritual child of Ultima (as all RPGs are).

RPGs (i.e. Open World) and Adventure games have different parents and are NOT related. Go back to 1980. In 1980, adventure games were text adventures like Zork and then some graphical versions of the adventure games.

Gameplay of adventure games were: do X, then Y, then Z to solve the puzzle. There was only one way.

Open World games are ‘open’ in contrast to adventure games. There are multiple ways to do something.

In other words, adventure games required one way to go through a door. World games gave you a choice to go through the door (get a key, burn the door, smash it with an axe, blow it up, etc.).

Aonuma turned Zelda series into an adventure game series which essentially almost destroyed the franchise. Zelda is an open world game. Always has been. You start at the beginning and go any direction you want.

Now, Nintendo is a conservative company. They know they may be wrong. Despite taking out the puzzles in Zelda BoW “Wow!”, they left puzzles in there for the shrines. Nintendo wanted to hedge their bets. But they can observe how players react in Zelda BoW “Wow!”, and they know where the series needs to go now. It won’t be toward puzzles. It will be toward more ‘open air’ type gameplay.

So if we think about when it was that solving puzzles became the key element of the game. It is probably from “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (LOZOOT)”.

The reason is because I was in charge of designing every dungeon in “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (LOZOOT)”. At that time, I thought I wanted to make puzzles in the game. It was not like Mr. Miyamoto asked me to make it or it was decided that LOZ was a game with puzzles and battles.

Does this sound like an apology?

I was told to “think about dungeons,” but was never told “to think about puzzles.” So what was the reason that we did? It was done because I love surprising people and I also like puzzles. So I thought, ‘It would be fun if the dungeons were full of puzzles.

And there it is. Aonuma is saying the puzzles (at least for dungeons) originated largely with him.

At first, the lead engineer suggested that we should try a simulation in 2D by applying the laws of physics, in order to organize the laws of physics in general.

――That’s a new suggestion that others never think of. (laughs)

At that time, I was confused as to what he meant(laughs). But after coming through with it, I agreed that it was a good decision. In a 2D setting, we set a fire, the fire gets spread by wind, and the player burns down the object that he intended to burn down. These activities can be achieved by changing character frames of a 2D game.

Zelda BoW “Wow!” was a 2d game first. No wonder it is so good!

Perhaps Nintendo should start all their games off as 2d games… and then leave many of them that way!!!

As a result, we simulated all the basic parts in a 2D game.

After that, we went to Mr. Miyamoto to give a presentation about the game. We were certain that a game like this has never existed before, and our hearts raced.

Their hearts raced, reader!

After our presentation, Mr. Miyamoto said, “So in the existing LOZ, the world had impacts on the object when the object was placed on the map, but this time, the object will have an impact on the world, right?”

After what hearing his comments, we realized that was what it was. And it was the truth. So when an object was placed in the vast world, the objects had impact on each other and cause various chain reactions. That was the key point of this LOZ. Mr. Miyamoto said, “Okay, I understand. So putting an object in the world has many meanings.” Then he just signed the papers.

Replace the word ‘object’ with ‘player’ and reread the above paragraphs. That gets to the heart of it.

Once you find out that you can create things, you want to create more things. The player who experiences such gimmick gets so absorbed in the world of Zelda that it is impossible to leave it. Symbolized by the signboard, LOZBOTW embraces Mr. Miyamoto’s ideas like no other 3D Zelda has done before.

With this last paragraph, I am confident to say that Aonuma still has no idea what Zelda is. Or, to be more blunt, what an ‘Open World’ is. He says BoW “Wow!” is selling because of ‘gimmick’. That sounds like the hardcore trying to wrap their head around Wii sales.

Was Zelda BoW “Wow!” about gimmicks to you, beautiful reader, or was it about being free to do whatever you want whenever you wanted in a large, open world?

Above: Aonuma Style!


I am currently in the middle of writing an article series on the Origin (heh) of the Open World in order to get to the ‘truth’ of Zelda BoW “Wow!” It is currently 65% done. Doing articles like these helps me learn so much I didn’t know before. I think many people will be surprised about the connections.

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