Thursday, June 30, 2011

Aonuma Famitsu June 2011 Interview


Aonuma talks about the Skyward Sword and there a good and bad news, like always. I'll just quote the important parts:

"The game starts in Skyloft, this city that's floating in the air, and you'll come back to this town multiple times," Aonuma said. "Things are always proceeding along in town, and in that respect it's very much like Majora's Mask. Like with Majora, there are a lot of game events involving the townspeople that get intertwined with the main story."

This is good news. I'm a big fan of Majora's Mask and it's Clocktown concept and it's great to hear that there will be finally a deeper level of NPC interaction again, which was just completely lacking in Twilight Princess for example. I guess that every NPC will have a daily routine, instead of staying in the same place all the time. The three day cycle was exclusive to Majora's Mask's time travelling system, so I don't think we will get something as complex, but probably more complex than what we got in other Zelda games. The Wind Waker also tried Lunar Phases, you basically had an entire week there. But it only affected the location of the Ghost Ship and what Legendary Pictograph would be available. Also, some treasures were only visible during full moon. The problem with the week system was, that it's just too many days. In worst case, if you need to get to a certain week day, you will have to play the Song of Passing 13 times. Of course they could just make a song, where you can select the exact date, which would make things much faster.

But this also adds to the fact, that this might be the "Aonuma Best Of". Visually it's a hybrid between The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, content-wise it got Clocktown from Majora's Mask, the ocean from The Wind Waker, the Twilight Realm from Twilight Princess, as well as the Phantoms and the "less but more useful items"-concept from the Nintendo DS Zeldas. I would call it a "Best of Zelda", like some people do, but I'm still skeptical if this game will succeed to capture what made the Zelda classics great and ideas like the ocean world or the Twilight Realm weren't really favored and won't ever contribute to a "best Zelda game".

Next quote:

"This game's plot is something like a school drama, you could say," Aonuma noted with a laugh. "The flying sequence at the E3 demo is Link competing against his classmates. One of them looks kind of a like a bad guy, as you saw, and he shows up in other ways in the game too, since he has a major thing for Zelda."

So, I hope Zelda will be a cheerleader then? The sluttier she dresses, the more I'm willing to rescue her! No, seriously, I'm trying to remain calm about these news and just wait how it will play out. After all Aonuma says this with a laugh. But we all agree, that nobody wants a Zelda version of High School Musical. But it came to my mind, that Ocarina of Time wasn't any different. The Kokiri Forest was one huge kindergarten, Mido was the bully, who was jealous of Link and that he was Saria's best friend and chosen by the Deku Tree. So, from kindergarten we now got to high school. However, at E3 2009 they showed this cool artwork of Link and everybody liked, how he looked more mature than any other Link before. But now Link will be some school boy, which is definitely disappointing.

But I'm more concerned about how much all of this will stall you from getting into the actual game. If it takes you longer than 15 minutes to get into the first dungeon, the game is broken. Majora's Mask would be the only exception, because this game was not designed around dungeon gameplay, but around Clock Town. Skyward Sword is clearly designed around dungeon gameplay, the entire overworld is said to be a dungeon before the dungeons. And I like how Skyloft will be your safe haven from the hardships in the world below. But it shouldn't keep you from getting there. It was a brutal mistake of Twilight Princess, that you had to endure tons of story setup, tutorials and forced sidequests like playing dumb minigames or feeding a cat before anything fun happened. It takes you like three hours to get into the first dungeon. This was terrible and Skyward Sword shouldn't do the same mistake. But we will already get the flying tutorial minigame, which is aweful. If I need to do a tutorial for anything, the mechanics must be broken and not intuitive. Tutorials should always be optional, like in Ocarina of Time. If you have problems with playing the game, there are signs and people helping you out. But if you know the drill, nothing stops you from getting to the first dungeon and kicking ass (except Mido, who wants you to collect sword and shield, but this is a fast task). Forced tutorials suck and only prevent you from having fast fun.

^who wants to take this test? Me don't.

Next quote:

"With previous Zeldas, the common pattern was that the really neat items wouldn't show up until later on in the game. You need to have the basic item set or it wouldn't be Zelda, so the new items tended to get shunted to the latter part of the game. [Shigeru] Miyamoto said that had to change, like 'This is neat, let's bring it out from the start.' So a lot of neat new items will show up pretty early on."

This is a good idea. In Twilight Princess we had the problem, that some items weren't used outside of the dungeons, where you would find them. The Spinner is a popular example. The Nintendo DS Zeldas tried to solve this problem by only having very few items with many uses, like in the first Zelda game. This was already not bad and Skyward Sword also only will have eight main items next to sword and shield. But getting all items earlier might be a fun twist. And remember, that each or at least most of the items will feature upgrades like the claws for the Beetle. So, there will be still new stuff to look forward to even later in the game.

There's some stuff about Link's red bird being special (of course!) and the Ghirahim fight, but I'll skip over that to the next quote:

"This game talks about the birth of the Master Sword, and it touches on why Ganondorf showed up. If you play it, I think you'll get some understanding on that. It connects to Ocarina, so if you play Ocarina of Time 3D and move on to this game, I think you'll catch on to a lot of things."

I can't wait to see how both games will connect in the end.

"The whole game is complete, and we're fine-tuning the balance right now. We were going to have it wholly done by around E3, but there's so much volume to it, neither I nor Miyamoto have gotten to fully play out every aspect. The non-English localizations are proceeding along now, and we're trying to make this a simultaneous worldwide release. You have to put Zelda all out at once or else the story's going to get spoiled -- although, really, there's a ton to enjoy here even if you know a little about the story beforehand."

Best news from the whole interview. The game is finished and they are polishing it up right now. Well, after five years it should be finished, I was expecting a holiday 2010 release after all, the game is at least one year late. And there's so much content, that even the producers couldn't play it all! I guess the new director, Hidemaro Fujibayashi, is a hardworking man. And a simultaneous worldwise release is important, I remember Youtube recommended me to watch the Ganondorf battle from Twilight Princess one month before the game was available in Europe, so it's good that we will get one.

Via Zelda Informer

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