Thursday, September 8, 2011

Aonuma Hates Zelda

For everyone who follows Malstrom's Rants this won't be a surprise, however, Aonuma again recently dared to openly admit that he never finished the original Zelda game. He thinks it's too difficult:

"I’ve never actually finished it, I almost feel like there’s still no game more difficult than it. Every time I try to play it I end up getting 'Game Over' a few too many times and giving up partway through. Certainly after playing the original Zelda for the first time, I didn’t ever think that I wanted to make a game like that."

Source: Game Informer (via Kotaku)

And he's actually talking about the normal first game here, not the 2nd Quest or the much harder Zelda II. I doubt he ever has played Zelda II, because he never mentioned it and he can't even beat Octoroks:

I was particularly bad at playing games that required quick reflexes. So, immediately after I started playing the original Zelda, I failed to read the movements of the Octorock in the field and my game suddenly game to an end. Even after getting used to the controls, each time the screen rolled to a new area new Octorock appeared and I thought 'am I going to have to fight these things forever?' Eventually, I gave up getting any further in the game.

Source: Aonuma's GDC2004 speech

Octoroks! He can't even get past Octoroks, which are the most basic enemies in Zelda. And this guy is actually in charge of the series! This has to be a joke! I admit that both NES Zelda games can be hard, but there are far morder harder games out there. But if you ever wondered, why Zelda games got so easy lately, it's this man's fault. Because he's a pussy, who can't stand a little challenge. And it's not just the enemies. The early Zelda games focused more on exploration, navigating vast mazes and discovering hidden secrets. But this made the games so much more interesting, you're not guided on a boring, linear path that leads from one puzzle to the next. You have choices, you discover things on your own.

This is nothing but an insult. How DARE they to make a man the producer of the Zelda series, who's never finished the original games and who therefore doesn't know what made these games successful. If I were him, I would be brutally ashamed about such a statement. I would take a vacation, where I dedicate myself to beat the shit out of the NES classics until I know every tiny detail about them. So, that I get to understand, what made these games great. And they were very, very popular games back then! But what does he do? He transforms Zelda into something he would like to play!

The result was that I was under the impression that the Legend of Zelda was not a game that suited me. So what kind of games did suit me? Those would be text-based adventures. For someone like me who enjoyed reading stories, these were games that allowed you to participate in the story and letting you experience the joy of seeing your own thoughts and actions affect the progression of the story. Plus, these games don't require fast reflexes and don't require traditional gaming skills. So, I thought that if I were going to make games, I would like to make this type of game.

Imagine Yoshinori Ono saying that he can't get past the second enemy in Street Fighter, so he decides to make the next game in the series based on quick time events with slow reaction times. This would be basically the same thing.

Aonuma further stated that A Link to the Past was the game that brought him into Zelda, fair enough and this might be also the reason, why the series continued to follow the formula of this game. But I believe that in order to be really successful again the Zelda series must also take its share from the NES classics. Skyward Sword looks really promising here, because the game seems to encourage non-linear exploration and features tough combat. However, I believe this is Hidemaro Fujibayashi's doing, who is the director of Skyward Sword and who is actually fond of the original Zelda game. Aonuma is probably the guy, who brought the Wind Waker's boring ocean back and who renders your sword useless, so that you have to avoid combat instead of being badass, or who likes to tell some high school musical story. Originally he didn't even want to use MotionPlus! That's like the biggest feature of the game and Aonuma was against it!

But Aonuma gets away with most of this, because most modern Zelda fans are just like him. They also don't like the NES Classics and you will rarely find young Zelda fans, who played them. Instead you'll get threads like this one in Zelda forums. Modern Zelda fans don't want explore, they don't want to look for secrets, they don't want to fight tough enemies. They want story. And characters. They love the linear and story-heavy abomination that is called Twilight Princess and they love writing cutesy, little fan fictions about a Link and Midna pairing. You could just give them the Zelda mangas and they would be satisfied. Because then they get all the story without the boring game! Aonuma fought off most old Zelda fans with his ideas, but he created an entire generation of new Zelda fans, who also hate the Zelda classics just like him. He transformed Zelda and its community into something that shouldn't be.

And the Zelda series is in decline, you can't deny that. Zelda was one of the most popular video game franiches in the 90s. They were mystical, they were epic - I would get goose bumps by looking at a Zelda cover alone - and everyone played Zelda. Your buddies at school played Zelda and even their parents played Zelda. What's Zelda today? Just ask some random stranger, you will get answers like "Ahh, that's the game with the little yellow thing, right?" (this actually happened to me a few weeks ago!) - Zelda lost most of its reputation over the last ten years and it all started with Majora's Mask, Aonuma's first Zelda game as a producer. What a coincidence. This game scared away the masses, I know people who love Ocarina of Time more than anything, but stopped playing Zelda games with Majora's Mask. However, unfortunately for Aonuma hardcore Zelda fans like myself really liked the game, it's still one of my favorites. So, he didn't succeed in destroying Zelda yet, he needed to make The Wind Waker first. And for me this game was the killer, I made a long pause from Zelda when this was announced, but I returned eventually... and when I returned I had to face a new generation of Zelda fans.

And I don't believe that Aonuma really wants to make Zelda. He has yet to openly admit that, but I don't think he's happy. What does he want? He wants to make games for his little boy! He stated this in several interviews, for example his son likes trains and flying, but since Aonuma isn't allowed to make his own games, he injects these ideas into Zelda. So, if some day his son would turn gay, expect Link to wear a pink tunic on his way to rescue Prince Zelda from the evil Gaylord Gaynondorf. Don't like it? Well, the next generation of Zelda fans will!

This sounds really harsh, but I don't think that Aonuma is the right guy to make a Zelda game, Skyward Sword should be his last game as a producer of the series. Let someone, who really knows and appreciates Zelda, be the next producer.

(Please note that this article is supposed to be over the top, if not a parody of certain other reactions to his quote. However, I'd still say Aonuma should go and beat the NES classics (and all other Zelda games, which he hasn't beaten yet). These games are certainly not easy, but especially beating Zelda II is a rewarding experience. Zelda games should have a good level of challenge.)


chickenleather said...

Hello! I'm a follower of your blog and I had the suspicion that you were aware of Sean Malstrom's blog because of the way your write, especially in the Zelda department. You are however a bit more moderate and I find your opinions more similar to, or at least more digestible, to mine when compared to Malstrom. I am eager to read your future posts and anxious about your reception of Skyward Sword. Keep up the good work. :)

TourianTourist said...

Thank you very much.

ocarinamat said...

I totally agree with you. I think that The Legend of Zelda fell in a deep, deadlike slumber since when Miyamoto left her alone. The latest games have nothing to do with Zelda.

Anonymous said...

I hope Aonuma has come across this blog at some point of his abominable career. Thank you for speaking like a TRUE Zelda fan.

GaryNumanAlbums said...

Nintendo doesn't care. Zelda has been ruined by Aonuma, this blog is so true. I picked up Link Between Worlds, and while I won't say it's a down right awful game, it still don't even come close to the glory of Link To The Past.

And yeah, I know how you feel man. I see people downing the first 2 games a lot and it always has disturbed me. Zelda 2 is a really good game, but people hate it cause they are told to hate it. I doubt most people that talk shit about it have even played it. It's far better than Skyward Sword or that abominable Spirit Tracks (Let's put trains in Zelda cause my boy likes them!)

Nintendo KNOWS Zelda don't sell anymore. The last Fire Emblem game has outsold Zelda. But instead of correcting the problem, they let Aonuma run wild. Has anyone even accepted Toon Link yet? Everyone hates him and they still shove it down our throats.

Thanks for this blog. I feel relieved knowing I'm not the only one that sees Zelda has went to shit since after Ocarina of Time.