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GDC 07: Zelda's Link To The Past And Future - The Eiji Aonuma Interview

ith Twilight Princess out the door and Phantom Hourglass approaching release, Nintendo’s Zelda master Eiji Aonuma hasn’t missed a beat since he took the helm of the franchise. While we weren’t able to go into too much detail about future details of the Zelda franchise due to the company’s stock situation, we get a retrospective look at Twilight Princess, an update on the status of Phantom Hourglass (it’s almost done), and the future of the franchise on both the Nintendo DS and Wii.

Game Informer: Let’s start out talking about Twilight Princess. Looking back at Twilight Princess, were you happy with how everything turned out in the end?

Eiji Aonuma: Yes, in North America to hear that most people who bought Wiis also bought copies of Twilight Princess for me makes me feel as if the hard work paid off.

GI: Originally, as most people know, the game was supposed to come out for the GameCube–solely on the GameCube. How far were you into development of the GameCube version of the game when the whole Wii concept was brought up?

Aonuma: We were actually at the finishing stages, adding the finishing touches on the GameCube version, when Miyamoto made the Wii announcement and explained the features on it. After hearing those, we thought that it may be a good move for us to create a Wii version as well, so we started to work on a Wii version of the game about a year before it was released.

GI: So that was basically around Tokyo Game Show 2005? (ed: September 2005)

Aonuma: Yes, around that time.

GI: GameCube had the power to do progressive scan and widescreen with other games, why was the widescreen not possible for Twilight Princess on the GameCube?

Aonuma: If you try to show that much more of the screen on the GameCube, the CPU can’t really handle it. But the Wii can handle it, so we did do it on the Wii.

GI: This is the first game you’ve really experimented with widescreen. Is this something that you plan on continuing with?

Aonuma: Having created a game with 16:9, I don’t think I could ever go back. It’s just a richer experience.

GI: I remember after Wind Waker was out and we had our first interview about Twilight Princess, originally there was not a plan for widescreen for the GameCube version and we talked about that, and I was like, “please do it!” It was nice to see that was something you added.

Aonuma: (laughs) Ah, yes! I remember that!

GI: I think it was right after I got a new TV. (laughs) With Wind Waker, you had to cut a few dungeons out of the game to have it released on time–was there anything that you had to cut for Twilight Princess?

Aonuma: With Wind Waker, it wasn’t that we removed dungeons because of time constraints or anything like that. Actually, we thought that there was just too much volume. So we reduced it to something that we thought was much more manageable to the end user. But having released it, we heard from North American end users that there wasn’t enough and they wanted more. So with Twilight Princess, we added one more dungeon than was in Ocarina of Time.

GI: We always want more. (laughs) Many people thought—at least this is what I read in reviews—that there was this “been there, done that” kind of thing, because it was Hyrule based, and Twilight Princess was this spiritual successor to Ocarina of Time. Would you like to continue in the future in Hyrule, or would you like to venture to other places or other lands.

Aonuma: With regard to the games kind of feeling similar, with Twilight Princess the scale is so large that in order to make sense of this space I spoke to members of my staff, and we thought it was still probably best to make the focal point Hyrule. Because this time, you have the realistic Link the game experience is completely different. So it shouldn’t feel like “been there, done that”—it should feel like a completely different adventure in a new setting. But Phantom Hourglass is not going to take place in Hyrule.

GI: Will we ever see Midna again?

Aonuma: (laughs) Do you like Midna?

GI: I loved that character. I was very skeptical at first. She was a cool character. She was different. It’s fun seeing Link get messed with, I guess. I was sad at the end of the game. It was a very good moment at the end of the game.

Aonuma: (laughs) In Japanese, there’s a phrase called “tsundere,” which means in the beginning you’re kind of snobby and cruel, but towards the end your shell kind of breaks off and you become sort of sappy. Women with that kind of personality, I think guys are really attracted to. Both Miyamoto-san and myself are quite fond of characters like that.

GI: Sounds like a lot of my ex-girlfriends, actually. (laughs)

Aonuma: (laughs) Because of the way Twilight Princess ended, I don’t see her making a reappearance, but who knows. If we hear enough voices for her to come back, how can we not.

GI: Have a lot of people asked about her in other interviews?

Aonuma: There weren’t many Midna questions. There was one.

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