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Aonuma's Twilight Princess Regrets

by Pedro Hernandez - December 28, 2009, 10:53 am PST
Total comments: 38 Source: Edge Online

With Twilight Princess as a starting point, Aonuma promises "sheer grand scale" for the next Zelda title.

In an interview with Edge Magazine, Zelda director Eiji Aonuma details his experiences working with the franchise and explains what we can expect in future Zelda titles. When asked about Twilight Princess and its reception, the director explains that their intentions were to create a realistic game of a grand scale, but feels that the team didn't accomplish this. The next Zelda title will focus on a grand scale using the previous game as a starting point.

"For Twilight Princess we used the adult Link and one of the interesting things about that was how we considered the precise proportions of Link and the world. The scale is because we aimed for a more realistic quality in the size of the environments of Hyrule and what that Link faced," Aonuma said. "But the question is whether or not we were able to incorporate any and all of the interesting game ideas that were able to take advantage of that kind of sheer grand scale within the Zelda universe. I am afraid that definitely no, we were not able to do all the things that perhaps with hindsight we had the capabilities to do."

His biggest regret when creating Twilight Princess, however, is the discrepancy between imagination and representation, and uses the recently released Spirit Tracks as an example:

"In the case of Spirit Tracks it was relatively easier, because regardless of the actual proportions between the player character and the other objects, we can simply concentrate upon the many game ideas we want to realize. But in the case of trying to depict a relatively photorealistic three-dimensional world, we have to be very careful to adapt the ideas so that they seem to perfectly fit with that world."

Talkback

broodwarsDecember 28, 2009

Twilight Princess had many flaws, but I don't think an inability to create "a realistic game of a grand scale" was one of them.  It was more like the game was a collection of things only done either because Ocarina did them, or for the sake of "having something there to do" (Agatha's bug hunt, the Poe quest, etc.).  Well, that and some really disappointing dungeons and a practically soul-less Hyrule.

He really is beating himself up a bit too much on Twilight Princess recently, though.  Even a "good" Zelda game is better than most games on the market by far, and of all Nintendo's series Zelda is IMO the hardest one to hit "great" with considering how high the bar has already been set.

- NintendoFan -December 28, 2009

It's great to have this "grand scale" but if there is nothing to do in it, then what is the point?

NinGurl69 *hugglesDecember 28, 2009

Quote from: -

It's great to have this "grand scale" but if there is nothing to do in it, then what is the point?

To sell it to fans that don't know any better.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterDecember 28, 2009

Quote from: broodwars

He really is beating himself up a bit too much on Twilight Princess recently, though.  Even a "good" Zelda game is better than most games on the market by far, and of all Nintendo's series Zelda is IMO the hardest one to hit "great" with considering how high the bar has already been set.

While Twilight Princess was a huge seller in Europe and US it was a disappointment in Japan, at only 500,000 copies sold. Not only that, Twilight Princess seems to be one of the most hated Zelda games in recent time. So, how you would feel if you were given the task of creating a new Zelda title that addresses all of the concerns found in Twilight, created an experience that would attract new players in Japan and somehow please the fans that weren't happy with Twilight Princess? You would be beating yourself up trying to figure out how to do these things.

Chalk me up as one of those disappointed with Twilight Princess, so Aonouma saying this gives me hope.

NinGurl69 *hugglesDecember 28, 2009

Yeah TP would've been more exciting had Silicon Knights really made it.

PlugabugzDecember 28, 2009

It's important to analyse that disappointment though.

Are they disappointed because Twilight Princess was not worth the wait? Or that it wasn't the definitive Wii Zelda we were expecting or that it's just a mirrored widescreened gamecube game?

BlackNMild2k1December 28, 2009

Quote from: Kairon

Chalk me up as one of those disappointed with Twilight Princess, so Aonouma saying this gives me hope.

Me too.

Quote from: Plugabugz

It's important to analyse that disappointment though.

Are they disappointed because Twilight Princess was not worth the wait? Or that it wasn't the definitive Wii Zelda we were expecting or that it's just a mirrored widescreened gamecube game?

All of the above.
I personally got bored with the game somewhere around/after the Sky Temple and couldn't be bothered to ever pop the disc into the Wii again. Maybe someday, but not today.

also: New Zelda Wii thread

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterDecember 28, 2009

As much as I loved Twilight Princess my biggest issue is that the game plays far too much like Ocarina of Time, and really does add missions for the hell of it. It doesn't help that the ending sucks big time...

BlackNMild2k1December 28, 2009

Oh, you just convinced me to not pick it up again.

Quote from: BlackNMild2k1

Oh, you just convinced me to not pick it up again.

I don't want to actually say "don't pick it up again," and I did beat TP, but... well, let's just say I share your non-enthusiasm.

Quote from: Plugabugz

Are they disappointed because Twilight Princess was not worth the wait? Or that it wasn't the definitive Wii Zelda we were expecting or that it's just a mirrored widescreened gamecube game?

Why not take the man at face value? They were "trying to depict a relatively photorealistic three-dimensional world" but, because of that, weren't able to "incorporate any and all of the interesting game ideas" that they felt would "take advantage of that kind of sheer grand scale within the Zelda universe."

I read it as basically coming down to his statement of the "discrepancy between imagination and representation." In many ways, Twilight Princess tried so hard to LOOK epic, from a plethora of cutscenes (ugh. And slow motion hero shots? double-ugh), to an immense but underutilized overworld, to drawing your sword instead of swinging on first button press (I have a coworker who's a Zelda fan and says she HATED this mechanic so much because she always ended up getting hit because Link didn't attack). Many of the game's systems simply seemed shoe-horned into trying to represent this "image" of what the game ought to be, not fulfilling the imagination that's at the core of making Zelda games magical and Nintendo games "different" (as per Miyamoto's earlier comments this month).

There's nothing wrong with a realistic visual style, and the Zelda games are of course known for their epic gameplay, but I really do believe that if a Nintendo game doesn't put its gameplay ideas first, it has its heart in the wrong place.

Mop it upDecember 28, 2009

Did anyone complain back in the day that Zelda: A Link to the Past on SNES was too similar to The Legend of Zelda on the NES? Because I kind of feel like if people call Twilight Princess "Zelda OoT 2.0" then they wouldn't be holding earlier Zelda games to the same standard if LttP isn't "LoZ 2.0".

Twilight Princess wasn't a disappointment to me because it was exactly what I expected. I don't care whether it does anything "new" or innovative, a well-designed game is still enjoyable. And I'm glad they released another Zelda game with OoT's format before moving on to the next big thing.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterDecember 28, 2009

I think that with Twilight Princess Nintendo tried hard to address some of the issues found with Wind Waker, the first being the visual style. Remember when we all booed and jeered the first time Wind Waker was shown? Now, when Twilight Princess was first revealed, we all cheered and celebrated. TP's style choice seems to have been done to please those players who were disenchanted with Wind Waker.

Then there's the gameplay. One of the complains with WW is that there was too much sailing, less missions and dungeons to explore, and that it felt different from the other games. TP, however, expanded Hyrule and gave us everything that we wanted and more (longer dungeons, longer boss fights etc.). And yet, the problem now that its too much like OoT.

I think the lesson here is that when you try to please everybody you end up pleasing none. Hopefully, Zelda Wii isn't affected, since all I keep hearing about it is that Aounuma and his team are trying to fix their TP mistakes.

Don't fix mistakes! Garr... just make an awesome Zelda game!

Pap64 speaks the truth. We're at a generation where players really don't know WHAT they want. The companies bust their balls to make something tailored to fit what the fans demand, and then they get bashed about it. When Wind Waker was announced, before people even played the game it was on the chopping block. A few were turned around by the intricate detail and the personality and heart the game had, but a lot of people screamed themselves blue in the face for "another realistic game just like OOT was!". They got their OOT clone, and a damn good one at that, but it's "too similar" or "not as exciting".
TP did have a lot of open space, but I liked that about the game. They did their best to make sure there was an absolute ton of hidden things on each map area, the size of the land did make it seem a lot more realistic, and the bosses were some of the series' best by far.
It seems the series is now torn between the whimsical fantasy world that Hyrule is supposed to be and the gritty, cold, medieval LotR landscape that has been a trend for so many movies lately. Aonuma is faced with the charge of choosing which direction to take things, or finding a comfortable middle-ground between fantasy and reality.
As such, Nintendo is scared to go in one direction or the other for fear of pissing someone off, which unfortunately is guaranteed no matter what he does, thanks to tripe reviewers like Yahtzee and his mindless followers of "It sucks because I say so" flunkies.

And what was wrong with Twilight Princess' ending? I thought it was one of the best payoffs in the entire series. Sure it wasn't entirely a happy ending but it was good.

Quote from: King

It seems the series is now torn between the whimsical fantasy world that Hyrule is supposed to be and the gritty, cold, medieval LotR landscape that has been a trend for so many movies lately. Aonuma is faced with the charge of choosing which direction to take things, or finding a comfortable middle-ground between fantasy and reality.

I've always been skeptical of Aonouma ever since he took over directing the Zelda series, but maybe I should cut him some slack given how daunting a task this is. I was actually shocked to find out he directed PH, so maybe he doesn't deserve all the suspicion I have of him.

Quote from: King

thanks to tripe reviewers like Yahtzee and his mindless followers of "It sucks because I say so" flunkies.

I always thought that Yahtzee was just a refreshing shoot-from-the-hip/call-it-like-i-see it response to a game media that was taking itself too seriously. I never took it as a serious review that tried to be unbiased, but just refreshingly frank and disrespectful, sort of like shock-mock reviews? ... but maybe I'm waaayy overthinking things.

Quote from: King

And what was wrong with Twilight Princess' ending? I thought it was one of the best payoffs in the entire series. Sure it wasn't entirely a happy ending but it was good.

I don't think it was a bad ending, but there were so many confusing points to it (that neck-cracking thing for instance, it took multiple theories to finally land on a satisfying explanation instead of "What in the world just happened?", and the big bad guy's death was really... well... muted. The whole ending sorta felt muted to me, like they couldn't build a crescendo.

decoymanDecember 28, 2009

Actually, this makes me want to play Twilight Princess again. :P Twilight Princess, though flawed, still evokes that old Zelda Itch.

I honestly enjoyed it quite a bit, though I could take or leave the "photorealistic" visual style. My biggest complaint was that the story, after starting so strong, took a backseat a little ways into the game. Part of that is out of necessity, I suppose; to leave the game world more open and less linear. But a more story-heavy Zelda would be very different and—considering they're trying to go with this "grand scale," epic/sweeping scope—wholly appropriate if you ask me*.

* of course, it should go without saying that tight, incredibly fun gameplay must still be included with any new emphasis on "story."

Hehe, of course, my stance is just the opposite Easycure. I think that the timelessness of Zelda is that it's really just a simple legend, good versus evil, exploring caves and dungeons, and growing in your ability relationship to the world and its secret nooks and crannies. I'm of the opinion that a plethora of story elements and cutscenes and linearity would only distract from that sensibility, or make tight, incredibly fun gameplay much more difficult to accomplish.

ShyGuyDecember 28, 2009

I think the Zelda playing populace suffers from the ennui of being older and having played so many video games. This is why you can rarely trust media critics.

RABicleDecember 28, 2009

I think you guys are off the point a bit here. This isn't about visual style or how similar in game structure it is to Ocarina of Time he is talking about the very physical size of Hyrule and whether it can realistically operate as a place. He's saying that because console Zeldas now have this realistic style (at least compared to the handheld outings) he feels he has to deliver a world of equally realistic scale. Compounding this desire is the fact that games are coming out with a similar fantasy/historical grounding to Zelda that are absolutely massive - Oblivion and Assassin's Creed the best examples. Epic games like Zelda (and say Fallout for an example of a thematically different epic game) are moving towards simulating entire societies to make their stories feel real and add value to the intellectual property. Hyrule as presented in TP didn't cut it. Hyrule; properous and wealthy kingdom, population; 143. It just doesn't make sense.

Of course Hyrule population 143 doesn't make sense. Zelda isn't a game about cities or society or epic storylines. It's about exploring hidden caves, exploring a wilderness, and growing in that personal relationship between just you and the world around you.

NinGurl69 *hugglesDecember 28, 2009

Hyrule is, again, a land of empty space.  It was forgiveable during N64 times due to hardware limits, but TP was full of wasted walking time.  The nice thing about Zelda1 is the screen is JAM PACKED with different elements; a direct influence of the arcade era where screen and the player's involvement don't go to waste.

broodwarsDecember 28, 2009

Quote from: RABicle

I think you guys are off the point a bit here. This isn't about visual style or how similar in game structure it is to Ocarina of Time he is talking about the very physical size of Hyrule and whether it can realistically operate as a place. He's saying that because console Zeldas now have this realistic style (at least compared to the handheld outings) he feels he has to deliver a world of equally realistic scale. Compounding this desire is the fact that games are coming out with a similar fantasy/historical grounding to Zelda that are absolutely massive - Oblivion and Assassin's Creed the best examples. Epic games like Zelda (and say Fallout for an example of a thematically different epic game) are moving towards simulating entire societies to make their stories feel real and add value to the intellectual property. Hyrule as presented in TP didn't cut it. Hyrule; properous and wealthy kingdom, population; 143. It just doesn't make sense.

The day Zelda gets a Fallout 3-size world is the day I stop playing this series.  I love Fallout 3, but the only things that makes all that exploration bearable are the constant warp points and large, involved quests.  Neither of these is typical in a Zelda game (outside the Anju-Kafei quest in Majora's Mask).  I don't need my Hyrule to be the size of Nebraska for me to get into that world.  Just give me a world full of meaningful things to find and discover (a rather glaring failure of Twilight Princess, and to a lesser extent Wind Waker) and some meaningful NPC interaction (a rather glaring failure of every Zelda game except Majora's Mask and somewhat Zelda II), and I'll be quite happy with Hyrule.

Hopefully, Nintendo has learned from the last couple console Zeldas that the new tradition of using each item for one and only one dungeon needs to be done away with as well.

BlackNMild2k1December 28, 2009

It would be nice if some items would allow you to go back and access areas in previous dungeons that you probably didn't even notice before.

replay value(or voluntary backtracking) and hidden treasures!!

NinGurl69 *hugglesDecember 28, 2009

TP's dungeons were full of meaningless one-time chests, like the god-awful "5th" Heart Pieces.

And I did do some voluntary dungeon backtracking... I DIDN'T FIND SHIT.  In some cases it got me stuck or killed cuz some of the moving puzzle elements were no longer active despite my additional mobility.

Everytime I opened a treasure chest in a dungeon in TP, found yet MORE rupees, and then had to stick them back in the chest because I had already had full rupees for the last 6 hours, leaving that treasure chest icon BORING INTO MY GAMING EYES on the map screen, I died a little inside.

broodwarsDecember 28, 2009

Quote from: NinGurl69

TP's dungeons were full of meaningless one-time chests, like the god-awful "5th" Heart Pieces.

And I did do some voluntary dungeon backtracking... I DIDN'T FIND ****.  In some cases it got me stuck or killed cuz some of the moving puzzle elements were no longer active despite my additional mobility.

That reminds me, a problem no Zelda has solved yet is the abundance of money: you find it everywhere, from chests to grass to pots.  And yet for all those rupees, there's rarely anything you actually need to spend it on.  Well, that and Twilight Princess/Wind Waker's annoying habit of popping up a dialogue box every 5 minutes to tell you how much the rupee you found is worth...and Twilight Princess' annoying bit where it wouldn't let you "overfill" your wallet, thus leaving big treasure chest markers on your mini-map to confuse you just because you have no room in your wallet for their contents.

I don't think an abundance of money is too much of a problem. As long as they let you overfill your wallet I think it's fine. Actually, LTTP seemed to have some very effective money sinks for most of the game.

broodwarsDecember 28, 2009

Quote from: Kairon

I don't think an abundance of money is too much of a problem. As long as they let you overfill your wallet I think it's fine. Actually, LTTP seemed to have some very effective money sinks for most of the game.

Where it becomes a problem is that the Zelda team likes to stick chests full of rupees as the reward for most of the exploration in the game.  There's little more deflating in my gaming experience than going through a long platforming or combat sequence only to see that my reward is...50 rupees (if that, even), and I maxed out my wallet hours ago.

That's true. I think that for some reason, rupees are just way too easy to get in the most recent console Zeldas (from enemies and pots especially), that they've got fewer effective money sinks, AND that they really did just go chest crazy in TP.

ShyGuyDecember 29, 2009

What about the armor powered by rupees?

That was the best item in the game merely because it meant I could enact a "No Treasure Chest left behind" policy.

NinGurl69 *hugglesDecember 29, 2009

That item was available too late in the game to matter.  It's was only useful for useless backtracking to get the other chests.

ShyGuyDecember 29, 2009

I noticed in Twilight Princess that didn't get items from chest as often as in other Zelda games. This forced you to go to town and buy supplies with your Rupees.

Mop it upDecember 29, 2009

Quote from: Kairon

Everytime I opened a treasure chest in a dungeon in TP, found yet MORE rupees, and then had to stick them back in the chest because I had already had full rupees for the last 6 hours, leaving that treasure chest icon BORING INTO MY GAMING EYES on the map screen, I died a little inside.

I thought I was the only one who was bothered by that. I hated that so much, it was such an insult that they actually thought they were doing you a favour by putting it back. They could have least asked "Do you want to put it back? Yes/No". What a nice way to drive completionists crazy. I had to find ways to empty the wallet before going into a dungeon because I knew it'd be full again by the time I was finished.

broodwarsDecember 29, 2009

Quote from: NinGurl69

That item was available too late in the game to matter.  It's was only useful for useless backtracking to get the other chests.

Twilight Princess was also too pitifully easy a game to ever need that armor.

And yes, there were a whopping two items you mostly needed to buy in shops because they weren't readily available elsewhere: bombs and lantern oil.  Neither of which were really important except in a few distinct places.

- NintendoFan -December 29, 2009

Quote from: NinGurl69

Quote from: -

It's great to have this "grand scale" but if there is nothing to do in it, then what is the point?

To sell it to fans that don't know any better.

Probably, but I try not to be that cynical.

ThePermDecember 29, 2009

man its funny, if you think of Twilight Princess as the be all end all addition of Zelda then you'll be disappointed, if you think of it as fan candy then its pretty great. Its like Ocarina of Time because its Ocarina of Time in the future. examining the world from a change point of view makes it MORE interesting. Things have changed,but things are still the same. That being said if you don't look at it from this point of view it could be repetitive. I just played through oot again, and it was great. Im in the middle of Majora's Mask, and I have to say Majora's mask is the best game when it comes to NPCs. Hopefully, the next game won't be the same repetition of Gorons to the East, Hylians to the North, Gerados to the West, and Zoras to the south(even if its backwards). What they need to do is throw in some new races, but its really hard to get away from the water/ice, fire, forest/wind, desert themes.

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