News Article

Aonuma: "Zelda Timeline is Less Important Than Mechanics"

Posted by James Newton

"So be quiet"

OK, Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma didn't really say "so be quiet", but the series supremo's comments on the Legend of Zelda series timeline show he doesn't consider the timeline to be critically important to enjoying Link's adventures.

Aonuma's comments from the Hyrule Historia book (as translated by Patas at GlitterBerri) reveal that while the timeline is indeed a chronological ordering of the series, Zelda games aren't developed with a primary focus on where they fit into the series overall:

Chapter 2, “The Full History of Hyrule,” arranges the series in chronological order so it’s easier to understand, but from the very beginning, Zelda games have been developed with the top priority of focusing on the game mechanics rather than the story. For example, in Ocarina of Time, the first instalment of the series I was involved in, the main theme was how to create a game with pleasant controls in a 3D world. Or in the DS game, Phantom Hourglass, the focus was having comfortable stylus controls. Finally, in the most recent game, Skyward Sword, we focused on an easy way to swing the sword using the Wii Motion Plus.

Of course, reading that Zelda games are created to be great games first and foremost is no surprise to anyone who's played one, but what's your take on Aonuma's timeline comments?

[via glitterberri.com]

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User Comments (54)

zezhyrule

#1

zezhyrule said:

That's what I've been trying to say for a while.

Now all you zelda fanboys, start another timeline argument... now!

TwilightPoint

#2

TwilightPoint said:

THERE ARE 10 TIMELINES!
MWAHAHAHAHA!!!

In all seriousness I agree, the Timeline is a minor element.
I also thought of each Zelda game as a stand alone game (With a few exceptions).

Big_Gamer

#3

Big_Gamer said:

Except the obvious sequels Ive always viewed each game as its own with no major connection to eachother

Rapadash6

#4

Rapadash6 said:

Makes sense. The official timeline works, even if it leaves a few questions. No doubt they didn't plan it like this from the get go either, but it's used as a VERY basic structure as to how a few of the games fit together. The point between Skyward Sword and Ocarina of Time pretty much prove that as Minish Cap and Four Swords don't really get referenced at all in the latter.

theblackdragonAdmin

#5

theblackdragon said:

in b4 whining/desperate arguments that there is one timeline that could possibly work for the series and why won't they listen to meeeeeee when i tell them :O :O :O

zionich

#7

zionich said:

The only timeline I care most about is when the next Zelda is coming out. Wii U or 3DS.

Visor

#8

Visor said:

Like I've read a thousand times already, the time lines are irrelevant. Zelda isnt that deep of a game. It's just great fun.

Link79

#9

Link79 said:

The timelines don't mean a thing to me.
As Long as I'm going on a big important quest and taking down some evil entity along the way I'm good.
It's the same with Mario. You don't need a timeline to understand what's going on.

warioswoods

#13

warioswoods said:

Yep. Nintendo is a smart enough developer not to begin with a story; on the contrary, you start with gameplay ideas, let them coalesce around key features, and then begin to craft a story in parallel that will map onto the gameplay and its needs appropriately.

Respecting the canon and its events is not important; maintaining some of the same storytelling elements or characters while moving things in a new direction is all that matters.

Link79

#14

Link79 said:

Do people worry about a Final Fantasy Timeline?
Didn't think so.
Why are we giving two craps about a Zelda timeline?

Dodger

#15

Dodger said:

Of course the series starts with gameplay. The series started on the NES, you can't expect them to of been thinking of the timeline then. Zelda fans care about the timeline because they enjoy the game mechanics.

@warioswoods got it right. I couldn't care less if it follows the canon but that doesn't mean the series can become lazy with storytelling like it did. TP was the first that wasn't lazy withnthe story, it was just lazy with the gameplay. SS wasn't lazy with either.

Poppupian

#16

Poppupian said:

I was actually afraid that now that Zelda has a real time line, Nintendo must focus on making the time line make sens. But it's good that Nintendo focuses on the gameplay first. Plus I'm really not buying that Zelda has a time line

Geonjaha

#17

Geonjaha said:

EXACTLY. It's what us calm sensible people have been saying all this time. Zelda probably doesnt even have a timeline - as they probably didnt even think about it when making the games. Go hastle Nintendo about a Mario timeline for a few years - and they'll give ya one. It wont make sense, but it'd stop the complainers.

DJ_Triforce

#18

DJ_Triforce said:

The timeline means something to me. I want this series to have a rich history with an overall arching story. Is it such a bad thing that each game had a connection? I don't know why people are so against it.

Bass_X0

#19

Bass_X0 said:

Never read the timeline, don't intend to. Have no interest in doing so. Unlike some other games, the Zelda series barely references other games in the series except for direct sequels. Finding out how Minish Cap relates to Skyward Sword is meaningless to me.

HanuKwanzMasBif

#20

HanuKwanzMasBif said:

I believe the Zelda games are connected (perhaps with the exception of the Four Swords games, which exist inside their own weird little universe). But it's fun to try and piece together the games, which is why I think Nintendo should never release the Zelda timeline.

Aqueous

#21

Aqueous said:

I'd rather have just seen Link not fail if the timeline was going to split. Well I'd rather have seen no timeline then have seen it, guessing what fit together with what and in which order was part of the fun. Shrugs, I'll live. Well it did happening our life time, have to see what my closest friend thinks of this.

TKOWL

#22

TKOWL said:

Do what you will, father of 3D Zelda...

but you cannot shut up a horrible fanbase.

warioswoods

#23

warioswoods said:

@DJ_Triforce

For me, the Zelda series does have a rich background precisely by not limiting itself to one version of events. It's more like mythology than contemporary writing: there are various themes, characters, legends, prophecies, and ideas that draw it all together, but often these are repeated in differing forms and variations. They're connected thematically, yet not necessarily tied to one single authoritative version of events.

Baga_Jr

#24

Baga_Jr said:

UGH. Why do so many people not get it? Of course the game mechanics are more important, but that's irrelevant. If you're going to take the time to make an official timeline, then you might as well not BS it!

milkman12

#25

milkman12 said:

IF nintendo ever DOES release an official timeline,i wonder how many zelda fanboys will rejoice in their accuracy of their timeline theory. :P i know i will.

ToxieDogg

#26

ToxieDogg said:

I agree, who actually gives a damn about the timeline when they sit down to play a Zelda game? Just play with the thought that every game is a different Link and different Zelda at a different moment in time, all are enjoyable separate stories, and to hell with having to have an order to it all.

monkats

#27

monkats said:

I..prefer the story and timelines.

I'm not actually that interested in Zelda gameplay, especially the sword mechanics in Skyward Sword (vastly overrated!), but I am absolutely interested in the world in which Hyrule exists / will exist / existed. Every entry, we get a new bit of information about the world, and it's fantastic. It's like a fairy tail.

Faron

#28

Faron said:

For me, the timeline makes the series more interesting, especially now when we know that every game connects to each other. I'm glad that they finally released the official timeline, so the smartest of us can finally lay this debate to rest.

Faron

#29

Faron said:

And still arguing that Zelda don't have a timeline is just plain ridiculous.

CanisWolfred

#30

CanisWolfred said:

@Link79

That's a pretty bad comparison, since there's always been no official timeline for the series - they're all individual games with only minor references to eachother. Which honestly is what I always thought of with Zelda, and I was pretty satisfied with that. All this timeline stuff makes my head spin. I'd rather just play the games than worry about it...which is saying a lot since I haven't had the urge to play a Zelda game in years.:P

kyuubikid213

#31

kyuubikid213 said:

Zelda doesn't have a REAL timeline. The only "timelines" that make sense are all scattered. The original Zelda on the NES is followed by Zelda II on the NES. End of that "Timeline." Wind Waker is followed by (in no particular order) Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks, Minish Cap, and Four Swords Adventures. End of that "Timeline." Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons go hand in hand. End of that "Timeline." Ocarina of Time is followed by Majora's Mask. End of that "Timeline." The CDi games (excluding Zelda's Adventure) follow one another...Wand of Gamelon and then Faces of Evil. End of that "Timeline." Twilight Princess, Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, Skyward Sword, and Zelda's Adventure are all their own separate games that connect to the others in NO WAY (not counting Link and Zelda being in all of them).

TikiTong

#32

TikiTong said:

To be honest, to make it easy on myslef, I just pretend that all the games take place one after the other, not caring about little details, only the Link and Zelda are descendants of the previous ones.. It makes the history a lot simpler, and doesn't make me wanna shoot my brains out due to confusion.

3Daniel

#33

3Daniel said:

i don't care for timeline debating, however, i find the timeline to be highly interesting. i'd rather have a great playing series with the extra layer of an interwoven timeline and history then one without the added curiosity. afterall the franchise was built on free thinking.

Meta-Rift

#34

Meta-Rift said:

"Zelda games have been developed with the top priority of focusing on the game mechanics"

This kind of thinking is a plague on the series.

Hawker

#36

Hawker said:

I always find it funny that when a company like Nintendo does something that fans have been begging for for years, the fans automatically hate it because "it's not how they thought it should be" Like you know more about how something should be then the people that created it.

People really need to grow up sometimes.

Sonomin

#37

Sonomin said:

While I agree that the timeline isn't very important, I still think it's interesting to try to link the games together

boob

#38

boob said:

its not vital, but a good timeline does add value i believe. however its all over the place.

JimLad

#39

JimLad said:

That's what I'm always saying. It's why Zelda and Mario games are always so good.
This is how people used to make games before graphics caught up and everything became about cutscenes and storylines.

NoobSlayer

#40

NoobSlayer said:

@36 & 28 Agreed.
@31 Remember, that's your imagination not fact
Why do some people have the need to say they don't see the importance of a timeline and then criticise others for following it or finding the value of one. If you want to imagine theres no timeline and enjoy the games the most that way, thats fine, just don't say it doesn't exist or criticise others for wanting an epic tale, and enjoy finding connections. There is a timeline, your choice to ignore it or not, just don't say it doesn't exist or that others are wrong for enjoying it :)

Rensch

#41

Rensch said:

Within two years, there's probably gonna be a new Zelda game to screw it all up again.

Yadoking

#43

Yadoking said:

The events that take place in the zelda universe actually happened in real life. They just had to focus on game-play since the stories would naturally fall into place, of course.

Cloud-San-VII

#44

Cloud-San-VII said:

I found the timeline very interesting, but quite confusing. I think that those freaking Toon Links have a different timeline of their own, or it's waaaaaaaay down the line. I don't need a timeline to enjoy the Zelda series, I just want good gameplay, easy controls, fun enemies, good cutscenes, and a good plot.

Fuzzy

#48

Fuzzy said:

@36. It's easy to think like that when you treat the internet as one person.

firefox337

#50

firefox337 said:

its rearlly cool on the wii because witch way you hold the wii remote he holds the the saurd

Luffymcduck

#51

Luffymcduck said:

It was great that they finally revealed the official timeline, a nice surprise for amazing Zelda´s 25th anniversary. That timeline is logical enough for me.

Balaclavab

#52

Balaclavab said:

I think it needs the timeline, it's what brings Link(s)'s epic adventures together and it creates a universe which the Zelda games are set in, and helps to give the Zelda games a better story (I generally find the story lines of the games are going downhill, they are too bland and predictable)

LeasTwanteD

#53

LeasTwanteD said:

Couldn't say it any better than vvaluigi (33.) did. Gameplay's first but having the option to think and talk about all these little details is an added plus. I wouldn't have seen any connection but all this stuff makes me want to replay the games even more. Take it as a loose guide to approach the games if you want to, take it easy and have fun, no harm done then.
Personally i don't really want the characters or story any more defined than they are right now. Being able to take every new entry as a standalone game is also crucial imo.

MeloMan

#54

MeloMan said:

Well, Aonouma says it's official, so I shall accept this going forward til further notice. Oh and, in the end, I too don't really care about the timeline in the end, but it's also not my fault that Nintendo inadvertently tied them all together, so I don't feel bad for trying to figure out the pieces of the puzzle. Cool, 3 timelines it is :)

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