News Article

Aonuma Is Growing "Tired" Of The Zelda Formula And Wants To Ring The Changes

Posted by Damien McFerran

Could the new Wii U Zelda be a game-changer?

Eiji Aonuma — the man in charge of The Legend of Zelda series — has admitted that he feels the traditional dungeon-based format is growing stale, and he wants to change it to keep the franchise feeling fresh and exciting.

Speaking to The LA Times, Aonuma said:

It’s not that anyone is telling me we have to change the formula. I want to change it. I’m kind of getting tired of it. If I’m getting tired of it, then I’m sure other people are getting tired of it. There is an essential ‘Zelda’ I feel we need to stay true to. We are still testing things, exploring our options. We haven’t landed anywhere at this point. We’re still seeing what we can do.

What I want to do, not specifically with Link but with the ‘Zelda’ franchise, I’m always striving to make something no one else can, something that is so distinctly ‘Zelda’ that it can only be done in a ‘Zelda’ game. There are times when I hit walls and I can’t come up with new ideas and I think maybe I should just give up and quit, but eventually a new idea comes along and I’m proud of myself. It breeds new life into the creative process.

I go through these phases, over and over again. I hope those high points keep on coming.

Such comments make you wonder just what shape the all-new Wii U Zelda title will take; could it end up being one of the most revolutionary entries in this esteemed series? Time will tell.


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User Comments (90)



rastamadeus said:

Where is that art from? Not seen it before and looks great so wanna see the rest of the drawing.

As for the series, I understand it needs to stay Zelda (and there's nothing wrong with Zelda in the slightest) but a kick up the backside could reinvigorate all future titles. Personally I still wanna see a futuristic title, maybe the final legend in the timeline. Futuristic technology has been in Zelda for quite a few games now so don't think it'd be a massive change. Don't think it'll happen though.



Nintenjoe64 said:

He means the next Zelda is going to have voice acting and multiple endings based on multiple branching storylines.



SyntheticPerson said:

Multiple storylines would be great for Zelda. It would be ace for replayability, but also gives them extra room for future Zelda games, as they could argue that that all of the endings are canonical.



RupeeClock said:

Why would you forsake what makes the Zelda games identifiable and ditch the dungeons you can explore?

Here's an idea, if you're getting tired of Zelda, pass the reins to someone else.
We don't need Zelda losing its identity, how many other games follow the Zelda formula?



McHaggis said:

It's always worrying when a developer says they want to change the formula for a game. Hopefully it won't change for the worse. I often wonder why they don't create a new franchise when they want to make a different type of game, though.

Aonuma has said before he wanted to do an open world Zelda game. Maybe they'll ditch the repetitive dungeon crawling and blow the whole thing wide open. Either way I'm sure it will still be a great game.



ajcismo said:

Looking forward to it. Change can be scary and usually isn't met with open arms and enthusiasm in the gaming world. This is a series that can deviate from its own norm if it wants to, I think, and be just fine.



erv said:

Yes, change it please. Change it big time.

Make it great of course, but make it awesome and refreshing as well. I like the way he approaches things - but he shouldn't feel too limited by the franchise in any way. He should reshape it at will



Ichiban said:

I wouldnt mind harder battles, Dark Souls style.....well maybe not that hard lol



Randomname19 said:

I thought Skyward Sword was already a game-changer with the motion controls and less difference between dungeons and fields



MetalKingShield said:

Personally, I thought one of the biggest problems with Skyward Sword was that the overworld actually felt like a dungeon. You rarely got the chance to enjoy a big field or any kind of large, open space. It was full of narrow passages that were not very enjoyable to traverse.

I just want them to go back to whatever they were thinking of when they made Wind Waker, and make a game full of magic and charm. It was technically impressive too, as you had Day & Night cycles, NPC routines, dual analogue control and things like using the Darknuts'/Moblins' weapons.



rjejr said:

I dont think it would take much effort to find ways to change a Zelda game - but changing it for the better would be tricky, depending on who he wants to please.

I only like the 3D Mario games, not the 2D ones, I only like Starfox Adventures (which should have added Link instead of Starfox) not the space shooters, I only like the Prime Metro id games, Jungle Beat is my favorite Donkey Kong game. OTOH I hated Jak 2 and FFX-2 so messing up games I like happens also.

So the question is - do you want to keep the current fans happy, or try something new to make new fans?

I wasnt going to play Skyward Sword but got it free so I did. Wont play another unless its modernized into a flagship WiiU game. I dont like guns or zombies but graphically it should be up there w/ the best of the PS3 games, and voice acting, and Link should move better, and I know he starts the games as a nobody but by the end my heroes need to seem more heroic, Grandia 1 and Skies of Arcadia do a lot w/ their lead characters.

Games have changed a lot since Legend of Zelda, they were willing to try cell-shading, why not try photorealism? That Japanese garden bird demo tech engine still needs game, if Link can live in the clouds he can live in feudal Japan.



Sleepingmudkip said:

just dont let link talk because i know they will pick the wrong actor and no first person plz no first person



Hungry-Bear said:

I'm interested to see what kind of ideas that Aonuma wanted to incorporate for the new zelda installment. I think he should be allowed to explore other projects not just zelda. If Miyamoto is working on a new franchise then why not Aonuma do the same. It'll be cool to see Aonuma making original game for nintendo.



Sanqet said:

i hope they look to the likes of dark souls and skyrim and the first legend of zelda for ideas for the next game. i have always wanted to see nintendo to make an open world game to see if they can do better than the other developers



Spoony_Tech said:

Uggh! I was hoping the game was further in development then that. At this rate and with the added time it takes to make an hd game we won't see this till 2016 at best!



RupeeClock said:

Stale is something Zelda is not, Skyward Sword, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, whether you like them or not are certainly not stale entries in the series.

I don't think Zelda is in danger of growing stale by keeping the usual dungeon formula, it's what defines a Zelda title to have a dungeon. This would be like changing Tetris because "falling block puzzles are getting stale".



World said:

I probably like innovation, but I like stale traditional Zelda. I like making it to the big field and strutting around with no items going, "hey there big rock, how you doin'? I'll be seein' you after the second dungeon."



Gate_Shikimuri said:

The article states that he is getting tired of the traditional dungeon-based formula. That doesn't exactly mean "tired of dungeons". :/



element187 said:

I love hearing comments like this from Eiji.. Its like he read my mind. I'm getting tired of crawling endlessly through dungeons, maybe because I'm sem-claustrophobic and it gets tiring after awhile... I'm still taking my time through Skyward Sword because the frustration level with going through dungeon after dungeon.

This new Zelda game is just sounding better and better everytime I learn new information. GET HYPED, open world Zelda incoming confirmed!!



element187 said:

@RupeeClock I don't think Eiji means to can all of the dungeons, but bring it down some.. there is no reason why some of the missions can't be outside of a dungeon... Remember his Skyrim comments? I think he's heading towards an open world Zelda game.



element187 said:

@rjejr I expect a mainline Zelda game on Wii U to look better than anything on the PS3, i mean the Wii U is at the minium 3 or 4 times as powerful as the PS3. Add in the fact the Wii U also has far more modern shaders, effects, bokeh, etc, any game built from the ground up on the Wii U should look noticeably better than the ps360 (MK8, X, Bayo2, W101 have all shown the ps360 can't keep up with the wii u)

I'm hoping for 60fps, something the PS3 failed miserably at when it came to graphiically intensive games (U2/U3, TLOU less than 30fps)



element187 said:

"try imagine Justin beber as link scary ugggg"

@feline2 Great, than Link will be squatting into a mop bucket like a girl.(referencing what this jerk was found doing recently,a no class punk)



startropics3 said:

As long as the Zelda team under Eiji's direction tones down the mini puzzles, it will be a new direction. I prefer my challenges from the enemies, not the puzzles where that "ah ha" moment only comes once. There are usually a number of ways to defeat an enemy/boss, well not so much the bosses anymore.



Morph said:

great, exactly what i'd hoped to hear about a wii u zelda, I think skyward sword was a good end point for that 'type' of zelda, lets see where aonuma can take the series



Ernest_The_Crab said:

@erv Then what's stopping it from being a new IP? The problem is you change to much and it's no longer "Zelda". There are plenty of examples out there of game series that have lost their identities from big changes.

There's a certain threshold, that once past would mean it's better off making a new game entirely.



Senario said:

As long as they don't add in voice acting or FPS view for everything I'm good(bow and hookshot have always been fine though). We all know how Link and voice acting goes...those games never happened to me.

And First person view is just lazy for Zelda, it fits more with the metroid prime series.




I'm not doubting Aonuma's creative ability, but when you've been swimming in something for so long it's difficult for anybody to look from the outside in. He should reach out to other creative minds in the industry and and hear what they have to say about Zelda. They can still keep it in-house, as I'm sure there are plenty of bright game developers in Retro Studios to offer Aonuma some advice.

I'm not really "sick of" dungeons, albeit maybe a little sick of the format. I wouldn't mind more of them with some of them being totally skippable. Kind of like little side-dungeons where you're rewarded with some extra story and a cool prize...that isn't just a bunch of rupees or a heart container. Twilight Princess had a few areas like this, and they were really fun to discover, albeit underwhelming when your "prize" was just a bunch of rupees.



element187 said:

@Ernest_The_Crab Are you saying Zelda shouldn't be open world? It will make the series VERY fresh..

OOT was the most open world Zelda we have experienced to date (I guess Links Adventure could be considered open world to extent too).

The series does need a serious reboot. The Zelda franchise is my absolute favorite, but all franchises need to be changed up to remain fresh. Look at the 3D Mario series, Ninty knew it needed a fresh take on it, we got Galaxy 1 and 2... Zelda needs a similar type of reboot (no not anti-gravity platforming, but big new ideas)

A Zelda that kinda plays like Skyrim would be amazing (large open world, real time combat Zelda game)



Kiokothepirate said:

I'm hoping they adopt a more open world gameplay style for the next Zelda game. Everyone always said the series was all about exploration, but I've never felt that way. The fact that you had to do dungeons in a certain order and the lack of many things to do outside the main quest line made the games always feel sort of linear in my mind. I never got that "exploration" feel. I would love to see us be able to do the dungeons in the order we choose and have enough to do outside of them to where we could play for hours and not touch the main quest line.



Senario said:

@element187 You are mistaking open world with sandbox gaming. An open world game would actually be like Wind Waker since you can go and discover many different islands and places that you don't actually need to head to. It did very well with the exploration feel imo. Some of the older handheld zelda games were also open world although their maps were less detailed. I wouldn't want a "Skyrim" zelda at all, I feel that it would cease to be zelda and just be a skyrim copy. Same with making it like Dark Souls, it would be a dark souls copy.

A whole reboot though is not good imo, and really not needed. Galaxy wasn't a reboot and even if it was it isn't as important to Mario as it is to the Legend of Zelda. And rebooting zelda would get rid of the still available potential of the Zelda timelines. For top down or handheld zelda titles you have the "Hero of time Failed" timeline, for your dark and semi-realistic style zelda you have "the sacred realm remains sealed", and for your happy/cell shaded 3D zelda you have "Ganondorf is sealed inside the sacred realm". There is a lot of mobility with creating worlds with those three timelines, not to mention whatever happens before OoT like Skyward Sword.



hYdeks said:

Keep the essence of Zelda, but go wild with it! Majora's Mask was a great game, and I have confidence in Aonuma making great games.



WaveGhoul said:

He must of had a blast working on Phantom Hour Glass and Skyward sword considering they both completely controlled different from the typical Zelda norm. At this point, i agree though he's defintily gotta Shredder 'n shake things up!



Matthew94 said:

@RupeeClock Bad example, tetris is stale. No one plays it any more except though free flash games or when they are bored on their phone.



xtndedPlay said:

Make the next Legend of Zelda, Skyrim/Witcher meets Zelda. Alive, Openworld, with sidequests but the protagonist is still Link and dungeons still involve the puzzle solving.



Undead_terror said:

I love the series the way it is, I prefer if there was no voice acting but if it's going to be in the game then keep Link silent and what about this multiple endings? I doubt anyone would want Gandorf to win.



Rect_Pola said:

Intriguing. If there's anything Nintendo needs if they're going to hold on to their IP stable, it's fresh looks at what they can do with them.



Hamguar said:

As huge a Zelda fan I am I would have to say that I wouldn't mind some change. Seeing how Metroid Prime turned out, and being a staunch naysayer then, I was amazed at how fresh the franchise can be when done right. Now I have two ways to enjoy Metroid. If he's got some solid ideas. I would be willing to take a chance as well. Although I would be insanely caution on giving him a personality/voice. You really need to have the perfect writers and/or voice actor for that and very easily you can fail more than succeed. One of the best things going for nintendo is that a lot of the personality of their characters are left to our imagination which is great because you can please far more people that way. He is as heroic, derpy, whimsical, steadfast, and whatever else as we perceive him to be.



Ernest_The_Crab said:

@element187 I wasn't saying that it shouldn't be open world. In fact, that would probably be the next logical step for the series. I'm saying they need to be careful about "what" they change in the formula, otherwise it wouldn't really be "Zelda" anymore.

For example, if they tried to make the game more "realistic" or changed the combat system outright.



darkfather0 said:

i think what they should do is change your perspective a little like tp and mm like maybe show feelings from other characters like zelda's and ganondorf's it would be cool seeing from their way buut not fully so its not like those terrible cdi games



tabris95 said:

While I do feel that the Zelda franchise has grown a little stale, i think the main contributor to this is oversaturation. Maybe if these developers were also working on a new or even forgotten IP, it would help keep them on their toes. I think this goes for us as gamers as well. If we were exposed to more franchises both new and newly explored, perhaps we'd feel better about playing another Zelda game every now and again. We need more from Nintendo than just Mario and Zelda.



aaronsullivan said:

Just remember, a revolutionary change to a Nintendo franchise is a matter of perspective. It could be very small or big enough to anger a bunch of fans and make new ones.




I love The Legend of Zelda, it's by far my favourite video game series! The whole "going-through-dungeouns-solving-puzzles-getting-items-beating-bosses" is a concept that really appeals to me. Plus (almost) everything else. That doesn't mean I wouldn't appreciate a Zelda game with a new "touch" though. Changes can be a bit scary and you may be a bit sceptic about them at first, but I personally think you should have an open mind about it. Who knows, maybe you'll come to love it even more than before? In either way, I'm looking forward to Aunomas next move in this franshise, whatever it might be. I'm positive it will turn out great!



paburrows said:

I like the dungeons, if they can do something similar in different locations I'd go for it, but frankly I'm not tired of the dungeons as he says that people are.



Klinny said:

I'm interested to see what will happen with this. My favorite parts about Zelda were never the dungeons, but exploring the open world, discovering new characters, and stumbling upon side-quests and secrets. Not to say that I didn't enjoy the dungeons, of course, but to me Zelda always had its own living world and a great atmosphere, and as long as that is still there then I'm happy



Skyfox2000 said:

I Heard on my nintendo news that Zelda HD was gonna be a pretty big game with Land/Sea Exploration



Relias said:

Open World Zelda?? Now that would be impressive... but the thing is.. what world would we have?? Zelda is one of those series.. that sometimes.. seems to take place on different worlds.. and sometimes altered realities... I mean really.. look how many times Hyrule has changed over the years?? It went from forests, mountains, deserts, and dungeons in the original.. to having ranches and a huge castle city.. and a place with keebler elves... and a Giant Talking Tree... and most likely changed even more after that..



Emaan said:

I'd like to see a fresh take on the Zelda series with the Wii U game, but I don't want to see Nintendo abandon the core gameplay that gives The Legend of Zelda its identity.



Parkavenue359 said:

It will probably be the second Zelda wii u game. Since the game has been confirmed to be in developement for a while. I'm open to a change in pace to the Zelda franchise. Majoras mask was a huge risk, yet it's succeeded.



Neram said:

If you're sick of it, why don't you make a different game then? I want Zelda to go back to its roots. What I'm sick of is the gimmick that each new game is built around (i.e. Masks, the sea, the wolf, the sky), I WANT it just to be the dungeon-based format.



mikeyman64 said:

Have we been disappointing yet? I say let the man do what he wants. Everyone freaked out (including me) when Wind Waker came out looking like a cartoon, but now it's a favorite of many, including the original skeptics.

The image I had in my mind for Twilight Princess when it was in the making was a sort of Elder Scrolls setting. Nothing too insane, like with 200+ hours of gameplay, because that would almost require player customization to keep people interested, but something shorter that you could explore more free-form and do a bunch of side quests.

GTA would be a great example. Not including the crudeness or vulgarity/violence, you could make a vast Hyrule with a main quest line but TONS of other little things to do.

That being said, it's been done before. Since Aonuma said he would prefer to do something different himself, I would rather wait and see what he can come up with.



Hetsumani said:

How about a new combat system? Zelda's combat system has been the same since Ocarina. Yes they changed the controls from button presses to arm swings, but the overall system is exactly the same.



triforcepower73 said:

I love this guy. He's so cool!

If they did do voice acting and they brought back the happy mask salesman in some form or another, they would be obligated to hire Johnny Depp for the job. Imagine "You've met with a terrible fate haven't you?" in his voice!



JaxonH said:

It's interesting reading the comments one by one... not a single person here wants the same thing! Everyone has their own idea of what Zelda should be, from multiplayer to voice acting, open world to photo realism, change everything to change nothing. I think that we think we know what would make the game great, but in reality I think none of us truly know what would make it great. I say let the man do his work, and trust his judgment. Even if it's a concept you're not necessarily fond of, give it a chance. It might turn out that's what you really wanted all along, and never even knew it



EpicGamer said:

Honestly, what I really think Nintendo needs to do is give Link more of a personality. I'm just so tired of him being an emotionless puppet (that's basically what he is.) And yes, I do know why he is silent and emotionless. It's so that the player feels like they're Link, so it feels like they're really playing the game. BUT, if you're going to do that, why make Link an official character? Why not make it like the Sims or animal crossing where you can costumize your character to look like you?
Now, with what I mean by more personality, Link wouldn't need to "talk" (persay.) I just want him to have more personality. I'm interested in what Link's personality would REALLY be like. The thing that comes to mind with me is that he's a really nice guy, that likes to helps people, but he would also be a baddonkey, and for some reason, I imagine him being sarcastic allot. Obviously, he would have to talk to be the sarcastic part, but (I know I'm probably going to make allot of people mad) I wouldn't mind if Link spoke, I think it'd be pretty cool. I have seen quite a few people that'd be PERFECT for the voice of Link...of course, depending on how old Link will be in this game, BUT I have seen someone that would be the perfect voice for adult Link. And I have seen someone who would be the perfect voice for young Link.



Zombie_Barioth said:

Expanding greatly from OOT and Twilight Princess would actually be a nice change, they could do the things they wanted to use the N64DD for but couldn't. I'm not saying make a direct sequel just build off what those games did right and make a really nice open-world Zelda.



kurtasbestos said:


Wait... I guess they kinda already did that with Link's Crossbow Training, and I actually kinda liked that game.




JuanitoShet said:

Have faith in the man, people. He's the man behind the titles you all love, why doubt him when he wants to try to bring something more original to the game? I support the man and his willingness to try to expand a beloved franchise.

They won't screw anything up. Mark my words!



Omenapoika said:

I remember this talk amongst the fans already with the wind waker... How the zelda had always been the same and people said "the new graphics don't make a game new in ideas..."
Great games, and there's been a lot of development, but this has been an issue for like 10 years!



Onion said:

Even though I don't like the idea of messing with the formula, I think a lot of people will agree the Zelda franchise is starting to become more of the same. I would like to see what they have up their sleeve. Personally I would like to see them take another crack at the Hybrid RPG/Platformer formula they attempted with Zelda 2.

Of course I also wouldn't mind if they simply released a traditional top-down Zelda game either. Lately the games have all been more or less following the 3D formula set by Ocarina of Time. Something more along the lines of Link to the Past could be interesting and would make a nice change of pace from the usual.



AJWolfTill said:

"not specifically with Link but with the ‘Zelda’ franchise"
No one else picking up on this? I've been hoping they would release a game within the Zelda franchise which did not resolve aroung THE HERO, there is a whole world full of people, I'm sure some of them would try to make a difference without being chosen by the goddesses. Imagine a Zelda game set in the period between Wind Waker and Ocarina, when the forces arose but there was no Link to fight back. This would be an intense setting for the series.

Creating a Zelda game without Link would allow full creative control over what could be achieved.



EpicGamer said:

Uhhh no, I like playing as Link, thank you. I think you misinterpreted what he said.

When he said "not specifically with Link but with the ‘Zelda’ franchise". He meant that he doesn't want to really change anything with Link, he wants to try and change the Zelda FRANCHISE a little bit. You know, things he already said: "Not have to complete dungeons in a certain order", "Have it be an open-world, that gives you the feeling you get when playing Skyrim", and....(I don't know if Aonuma said this or someone else said it but) I believe Aonuma said that he's taking voice acting into consideration.



Boyoshi said:

I love the zelda series but agree it is time for change. Despite this though I do not want multiple endings or a 'skyrim' feel. If I wanted that I'd play a fun game with multiple endings, or I'd play skyrim! No I want them to do what Aonuma is wanting to do. To come up with new ideas that could only be accepted and embraced in a zelda style game. Something that hasn't been done before... Or at least not for a long time. But those ideas are hard to come by now days.



Goku said:

They need to make a Zelda game thats got a open world. Hd graphics better then battlefield 3 or watch dog

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