Time has played a key role in many of the games in The Legend of Zelda series, and it would seem that it's also quite important when it comes to its development. In a recent interview with Shack News Eiji Aonuma explained why we don't see our favourite green-garbed hero on a yearly basis, as per Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed.
The esteemed producer of the legendary series was keen to point out that a yearly Legend of Zelda release wouldn't necessarily be impossible, referring to the relatively short amount of time between 1998's The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and 2000's The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask:
Ocarina of Time was the first 3D Zelda game. When you make a 3D game, you have all these 3D models. But in a 2D game, you're drawing all these 2D images. Even if you wanted to make another game right away, if the background is different, you actually end up having to re-draw everything. But in a 3D game, you can put those 3D models in different backgrounds and animate them...So Mr. Miyamoto thought 'well, actually shouldn't this make it easier for us to make a sequel?'
While The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask did feature lots of new areas, players will remember that many of the same character models from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time were reused. Nintendo got around this by having the game take place in Termina, a bizarre parallel of Hyrule in which most characters had different roles and names.
It was after The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker released that the series began to slow down, with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess appearing a hefty four years later and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword another five years after the latter. Aonuma states in the interview that this is completely intentional.
I think before, we did maybe try to make Zelda games come out faster. But there's so much expected of Zelda titles now, so you have to reach a certain level of quality, so that's why we started to take a bit more time now," he told us. I don't think it's necessary that development needs to be longer. But to reach a certain level of quality, there's just a certain amount of time that's needed.
A new Legend of Zelda project is in the works for Wii U, but Aonuma doesn't feel under any pressure to get it out too soon. With The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD having released earlier this month and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds coming to 3DS on 22nd November, it's quite clear that fans will be satiated for some time to come.
Would you be happier if the The Legend of Zelda franchise consisted of annual releases, but at the expense of some quality? Share your thoughts below.
Many thanks to Ryan Millar for bringing this interview to our attention.