News Article

Eiji Aonuma Wants it to be "Fun To Get Stuck" in A Link Between Worlds

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

"We kind of have a bad habit of hand-holding"

Following his recent presentation at New York Comic Con, during which he revealed a new trailer and more information on A Link Between Worlds, Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma had a chat with Polygon about the upcoming 3DS title. He confirmed that development had finished last week, meaning we can safely assume there'll be no delays to its release on 22nd November, and outlined some of the design decisions behind the project.

After reiterating the game's focus on greater flexibility in tackling dungeons and exploring the world, Aonuma-san explained that he has worked hard to strip away excessive hand-holding in the experience.

We wanted to make it a game where it would be fun to get stuck and be lost.

I think that one thing all game developers worry about when they're putting something into a game is, 'Will people notice it? Will people realize what they're supposed to do?' And we kind of have a bad habit of hand-holding, trying to make things easier for everyone. But more and more, I start to think that that kind of [game] isn't actually that fun.

...There's actually one area in the game where I fought for three days with my director over whether we should have a hint in there or not. As a result, after the end of that we actually decided to take it out.

So if that part of the game is too difficult, it's my fault. But it's fine — it'll be fine!

Are you encouraged by the possibility that this title will leave you alone with less help, or do you prefer having plenty of hints and tips?


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User Comments (99)



WiiUExposed said:

Keep handholding to an absolute minimum in Zelda games. Likewise with Metroid, Fire Emblem, and more Nintendo franchises. Not every Nintendo franchise needs to be 100% accessible to everyone.



nik1470 said:

this is why I love Zelda. I really hate those "press x to jump missions" let alone the follow this big arrow ones!



AdanVC said:

This is exactly how I want it to be!!. This just increased the hype on me.



SomeBitTripFan said:

That's reassuring. Hopefully Nintendo will adopt this idea as a whole. Make it hard, but fair enough so it doesn't become intensely frustrating.



NightmareXIV said:

I hate games that have on a leash like a dog leading you through the game making it easy as possible.



Prof_Elvin_Gadd said:

I cannot agree more with Aonuma-san on this one. I get so tired of hand holding in games these days. Granted, I was born in the mid 80's, so I grew up in an era of gaming where kids these days would not only rage quit a game, but gaming altogether. Bring on the challenge! Exploration is such a huge skill acquired through gaming. Discoveries are so much better when discovered by oneself.



fchinaski said:

Right now I'm playing Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and it's downright irritating how the game manages to hold your hand ALL THE TIME in the most obnoxious ways and STILL get you stuck due to stupid design choices, such as the fixed camera and bad level design (objects that should stand out but don't because everything is brown or grey, for instance). It's really the worst of both worlds.



Freeon-Leon said:

I hope this isn't just because it's a sequel to a SNES game (wich tended to be harder) and he does this with the next Zelda. I'd love to see a 3D Zelda with little to none handholding.



Pachterkid said:

Nintendo sucks. They're just doing the exact same type of design that they were doing in the 90s. All of their games are the same and they keep releasing them over and over again, hoping nobody will notice or care. No wonder the industry has left them behind. Nintendo has no idea how to make a "modern" game. Playing Wind Waker HD this last week has served to highlight just how much my tastes have grown up in the last 10 years.



triforcepower73 said:

I think just within the past 3 or 4 months, Aounuma has shown that he's really growing as a game developer and learning from past mistakes. I can't wait to see what he's been working on for the Wii U!



Ernest_The_Crab said:

@WiiUExposed However, Fire Emblem was going to be scrapped because it didn't have enough sales in the series.

It was either open it up more to other people or let the franchise die. Being a fan of the series, I'd much prefer that they don't kill the series off.

@Pachterkid Lol at "tastes growing up"



-Crystalline- said:

I absolutely adore challenging games that just send you out into the world and have you figure most things out by yourself.

Thinking back to my all-time favs, the Golden Sun games. Good days. Good days, indeed.



unrandomsam said:

@NightmareXIV Thats nearly all of them. If you want one that is the absolute opposite try Milons Secret Castle. (It is great regardless of the review here).



unrandomsam said:

SNES - LInk to the Past was the Zelda game I went through the fastest.

(If you have played Links Awakening already you will go through the entire game without any problems at all.)



unrandomsam said:

I think it is probably a better game than Links Awakening but I wish I had played it first think I would have got a lot more out of it.



NintyMan said:

Since A Link between Worlds is more or less an experiment for Zelda U, hopefully this means that Zelda U won't hold your hand a lot as well. A lot of people seemed to complain about Skyward Sword's hand-holding.

Aonuma is clearly growing as a game developer. Maybe he's always believed these things, but lately he's been much more public about it and he'll be more apt to work on them as a result. He is clearly tired of the same ole', same ole'.



wombatkidd said:

My impression of @Pachterkid:

"Nintendo sucks! And you can tell I have a life because I spend all of it on Nintendo sites saying Nintendo sucks instead of just finding something else to play!"

There. Think I nailed it.



Captain_Toad said:

Heh, that's good to hear. I've been hearing how hand-holdy this generation (not just nintendo) has been these days. Yeah, it sucks sometimes to be stuck/lost on a level/boss. But, mostly we don't wanna get force-fed a solution. Sometimes there's gotta be a happy medium. Watch Egoraptor's Mega Man X if you haven't already
@Pachter-kid Elaborate what you're talking about plz.



Wonder_Ideal said:

This is excellent news and exactly what I wanted to hear about the game. I like it when my games have a tricky edge to them. Especially when it comes to Zelda.
P.S. Seeing as the hand holding will be reduced, I will be hosting walking and sword swinging tutorials for those who have difficulty with the game on launch date



citizenerased said:

I think the best thing they can do is to make the hand-holding optional, right from the start. When you play through the game a second time, you certainly don't need a tutorial (Skyward Sword).



ToniK said:

Who wouldn't enjoy wandering around for hours not having a clue what to do, just to find the solution is something completely illogical. Yeah, not me.



MetalGearZelda said:

I would welcome this as long as it is nowhere as bad as zelda 1 and zelda 2. I don't want to be randomly exploring the overworld with no idea of where to go. I hope Aonuma does this similar to how it was done in Alttp.



jrob23 said:

Hand Holding? Yeah, I can see how they do that a lot in the Zelda games. However, there are still parts of their games that no matter what hand holding they do, you cannot figure it out and progress without getting help via walkthrough or cheats. Seriously these games are next to impossible to complete 100% without assistance. So I could do with less of the camera pans but more actual hints when you reach a point you are stuck at for an hour.



SkywardLink98 said:

Very few games can actually pull off death/getting stuck feel "fun". If it's no fun to die, then I don't want to die. If it's fun to die, make the game hard so I die constantly (FTL is a good example).



Tobias95 said:

@Pachterkid Their games is not the same as they where. The NSMB games is easier than Super Mario bros, Pokemon games is just better and better



Adam said:

They should just make an easy mode where the game gives more hints, or a Super Navi Guide that you can choose to ignore, ideally saying Hey! Listen! repeatedly.

But this sounds good. The item rental system is already plenty enough to distinguish it from other Zeldas and other companies' games, so I certainly don't see it as releasing the same game over and over. We will see more when it's out and can actually make informed claims.



WiiUExposed said:

@Ernest_The_Crab The thing with Fire Emblem is that there were options: Casual and Classic to entice newcomers and keep challenge for veterans.

Most other Nintendo franchises wouldn't give that kind of option.

For example, 3D Marios have slowly gotten less and less complex since Galaxy. Galaxy 1+2 are still masterpieces, but by taking out huge hubworlds and levels to truly explore, they lost a whole lot of depth.



swordx said:

Aunoma is th next Miyamoto. He won't be as good, but he'll be closer han anyone else!



Ernest_The_Crab said:

The problem I find with that, is that considering the hardware it might not have been doable. The only real way for us to make a comparison is when a proper 3D Mario comes out for the Wii U (that's not multiplayer oriented). We know this is in development now, however other than that we have no details.

A similar problem occurred with Skyward Sword where hardware limitations resulted in sacrificing the overworld.

We also have to remember Miyamoto hasn't been in direct charge of a Mario game for a long while (since around the time of Super Mario Galaxy 1). None of the "New" series games have had him at the helm and he was focused on Pikmin 3 for so long he wasn't directly involved in Super Mario 3D Land or Super Mario 3D World.



Gerbwmu said:

@John-San3 - I think I still have patches of hair missing from pulling it out trying to figure out the Golden Sun games. Its one of the reasons I enjoy theFire Emblem games....character dies & they're gone....makes the reset button get a lot of use when it's one of your favorite characters



Goginho said:

I'm relieved to hear this. It's good that he thinks that way, and that most likely our message came across with Skyward Sword being like that. From a story and plot perspective, it fitted perfectly to have Fi guide us around all the time, analysing and stating the obvious, but from gameplay perspective, and from a gamer's point of view in general, Fi's "hand-holding" can mainly be seen as negative. Miymoto has often stated, I believe, that when creating a new game, he tries to put gameplay over story. He tries to evolve a story out of the gameplay mechanic they have determined, and tries to see what kind of story best fits the gameplay they have determined upon.

Personally, it's very satisfying being stuck on a puzzle or a section for hours..days even, and then finally figuring out how to progress all by yourself
I know nowadays it's always so tempting to look at walkthroughs online, as it's the easiest thing to do unfortunately.

I think, that after all the experimentations Nintendo may (or may not) have done with the series, they're just about done experimenting. They tried side-scroller, they've changed settings drastically, they've done touch screen only, motion-controls, sub-plot, all the way to, basically, "hand-holding". From now on, it's gonna be smooth sailing. It's gonna be hit after hit I can imagine. They have heard their fans speak, and they know what we want (for the most part). They expanded their horizons, especially now that Miyamoto has passed the torch onto Aonuma.

Ironic how Miyamoto started off with games being merciless (SMB, LoZ), and recently creating more and more easy games (at least games containing a ton of hints and solutions). I guess as the market spread, he's gotten soft, and realized the full potential of his franchises, so he wanted to get everyone involved. Fortunately, he's achieved that, and fortunately, they realize they need to get back to the roots sooner than ever.
I wonder if it's Miyamoto ("the director") who Aonuma fought with for three days to take away that certain hint I can imagine it is, since they're going through a "modification process" at the moment.



Goginho said:

I really wonder what area of the game it's gonna be that got the hint taken away ..can't wait to figure it out, and realize "it's the one" haha

..and guys, please try and contain yourselves from replying to pachterkid. I know it's tempting, but isn't it obvious that he's trying to irritate us and get pleasure out of it. lol he says "Nintendo sucks", yet he's on a site called "nintendolife", with a full account and all just ignore and comment on the article or other, more smarter and productive comments.



ChimeraKnight said:

I hope he's serious about this. Having just finished Skyward Sword a few weeks ago and also finishing Wind Waker last night the difference between the two are huge.

Wind Waker lets you just explore the world and enjoy yourself. The hints come in the form of dialog with NPCs and from charts.

In Skyward Sword it felt like Fi would pop up every 10-15 minutes with her horrible "Master, there is an x% chance the thing you need is that way." Yeah, no joke Fi, that's the only way to go because there is no exploration in Skyward Sword.

Just let me play the game and figure things out for myself. If I get stuck to the point of frustration the internet will have the answer, but don't ruin games with hand-holding.



Squashy said:

This is music to my ears! I love games to be difficult it makes everything more rewarding!

@Pachterkid If Nintendo are still making games like they did in the 90's then that's great because the 90's were a golden era for games!



unrandomsam said:

I wish they used Master Quest level difficulty from the start I think that is more reasonable. (They are 12+ anyway so shouldn't be a problem.)



startropics3 said:

Legend of Zelda series gradient in amount of hand-holding (from low to high):
Legend of Zelda -> Adventure of Link -> A Link to the Past -> Link's Awakening -> Oracle of Seasons/Ages -> The Minish Cap -> Majora's Mask -> Ocarina of Time -> The Wind Waker -> Twilight Princess -> Skyward Sword
I'm not sure where Four Swords (Adventures) and the two DS games (Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks) fit in this gradient as I have never played them, and I may be wrong about the Oracle series because I only played them once around their release dates.

Clearly, Aonuma is breaking with convention and most things that made Skyward Sword so trite (linear gameplay [forest, mountain, desert], characters and plot, an endless hint system [or no way to switch off hints]). I think this a great direction he is taking, but I will believe it when I see it. I would be happy if A Link Between Worlds was somewhere around ALTTP and Link's Awakening or lower (towards Zelda 1 and 2). I was probably 8 when I played ALTTP, and I recall being stuck at the 2nd dungeon (Desert) because I didn't know you had to exit the dungeon to find a new entrance. That was the first time in the series where you had to leave a dungeon to finish it. Had a sign or text box appeared that simply told me this, I would have never felt that accomplishment. The series desperately needs more of those types of convention breakers, but without announcement.



unrandomsam said:

Or let me play it on that level to start with would be fine as well. (If I find the first time through dull and too easy I probably won't even bother doing it again).



Hong said:

Hand-holding was a large part of why I hated Skyward Sword. The game always treated me like an idiot. We never had this stupidity back before the 3d era and we don't need it now.



TheLilK98 said:

@Pachterkid Then, good sir (or ma'am, whatever I honestly don't care which), please explain why you bought a Nintendo game on a Nintendo platform and have an account on a Nintendo based site with a Nintendo character as your avatar. I know the obvious answer is because you're a troll that most likely has nowhere to go or no friends to go WITH on Saturdays, and you probably actually like Nintendo, but that's beside the point. I also know that most of you are going to be like "don't feed the troll bro" so ahead of time: yeah yeah yeah.



LtAldoRaine said:

Oh Nintendo,please do this with every franchise. I really liked Skyward Sword and Dream Team,but the hand holding was unbearable.

There was a part that Starlow asked if I wanted to learn how to use mushrooms,I said no,and she asked "are you sure? mushrooms are difficult to use" or something. And on SS,on the Sandship,when you find the door that's obviously the boss door,Fi is like "Master,I'm 98% positive that there is something important behind this door." I mean,seriously?



Marshi said:

@wombatkidd Damn you beat me to it. I was about to say pretty much the same,people like pachterkid are best ignored. Acknowledging him,whether bashing or praising him simply fuels his desire for attention



GamerZack87 said:

My guess is there's a part of the game that nobody except the developers is able to solve.



sr388survivor said:

This is the greatest news ever! My biggest complaint with Zelda is all the hand holding. I really hope this sticks with the new Zelda too!



TheAdrock said:

My main problem with Skyward was that its WAY TOO EASY... felt like a game for kindergarteners. I prefer the older style Zeldas that were a bit more difficult to solve. Looking forward to this game very much.



Genesaur said:

Good move. I will not likely delay in getting this game, just from learning that it'll be less hand-holdy. It's about time Aonuma realised that it just isn't as fun, that way.



sinalefa said:

@wombatkidd @Goginho

I don't think feeding the troll is good, but making fun of them is perfectly fine to me.

About Zelda being harder, I don't mind that much. If I get stuck I will look for help online, as I did for every Zelda I have played except Skyward Sword. And hopefully 3DS will have Miiverse by the time this one releases, so that is another resource.



MeloMan said:

Exactly my point AND my hope in a previous topic I posted in. Zelda in the beginning did not hand hold. For those too young to remember, it went like this "Take this, it's dangerous to go alone". And guess what happened next? You had no clue. So... you went... somewhere, and the "adventure" began from there. I'm sure this game will have some sort of hand holding, which is fine to kick start things, but hopefully it gives me an experience close to Zelda 1. "Go save the world, Melo Man". Melo Man: "Ok... where do I start??" Bring it!



Giygas_95 said:

All the better! I remember playing through OoT 3D Masterquest, and I'm not kidding you, I was stuck on the Spirit Temple ALL DAY LONG. Finally figuring it out was worth it though!

I really need to hold off getting this game until Christmas, but it's getting harder and harder not to just day one purchase it...

I just hope the Moldorm boss isn't as irritating this time around. How many times did I get knocked off last time? Like twenty?

Also, If Nintendo doesn't release ALttP on Wii U VC around the time they release this, I'll eat my hat (which is a safe bet for me because I don't have a hat!).



Trikeboy said:

God bless Mr Aonuma. I want a hard game, something that makes me think like Zelda of old. Games have gotten too easy these days people need to not be afraid of challenge.



ueI said:

I like tips, but not usually the kind game developers think I need.



CaviarMeths said:

While I want games to be reasonably challenging, I also don't want to have to accidentally stumble upon the answer to each puzzle after a few hours of frustration. That's not "fun" either.

So when I say "reasonably challenging," I mean "puzzles that can be solved logically by paying attention to all of the subtle details throughout the game." You should be rewarded for your puzzle-solving skills, not for your dumb luck.



Samus06 said:

This sounds great. I was worried that Nintendo was going in the direction of Skyward Sword for future Zelda games. When you are being told where to go and what to do constantly throughout the game, you can never experience that satisfaction you get from solving a puzzle after sticking with it or figuring out where to go next in the game. What most of the pre Skyward Sword Zelda games were great at was giving you hints through talking to NPCs or just exploring the land. You would eventually figure out what to do next in those games and when you did it felt great to have done it on your own. In Skyward Sword I never once had that feeling of satisfaction I got from previous Zelda games when I solved a puzzle or I figured out where to go next on my own. Hearing this from Nintendo makes me hopeful for this game and future Zelda games. I can't wait to play this game!



GraveLordXD said:

Awesome this is one big reason why I love dark souls so much I love to just get lost and explore with not much hand holding I wish more games would take this approach



Hairmanban19 said:

It wouldn't be Zelda if there was hints. I am probably speaking for all Zelda gamers when i say,we play Zelda for puzzles,and the challenges that lie in each and every Zelda title! Otherwise Zelda wouldn't be so popular,and it wouldn't be where it is if it weren't for the puzzles and the challenges! So don't worry Eiji Aonuma,this Zelda title will be great without a doubt!



Socar said:

Finally a game where you can get stuck on. It brings memories whenever you're stuck like mine in Phantom Hourglass and Spirit tracks. I don't know why Ocarina of Time and Skyward Sword had this hint thing, it just doesn't work.



Freakazoid said:

Hopefully it works out to be what he said and not that just this one hint got cancelt



d-devo said:

No more hand holding...Might get lost....and stuck...Now thats the kind of Zelda game I fell in love with. ALTTP/ALBW all the way!



WiiLovePeace said:

Yay! I love being stuck in games, seriously. It challenges my noggin & the sense of achievement when I finally become unstuck without a guide is awesome Can't wait!



Einherjar said:

This "bad habbit" killed the latest Mario & Luigi for me. Textbox over textbox full of mundane dialog just to tell you "press L to switch commands". Every little action got a lenghty cutscene full of unneccessary dialog but the overall story was as shallow as it can get.
And i love the more mindbending, cryptic zelda puzzles and sequences. You can handhold me in the general direction every day, something like "i heard there was something in the south" but everything past that is almost an ingame walkthrough. On the other hand, these shiekah stones in the OoT remake were a brilliant idea for newcommers. As long as these handholding help systems are optional im fine with it



EpicNavi said:

This was the main reason why haven't been enjoying the latest Zelda games. I'm so glad it will harder, it's such a relief.



globalisateur said:

Well, hand holding was horrible in Skyward Sword.

The problem is that you can't avoid it, it is forced. you are guided (by cinematics, texts or else...) 50% of your play time (at least at the beginning of the game). It is more a cinematic experience or 'A' button Hack&Slash game than a real time action/adventure zelda game. At least it is the impression it gave me.

It forced me to stop playing Skyward Sword. Really not a fun experience. I am relieved to see I am not the only one in this case.



BertoFlyingFox said:

It's refreshing to read him say that, not just in terms of Zelda, but videogames in general. I dont really check out interviews much, but I dont think many developers bring up this glaring problem with their games.

It's definitely getting worse in the "AAA" games. What I've read of the Thief reboot screams hand-holding, even Watchdogs to some extent. It's pointless if you take the experience away from the player just to mark of check boxes of "widely accepted features".



StarDust4Ever said:

I hate hand-holding in games. If you already know what you're doing, the tuts just get in your way. Just sell me the glossy printed strategy guide already. In the absence of a strategy guide, Google is your friend: best part is you can use the 3DS web browser without ever exiting the game!



Shambo said:

The only handholding in videogames I ever enjoyed really, was in Lost in Blue and in ICO. When the characters actually hold each other's hands. It's come to the point where people look up everything on youtube before actually TRYING it themselves, so who needs handholding anyway?



jayclayx said:

it is clearly Nintendo want to entice the american market with this game cause the art style, personally it sucks because is too much american cartoon style, skyward sword, twilight princess, wind waker, OoT, and the ds versions they all have much better art style, its just my opinion and didnt like this one at all.



3MonthBeef said:

@CaviarMeths Indeed. Sometimes developers go waaaay too far in that they offer zero indication as what to do next; not to mention which special button or action you need to perform to do it. Speaking of which in fact in CV:LOS I had just this problem. I remember having to not only charge the gauntlets to maximum but to do so WITH the dark power. Yeah thanks game for totally providing no indication that I needed to do that yet send bells and whistles to the glowing, obviously recognizable ledge I need to grab onto. Pfft.



3MonthBeef said:

All I can say is regarding ALBW here's hopefully to no more: "Hey! Listen... Hey! Listen... Hey! Listen... Hey! Listen."



elstif said:

Yes!!! They better do this for the Zelda Wii U
I was so disappointed with SS, if they want the game to be accesible to a lot of people make a difficulty selection at the begining.
I finished Zelda I and II when I was 10 no guides or hints, only help from friends that played it and after really getting stucked.



hiptanaka said:

@Pachterkid Funny, when I played Wind Waker HD, it reminded me of how good Nintendo (when at their best) are at game design, and how much I miss those 10 year old design philosophies.

Controlling the camera is a hassle, though.



Hamzilla22 said:

@Pachterkid Wow, you make an account named "patcherkid" and you just go on a nintendo based website and just bash on nintendo? Honestly, what a waste of time for you...



Araknie said:

Now any other game when they directly point you were to go will look like handholding compared to this game.

Nice move Nintendo, finally getting back that Nintendo Difference with your latest titles, and also second party exclusives.

The challenge is withing Nintendo consoles, just look at Pikmin 3, Zombi U and The Wonderful 101 on the Wii U and now the 3DS is back at it's diffcult but rewarding games of the GBC like this and Pokèmon Y.

If there isn't any challenge you will get bored faster after you end the main story, if there is one, that's why Borderlands 2 is still recieving DLCs while nobody cares anymore already about Ducktales: Remastered. Too much handholding in the second one, none in the first one.



SphericalCrusher said:

I don't think it's ever fun to get "stuck" in a game, but I could see them doing something to hinder that stress with this game. I could barely sleep leading up to the few hours for Pokemon XY and I think I'm probably going to be around the same for this title.



Henmii said:

"And we kind of have a bad habit of hand-holding, trying to make things easier for everyone. But more and more, I start to think that that kind of [game] isn't actually that fun"

It's good to hear that he finally realizes it! Hopefully Miyamoto will realize this too! Out with the handholding!!

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