News Article

Eiji Aonuma Vows to Reduce Hand-Holding in Future Zelda Installments

Posted by Jowi Meli

Pour one out for Navi and Fi

Whether or not Nintendo fans think The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a masterpiece, many can come to the same conclusion about the title's use of tutorials: it was much too heavy. During the Wii era, Nintendo found themselves increasingly attracted to the idea of audience expansion; that is, the idea that video games could attract a much wider audience by way of accessibility and simplicity.

Unfortunately, this left some hardcore players feeling left out in the cold. Skyward Sword's mandatory tutorials slowed the pacing of the adventure to a crawl, especially during the early going, and the incessant "helpful reminders" by partner character Fi — including onscreen messages reminding players to charge or replace their batteries — came off as more than a little condescending.

Luckily, Zelda team leader Eiji Aonuma is well aware of fan concerns regarding video game "hand-holding." Speaking to Kotaku, Aonuma-san shared some insight into how Skyward Sword's reception will shape the series' future approach to tutorials:

When we created Skyward Sword, I really felt the need to make sure that everyone playing the game understood it. But I also understand now, in hindsight, that when you go out and buy a game, you buy the game because you want to play it, and you don't want to have any obstacles in the way. And I guess it was received as a bit of an obstacle. In a game, it's when you get stuck, when you want that help. And I kinda frontloaded all that in Skyward Sword, and it doesn't really help to get that information when you don't know what to do with it. So that was a real learning experience for me. So I'm going to be careful not to do that.

Presumably, this means future Zelda installments — including the Wii U iteration briefly showed off at E3 this year — will make use of a less intrusive tutorial system à la the totally optional Hint Glasses present in last year's fantastic A Link Between Worlds. What can we take from this? Aonuma-san is dedicated to rethinking Zelda's conventions; he isn't as Cucco as he appears.


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User Comments (91)



Guybrush20X6 said:

Less we see of Fi the better. I was one of those mutant freaks who thought Navi was cute though.



Kaze_Memaryu said:

Hand-holding? Zelda games didn't have that much hand-holding, the expositon fairies (and substitutes) just had way too annoying notification sounds!



FritzFrapp said:

How about no hand-holding at all? Just give us a horse and a sword, and let us find our own way. There's Miiverse if anyone needs help.



luke88 said:

I think skyward sword is better than a link between worlds myself.



EverythingAmiibo said:

@Kaze_Memaryu Have you played Skyward Sword? "Master, your batteries...", "Now strum up and down to play this tune", "This door has a 90% chance of being the right way to go.", "Your shield durability has decreased", "Turn left."
Ok, maybe I made the last one up, but MAN was Fi annoying!!!!




I didn't find Fi that obnoxious, mostly because it seemed in-character for her to be overly repetitive.



Hero-of-WiiU said:

When Phi talks about your wii remote batteries being low, it just seems to really kill the mood in the game. My favorite Navigator was the King of Red Lions.



EverythingAmiibo said:

Also I might add, due to the increased hand holding, lack of any real focus on music and closed off sections I have never really loved Skyward Sword. I'm also a HUGE Zelda fan, with LoZ:WWhd being my top game ever.



Phantom_R said:

By the time Fi is done telling me about my batteries, the replacement pair is already dead.



JebbyDeringer said:

Yeah I can't stand it when a game doesn't just let you play. Sometimes the game is good enough it's worth it but often I can't be bothered because I'd rather just play something else. By all means notify of things I might need to know but just log them all in a journal I can check on my own time, don't stop the gameplay because you wanted to tell me something.

Also who cares about batteries? Let kids find out the hard way that they should have charged up.



Dark-Luigi said:

Hand holing is something that Nintedo kind needs to give up on. It's a tie between this, and Dream Team for that.



sinalefa said:

It seems Aonuma took Navi's "Hey Listen" to his heart. Nice to see him receiving feedback and improving based on it.



JaxonH said:

It's so nice seeing Nintendo on fire like this. Just article after article of Nintendo policy shifts and announcements. I hate to see Nintendo down, but the Wii U hardship has really helped them look in the mirror and up their game.



King47 said:

Hand holding its the main issue I've had with the Zelda series. In glad they're starting to learn.
Lbw was superb, so I care about the franchise again.

Thanks, Aonuma-san.



MAN1AC said:

Hand holding really hurt the quality of Skyward Sword imo so I'm glad to hear this.



Captain_Gonru said:

@Hero-of-WiiU Totally agree on the King. Moreover, it was help done right. There when you need, keeping quiet when you don't. Stuck? Ask him. Doing your own thing, or maybe enjoy frustration? He just keeps on being a boat.
The battery thing, to me, was the one thing I didn't mind. Because it would have been worse to be surprised by it during a boss fight. Perhaps a subtle on-screen prompt would have been better, but it was at least useful.



iphys said:

Who needs hand-holding when I already know I'm going to have to play the game with a walkthrough, lol.



retropunky said:

I never ran into that battery reminder at all when I played the game. Other than that, it wasn't that bad. Skyward Sword is still one of my favorites.

The Golden Super Leaf on the other hand...



Yorumi said:

Tutorials should be 100% optional and not pester you at all. Sure I get it some people need to be taught how to play, and that's find. Some of us have been playing games for over 20 years and have a pretty good idea how things work.

Hopefully they also won't be telling me a blue rupee is worth 5 every time I turn the game on as well.



BossBattles said:

Skyward Sword is still a really good game...I'd like to see an HD remaster with regular controls, and some additional side quests, with more places to visit in the barren sky.



AlternateButtons said:

@Swiket Skyward Swords tutorials wasn't 3 hours long though. It took an hour for me to get through and it was very enjoyable for me. Of course it could've gone a little faster but it didn't bother me too much. I got too into the game to let that happen.



NintyMan said:

There has been nothing but good news about The Legend of Zelda U and its development so far.

Well, unless you count Aonuma's goal of having it playable in next year's E3, thus confirming the game's release is very far off. I don't find that surprising, though, considering the open world.



ekreig said:

Sounds great. I REALLY hope the Mario & Luigi developers are listening to this.

Dream Team: Hey, check out this unskippable 30-minute long tutorial for a move you'll only be able to use in the game once or twice!



Phantom_R said:

@Captain_Gonru The brightness of the Wii Remote's LED tells you its battery level. You can also check battery levels by hitting the Home button. And there IS an on-screen icon in Skyward Sword for when your battery is low. And that icon does not go away during cutscenes.



Dr_Corndog said:

Fi absolutely astounded me. Navi is legendary for the hatred fans hold towards her, and here you have a character in Fi who is substantially MORE annoying than Navi. Despite her prominant role in the storyline, Fi is also completely devoid of personality, up until the very end, by which point it's too late. To top it all off, Aonuma (or whoever's in charge of these characters) seemed to have learned the lesson, judging by Tatl and Midna.



Kaze_Memaryu said:

@PvtOttobot I know, but they didn't splash it straight in your face. Instead, Fi's ringing sound proceeded to make everyone mad - her comments were less hand-holding and more Captain Obvious, and you could still decide not to talk with her outside of events (though barely anyone can endure it).



LtAldoRaine said:

THANK YOU. Good God. Skyward Sword was really annoying in that respect. If it was just on tutorials I wouldn't be mad, but Fi popped out so many times to explain things that the player could experiment and figure out in a second or things that downright didn't need to be explained.



EverythingAmiibo said:

@Kaze_Memaryu yeah, captain obvious hand holding is exactly what Aonuma was talking about, it's still a form of 'hand holding' though, and an extremely annoying one at that! I have calculated the chances of Fi reapearing as Link's sidekick as 0.3%. Kaze, your phone battery is running low!



Dpishere said:

Though I never felt the hand-holding in Skyward Sword got as ridiculous as some people say (and I played the game 3 times), less handholding is always welcome!



umegames said:

oooohhh yes thank you! I rate skyward sword a wonderful masterpiece, but the constant hand-holding was insane!



J-Manix98 said:

Oh my gosh.... I can't believe what I just read. Did Aonuma just say what I think he said?

Don't get me wrong! I loved Skyward Sword and ALBW, but holy freaking crap! I'm about eighty times more excited about this next LOZ game!!!!!



ThreadShadow said:

I like Navi and Fi, but I don't like the hand-holding. It's alright if it's passive, but when it halts gameplay and I have to press a button to get the game going again, that's when it becomes intrusive, and annoying.



SilentHunter382 said:

That is one of the reason why I loved A link between world as there was no hand holding. You were thrown into the world and told find your own way. Still to this day I am split on which zelda game is my favorite (LTTP or LBW).

I am glad that Eiji see it now and I am now looking more forward for the next zelda game.



aaronsullivan said:

I really like the Fi character overall. I thought of her suggestions and interruptions as a quirk and it worked... sometimes. She is the first Zelda helper who grated on me though (Navi never bothered me much). The "captain obvious" stuff was the most insulting. It really takes away the illusion that you are making smart decisions about what to do next, so I'm glad he's addressing this.

You know what I hated more though? The bug collecting taking SO long to switch the interface and explain what the bug is each time you sit down to play. I liked the recipes and that part of the game especially when playing hero mode, but the interface loading was excruciating.

@BossBattles I get that some people would prefer regular controls for Skyward Sword but have you thought that through? So many creatures and bosses need directional strikes to make them interesting. You need to be able to feint to defeat a certain long tongued individual. None of that is possible with traditional Zelda controls. It ain't just waggle.



BossBattles said:

@aaronsullivan I enjoyed the motion controls through a few playthru's...but now it's a little tiresome....would be curious to see if they could adapt them to gamepad controls mixed with some motion utilized from gamepad.



stipey said:

I just can't see why it isn't obvious to have somewhere players can seek help if they need it, but only give it to them if they ask for it. Sometimes it's useful to get a reminder from Fi as to where to go next. But when she just won't let me play, and it carries on through as much of the game as I was willing to put time into... it's not so good.



Megumi said:

I was fine with Fi, it was kinda funny the way she talked. "I can confirm that you have failed" xD
But they do get annoying sometimes with the batteries and taking breaks, and hearing the same line 10 bazillion times.



rjejr said:

@aaronsullivan - Why would you need motion controls for SS? Directional is easy, eiether use X horizontal and Y vertival and B diagonal, or just map it to the right stick. I played all of W101 drawing circles, lines, curves, bombs, hammers etc with the right stick. There should be enoigh buttons on the Gamepad to map everything.

I hope what they learned from SS is that Link shoud be able to function at night. I waited all game to be able to fly at night thru the stars, if I cant ride my horse at night in an open world game dont even bother.



Grumblevolcano said:

I was glad to see Navi return in Hyrule Warriors. Definitely a great idea! As for Fi, I didn't get particularly far in Skyward Sword as I felt its pace was way too slow so I can't really give a reliable opinion there.



WanderingPB said:

Ok im going to be a minority here but even though Fi was annoying throughout Skyward Sword i'd be lying if i didnt admit there was a tear at the end of that epic adventure…

Still the prospect of no hand holding is as glorious as Super Metroid im getting more hyped about this game every day



StephenYap3 said:

I wasn't bothered by tutorials at all, and I could say the same for Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. As long as they aren't overly long, I'm cool with it.

I also hear a few people saying the same for Dream Team too. While they're not as bothersome as I find them to be, they will never come to the nightmare that plagued Bowser's Inside Story that are the repetitive and forced minigames, in my opinion.



sinalefa said:


That would be like playing Wii Sports Tennis with button inputs for the racket swings. It is not just to change directions for buttons, you lose the feeling of actually wielding the sword.

If Zelda U goes back to traditional controls, I will feel it is a step backwards. I remember when I played the Golf minigame in Yakuza 3 and telling to myself "This is wrong, I need to swing the thing as in real golf, not press a button three times"



DarkKirby said:

As others have said tutorials are not so much the problem in Zelda, it's when the games blatantly shove the solution to puzzles and problems in your face if you didn't figure it out in 3 minutes, or sometimes even before you attempt to solve the puzzle at all. Sometimes through the use of Link's "partner" giving a "hint" (although I don't fault the "partners" for this as many do)", sometimes through an extreme zoom in on part of the room.

While originally annoying for many the addition of the zoom ins on the solutions in the Water Temple in Ocarnia Of Time on the 3DS ruined what made the Water Temple legendary in the 1st place and now it's something new players on the 3DS will never understand as to WHY the OoT Water Temple was legendary.

Also, as to the enemy difficulty, please don't make Zelda games where dying is literally a chore and dying is difficult to the point you have to go out of your way to do it like Wind Waker. And "Hero Mode" is not a solution, that's fake difficulty. Not that instant death by Phantoms in Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks and such was better. Make the enemies have more interesting and less obvious attack patterns, faster, and not telegraph their attacks so obviously and for so long before attacking. It doesn't have to be super difficult but make combat more interesting and dying not actually difficult.

I don't know of this is intentional at this point but there are a few Zelda games at this point that feel the need to REINTRODUCE every item to you every time you turn om your console, within the same save file. I don't need Link to raise 20 Rupees above his head to tell me what it is EVERY SINGLE TIME I TURN ON MY GAME.



DiscoGentleman said:

Why not have an option at the very beginning, before the game starts: "Tutorials On or Off?" Blam. Solved.
Nintendo needs to be careful not to alienate their hardcore/longtime fans. Difficult games will help bring 'new gamers' to Nintendo's games.



DarkKirby said:


I don't think Link having a "partner" is the problem, it's just when the game shoves solutions at you, which can and is often done through the "partner".

I don't remember the extent to which solutions were given to you through Zelda in Spirit Tracks but Spirit Tracks is perhaps the only Zelda game where Zedla is a prominent character in the game and she made a great partner because she had a personality and made a comment about nearly everything. She really felt like a partner (to the extent someone can be a partner without physically being able to interact with anything most of the time) instead of someone that was just there.

You can take away the "partners", but it won't mean the hand holding is gone if they're going to zoom in on the solutions of the puzzles anyway.



rjejr said:

@sinalefa - ""This is wrong, I need to swing the thing as in real golf, not press a button three times""

And that's why I'll never buy a golf or tennis game on 3DS. Sports games are all about playing sports, and Wii Sports got the whole world involved. Zelda is a "light" RPG story about a boy who travels alot and solves puzzles to save a princess. I'ld be ok w/o motion controls. If they make a Sports Resort 2 I wouldn't play any of those sword fighting games w/o motion though.

Honestly I'ld rather it didn't have motion controls except for gyroscope flying stuff, that's always fun, but usually a small part of the game. I want to use the Gamepad for a map - large open world awaits! - and quick swapping all Link's cool gadgets. Though you know me, I'm all about options, the more the better, whatever they can add to make people happy. Add playable Mii's, motion controls, pointer controls, "casual" mode, give us all of it and let us decide how we want to play.

'course its not gonna matter to Jax, he's going to buy it anyway



aaronsullivan said:

@rjejr @sinalefa @BossBattles
Some enemies react to where your sword is not just which way you are swinging. So second analog stick would have to control placement and then swing too? Feinting, too. Map holding over your head to a button, too. So cumbersome that way, IMO and I even like the little shield push back thing. I guess another button or something. :/

My only point is that retrofitting skyward sword to have traditional controls isn't trivial.

I'm seriously not sure what I want for the new Zelda. I love the GamePad for WW. Really works well for aiming for instance but I also like it as a tool for a second player to help out. Tough decisions for the Aonuma and the Zelda team.



Dodger said:

I love Skyward Sword, but for all the creativity of the new puzzle designs, Fi spoiled too many of them.

Navi was okay. Simple hints that can be completely ignored are fine by me, and I like having a character to tell me what the names of the enemies are. Fi told you the solutions to the puzzles, exactly how to defeat the enemies and where any secrets were, sometimes without any choice.



SonataAndante said:

Skyward Sword's level of handholding in some spots was insultingly bad. I recall one specific part that really made me hate Fi and SS's manner of doing things in general. If I recall right, it was in the basement of the Ancient Cistern. There was a window along the left wall that overlooked the boss key chest. I noticed the window before getting near it and planned to look through it to begin with. Then as I approach it the game decides to direct my attention through it automatically via a small cutscene. Great, thanks. Whatever. Then Fi pops out to describe in words what I had just witnessed with my eyes. She tells me there's something over there and we should try to get to it. GEE. THANKS.

Pour one out for Fi? Nah, Fi can burn for all I care.



hcfwesker said:

The very first thing I had to do was turn the "dousing" system off in Skyward Sword. I don't mind an opening tutorial of some sorts ... but having it throughout the game is not what I want in Zelda games. You don't get that feeling of being wrapped up in the games world if you're being directed where to go the entire time. Plus I don't pay $50-60 for a game to play follow the leader.

This is great news for us exploration/adventure puzzle gamers.



9th_Sage said:

Oh thank god. I really liked Skyward Sword, but I was so tired of Fi by the end of the game. Only so many times she can reiterate the same information until I've gone insane.



ToniK said:

That's fine. SS is my favorite Zelda but it did have excessive hand-holding at times. What bugs me though is that people still consider OoT pretty much flawless while some of its "puzzles" were unfair and stupid. "Oh, you're doing the exact right thing but you stand an inch off so go ahead and think of something else and wander through Hyrule for hours." Yeah, wasn't too fond of that game. It started a lot of beautiful things but every single Zelda after that has been better in my opinion. I want content instead of confusion and content did SS offer.



Romeo said:

sounds great!
but i miss navi... put her back into the game (just don't let her say anything)

a quiet Navi.. one can dream



unrandomsam said:

He said that about ALBW but failed to deliver on the promise. (At least the first time through).



Theober555 said:

I hated Fi so much, so much that I haven't even finished Skyward Sword (well, a combination of Fi and motion controls)!
I loved Navi though



xerneas said:

Navi is hella annoying and didn't even help me once. Fi was okay, didn't bother me a lot and I actually found her helpful sometimes. I don't mind some hand holding, but OH MY GOD YES THEY NEED TO REMOVE REINTRODUCING ITEMS ALL THE TIME it really pisses me off



Link506 said:

@Falchion not 100%, more like 20%. Thats when she complains to you about your remote's batteries almost being dead. I HATE that!



rjejr said:

@aaronsullivan - " I love the GamePad for WW. Really works well for aiming for instance but I also like it as a tool for a second player to help out. "

I'm looking forward to WW HD now that I'm getting it for free. That 2nd person thing will probably come in handy too, though in the past 2nd person has always seemed more trouble than it's worth - SMG and Puppeteer. Will give it a go though.



Kirk said:


When I get a game I just want to play it.

Only if something really needs explaining do I appreciate any kind of instructions or tutorials and even then ideally I'd want them to be kinda hidden in the actual moment to moment gameplay so it doesn't actually feel like I'm having to slog through some lengthy tutorial before I actually get to play the game.

It's good to see he's learning this stuff but these guys have been making games for 30 years and you'd really think he'd have already learned this stuff by now.



Melkac said:

@Frapp ALBW didn't have any hand-holding at all, just optional hints which you can only see with an item...



k8sMum said:

i wanted to love SS so much, but in the end i thot it was merely ok. it's all subjective, but i found the open worlds just existed without any reason for them. fi was incredibly annoying at times. it was a truly lovely game but lacked substance, imho.

otoh, i adore ALBW as it delivered on all points: fun to play, interesting puzzles, stuff to do all over the place.



ekreig said:

@Melkac It also has those "Why don't you take a break?" messages when you try to save which, while by no means a big deal, really should be something you're able to turn off.



earthboundlink said:

@biglittlejake Well, young'un, let this old timer tell you what it was like in the olden days.

Your explanation how to play the game was called the "instruction book." It was an actual, literal book that came with the game. Once you've read that, and you understand buttons and movement, you turn the game on. You're standing in an area with three directions to go, along with a cave you can enter. You go in the cave, hoping for some explanation of what to do next. In the cave is an old man, who hands you a wooden sword and says "It's dangerous to go alone. Take this."

The sword is helpful, the advice is not. Your only option is to head north, east, or west (south is blocked by a wall). Everything that happens after that is exploration and discovery. It was impenetrable, difficult, and glorious.



DilMan33 said:

Tutorials are fine, but hand holding to me is what you get in GTA. On screen prompts telling you to do this now and now do that!

Even MGS, which some people say is an interactive movie (I don't) doesn't give out on screen instructions, though it does tell you what to do via the team backing you up on radio.



aaronsullivan said:

@rjejr what I like is that the inventory and map can be messed with without interrupting a player on a pro controller. The opposite of Pikmin 3 which freezes the game when the screen is touched.



Xaessya said:

This game will not hold your hand, instead it reaches down, grabs your [censored] and jerks you around! ~Quote from AVGN



Gridatttack said:

No gimmicky controls would be awesome too. Or a way to play the game with a controller and not wave at everything.



Melkac said:

@ekreig Well, it is a handheld game. I'm pretty sure those kind of messages are present in a lot of handheld Nintendo games.

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