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.