The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is barely a week old, yet it has already become one of the most critically-acclaimed video games of recent memory, scoring a series of perfect review scores and thrilling gamers all over the world.
The game is notable for the way in breaks from tradition with so many of the Zelda series' key features, and director Hidemaro Fujibayashi has been speaking to The New Yorker about how this seismic change took place.
Fujibayashi adds to previous comments that he and his team were afforded an unusual amount of freedom:
They said, 'Change anything you want.' So we wrote down all of the stress points, the things that make Zelda games less enjoyable, and we replaced them with new ideas.
Takuhiro Dohta, the game's technical director, added that at points they had to roll things back:
At many times in the process, there were things that just weren't functioning at all. We'd have to remove everything and build back up again.
To make things even more demanding, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata passed away and the team lost a major supporter within the company, as Fujibayashi explains:
When he passed away, there were moments we'd come up with an idea which we'd be excited to talk to Iwata about. Then we'd remember he was no longer here. Miyamoto told me it was the same for him. He'd come up with an idea at the weekend and would feel excited to speak to Iwata about it on Monday, only to remember. The sadness runs deep. This is approaching spiritual talk, but we had the sense that he was watching over our work. That became a source of motivation, a drive for us to improve and be better.
Given that Iwata will have been involved in many other key projects which are only now appearing on the market, it's fitting that his influence on Zelda: Breath of the Wild's development continued to be felt, even after his tragic passing.