The genius behind Zelda is at the peak of his power – and sense of his age

NEW YORK – Eiji Onuma is tired.

He’s played “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” 20 times over the past few years, testing early copies of the title he supervised as producer. He used to take days to play through a game. Now it’s a week and a half.

“I sometimes found myself wondering, ‘Should I be doing this at my age? From the game version. “I’m kind of hitting my limit here and I don’t want to push myself too hard.”

Later, as he slowly lowered himself Sitting down to take a picture, he smiled and muttered, “Like a grandfather.”

As games get bigger, productions get longer and more difficult. The weight of expectations from Zelda’s legacy can be overbearing.

Since the turn of the century, Aonuma has been the master of the Zelda series franchise. He’s worked on every title since 1998’s “Ocarina of Time,” often called the “Citizen Kane” of video games thanks to the innovations that inspired “Grand Theft Auto” and countless other titles.

The release of Zelda has become an Olympics-level event for the industry and fans. Many of the titles Aonuma has overseen are considered milestones in the history of the medium, especially 2017’s “Breath of the Wild,” which recently topped GQ’s list of the 100 best video games of all time. It’s hard to follow.

Now, he can rest a bit. “Tears of the Kingdom” was released to worldwide critical acclaim, selling 10 million copies in the first three days of its release. It’s a near impossible feat to follow one masterpiece with another – and he’s not even done brainstorming ideas for the series.

“Maybe this game was a little more difficult for me, but we got through it,” he said.

Review: “Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” makes you feel like a creative genius

before joining NintendoAnd Onuma has never touched a video game. He grew up without toys, so he would make his own, sometimes tying tree branches together. The men in his family were carpenters, and he was on his way to continuing a version of that business, earning a master’s degree in installation design for marionettes.

But in the 1980s, when Nintendo rose to cult status, he admired the artwork for its fledgling franchises, including a new game called “Super Mario Bros.”. He reached out to a corporate artist to express his admiration and got an interview with Mario and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto, who was impressed with Aonuma’s design work and hired for him.

His first job was designing character icons, known as sprites, for 1991’s “NES Open Tournament Golf”. He developed a strong admiration for the Zelda series, especially Link to the Past. His next assignment was a big promotion: a game director for his original treasure story, “Marvelous: Another Treasure Island.” The 1996 title, released only in Japan, attempted to emulate the Zelda formula.

Video game characters are basically digital dolls. Aonuma’s understanding of puppetry proved invaluable as Nintendo began creating 3D games.

Aonuma became co-director of “Ocarina”, which revolutionized how game characters move and fight each other in 3D space. Unlike cinema, video games require the audience to control the camera. Ocarina created a “camera lock” system to focus perspective while using the controller for character movement. The system, which games still use today, is a great reason “Ocarina” is often compared to the work of Orson Welles, who redefined how cinema was shot.

he He was also the architect of the game’s dungeons, which are often considered to be some of the most memorable and challenging in the series’ history, including the infamously difficult Water Temple.

After the success of “Ocarina”, Miyamoto transferred supervision of the series to Onuma. The follow-up, “Majora’s Mask” in 2000, used a “Groundhog Day”-style feature, requiring players to go through three days to solve all puzzles. 2002’s Wind Waker bucked industry trends toward HD graphics chasing realism, and instead showcased an anime-like art style, in keeping with Aonuma’s insistence that Zelda games remain timeless. The backlash became an early example of fan tantrums on the Internet, however Art has aged well and proven Onuma’s instinct right.

“We always strive to create surprise,” said Hidemaro Fujibayashi, director of “Tears,” who has focused on the nuts and bolts and is considered a possible successor to producer Aonuma, whose role is larger. “That’s the drive… That’s what Zelda might be.”

“Tears of the Kingdom” is the latest evidence of this philosophy, using the sky and underground regions to give players an all-encompassing electronic fantasy world. The central gameplay feature allows players to build countless tools to solve puzzles. Despite Onuma’s background in carpentry, it was Fujibayashi who dreamed up the idea of ​​encouraging such creativity. Show this to Aonuma by building a tank using items from “Breath of the Wild”, such as cogwheels, slabs of stone, and boat oars. Later, Fujibayashi was scrolling through social media to find videos of players using “Breath” to create flying machines and other contraptions.

Those clips were exactly what we were trying to do [in “Tears”]”Seeing people really enjoying it provided confidence in knowing that what we’re trying to do here is going to be a fun and interesting experience for people,” Fujibayashi said.

But when they incorporated the building element into The Tears, Aonuma’s history as a wood carver caused a clash with the designers. As a visual aid to show that two things are stuck together, glue comes out of the creases of the stuck objects. For Onuma, this was ugly.

As a wood carver, “When I was connecting things and gluing them together, I was always picky about not seeing the glue where those joints were, and I always swiped that way because it really got on my nerves,” said Onuma. “The staff really appealed to me… There’s a part of me that feels like I want to wipe that glue away and make things look a little more neat and tidy. But in the end, they were right. Being able to see where to put the objects you tie together makes this kind of play.” Fits well and is in the spirit of Zelda.”

The Spirit of Zelda focuses on such new and unexpected concepts of gameplay – even as many other modern games of the story, such as TV and film, do. Fujibayashi said that with the song “Tears” appearing at the “beginning of development, there really is no story”. “Once we got to the point where we felt confident in the gameplay experience, that’s when the story begins to unfold.”

However, Zelda fans frantically study the lore, fascinated by the tortuous and confusing timeline of events throughout the series since the first game in 1986. Some games are prequels, others are sequels. “Breath of the Wild” Zelda archaeologists baffled: Where is this place? Aonuma was historically evasive about this answer, and that hasn’t changed today.

Onuma said, “I guess I’ll leave it up to the fans and hope they continue to discuss this amongst themselves, and I’ll look forward to seeing where those discussions lead.”

“Breath” became the most successful title in the series, selling about 30 million copies, which created especially high expectations for “Tears”. It was supposed to come out by last year, but in March 2022, Onuma had to announce its delay, “to make sure everything in the game is 100 percent up to our standards,” he said. Big video games these days are released with bugs and poor graphical performance, while “Tears” was released without problems, despite more complex physics than even the most expensive PlayStation 5 title.

Another hiccup came when The second trailer dropped in February, and the team noticed a lack of enthusiasm. “People hadn’t quite grasped the elements of the game or where the fun might be,” Onuma said. Nintendo decided to feature Aonuma explaining the game’s concepts in a 13-minute demo, which did the trick.

Onuma hopes “Tears of the Kingdom” will inspire people to rethink how they deal with obstacles off screen. He thinks of his son and his frustration with everyday problems. “I would ask him, ‘What is your goal when you are trying to get to this result? And he’ll say, “I wasn’t thinking much when I was doing it. Onuma said with a deep sigh. “I would be really happy if our game encourages imaginative thinking in people, and that they can apply that in their real lives.”

Aonuma may be tired, but he relieves stress by playing Nintendo’s exercise game, “Ring Fit Adventure,” which has earned him a whopping level of 430. He preserved his professional energy by avoiding any other intellectual property – focusing on just one.

“Big games require a lot of new ideas to fill them in. Any new ideas you might have put out in some of the other IPs, I invested those ideas into the Zelda games.” He does not plan to step down as president of the chain.

That’s great news for Aonuma fans, many of whom stood in line for the midnight “Teardrop” launch event at the Nintendo Rockefeller Center store celebrating its May 12th release — blasting around the block and growing longer as the night went on.

Inside the store, just before it opens, Onuma discovers some Zelda merchandise and insists that they be paid for. The employees told him he should at least get the 20 percent employee discount, and he checked out. “I have my job because of you,” said a cheerful employee. Onuma smiled and picked up his Zelda sweatshirt.

Joe Popolo, 33, a communications technician from Toronto, won a trip to New York via a contest by submitting photos of His wedding is Zelda themed, his baby is dressed in a Zelda outfit and rack is stocked with hundreds of rare Zelda collectibles. Puopolo was approached by Aonuma at the store, receiving a handshake and an autograph for the collector’s edition of the “Tears of the Kingdom” set.

“I know everyone has celebrities, sports icons… That’s my celebrity,” said Popolo. “This is my hero. He made my favorite game ever, Majora’s Mask.” I joke with my wife that her father saw Neil Diamond at prom the other day, and he said that was the highlight of his life. for me “.

#genius #Zelda #peak #power #sense #age

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top