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Aonuma Says “Recent Zelda Games Have Been Rather Linear”

Legendary Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma has confessed that recent Zelda titles apart from A Link Between Worlds have been more linear than he had hoped. Aonuma now wants to capture the excitement that was found in the original Legend of Zelda for the NES in future games. Here’s what he had to say.

“The recent Zelda games have been rather linear, as I thought players didn’t like getting lost, wondering what to do, or where to go. However, I’ve come to question this ‘traditional’ approach as I felt that we couldn’t gain the sense of wonder that existed in the original Legend of Zelda, in which you made unexpected encounters and where what used to be impossible would suddenly become possible.”

“We will, of course, continue to question and reconsider the approaches we have taken in the past without any reservations.”

Thanks, Retrogaminglord

86 thoughts on “Aonuma Says “Recent Zelda Games Have Been Rather Linear””

    1. better had be. Skyward sword was linear as fuck. everything about it was awful, the sky is a piece of shit compared to the sea of wind waker. there’s literally 4 islands with a building/minigame on them and the rest are just floating rocks with boring treasure. I felt like i was playing Final Fantasy XIII when it came to the surface

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      1. There isn’t anything wrong with linear. Linear is just a style that some people like and some people don’t. I happen to like linear games like recent Zelda games… I also like non-linear as well. I appreciate both styles, because they both have their ups and downs.

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          1. Yes. And also, I actually didn’t like how the non-linear nature of ALBW made it so the dungeons effectively became easier the longer you played. Now, that game gets tons of praise for its unique structure, so I’m not saying it was a bad decision on Nintendo’s part. I’m just saying that I, personally, didn’t like it as much.

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          1. Where’s the like button when we need it? I want one just to upvote this a hundred times! Phantom Hourglass is the worst Zelda game by far!

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          1. So wrong on so many levels. It’s one of the best. Your child mind just can’t grasp the nature of the gameplay, and are missing out on some seriously awesome game time. I have pity for you.

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        1. Says the person that never played it, someone who really played it and enjoyed it and put time into it without bias would’ve see the amazing game it is, but such an ignorant comment shows you never touched the game or did in an ignorant way!

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          1. I don’t know about that, to be honest. Skyward sword definitely wasn’t the worst Zelda game ever, but it was leagues behind others like Twilight Princess!

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          2. Last I checked, Skyward Sword did great. Most websites gave it a good score. The ones that hate the game are actually quite small. Very loud about their hate but still small.

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      2. And the fact that you had to strike a godess cube((which you can locate via your swrod) to activate the treasures, which also shows the location of the tresures made it suck even more.

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  1. Skyward Sword was incredibly disappointing for me, not just because of how linear it was but because of the huge focus on motion controls (which in my experience with them finally made me completely and utterly hate the concept) which detracted from the quality of other aspects of the game.

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      1. I agree! It is contradictory that we love a company’s creations for their uniqueness and originality (Wii motion controls) but still prefer a classic controller :/… Buy an Xbox or PS then. I will love my Wii U when I finally get one, and I will continue to play Skyward Sword like a TRUE master swordsman :P

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  2. Funny was just talking about this yet so many disagreed with me and just kept hating on A Link Between Worlds new system. This is exactly why I loved A Link Between Worlds because it wasn’t as linear as previous games.

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      1. All Zeldas have been easy since OoT onward. A lot of people played OoT/MM/etc as kids so they thought it was hard, but no. If you want a challenging experience, Zelda (or any highly popular franchise) won’t give it to you. Challenging games won’t sell amongst the bone head mass audience. The shift of video games into mainstream entertainment has dumbed them down.

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        1. Although you told me to shut up above, I need to say that I agree with you: the mainstream approach made games have no-brainer standards.

          That being said, OoT was ok, but MM was hard, really hard.

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  3. I agree about getting lost; it’s always my favorite thing in a video game. And Skyward Sword only “lost” me when I realized the pattern. Rinse, repeat, meh. Never finished it. I did get at least 2/3rds through, but never felt compelled to go back for more.

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  4. Ocarina of time is probably the best game I have ever played. But when i think about it, it’s pretty linear. Altough not as linear as skywardsword. There was no explaration in that game.

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    1. It wasn’t THAT linear, and linearity isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For instance, you could do the Spirit Temple before the Well dungeon or vice versa.

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    1. It was probably too late in development to change anything. He was probably referencing his work on A Link Between Worlds.

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    1. The only problem with this was that the story was mediocre at best. I know it was just a handheld game, but for a console game, they need a much better story. It’s a single-player game after all. I’m not suggesting a game where you go from point A to point B to point C and so forth. But some linearity is necessary, and I think a little more than ALBW’s is important.

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      1. I think Ocarina of Time had a good balance. Oh, and an open world game can have a decent story, Far Cry 3 had a pretty good story (although it was ruined by an awful main character).

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      2. Yeah I agree that the story was a little lackluster in ALBW, but the adventure aspect was great. However, I do want to see a better story in Zelda U, like Twilight Princess.

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  5. Skyward Sword was in many ways a great game. The exploration of the sky was very underwhelming and indeed a missed opportunity. The level design, encounter design an general aesthetics of the game, however, we’re quite good.

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  6. I don’t think you need the dungeons to be linear for the story to advance. It can be as easy as requiring you to return with artifacts to a temple…It doesn’t matter what order you get them in. Upon arrival a new cut scene would be triggered. And in all honesty, I’ll take a simpler story in favor of complex gameplay/structure any day.

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      1. Zelda has never had a BIG story. It’s actually always been pretty basic save the the princess, save the world stuff. And you easily could do both, but if one was to be forsaken for the other, I would rather the story get the short end of the stick. You don’t play story.

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    1. Do what the Metroid Prime series does: allow for a hint system to be turned on (actually “off” in those games, but that’s a gripe for another thread.)

      You could make wandering as obtuse as you’d like then, with a series of hints that becomes more and more clear as you struggle, ultimately resulting in an icon being drawn on your map.

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  7. A link between worlds is like playing NES/SNES Zelda, but improved. I like the NES Hyrule better than the one in a Link to the past and a Link between worlds though.

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  8. I have no idea why people hate Skyward Sword so much. I mean, yeah it was linear and all, but it had an incredible story. I was blown away by the fact that they were able to portray character’s emotions so well without voice acting. Even though no Zelda game really has voice acting in it, SS took it to another level. I mean, I can enjoy a game that isnt linear too, but I think making a game non-linear drastically takes away from character development and story simply because the game becomes more about the world than the characters. Skyrim’s an excellent example of this. I guess the key is balance. I know that many of the classic Final Fantasy games did it pretty well(I’m thinking of VI in particular)

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    1. Completely agree.
      I’m frequently told that I’m not a Zelda fan just because I love SS. -.-
      I personally thought SS was an incredible Zelda game. I love almost everything about it and always will!

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    2. The problem with SS was that you were always told where to go. Every single moment of that game I knew what I was supposed to do. The NES Zelda was fantastic in the way that you got to explore, but even Majora’s Mask (the best Zelda game) left me clueless at some points.

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  9. I like all the Zelda games even Zelda 2 on NES and Majora’s Mask on N64, they are not perfect, some could be better, but they are all really good.

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    1. The only Zelda games I haven’t played are the DS games, and I think the only one I didn’t enjoy was Minish Cap. A lot of Twilight Princess was kind of boring too, but it certainly had its moments.

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  10. I love exploring because then I find mini dungeons and just solve puzzles or stab enemies in their throats or faces =) Hugs!

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  11. Guys you are getting things too mixed up!
    First of all when we discuss Zelda you need to differentiate between Handheld Zelda games and Home Console Zelda games.

    Handheld games are from the get go on a limited memory and power. They need to be in some form linear correct?

    Then you get the home console Zelda games. You have much more power available, and your crowd there are people who enjoy playing games like Assassins Creed, Skyrim and people who have already played Ocarina of Time and Majoras Mask.

    You need to provide the following:
    1) Good Story suitable for an Adventure game.
    2) Not too linear and not too non-linear. The sweet point in the middle.
    3) Good battle system and great enough graphics.

    Lets talk about the how linear the game should be. When talking about linear games , the open world fans are simply trying to explain how an adventure game, and especially Zelda, which had Ocarina Of Time as its peak, need to be open world. They have missed that feeling of being lost, that feeling of starting a new sidequest etc.

    When pro linear fans talk about it, they say that games with open world are not really that good. Assassins Creed and Skyrim arent really that great because of their open world. AC really makes NO use of its open world. Its the most linear game i have played ( beside SS). You get no merits for exploring because what you did in the first 5 minutes of exploring you will do until the end of the game. Skyrim of course makes good use with tons of exploration and sidequests but you kill the main story.

    So where does that leaves us?

    EXACTLY IN THE MIDDLE!
    Ocarina of Time and Majoras Mask did it best for 1998 standards. They had that feeling of open world while being acceptably linear. Correct?
    The problem Nintendo has done since then, is that in ALL their 3D home console Zelda’s, they first tried to make the games more linear because they thought ( as they said themselves) that players were tired of being lost and exploring and instead they needed to be shown the way. This escalated so much that we got Skyward Sword which had NO OVERWORLD! That is absolutely terrible. Of course the story was good ( not excellent) but it was its only upside!

    So to get it in perspective:
    Too Linear —-> Most likely will have Good Story, boring predictable progression, no mystery, good battle system!
    Too Open World—-> Danger of losing the essence of what Zelda is all about by imitating Skyrim and such but will have a good enough story and ton of sidequests!

    The sweet spot is in the MIDDLE!!! Not too linear not too open world.
    A perfect equality for both parts. You get that awesome main story, driven by events. Yes you may be able to clear dungeons in different order if you mess with it too much but you dont have to because you follow the story. But at the same time,.25% of the story progression happens through sidequests and you will only realize that after you have done it. The unexpected will drive the game in some cases. I like games where i can jump in the main story whenever i want and search for sidequests whenever i want. After 3-4 hours of main story i like to take some time in calming my self with some sidequests that are both engaging and rewarding either with money items or character development or even future story progression!
    Future story progression? What is that? Well to set an example….remember at the VERY beginning of Resident Evil 4 on Gamecube? At the very start in the forest, you encounter a wolf that is trapped. At that point you are scared SHITLESS and running for your life and most likely wont stop to save a freaking wolf who could actually attack you in the process. Yet, those who did save the wolf found out much later on in the game that they did the right thing. When you encounter that giant monster later on ( by this time you already forgot about that 3 seconds you took to save the wolf), that wolf comes back and actually saves you from certain death and gives you the chance to fight back. This isnt a feature like choosing what to say or where to go, its all about choosing some of your actions and the butterfly effect. A small gesture of kindness can save your ass in the future or vice versa!

    All of these are just my thoughts on Zelda WiiU and Zelda in general. I could go in more details for each part and many more but you would not read such an epic wall of text! ;)

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    1. I agree with most of what you’re saying, but I feel like one point needs to be made in this battle between linear vs non-linear.

      You can be a linear game and still invoke an open-world feel. The bottom line…please don’t hold my hand so much. Let me get lost. Make me get lost. Make me beat my head against the rocks until I realize that the item I just got in the last temple can be used to get to this next temple. Make me, like a true adventurer, catalogue my experiences and have to recollect them to remember that I need to go use the hook shot to swing over to the ledge to get to that door I saw in the first five minutes of the game.

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    2. *slow clap* I agree with everything you said… Except Skyward Sword’s only upside being the story, but that’s for another subject.

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