Nintendo on why Wind Waker 2 became Zelda: Twilight Princess - Nintendo Everything

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Nintendo on why Wind Waker 2 became Zelda: Twilight Princess

Posted on December 4, 2016 by (@NE_Brian) in GameCube, News, Wii, Wii U

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess wasn’t the game Nintendo always intended it to be. Initially, development on the project began as a sequel to Wind Waker.

Series producer Eiji Aonuma actually “announced” Wind Waker 2 during a talk at GDC 2004. A slide included in his presentation showed that the game was in the works, though we know that plans ultimately changed.

Now we have some insight into the situation thanks to a new interview from The Legend of Zelda: Art & Artifacts. The book is coming west next February, but it’s out in Japan as “Hyrule Graphics”. And a section of the discussion with artist Satoru Takizawa talks about what happened back in the day.

Takizawa mentioned that Wind Waker 2 would have taken place on land rather than the sea. Nintendo wanted to have Link riding on a horse, but found his proportions difficult to make that possible, and going with an adult version wouldn’t have improved the situation. With demand for a return to a more realistic Link growing and high-budget live-action fantasy movies becoming huge, Nintendo decided to change things up. Illustrator Yusuke Nakano was eventually brought in to create Link’s new design.

Continue on below for our full translation.

Realistic Link came back four years after Wind Waker in Twilight Princess, which was released on GameCube and Wii. The pendulum returned again to the realistic direction, but what kind of circumstances resulted in it?

Takizawa: To tell you the truth, we had begun the initial steps towards creating Wind Waker 2 around that time. However, demand for a more Ocarina-like game was growing by the day. We did our very best with Wind Waker, and put everything we had into it…

Takizawa: However, Wind Waker 2 would have taken place in a more land-based setting, rather than on the sea, so that we could have Link gallop across the land on a horse. But Link’s proportions in Wind Waker weren’t very well suited for riding on horseback, he was too short, and an adult version of Toon Link did not seem appropriate either. So, while we were stuck on those problems, we became aware of the greater demand for a more realistic, taller Link. High-budget live-action fantasy movies were also huge at the time, so with all things considered, we decided to have at it. I was on board with the project as art director, and started off by bringing [Yusuke] Nakano on to do the design for Link.

So the project began with Mr. Nakano’s Link as the basis?

Takizawa: He had joined after the graphics testing process, when we were trying to figure out the game’s “product-level visual identity”. I think that was the first time we had ever brought him on during that part of development.

Nakano: Yes. That was the first time for an internally developed Zelda game.

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  • Martin Naranjo

    Cool little Interview …. I remember reading that Kimishima was the one who made Nintendo aware of the initial backlash on Wind Waker Graphics, Isn’t? Such a cool dude!

    I’m already eager to see the art style of the next title lol! xP Twilight Princess is my favorite game in the franchise! So glad they made this decision.

    Maybe a Wii U Tech Demo-like Zelda! That would be insanely cool!

    • theFooFighter

      After seeing breath of the wild I honestly never want another realistic Zelda. There are already tons of fantasy games that look like that but only 1 looks like Zelda

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      • Martin Naranjo

        I’m personally tired of “Toon”/”Anime-ish” Art Styles with Nintendo Games in general and that Tech Demo isn’t realistic either …. It is called “Stylized Realism” … Splatoon, Smash Brothers, Darksiders, Life is Strange, Bioshock Infinite and Overwatch … Last three games are praised by their Art and Design.

        • theFooFighter

          If you want t a realistic fantasy game you have tons of options to choose from but if you want a fantasy game that looks like Zelda there’s only 1 option. Nintendo shouldn’t remove that option just because you don’t like it.

          • Martin Naranjo

            I never said i didn’t like it i said i’m tired that’s different.

            Ending conversation.

          • KnickKnackMyWack

            lol How can you be tired of toon/anime art styles? Overwatch’s success is hinged almost entirely on the fact that it’s a shooter with such an art style. Same with Splatoon. There is not nearly enough of those to go around right now.

          • ForeVision

            Personally I appreciate both art styles, but I have heard the flipside of the coin, a friend of mine loving Zelda, but skipping the wind-waker because of 1. the art-style and 2. the easiness.

        • NintendoPSXTheSecond

          I’m partial. While I don’t hate BoTW art direction, I feel it’s not optimized well enough and comes off looking like Wii textures. At least for characters, environments look well.

        • Justin Wood

          I did like Zelda’s realism in TP, but botw doesn’t seem to go overboard so we’ll see.

      • Martin Naranjo

        Also … I’m really curious to see what game looks like that!

      • Raphi Lopez

        totally agree

      • Justin Wood

        BOTW is both realistic and toony, a good combo to keep your attention but make you feel like you’re not playing toon-town..

      • nemo37

        I would not mind them switching back and forth between different graphic styles and even experimenting with some new ones.

  • Wanderlei

    I picture toon link trying to ride horse with stumpy little legs.

    • Justin Wood


    • Guilherme Hentz

      A pony!

      • R.Z.

        a toon pony !

  • Andrew

    Thank goodness. WInd Waker is by far and away my least favorite 3D Zelda. It’s still a good game – don’t go freaking out – but it’s more like a 7.5 or 8 vs all the others. Twilight Princess is probably my 3rd fav behind OOT and MM.

    • Xstream

      Unless you feel that cartoony graphics somehow dropped the game from legendary to just “pretty good”, I don’t how you the cartoony style would have had any correlation to game quality.

      • Andrew

        I never mentioned the graphics one time. Where in the world did you get that assessment on how much I liked the game from my comment?

        I didn’t like Wind Waker because of Too much water, there is too much nothing in the water (similar to Skyward Sword, which is probably my 2nd least favorite of the 3D Zeldas). I don’t like using a small Link. None of the unique weapons for this game were memorable for me. Side quests were annoying because of the water and no real quick way to get around.

        Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a fan of the cartoony graphics, but it’s like No. 5 on the list as to why I wasn’t as big of a fan of Wind Waker.

        I have no intention of playing WW ever again. I’ve replayed OOT, MM, TP and will eventually play Skyward Sword again because as a whole it’s a great game.

        But not Wind Waker. Never again. #BurnTheBoat

        • nemo37

          I agree. I actually really liked the graphics in this game. Moreover, while the game had its high moments (some of the dungeons were pretty cool), there was a lot tedious wandering around the sea.

  • Carlos

    I would’ve loved a Wind Waker 2. Twilight Princess never stuck to me. It had interesting parts, but it was such a slow moving game.

  • Kenshin0011

    “But Link’s proportions in Wind Waker weren’t very well suited for riding on horseback, he was too short, and an adult version of Toon Link did not seem appropriate either.”

    Funny, because BoTW is essentially adult Toon-link. It’s not chibi anymore, but the art-style and graphics are close to WW.

  • nekoknight

    I’d still like to see another 3D Zelda game with Wind Waker style graphics. Twilight Princess was okay, but I feel like us WW fans kinda got jipped.

  • John Perez

    In a way, I think it’s a little upsetting that fans felt this way. I think Windwaker is the most charming of all the Zelda games and it has everything to do with the art style. Everything from the more simplistic design which allowed for more emotions to be conveyed by Link and other characters gave it a lot of memorable and hilarious. I see Ocarina as a curse because it set a standard for what people believe is the best Zelda look and put the series into a box of stereotypes. I’m glad that Breath of the Wild is going right in between and keeping the brightness and charm that came with the wind waker. I already like to see how Link shivers when he’s cold. This is coming from someone who loves dark games as well, such as Dark souls and Bloodborne.

  • R.Z.

    Basically they went with “fan” demand.
    Seeing the result, curse the “fans” !
    I’m still disappointed that Wind Waker’s continuation took the form of sub-par portable entries that did away with all the epicness and the more serious themes of the home console episode.
    I’d kill to see another home console Zelda in the same style.

    • KnickKnackMyWack

      Subpar? Those games aren’t bad at all. Besides, portables are strong in Japan and so is the Wind Waker art style.

      • R.Z.

        The games themselves aren’t that bad, especially the first one, but they do feel like silly spin offs. It’s the comparison with Wind Waker that made me write them off as subpar, because of the story/universe aspects mainly.
        Honestly unless they do some further retconning and spitting storylines tricks (which I hope they will abstain from doing because they end up feeling pretty forced) I will remain dissatisfied with how Nintendo built on the Wind Waker legacy.

  • AriesSiren

    I thought Wind Waker was just beautiful. I never had a problem with the graphics. what I had a problem with was that the game was repetitive and boring. I tried playing it so many times and I just cannot get into it, it feels so empty and doesn’t have that Zelda “magical” feel.

  • Andre Andrade

    Lies lies lies… is all about cellshading bad reception.

    • Exy

      I’d like to see them try motion-capture Zelda. Actual real people, just to finally put the debate over the merits of these art styles to bed.

  • disqus_0I5gNV0y9L

    Don’t say “back in the day”. I remember the pre-release period of Twilight Period and I’m not that old.

Related Game Info

Platform: WII U
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Tantalus
Release date: March 4, 2016
OWN IT: 18 [I own this game]
BEAT IT: 15 [I beat this game]
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