Zelda: Breath of the Wild director on cutting Wii U touch features - Nintendo Everything

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Zelda: Breath of the Wild director on cutting Wii U touch features

Posted on March 6, 2017 by (@NE_Brian) in News, Switch, Wii U

Before the Switch version of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the game was planned to have some touch features on the Wii U GamePad. Ultimately, those ideas were scrapped. The GamePad simply tells players that they can tap on the controller to enable off-TV play.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild director Hidemaro Fujibayashi recently chatted with IGN about the decision to cut the game’s touch features on Wii U. Once Switch was brought in and tests were done, Nintendo “noticed looking back and forth between the GamePad and the screen actually took a little something away from this type of Zelda game.”

Fujibayashi’s full comments are below.

“When we were developing the game for the Wii U, we had touch features implemented as you have seen. Once we began to develop the game in tandem for the Switch, we aimed to provide the same gameplay experience across both on Switch and Wii U.”

“In doing our testing without the touch features we noticed looking back and forth between the GamePad and the screen actually took a little something away from this type of Zelda game.”

“Without the touch features it actually turned out to be a really strong gameplay experience. After more experimentation and testing out, we realized that this is the best way to experience the game. That’s how we ended up with the current gameplay style in the production version.”

“There was no hesitation or reluctance in removing those features because we felt the way it is now is the best way to play the game.”


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  • Mark

    This is, I think, the closest that Nintendo will ever get to admitting that the core concept of the Wii U – having a screen in your hands while you play on a TV – was fundamentally flawed.

    • Vigilante_blade

      And a real breath of fresh air to hear.

      • Hidden Flare

        A real breath of the wild- in term of the gaming industry- you could say.

    • shani

      Quite the opposite, that concept was ingenious and should be an industry standard by now. But Nintendo screwed up explaining it via proper marketing.
      If anything, this is the best example for how screwed up everything is at Nintendo right now. The missing second screen support is the most annoying thing about BotW – an otherwise brilliant and almost flawless game.

      Even when you type in the name of the horse, you have to do it on the main screen – which breaks the immersion, btw – so it’s just a BS excuse for removing a good feature to make the Switch look better.

      • Mark

        I respectfully disagree with that – Nintendo’s failure to explain the benefit should have only hampered the initial marketing of the Wii U. Proper utilization of it in unique games would have spoken for itself, and would have caused it to eventually be raised to an industry standard. However, time and time again there just weren’t games that creatively utilized the gamepad – and when they did, it was a game like Mario Maker, which encouraged either long play sessions of staring at the tablet OR the screen, not going back-and-forth. The only Wii U game that I know of that did a really great job of back-and-forth gameplay was ZombiU, and that’s because the inherent awkwardness of it was used as a means to generate tension.

        I’ve heard the argument, that Wind Waker and Twilight Princess were improved by dual-screening. Both games were masterpieces without it, and while the WIi U may have added value, the GameCube and Wii versions are not lessened by having pause menus. Breath of the Wild gives the player many options of inventory management and item switching without having to constantly navigate through huge menus – a noted improvement on the past.

        For me, the greatest benefit of the Wii U was off-TV play – and to have off-TV play, you can’t have software which use both screens at the same time. Nintendo had four years to effectively prove the concept of a separated dual-screen console. If NINTENDO can’t come up with excellent game-changing content to justify its existence, then it’s time to move to something else. The Switch is proof of the lesson that Nintendo learned: Off-TV play is great. Multiple disconnected gaming screens is not.

        • YamiryuuZero

          I completely agree with your statement!

          People on this comment section are bashing Nintendo for removing the dual screen concept out of BoTW under the assumption the Wii U version would be the better one because of the second screen experience, but that second screen experience is exactly what people disliked about Star Fox Zero, #FE, etc., all claiming they wish there was an option to play with a single screen!

          I see people are mad that the game got a dual release because they bought the Wii U for the next installment of Zelda, and got disappointed that it went for a dual release. I understand why they are mad about that, but I don’t think they wanted to downplay the Wii U version in order to favor the Switch – the Wii U already downplayed itself, it didn’t need any help!

        • Lic. Ferrett

          I also agree with what you say here. Even tho I would like the Wii U version to be a bit different, because I like the Wii U for its weirdness, what you say is totally true.. If the best game to show the concept is a third party game.. the best thing nintendo could do was to drop the concept and work on something new..

  • JasonBall

    Bull****. Truly. PH, ST, OoT3D, LBW, MM3D, WWHD, and TPHD all are better because of second screen. At least touch menu controls, come on! What happened to the comments from Aonuma saying how the game was cool because it was like looking down at your phone’s GPS to find your way? Maps on a second screen are universally good.

    Yes I’m salty and irrational and tired and butthurt and sounding stupid, but I’m legit bummed at the cut features.

    • Dozuken

      as a 3ds user i really appreciated having a second screen,
      games like fire emblem, show everything you need (Stats,information,options,etc) on the bottom screen so you dont have to quit the main screen to look into other options or see the full map (in other games)

    • Leonel

      I’m bummed as well but pretty sure the reality was to prevent from the wii u being a more superior version because of the features. Technical the switch is better but if the wii u did have features using the gamepad it would be interesting to hear perspectives from people.

      • JasonBall

        Oh yeah, of course that’s why they cut it, and I understand it, but they could at least say that.

        • shani

          Actually, even though I know why they did it, I don’t understand it.
          It’s not like they would’ve lost any money if more people – basically only those who have a Wii U and a Switch – would’ve bought the Wii U version. After all, the money the make from the Wii U version doesn’t go to a competitor, it goes to Nintendo…

          But yeah, they could’ve at least owned they’re terrible decision, that would’ve been more honest.

        • Leonel

          You know nintendo lol they don’t want to sound mean but you are right they could of at least say that. I have been playing the wii u version non stop since friday but the features would of been cool if they were still their.

    • darkfire998

      I really liked the second screen on 3DS, but on Wii U, it wasn’t as good. On a handheld, it makes more sense, since you can see both screens without problems, but looking back and forth on Wii U was annoying after a while

      • shani

        Really? Maybe that’s why the Wii U was a commercial failure.
        I never even once found that annoying and I truly miss it in BotW, because it was just to comfortable and useful.

    • Vigilante_blade

      To play angel’s advocate, it seems most people who played this game flat-out adore it, and that includes extremely critical reviewers ke Michael Damiani and José Otero who disliked Skyward Sword. Not having those features didn’t detract from their fun

      • JasonBall

        True. Perhaps it was the safe option.

      • It’s a fantastic game, I love every minute of it, but the gamepad going completely unused is a minor detraction. If they came out and said “we wanted the switch version to sell better, so we made this game slightly worse” it would be fine, but talking about “detracting from the experience” is just dishonest PR talk.

        • Vigilante_blade

          Personally, it would detract from my experience, so I get where he is coming from. Still, I am a little annoyed that there are a few forced motion puzzles in the game.

          • So provide the option to turn it on or off, like mario kart

          • Vigilante_blade

            Sure, there really isn’t a reason to not leave the option. Just because I don’t enjoy it doesn’t mean I wish for features to just be removed. I am actually annoyed myself that ob the oposing side, I have to use tilt controls for a few puzzles

          • The right stick doesn’t work for some of them? Weird. I haven’t got that far.

          • shani

            Which ones are you talking about? So far, everything that required motion controls didn’t feel forced at all.

      • shani

        No but with a second screen and custimizable controls the game would’ve been perfect. Now it’s only nearly perfect. :/

    • Kaine Morrison

      Yes and no. The key difference being the distance between the screens.
      The handhelds have both screens right there next to each other so all you have to do is quickly move/flick your eyes from one screen to the other.

      The WiiU on the otherhand, has a much larger distance between the screens and you need to move your whole head up and down, or hold your gamepad up high the entire time while playing.

      • shani

        We’re talking about 50cm here, that’s not a large distance…

      • JasonBall

        You don’t like WWHD and TPHD gamepad features?

        • Kaine Morrison

          I only ever used the Pro Controller for those.

  • Bart

    I love the second screen on 3DS, it makes everything better.

    On Wii U though, I agree it’s not quite so handy having to look down to check the map or switch items or whatever, I mean it’s okay but if you’re going to do that you might as well pause the game and go into a seperate screen anyway, it’s basically the same thing.

    • shani

      People do that all the time in daily. They look down on their smartphone and then back up on the ‘main screen’, which is real life.
      Seriously, I can’t understand how anyone is complaining about looking down at the Gamepad screen.

      And no, it’s not the same thing to pause the game and go into a separate screen. That takes longer and breaks the immersion. Also, you have to hit a button twice, every time you want to look something up.

      • Bart

        Inventory/Map screens break immersion now? And looking away from the screen doesn’t? Okay then…

        You have to push a button twice? Oh no, you normally never do that while gaming!

        I don’t think I was “complaining” exactly, I actually like second screen, just saying it’s not quite as good on Wii U as it is on 3DS, where it’s basically the best thing ever. (I freaking love DS.)

        Also, on a side note, I don’t own a smartphone, and please don’t go comparing a game console to a phone, for my mental wellbeing if nothing else. Thanks.

    • César Tribst

      I’m used to move my WiiU from my house to my parents place, I don’t have a working TV on my house so I can only play off-TV there, games like Zelda WWHD, TP HD and Xenoblade Chronicles X are some that I really notice how the second screen improves the experience overall

  • Draco

    Bull****. The cut the feature because the Wii U version HAD to be inferior to the Switch version no matter what.
    The second screen is awesome when you have to consult the maps or organize your inventory. It has been tested on both Twilight Princess and Wind Waker with great result.

    • wisdomsprince

      Agree. The game is awesome, really fun. It clearly would be enhanced by having the map and the inventory on the gamepad. You have to stop the game to get rid of shields, bows and confirm your location in relation to the destination. It plays like it’s missing a feature. I feel as though they gimmped the Wii u version so the switch version wouldn’t be out done by it. Shaddy business practice Nintendo; This is one reason I’m holding off on the switch. Nintendo is once again filled with promises but they have lost my trust. Seeing is believing now when it comes to Nintendo products.

      • shani

        Exactly! It feels very shady and I’ve also lost trust in Nintendo because of how they’re trying to fool everyone with the Switch.
        It’s tablet that got stripped of all the tablet-features so that you can’t use it as a tablet.
        Instead, they’re calling it a console despite the fact that it’s not.
        And then they go ahead and scrape all the other good features (free online gaming, browser, video apps, second screen, savegame management and lots of other stuff) the Wii U and its predecessors had.

      • Justin McQuillen

        You know what’s shady? People somehow disappointed in the masterpiece that is Zelda: BOTW. Excuse me but kind of hard to sympathize with all these problems you’re having with what is palpably the best game I have ever played. If there are people out there who can find something to dislike with this game, they should not be trusted.

  • shaw98

    In a world so massive and full of detail, taking your eyes off the big screen even for a second would make you miss out on a secret. The game is all about being immersed in your surroundings and exploration. Making you look at a second screen would take away from that, even if just a little. Though the feature was essential in WW HD, this game really does not need it.

    • No

    • shani

      Oh, so opening a menu that prevents your from seeing this massive and detailed world does not break the immersion and let you miss things?
      It’s the other way around for me, a second screen for all those tools (map, inventory, album, saving) would actually enhance the immersion and let me appreciate the game even more.
      Instead, I constantly have to hit + mid-battle or basically every time I have to navigate in this huge world.
      And WWHD would’ve been fine without the second screen, as would’ve TPHD. But BotW and even SS would be so much better with a second screen, it’s almost criminal how they left it out…

  • Jag Gentlemann

    But in an action game like Starfox, changing the screen you are looking at is peeeeerfectly fine.

  • Tlink7

    Nintendo obviously didn’t want the Wii U version of BotW to be superior in any way, as to sell more Switch copies of the game (and thus more consoles)

    • Bradley

      It’s painfully obvious Tlink 🙁

  • Tony

    Good riddance I say, no point in having an immersion-breaking super expensive map to look down for, when you can just press a button to summon it on the screen you’re playing on

  • ImReallyNotAmused

    the wii u version runs like crap

    • Bradley

      All the comparison videos on youtube say its runs quite good, though if YOU have it I guess I’d take you word for it since I don’t, no point arguing with someone who is actually facing the issue. Though I will say there was one time I killed the large goblin on the switch and I thought I hit pause XD but it was just the frame rate from I guess the ragdoll physics and the rain .

      • lol I have the game and from those comparison videos it runs just about the same as the switch version, the only difference is frame drop happens in certain place in both version so like mister said crowded village would be one place on wii u but not on switch.

      • JasonBall

        I have it. It runs great.

        • Bradley

          Jason how far in the game are you? I have a question ( will make it vague so as not to spoil for others, in regards to swimming there is a third item I believe exists and I am looking for it since I found the second randomly in a pool (not that random now that I think about it) , the first item is unavoidable but useful, this will be obvious if you are far enough

          • JasonBall

            I have one swimming item, I’ve only just reached the town with water stuff.

          • Bradley

            Ahhh alright I just found the last piece, apparently the second piece I found was the hardest to find, just do what the npc say and you’ll find the third one too though I will help by saying it’s a female npc that helps…..well you help her first.

    • Mister Surrealist

      The Wii U version runs great most of the time. The ONLY exceptions are the frame drops you get sometimes when you’re in a crowded village. I never get frame drops during battle or important moments.

      • JasonBall

        If you have the Wii U version, did you notice how it lagged just outside the starting cave? They put so much plants and tree and grass effects right there that it lags. That was the one place I found it inexcusable. I mean, right at the start!

        • Hermione Granger

          the switch version aint much better, it even drops more in framerate than the wiiu in some areas. its only when you get the screen size down to a tiny 6.2″ screen size you get steady framerate.. and that is damn weak for a 2017 console.

        • shani

          Well if it’s only that one place, you should be fine, no? ^^
          Seriously though, those frame drops are really rare and they’re actually pretty normal for any open-world game (even on high-end PCs), so the Wii U version runs actually very good in my opinion.

          • JasonBall

            Oh, they’re absolutely rare. But I think that to put so much crap outside the starting cave such that it lags is poor design. It makes a bad first impression.

      • shani

        Those frame drops happen on the Switch too, only in different places.

    • shani

      What exactly do you mean? It runs fine for me.

  • hi v3.0

    They lied so much during 2014

    • Hermione Granger

      and they still lie, but blind nintyfanboys eat it all up.. idiots.

      • YamiryuuZero

        Name one company that doesn’t lie.

        • Hermione Granger

          as much as ninty?… no one beats ninty in lying, they will not admit anything. these guys ruined starfox zero with horrible controls and denied it and said its how it should be played, when everyone said the opposite.. they even ruined the wiiu because of their own stubbornness.

          • TalesOfBS

            Nintendo’s excuse in Star Fox: “You don’t understand it”.

            Now that they could have done it properly, without any needing of “understandings”, they do a 180.

          • Hermione Granger

            it was so simple to just have normal controls, because starfox zero was basically a hd remaster of n64/3ds version. that already had normal controls. but instead they had to do an 180 and delay the game to put in these horrid controls. and they made sure there was no ingame option to give you a choice for normal controls.

  • R.Z.

    Poor justifications.
    But given the framerate issues I’m not sure the WiiU version could have actually done that.

  • XandxDur_

    Agree with pretty much everyone here. Using the gamepad on games like WW HD, TP HD, TMS made the whole experience so good, more engaging (i loved that you could access your inventory at any moment just by looking at the second screen) and easier that seeing Nintendo justifying the omission of the gamepad is just laughable. Could just say “We didn’t want to make the Wii U version better than the Switch”
    Thankfully, aside from that, pretty much everything between both versions look and play the same with some obviously minor differences…

  • Vigilante_blade

    I agree that it would ruin the immersion. Looking away from a screen, even for a split second is enough to take you out of the experience. The role of a controller is to become an extension of yourself. One is not supposed to look at the controller. The controller must disappear from your consciousness. Looking at it defeats the very purpose if a controller.

    I think that what made tactile inventory management less tedious on 3DS is the fact that one didn’t have to look away from the action to do it. Granted, tthe 3DS was an improvement on the DS, allowing players the option to not utilize that screen on most games.

    The Switch does the second screen better than the Wii U by focusing solely on the remote play aspect. It removed much of the fluff and focused on the one thing that worked well and polished it. This is pretty much the Super Nintendo equivalent of the Wii U hardware-wise.

    Despite all of the anger I see from a select few people at this decision, I would like to point out that it is getting critical acclaim. Mind you, it doesn’t mean much considering how much Zeldas do, but when even critical people like Michael Damiani look upon it very positively, i am boubd to believe that the game standa on its own without gimmicks, which is great considering that this is what we are talking about when we talj about old school Nintendo quality. Gimmickless polish. Now, I need to get it today to be more informed on it

  • Suraimu

    It took them this long to admit that the WiiU gimmick was a really bad idea all along

    Or maybe Aonuma always knew but its only now at the end when he can say this, as a rule you cannot criticize your superiors in Japan ever.

  • Hermione Granger

    a map on the wiiu gamepad dont ruin the game experience at all, so that is a bs excuse… i will tell you what will ruin a game while using the second screen. the “innovative” controls like in that starfox zero game for the wiiu… but that of course was just how it was “meant to be played” and a ” improvement”… nintendo think people are idiots, we know why you removed the wiiu features from the wiiu version of zelda botw, because you at nintendo was afraid the wiiu owners could get the better version, thats why..

    • wisdomsprince

      Even worse than the fact that they gimped the wii u (after that was mostly done) by taking out the 2nd screen features. Now, they are going to try and sell us “enhanced map features” as DLC. Truth is, the enhanced map features probably already exists on the wii u’s second screen. They will try to fit something in on the switch (and force it onto the wii u) but the truth is we didn’t get the game we were supposed to get because Nintendo has shady business practices. As say this loving the wii u version but it’s clearly lacking gamepad features…

  • Martin Naranjo

    Why not leave it as an option or better yet hidden feature?

    We all know (Including Fujibayashi and Aonuma) that this is just to sell the Switch and don’t make it “inferior” …. so much bullsh*t

  • Nonsense. Pausing the game to stare at the map takes away from the experience. Being unable to quickly choose items to hold and cook takes away from the experience. Holding the left d-pad button and toggling with the right analog stick to pick arrows takes away from the experience. I paused the game about fifty times navigating a maze, when I could have just checked the gamepad.

    They cut these features for the same reason the game was delayed for over a year: so the switch would do better.

    • Bart

      You would rather switch arrows and weapons in real time, on a different screen, in the middle of a fight?

      • I’d rather have the option, yes. It worked fine in the last five zelda games. Don’t act so shocked.
        The map is the least they could do.

        • Bart

          Not really comparable to other Zeldas though, is it? You have to switch weapons way more during combat, they break. And in older Zeldas if I needed another item during combat I would pause anyway. Not that getting hit a few times matters as much in those as in BotW, but still.

          I can agree that having the option for people who want it would have been nice though.

  • Bill Lumbergh

    Ummmmm… I call b.s. too. This is called coming up with an unrelated rationale after the fact to insult our intelligence and to cover up the fact that they intentionally crippled the Wii U version. You know, the one that a) got delayed for the sake of the Switch port and b) was artificially held back until the Switch launched.

    Remember, the same company’s leadership said that the NX was not a direct replacement for the Wii U and 3DS less than 6 months before stopping Wii U production. Lies just don’t seem to translate very well into English.

  • shani

    What a BS excuse! It’s painfully obvious that they only did it because the Switch would’ve looked – no, would’ve been – inferior otherwise.
    It becomes even more obvious when you consider that even the horse name can’t be typed in on the touchscreen but has to be typed in on the main screen.

    It’s so annoying to have the map and inventory on the main screen.

  • TalesOfBS

    Nintendo manages to insult the intelligence of their fanboys even more… Good job.

    And you know what is worse? People will come up with all sort of excuses to defend this even after Nintendo shoved it on their face.

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