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Making of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Official Nintendo Magazine (ONM) recently conducted an interview with Eiji Aonuma, series producer of the classic Nintendo game Zelda, as well as Ryo Nagamatsu, who composed the music for the most recent game in the series, called Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. They talked about what it was like making the game and the things they did to make it stand out from its predecessors. Here’s what they had to say:

Do you find it difficult to make innovations when you feel such pressure to deliver a game the fans will like?

For Zelda, I think innovating is precisely what we need to do to meet the expectations of our fans. We will, of course, continue to question and reconsider the approaches we have taken in the past without any reservations.

What was the hardest thing to achieve when you were making the game?

 The hardest thing was to find clues on how to innovate and then to develop them into the best possible product within the given time.

How did you mangage to squeeze so much eye candy in?

It was possible because many of the staff who participated in the development of this game already had a wealth of experience and know-how creating other Nintendo 3DS titles that they could use for this project.

However, converting all the 2D sprites from A Link to the Past to 3D and making them look natural in the top-down view was an unprecedented challenge. We needed to come up with even more innovative technologies in order to make it work.

Why did you choose an alternative storyline?

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.

As a result, we’ve introduced the item rental system to provide the players with the choice to complete the dungeons in any order they want. As is always the case with Zelda, we think of the story once we’ve decided on the system.

Who was involved with the music?

I was in charge of the soundtrack. I composed arrangements of the music from A Link To The Past, composed and orchestrated the new music and also played the flute music for the Milk Bar myself. Koji Kondo was the composer of all the original music that I adapted for this sequel.

Are these live recordings, if they are, can you tell us who performed?

I performed the flute music live myself, using a recorder. Most of the string music was done using a synthesizer set to a lute. However, Toru Minegishi, who also works in the Sound Group, recorded a live guitar performance for the song, Ballad Of The Goddess, that you can hear when you fully complete the Hero Mode.

Did you consider using a full orchestra, if not, how do you know how to decide the best fitting music to suit your game?

By “orchestra”, I assume you mean live orchestra. We never intended to use a live orchestra for the development of this game. There are various reasons to this from a development perspective.

The most prominent reason is that we wanted to create the optimal sound for Nintendo 3DS. Live orchestras are definitely impressive, but they produce too much reverberation and include too many low-pitch sounds to be suitable for the Nintendo 3DS speakers.

This time, our goal was to create sounds that satisfied both players who use headphones and those who don’t. We wanted, therefore, orchestra-quality sounds that had the appropriate reverberation and instrumental arrangement for the Nintendo 3DS speakers. We concluded that the best approach would be to use the high quality sound resources that are now available to us.

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