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Interview: Tears Of The Kingdom And The State Of Zelda With Aonuma And Fujibayashi

Announced as a surprise stinger at the end of the E3 2019 Nintendo Direct, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has occupied the top spot of many “most anticipated” lists for nearly four years. The long-awaited sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is finally here, with reviews confirming that it was well worth the hype (you can read our full review here). The entry innovates and expands upon the formula established by Breath of the Wild in myriad ways, giving players the most open-ended Zelda game yet. 

With the launch finally here, we sat down with series producer Eiji Aonuma and director Hidemaro Fujibayashi to talk about the daunting task of following Breath of the Wild, as well as the new game’s successes and challenges.

There are several things in Tears of the Kingdom that feel like payoffs from seeds planted in Breath of the Wild. When development was happening on Breath of the Wild, did you already have the idea that you were going to be developing a direct sequel?
Hidemaro Fujibayashi: 
Towards the end of Breath of the Wild, and even during the latter parts of the development of Breath of the Wild, I had an inkling of a few interesting ideas that I wanted to see come to fruition. Once the development of Breath of the Wild ended, we took a look at what we had, and the idea that we had was really taking what already existed in the Breath of the Wild environment and world that we created and using just that. We had a couple of ideas that we wanted to do, and some of these were ones we thought weren’t suited to be included in Breath of the Wild. So, these were tested after we finished production on Breath of the Wild. We were able to put these ideas into reality. I recorded these as movies and did a presentation to Mr. Aonuma, so that’s how Tears of the Kingdom started.

Specifically, some ideas we had were in Breath of the Wild. There are these infinitely spinning cogwheels, so we took four of those and put them on this stone slate and discovered we were able to make a makeshift car. Another idea we had was taking long slates again and putting them together to create sort of a cylinder and then dropping a remote bomb in there along with a ball, and when you detonate, we were able to create a makeshift cannon. And then, the idea of putting those two ideas together to make, again, a DIY tank. This movie was a presentation to show that without really adding anything, all we would need was Link to have the ability to connect things and stick things together, and an entirely new experience could be had.

Eiji Aonuma: Then, from my perspective, after the development and production of Breath of the Wild had ended, I still really felt that there was a lot of potential somewhere hidden in this world that we had created. And so, when things took the turn to discussing the potential for a sequel, I was really happy to see this presentation coming from Mr. Fujibayashi.

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