How Mario inspired Zelda: Skyward Sword

By Steve Watts, Nov 14, 2011 10:45am PST

The Zelda series is known for its sweeping vistas and gigantic worlds to explore, but Skyward Sword takes more of a hub world approach. A new interview with the game's creators reveals that they thought of disconnected "stages" as a starting point, and even considered implementing a stage selection system similar to Mario games before deciding on the Skyloft hub.

In the latest Iwata Asks, Nintendo's Eiji Aonuma says he thought that "if we could make the gameplay in each area dense, then we wouldn't need to physically join them." The next problem came from how to join disconnected areas, and Aonuma says Mario came to mind. "In Super Mario games, there's a course selection screen, and you waltz on over to it and hop in," he said.

President Satoru Iwata joked that it would be "unreasonable" for a Zelda game, but that concept morphed into the sky-dwelling town. "While we were turning it over, the idea came up of having the starting location be floating in the sky," Aonuma said. "When I heard that, I thought that structure-wise, it was possible to have Link jump down from there."

That inspired the town of Skyloft, but they knew the player would be spending a significant amount of time there, so they had to make it count. "You play Skyloft multiple times just as much as the other game fields, so it had to be dense too," said director Hidemaro Fujibayashi.

"Skyloft was basically a place where you prepare for adventure," said Daiki Iwamoto, who headed up design of the sky town. "But it wouldn't be fun if all you did was prepare for an adventure and then head out again. By adding in involvements with all kinds of townsfolk, it became a place somewhat apart from adventure that you can explore in a more laid-back fashion." So it became a place to improve weapons, customize Link's equipment, and so on.

Skyward Sword is due this Sunday, November 20. Check out our review.

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