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Zelda producer explains why fans came to accept Toon Link

by Andrew Yoon, Oct 14, 2013 9:00am PDT

Nintendo earned a lot of flak when it introduced Toon Link to the world. However, minus a few holdouts, fans have come to accept the character in the decade following The Wind Waker's release. We spoke with Zelda series director Eiji Aonuma about why he thinks reception has warmed so much.

"I think one big thing would be that we continued to use that art style in DS titles," he said. "They got to a kind of expanded userbase--a lot of people that didn't play Zelda games before. I think after seeing that, when you see Wind Waker's art style again, it becomes easier to approach because you're more used to it."

"I think also at the time time, that kind of toon art style was something you were starting to see in a lot of CG," Aonuma told Shacknews. "But, it was used a little a bit but after that, it wasn't used that much. Now, looking back at it, it seems like a very special thing."

While Nintendo stuck to its guns following The Wind Waker, the negative fan reaction to the game had Nintendo go back to a more realistic art style for The Twilight Princess. "We had that negative reaction to that art style and then we did a 180, thinking 'maybe this is what the fans want,'" Aonuma admitted. "It wasn't just that in terms of the direction of the art style for Twilight Princess, but I think that was a big influence."

Given Twilight Princess' more realistic graphics, wouldn't it have been a better fit for an HD remake? Instead, Nintendo decided to focus its efforts on remastering The Wind Waker for Wii U. Aonuma told us that they actually did experiment with making HD versions of Wii's Zelda games, but they didn't have the transformative effect they wanted. "Certainly, we tried. We did a test of Twilight Princess in HD. But it didn't turn into a new thing. It looked better, it looked cleaner, and it looked like a master version of the game," he said.

"But with Wind Waker, it really changed into something different--it changed into that really-looking-like-a-cartoon style we were aiming for, but we couldn't because of the Gamecube's power." In fact, the HD version of Wind Waker may be part of why the game is so well-received today. "I think now, the reason why people are enjoying it so much, that's a part of it."

Indeed, history has been kind to The Wind Waker. We recently reviewed the Wii U version, and remarked on how excellent it has become.





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