Dear mr Aonuma.
2017 must have been quite a year for you. After years of labour, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has finally gone gold. And now, nearly one full year after that, it’s showered with awards. Fans and critics alike love the game’s open nature, it’s absolute freedom, and the love and care so incredibly apparent in all of it’s details.
Now that all of the DLC is done and live, and many fans have probably finished it I hope you’ve been enjoying a well earned rest and some very well wished holidays. I’m sure your mind is already racing on new possibilities and ideas for the next big Zelda. But here’s the brunt of my thoughts: Does it have to be Zelda?
I remember the year 2000. It was that year that The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask finally reached the Dutch retailers. I was absolutely stoked to see another Zelda game after Ocarina of Time solidified the series as the greatest video game series of all. And not only did Majora’s Mask stand up to my hype, it absolutely floored me. Majora’s Mask was a very different beast then Ocarina of Time was, and I loved it for it.
I’ve read multiple interviews with you, mr Aonuma. And in most of the interviews you mention that you’re working in the shadows of Ocarina of Time. Striving to make a game that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the golden classic, or even take it’s throne as the greatest game of all time. And your efforts have been tremendous. Besides the great portable Zelda titles, The Wind Waker married Ocarina’s scope with a more arresting presentation. Twilight Princess elevated everything Ocarina of Time did to a new level. (although it misses some of the originality because of it). And Skyward Sword showcased deeper levels of immersion through it’s fantastic motion controls and a more personal story.
But it’s Breath of the Wild, that completely escapes Ocarina of Time’s clutches. Breath of the Wild is exactly what the series needed to escape it’s hallowed predecessor. It’s a new era for Zelda. A new highpoint. A new marker if you will. And I think you completely surpassed Ocarina of Time. Forgoing the cinematic storytelling for a more exploration based game takes the series back to it’s roots while at the same time evolving it in a way contemporaries hardly ever do. The freedom on offer and the amazing vista’s around every corner make this game one of a kind. The amount of creativity and possibilities boggles the mind and even after a year of playing, I still discover new things in this game any time I boot it up. And that’s with over 500 hours of playtime. With this I basically think you’ve completed your Zelda mission.
Many fans including myself are hoping for a new Zelda game that does with Breath of the Wild the same thing that Majora’s Mask did with Ocarina of Time. That is: reuse it’s engine and assets, but create a new world with new and interesting mechanics. This would ensure a fast development cycle, as well as having a fantastic new game. And It’s my personal hope that you give this direction to a new aspiring producer. Someone that continues the Zelda lineage much like you yourself did with Majora all those years ago.
I wonder what you would do if you were free from Zelda’s tropes even further. What you would do with say Takamaru’s Ninja Castle, or with For the frogs the bells toll. With Clu-Clu land or with Lololo, basically, with a dormant Nintendo Franchise. I’d love to see you take what you’ve learned throughout the years with Zelda in a completely new direction.
Let it be said that Skyward Sword is my favorite video-game of all time. Majora’s mask is probably the most time-less game in the series and Breath of the Wild is a crowning achievement not just for Zelda, but for gaming as a whole. Basically I’m saying. Quit Zelda while you are (very far) ahead. And surprise the world with something new and inventive, and let a new producer take Zelda in new direction and run with it to heaven and back.
Regards, a passionate Dutch fan. -Wiim.
P.S. Personally I’d really love to see you take Takamaru on. I love medieval europe-like settings, but a Tokugawa-era Japan like setting would really interest me too and is an area of fantasy I think is way to under-represented in video-games, at least in video-games that land in Europe.