With the release of Twilight Princess HD now upon us, Nintendo Life was able to give us some insight on the game’s development by hosting an interview with Eiji Aonuma and Tomomi Sano. Aonuma was the director of the original GameCube and Wii version of Twilight Princess and is the producer of the new HD version, with Sano as the assistant director. They discussed what influenced them to make the game, the challenges they struggled with, how they strived to make this remaster still feel like the original, and even spoke on the Wolf Link Amiibo.
While Nintendo was deciding on an art style for Zelda Wii U, they experimented with past Zelda games in HD. While it was not their motive at first, the team found that some of the games worked well. After the successful HD remake of Wind Waker, Nintendo immediately moved forward to work on a remake for Twilight Princess. However, the Zelda team was already incredibly busy developing the new Zelda game for the Wii U, and so put their trust in Tantalus Media — a developer with a good reputation with work on remakes — to complete Twilight Princess HD.
When asked why they chose to recreate the GameCube original version of Twilight Princess as opposed to the Wii original, Aonuma had this to say: “When creating a remake, I think it is important that the game makes good use of the specific features of the new platform. That’s why I wanted the gameplay to make use of the key feature of the Wii U, the Wii U GamePad. Since the button layout on the GamePad is very similar to the GameCube, I decided that we should use the control scheme from the GameCube version.”
He also felt that this version would work better from a visual perspective. “Since the GameCube version output the picture with the 4:3 aspect ratio of older TVs, I thought that the impact of the remake would be enhanced further by making this version into HD with a 16:9 ratio.”
“When creating a remake, it is important the game makes good use of the specific features of the new platform.”
They decided to keep the original frame rate of 30fps so the gameplay would feel the same and adjusted speed of cutscenes that appeared slow. The resolution of Twilight Princess HD is 1080p.
Nintendo Life then asked if there were any notable difficulties in developing any of the games improvements. Aonuma explained that, to him, swimming stood out a great deal, “We have often used underwater gameplay as a contrast to playing on land. For underwater sections, you need to make the movements heavier to replicate the effect of the water pressure, and this tends to make the gameplay a bit more stressful. We’ve long been trying to find a ways to reduce that feeling of stress. Although we gave this a lot of thought when we were making the original in the first place, when it came to this remake I still felt there was room for improvement. So we did our best to make this as stress free as possible this time.”
Sano said that the graphics underwent a lot of trial and error. “We found that everything was too clear and we lost that soft and delicate atmosphere that you get in particular at twilight or with the light in a forest. We had to strike a balance between the parts where we could be precise and the parts where we tried not to make things too clear. We worked hard to make the graphics look really nice while still preserving the feel of the original.”
“We had to strike a balance between the parts where we could be precise and the parts where we tried not to make things too clear”
On the subject of the new Wolf Link Amiibo’s ability to unlock the Cave of Shadows, Sano said that, “While brainstorming a few ideas, we had the realization that some of the enemies designed to be fought as human Link could also be defeated while in wolf form. We thought that maybe we could create a place where you could have some exciting battles against combinations of those enemies.”
She continues, “I also thought it would be nice if players who have any of the Zelda-related Amiibo already released also got some kind of in-game bonus too… However, the Ganondorf Amiibo still posed a bit of a problem. Even though it’s still an Amiibo, it’s hard to imagine Ganondorf helping Link in any way. After giving it a lot of thought, I feel that in the end we managed to come up with a solution that provides a worthy challenge to players.”
Aonuma also spoke on the design of the new Wolf Link Amiibo. “The deciding factor for the design of the Wolf Link Amiibo was an image that an artist had made for PR purposes. We posed the in-game model based on this image so that we could design the Amiibo. I understand that this was actually a lot of work, especially recreating how things like the fur and Midna’s hair were expressed in the image. In the end, I feel that we managed to create a wonderful Amiibo”
Twilight Princess came out ten years ago, and now we get to experience it again in time for The Legend of Zelda‘s 30th anniversary. It’s so exciting to see the transition of such a fan favorite Zelda game into HD.