When Nintendo announced the latest delay to Breath of the Wild’s release date back in April, they also revealed that the game would be launching simultaneously on Wii U and the as-yet-unnamed successor to that console, codenamed NX. In separate interviews with IGN, both Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma have explained the reasoning behind that decision.
Miyamoto spoke of the problems encountered with the development of the physics in the game, as well as just what a huge undertaking the project was. “It’s complicated because as we’re developing this — obviously development of NX started a while ago — and unfortunately, I’m sorry, but the development of this game took a lot longer than expected,” he said. “We really felt like we would be able to get it done last year, but there was a lot of struggle with using the physics engine, so that’s why it took a long time. Also, when we thought about developing a Zelda game for the NX, it would have to be way further down the life cycle of the system.”
Mr. Miyamoto also explained that as there weren’t any huge control gimmicks involved in development for the Wii U version, the more traditional nature of the game lent itself easily to providing the same experience on NX. “This game, rather than really focusing on the unique features of the Wii U, it’s really a game you sit down and get into. There was a change in direction, so we decided to develop for both consoles a while ago.”
Nintendo are looking to avoid making the same mistakes with the NX launch that they made with Wii U, and one lesson they appear to have learned is the need for a strong launch line-up. Nintendo President, Tatsumi Kimishima has already spoken about how the March 2017 launch window for NX was chosen to ensure a strong software line-up from the get-go and, whilst there has still been no explicit statement that Breath of the Wild will be available on day one for the NX, that looks increasingly likely. Nintendo of America’s executive vice-president of sales Scott Moffitt told the Financial Post that, “With The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild being among the titles we’re working on for NX, we’re very excited it will be an immediate reason game fans will want to buy the hardware.”
Aonuma has stated that Breath of the Wild will be the “same experience” on both platforms — though some sources are now saying that Aonuma has told them the NX version will contain better visuals — and in his interview with IGN, he explained how, unlike the situation with Twilight Princess (which released on both GameCube and Wii), the decision to release Breath of the Wild on both Wii U and NX was made relatively early on in development. He said, “From the beginning we were thinking of releasing this title on both platforms. With Twilight Princess, I was looking at, this [then-new] platform called Wii and I had more of an outsider objective view of, ‘Oh this is coming out,’ but for this one I was slightly more involved with NX and just judging on the timing of development. When we were going to finish this, we thought it might be fun to have that available for NX as well. I don’t see it as something too unfortunate. I think it’s nice to have a single title that can be played on two different platforms.”
Sensing such a comment could anger the development team, Aonuma added, “I should preface, I probably shouldn’t say that because the staff working on this game, it’s probably a lot of extra work for them so maybe they’ll get mad. To them it might be an unfortunate circumstance.”