That Shigeru Miyamoto is a genius is common knowledge. It was no surprise that GameSpy billed him as the most influential person in gaming. Yet what many people don’t realize is that of all the Zelda games, The Wind Waker has turned out to be the most accurate reflection of Miyamoto’s mind.

A Bold Assertion

I’m making a bold assertion. I’m telling you that The Wind Waker is probably a more accurate reflection of Miyamoto as an artist and as a man than any Zelda game before it. When I talked about what I like or don’t like about the new game, I was speaking in subjective terms. I don’t need to justify subjective statements like, “Controlling gulls is incredible gameplay.” But this time my assertion at least purports to be objective. And yet, how can I be objective when I’m dealing with another man’s psychology? I can’t crawl inside Miyamoto’s brain and see exactly how it works. In that case, why would you believe me when I make a statement about his mind? What gives me the right, per se, to make an assertion about someone else from some other culture?

Clearly, my assertion is guesswork. But it is an educated guess. And so you ask, “Why do you say it’s an educated guess, Trahald?” First, there is some good data that we have in the form of things that Miyamoto has said through a translator. I will get to that in a moment. Second, I can identify with him in certain ways. Now, I am in no way claiming to have any of his greatness or genius in creativity. That would be terribly inaccurate and arrogant of me to make such a claim. However, I can identify with him in certain respects. Miyamoto tends to gather his ideas for games from ordinary places and activities. For instance, as is well known, gardening was the inspiration for Pikmin. And yet his games take that ordinary activity and place and transform it into something magical that inspires wonder. From various interviews with Miyamoto over the years, I have formed this picture of him as an imaginative man who does not view the world around him in the same way that most do. It is in that respect that I can identify with him.

When I look at the plants beneath my feet, I don’t simply see them as little flowers and blades of grass placidly waving in the breeze. I see them as whole jungles, worlds full of little creatures that scamper about. And even the flowers can sometimes seem veritably alive as the animals are. When I see a thicket or a forest, I see it as a shadowy world waiting to be explored. I love to wander the woods and rivers to discover what creatures might live around each bend. When I was a child, I preferred playing with a napkin over playing with cars and trucks? Why? Because I could manipulate that napkin and shape it into whatever I wanted it to be, and that granted me greater freedom to take creativity to places it couldn’t go if I played with a static, manufactured toy. While I cannot even touch Miyamoto’s greatness, I can still identify with him as a person in some regards. Of course, my glimpses into his personality have come not only through interviews, but also the games themselves. The art can tell us much about the artist. But my point is that since I can understand on a personal level some of what Miyamoto says, I have at least some basis for making an educated guess as to how well The Wind Waker reflects the man.

The Mind of Miyamoto

We do have more concrete data as to why The Wind Waker may be the best mirror of Miyamoto’s mind. Miyamoto said that the inspiration for Zelda came as he walked into a cavern as a child. Only courage could allow a child to venture alone into a cavern potentially filled with monsters. When most people see a cave, they see a geological formation. When Miyamoto sees a cave, he sees The Legend of Zelda. Of course, Zelda became much more than simply a courageous young boy venturing into a dark cave. But the overarching theme has remained: a young boy propelled on by courage and the thrill of exploration and discovery. There is an immense contrast between the boy and the cave. The boy is innocent and almost ignorant of what danger lurks in the shadows. The cave is dark and frightening. Now think back to the Spaceworld images of a realistic Link. That Link was an adult. His ears were pierced. He had lost that innocence and childlike wonder in his face. He was dark and gritty. Miyamoto saw that, and realized that the series had gone too far. Of course, he also argued that this Link made the Zelda games too much like that of its imitators. A cel-shaded game would be something new. Uniqueness is important to the heart of many artists. But critically, notice that he said that the series was going in the wrong direction. Indeed, the realistic style was a continuation of Majora’s Mask and Ocarina of Time. In Ocarina of Time, adult Link did look much the same, even though he was much simpler graphically. And Majora’s Mask was certainly a darker game. The Spaceworld style only seemed to draw out the dark, gritty side of the game, especially with regard to the “innocent hero.” This is something Miyamoto did not like. Think of his strong beliefs in morals in games. Think of how he emphasizes that “fun” is something that should be appropriate for the entire family; he certainly has no fondness for games like Grand Theft Auto III.

So, Miyamoto wanted to stop the trend and bring it back to its roots. He wanted to bring it back to the idea of the boy in the cave. The result? The Wind Waker. Miyamoto said that people would understand why the graphics are the way they are if they played the game. Having played it, I would agree with him. The hero is now innocent and childlike. Anything about Link or any of the marvelous places he visits glistens with a happiness and wonder not entirely unlike that of the Mario games (although more grounded in “reality,” as it were). Yet when the forces of darkness (the cavern, if you will) come on to the scene, the game shifts dramatically in mood and form. In this way, the game reflects Miyamoto’s vision perhaps more accurately than its predecessors.

The Mind of Aonuma

But The Wind Waker does not only reflect the mind of Miyamoto. I have titled this article “Mirror of the Minds” for a reason. The game also reflects its director, Eiji Aonuma, who was also the director of Majora’s Mask. One of the best aspects of Majora’s Mask was the believable, complex system of relationships that existed among the characters as the three days progressed. Character interaction was taken to an entirely new level. Perhaps this was actually the brainchild of Miyamoto or of some other underling, so it is merely an educated guess to say that this was something that Aonuma brought into the game. It does not seem like something that Miyamoto would think of to emphasize. In The Wind Waker, the relationships are sadly not as complex as they were in Majora’s Mask, but this is no doubt due to the lack of the three day cycle (although the lunar cycle somewhat makes up for it). Nonetheless, the depth of character interaction that was a hallmark of Majora’s Mask takes a very prominent role in The Wind Waker.


The Wind Waker is the product of many, many people. We cannot ascribe its every attribute to its creator alone. But on the whole, the new game, primarily through the cel-shading technology, seems to be a very accurate reflection of Miyamoto’s vision of games and of the world around him. It could also be guessed that the game is also a mirror of the mind of the director, Aonuma. You may not enjoy this mirror of Miyamoto’s and Aonuma’s minds, but that doesn’t change the fact that the new game seems to be a truer reflection of its artists than all the rest.


If you liked this article, we will be releasing such articles consistently over the next few months, so if you would like to be kept up-to-date, we will be updating our Facebook and Twitter pages to let our followers know of each new Zelda article. You can also just subscribe directly to our RSS Feed.

This retro article was originally posted April 7th, 2003.
  • phantom

    a very interesting article and i thni kyour onto somethign here

    • phantom

      also first

      • darklink1984

        nice save

    • Bitf Adict

      What crude language is that?

  • Woah

    The GREATNESS and GENIUS of Miyamoto is BEYOND COMPARE. I can't even imagine coming close the the pure CREATIVE POWER that is flowing out of that man. It's enough to make one think, he's not as human as the rest of us, if he's even human at all!

    There's no way anyone ELSE could come up with imaginative concepts based on everyday things in the way that he has. I couldn't imagine that his genius would ever let him lose site of how to look at things as a toy maker, through the eyes of a child, and start making things simply to impress his peers. There's no way he'd ever chose a successor who loses sight even more so, and only wants to entertain himself and his peers.

    Thank God we've got such an infallible GENIUS behind this series.
    Thank God this was written in 2003. Good read, though!

    • Bitf Adict

      Dude, Miyamoto is great, but… just calm down.

      • Haha

        I'm pretty sure that was sarcastic, on account of the article's author's absolute and bordering on ridiculous gushing over Miyamoto.

    • Icy

      Stan Lee's pretty great, too. =D

  • I hope Miyamoto- and Aonuma- San remain in Nintendo until their deaths. The other developers of the other gaming industries could never compare to their astronmical imagination and devotion to this series and the other franchises. This is why they come up with consoles such as the Wii, and their rivals have to match them by producing derivations such as the Xbox Kinect or PS3 Move. Because they ARE PARAMOUNT, and almost insurmountable with ingenious concepts for gameplay and graphics.

    • QueenxLink

      Nothing can or will ever compare to Nintendo. Nintendo rules over everything! No offense PS and Xbox fans; I really love those consoles too. Nintendo's just my favorite company.

  • limpkorn420HALOfan

    Grand theft auto is better because you get to do badass stuff like kill innocent people and kill things while you are killing stuff and being badass.

    • Querulous

      Oh really? Well then, why don't you go play it instead of leaving asinine comments, you B****!

    • BellaKazza

      Grand Theft auto sucks.
      The Legend of Zelda is Timeless and is a Legend.

      Grand theft auto is for immature teenagers.

    • QueenxLink

      Alright, Grand Theft Auto isnt nearly as good as Zelda, not to say I don't like it. I really like Grand Theft Auto. But Zelda will beat Grand Theft Auto any day.

    • Margar

      Don't feed the trolls, guys. derp.

    • Bitf Adict

      Get the fuck of this website you idiot. We don't need to listen to the shit spewing out your small-minded, shallow, violent mouth. But, your probably desperate for attention, aren't you?

    • I wouldn't want to be anywhere near you on the road.

      • TrustMe101


    • Bitf Adict

      Halo is also overrated.

      • chad

        Guys just ignore him he's just a stupid Asymptote trying to get on our nerves I we ignore him then he'll go away maybe we should get someone to manage the comments that go up so they aren't stupid and mean.

  • Headphoneguy

    This is something I totally agree with. Zelda needs to back to its roots, when the only thing that really mattered was adventures and exploration.

  • RydAma

    *Gasp* The 500 week old comments are mysteriously absent 😮

    @Headphoneguy – As opposed to what?

    • Headphoneguy

      That you take 5 steps and then you're interrupted by a cutscene that tells you exactly were to go. I'm mean in TP for example, is it even possible to visit a dungeon to early?

  • @limpkorn420HALOfan: Haha I’m fairly certain you’re joking. If one’s sole imaginative powers are to be a thug, then one is probably a thug at heart. But if one can envision a whole new world that is so familiar yet so far away, so innocent yet with stakes so high, then one is probably a child at heart.

    My little brother (God bless him) only players Call of Duty. Not that it’s a bad game, but it has less imagination than even Halo, which is the same style but at least fantasy with a story. But he can’t appreciate Zelda because he doesn’t enjoy games that make him think and imagine. He’d rather have the scenario handed to him and then just get it done with the highest body count possible. Nothing wrong with that, but clearly lacking in creativity and imagination.

  • *only PLAYS. Dumb iPod autocorrect.

  • Heyrus

    Why is half the article about the auther talking about his absumtion of miyamoto mind? you guy might think differently but miyamoto isnt that great, he is good at his job and nothing more.

  • Supershadow125

    I agree with Miyamoto with this. If I was that kid i would be Link in the Dodongo Cave. if someone else was the kid in this time he/she would be some charater from MW2 or GTA series searching for a drug dealer while I'm searching for a rare item or a Dodongo to defeat. Miyamoto I hope you always have that imagination like I do and I'm 16!

  • Link-182

    I agree with this article entirely.

  • BellaKazza

    I agree, man, Mr Miyamoto is a great guy.
    I hope he keeps on making great games.

  • cbarnett2386

    I got to say, Zelda is a much more thought out game than Grand Theft Auto! Where is the creativity in that game? Zelda rules, hands down!!!

  • Sanity's_Theif

    I'm gonna get flamed but I don't care I'm putting my perspective in

    Innocent heroes grow up, don't judge a book by it's cover, I think Miyamoto was stereotyping visuals

    To him, a realistic image was dark and gritty with no innocence in it when that is not always true yet the man made that generalization(same can be said for WW but there is a problem for me going the full WW route)

    I think he went too far in WW by making all the dungeons look innocent and colorful, and which is a reason why people became frustrated was because
    there seemed to be no dark gritty danger thus no feeling of eeriness that forced you to muster up courage to push on like that room in the Woodfall temple of MM with the black boes in a pitch black room, that creeped the hell out of me as a kid and is still creepy today, as a kid I myself felt I had to muster up courage to go through that, it was a very deep connection with the game and I got the feeling of being in a dark creepy cave

    What I'm saying is, in WW there was no sense of that in WW for me because the dark caverns had turned into colorful playgrounds, there were no dark gritty caverns that you had to muster up courage for it seemed, everything was like a colorful playground like in Mario, I of course am speaking through my own perspective of the game which varies from person to person but mine is shared by a good majority that didn't like WW I think. Isn't Link supposed to be you? Aren't you supposed to feel connected to the game? In that game[WW] I felt everything was like a colorful playground like in Mario, those dark creepy caves were gone

    You can get pissed and argue that there were places like that but it all comes down to how you feel when you play the game, and each person reacts differently, some people have fun with some games while others have fun with others, it's all individual perspective, and there was something lost in WW for me

    Of course I will get flamed, people hate my perspective but I cannot help how I react to a game, and that's all I was describing, whatever let the hating commence

    • Hawke

      I actually agree with you. Wind Waker was too colorful to my taste, almost like a Mario game (though the vibrant atmosphere in that franchise works for it). The new cel-shaded graphics took away from the usual Zelda tone I experienced when I was younger, while playing MM and OoT. And even though Miyamoto said that WW was made to attract younger fans, it didn't really fit in my category. I missed the genuine tone of an imminent doom; even the storms seemed out of place because of the graphics.

      But the game's still in my top 5 (actually fifth place), and only for my aforesaid observations, and the slow sailing.

    • ChainofTermina

      FLAME! flame flame! flame flame flame flame fla-nah, just kidding. alright, Thief, alright. if you REALLY feel so strongly that the Wind Waker's visual style just isn't your thing, then that's fine. your opinion is that cartoony, colorful visuals are just unappealing to you? okay, then. that's all you had to say. notice, this time, you were calm and fair in explaining your opinions. I'm sorry, but before you always seemed to come off as a dick to me. but not this time, this time you were sensible in backing up your opinion without flat out calling the game a piece of crap or whatever. your opinion is that you just don't care for it. at all. and that's fine. I just always got mad when you were the one flaming WW because you thought the graphics were awful looking. but now that you've acknowledged that that's just your opinion and it's okay for other people to like it, then no, I won't flame you.

      • Sanity's_Theif

        I apologize

        I come off like that sometimes because I'm always in such a rush doing something I barely have any time to go on the internet for fun let alone flesh out my thoughts in a clear explanation

        I don't usually let that happen but the last few months have just been rough, I think I'll just keep it to myself unless I got the time explain myself fully and clearly, and no yea I always knew it was my opinion and not fact, I just thought people would get that, but considering what I've previously displayed I can see why people would think otherwise

        Put it this way, when I have the time to explain, I'm a very level headed person lol

    • Bitf Adict

      Dude, why would we flame you? You gave an honest, inteligent opinion on Zelda. I may not agree with you, but I'm not gonna ridicule you.

  • Mudora

    Wind Waker might have been "innocent", but there was still powerful themes in there that went past it's "E" rating. Subtle things that younger audiences would not get until later.

    Now granted, as others have said, everyone gets something different out of a game. For me, Wind Waker was particularly rich on story, and deep emotional ties to classic characters. This is the only game in which I actually felt sorry for Ganondorf. He explains his reasons why he does what he does, and I feel a sense of pity for him, while in all other games I wouldn't mind killing him the instant I saw him. The King of Red Lions is also a tragic figure, someone who is holding on to the past but is able to let go, even if it means his ancient kingdom is gone for good. Not to mention he wishes hope for Link and Zelda, and I think it's a unique wish… just interesting stuff I don't see in games now. Not commonly anyway.

    Frankly, Wind Waker had wonderful story telling, all sailing and triforce shards aside. Not to mention, you got to partner up in dungeons with two other important characters, Makar and Medli.

    But, as for the exploratory part, I would understand how people wouldn't get that dark and creepy feeling. There certainly wasn't a death hand moment in there… the only place I can really think of is the Earth temple, only because there were some re-deads in there (man their screams always make me jump.)

    Wind Waker has it's good moments. It's still a good game and I love to replay it from time to time. But I think it's important that Zelda doesn't go too far into nitty girtty, but also doesn't go too far in the innocent direction. It's probably why Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask hold high esteems. It's in the perfect spot between innocence and danger.

  • Stuffff

    I've thought about this before, but I just want to ask you guys: what do you think Nintendo will be like without Miyamoto? I mean, lets face it, everyone dies. If he doesn't quit the company (I can never see that happening though), then it will be that he is leaving Nintendo on his death bed. Of course, that's not for quite a while, but it's still something to think about. What do you think will become of series like Zelda and Mario when he's gone? Will they continue on with new leads? And how will the development process of Ninetendo change as a result? Food for thought :).

    • ChainofTermina

      ……I don't suppose there's a Miyamoto Jr.? does he have a kid? maybe they can take it over. I really don't know about that, you bring up a very interesting point.

    • TrustMe101

      Didn't Aonuma have a kid? Maybe I'm thinking of the wrong person, but I remember one of the directors saying that he included a train in Spirit Tracks because his son wanted one….or something like that. If I'm right, maybe that kid could run Nintendo later on…

      • Vibed

        @ TrustMe101

        That was Aonuma. His son asked if there was a boat and train in Zelda. what was next, a plane?

        Anyways, a life without Miyamoto (or Aonuma for that matter) would be a big blow to Nintendo. There are plenty of other creative people there though, like Sakurai and the Retro team.

  • ZeldaGurl_

    I don't think I could agree with article any more than I already do. I remember first reading of an interview with Miyamoto in which he said these things, and I couldn't help but just feel happiness come over me to know that their really is someone out there who is ahead of his time, and yet truly cares about the morals and experience of the game. People like that are hard to find now a days, and when you can find someone who has those attributes, it's best to take them for what they are and cherish them.

    I don't know what I would do without Miyamoto-san and Aonuma-san, and their team. If Zelda didn't exist, I know that I (along with all the other true Zelda lovers) would be deprived of true artistry and heartfelt experience. Call me crazy, but Zelda really has put a spin on my life and really has made me looks at things in life so differently than others in the world today. I also have to thank Koji Kondo as well. Being a deeply involved musician, I love to look up to people who are accomplished and have really got it down for the world to see. His music is gorgeous, and while it still has yet to be fully orchestrated, I've fallen in love with the feeling, the depth, and emotions among the score. My Ipod is swarmed with Zelda soundtracks, and I love to listen to them to clear my head and to give me a break from the everyday boring stuff that goes on. It's people like Nintendo that make our lives that much more enjoyable.

    Wind Waker, to me, was so enjoyable. The way I saw it was that this was a look at the Legend through the eyes of children. Much like Miyamoto when he explored his cavern, the cartoon feeling brings back the innocence and childlike wondering of a new experience and world. When I play a Zelda game, I'm open to all the new possibilities that are awaiting me. Sure, they might seem new at first, but as I remember that night of what I completed, I see what it being portrayed so that when I come back to it, I can see how it falls together.

    Wind Waker had a very deep storyline for as youthful as it may have seemed on the outside.The parts that mainly touched me were definitely The King of Red Lion's life full of regret, and Ganondorf's life of wondering and questioning of the wind's breath. Both of them come from opposite ends of where they stand in truth, but in the end, they are considered to be one in the same. As Ganondorf died from the Blade of Evil's Bane, The King of Red Lions, The King of the old Hyrule, died with his land, repaying his debt he owed to his people and the ancient land.

    Even though many considered the graphics to ruin the deep moments of the story, I found joy and freshness within the way it was presented. Through the heart of child it was told, and it was all created by a man with a heart of a child. I respect Nintendo, and everything they stand for. They are a major role model, a positive one at that, and I hope and pray that they will continue to be one as well. I don't know what will happen in the future once the original family of Nintendo is gone, but all I hope to see is that the name of Nintendo stays pure and enjoyable for the next generations to come. And, if not, let the name rest in peace for what it was. It's better to go out with grace than it is to depart with scorn.

    So, whatever may happen in the future, I will love Zelda, Nintendo, and all it's founders for what it was. Never have I seen a major business so respectable, and I don't think I will ever again, at least in my lifetime.

    • TrustMe101

      Why can't I find someone like you in real life?!

      • ZeldaGurl_

        I am but a mere figment of your imagination. ;D

  • TuCara

    Of COURSE Miyamoto is a genius! He came up with Mario didn't he? Of course, no one is perfect, but I'll forgive him for coming up with Zelda. We all make mistakes.

    • Bitf Adict


      • TuCara

        YOUR FACE!

  • TheMaverickk

    I know some people see his decisions to create colourful and imaginative worlds as being "crazy" or being "not with the current times"…. but even though this article is old, it still rings true.

    I think Miyamoto knows that Twilight Princess for the most part was a sell out. After Wind Waker was bashed upon by old nintendo fans, and it's juvenile rivals (microsoft used Wind Waker as an argument saying that Nintendo made "kiddie" games for a long while in it's infancy), it's no wonder that Miyamoto was inclined to create Twilight Princess. An adult centric based Zelda title… the whole "twilight" aspect was even supposed to be completely grey scaled.

    To completely contrast the colourful world create in the previous Zelda title. It was a title created to appease the angry fans who were off put by Wind Waker and to stop their whining.

    I believe that's where Miyamoto and Anouma have gone a more mediated route. They want to create something they feel is different, while still appeasing those fans who love adult Link. That is what Skyward Sword is. It's a shame though that they don't have complete creative freedom since they have to achieve a certain level of success and sadly some people will never quite embrace a Zelda that is completely imaginative.

  • Blade of Evil's Bane

    Amazing article. Contemplation on this has undoubtedly crossed the minds of no more than a maximum of 50 % of the Zelda fan community. I for one completely agree and feel that the child Link always creates a better storyline.

  • OoTfanatic

    'Amazing article. Contemplation on this has undoubtedly crossed the minds of no more than a maximum of 50 % of the Zelda fan community. I for one completely agree and feel that the child Link always creates a better storyline.' Very sorry, I rarely shut down my laptop therefore when I check the ZU article my comments are posted as my pre-intensedebate account name 'Blade of Evil's Bane'

  • TrustMe101

    Miyamoto – don't ever die, or I'll kill you!! 😀

    • ChainofTermina

      ………….what?………I don't……….PARADOX!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Haha this guy says he discovered some Runescape hacks… think he’s legit? Is that possible since RS is a server side MMORPG?

  • why would you believe me when I make a statement about his mind? What gives me the right, per se, to make an assertion about someone else from some other culture?