During E3, Giant Bomb member Patrick Klepek was able to sit down with Eiji Aonuma, as well as the members of Hyrule Warriors’ creative staff; including Yosuke Hayashi, the game’s development producer and employee of Tecmo Koei. Hayashi and Tecmo’s Team Ninja also worked on Metroid: Other M.
Aonuma had this to say about the origin of Hyrule Warriors:
“I happened to be playing another Warriors game at that time. As I was playing it, I was imagining what it might look like if it took place in the Zelda universe. The timing couldn’t have been better! When I approached Mr. Miyamoto about the idea of moving forward with a project like this, he approved it. Certainly, it’s not that I wasn’t without my concerns about opening up this new gameplay style for the Zelda universe, but I’ve made several Zelda games in my time at Nintendo. We’ve been talking a lot lately about rethinking the conventions of Zelda, and really knocking down those obstacles and opening up the possibilities for the franchise. I think this might be one of those ways that we can do that.”
“I happened to be playing another Warriors game at that time. As I was playing it, I was imagining what it might look like if it took place in the Zelda universe.”
Hisashi Koinuma, executive producer of Tecmo Koei, was involved with the project during its early stage, even the original pitch to Nintendo.
“When we’re working on a collaboration, you need to convince the other party that ‘hey, we’re gonna get married. This is a good thing!'” said Koinuma.
While Koinuma says he was never anxious about pitching the idea to Nintendo, both he and his teammate Hayashi were terrified when Nintendo Direct announced the game. After all, Zelda fans are known to be passionate when it comes to their treasured characters and storyline.
“We were really scared of Zelda fans,” Hayashi laughed, “they [those involved with Hyrule Warriors] were watching it [Nintendo Direct] with bated breath. They see it [the announcement] come out, and they saw the reaction was actually positive! It was really positive. That gave us a lot of confidence, and let us breathe again. [laughs]”
“We were really scared of Zelda fans”
With a solid fanbase eager to get their hands on Hyrule Warriors, Tecmo Koei began adding more inside jokes and Easter eggs for the Zelda fanatics.
“It was a confirmation of the idea, confirmation that we were going in the right direction,” Hayashi said.
Aonuma said, “I actually had to encourage them to not worry so much, not to be so scared. [laughs]”
Aonuma and Hayashi commented on how difficult it has been to give Zelda fans what they expect, while also shifting from the regular Zelda customs. As it turns out, some of the strictest fans of the Zelda franchise work within the Hyrule Warriors staff.
“One interesting thing that’s happened is that when we talk to Nintendo and ask them about ideas and say ‘hey, what about doing this?’ They’re generally fairly positive,” said Hayashi. “‘Yeah, try new things!’ They’ll give us ideas. ‘Hey, why don’t you try this out?’ It’s an open discussion and very creative. But when we bring them back and discuss those ideas with the Zelda fans internally, they come back and say ‘no, that’s not Zelda, you can’t do that!’ [laughs] They are the ones who are really strict about what you can and can’t do.”
“I think what we’re ultimately able to come up with is something really unique and special that offers that something new, while, at the same time, staying true to what the fans of the series really come to love”
“We certainly have Zelda fans within our development team, as well,” said Aonuma. “We have people who were raised as kids on Zelda. I can come up with just an idea and off-the-cuff say ‘let’s not do this’ and they’ll just insist ‘nooooo, don’t touch that! That’s not acceptable!’ Then, I’ll sit down with them and go ‘why do you feel like that? Why do you feel this way?’ and we’ll have a conversation. We’ll come up with something that’s acceptable both to myself and to the very ardent fans of the series. I think what we’re ultimately able to come up with is something really unique and special that offers that something new, while, at the same time, staying true to what the fans of the series really come to love.”
Aonuma has been working on the new Zelda Wii U lately, leaving much of Hyrule Warriors in Team Ninja’s hands. Hyrule Warriors is a huge step in breaking from the traditional Zelda gameplay. Aonuma described Hyrule Warriors gameplay:
“How you approach reclaiming these different areas on the map really changes how you progress through the game”
“You have this map and there are battle areas all across this expansive battlefield. Things are happening, regardless of whether or not you’re in this particular space. How you approach reclaiming these different areas on the map really changes how you progress through the game. So it’s really, really dynamic, it’s really, really expansive. It also increases replay value because if you change your strategy, your process will also change. Having worked on a game that has this kind of expansive battlefield style has really opened my eyes to new discoveries, and my thought and approach to gameplay has really deepened. I see many, many possibilities now that I’ve worked on this project with Tecmo Koei.”