The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords +
This series of articles will take a look at the development of Nintendo-published software. These Q&A sessions conducted by Nintendo Online Magazine, and transcribed to English exclusively by N-Sider staff member Anthony JC, come directly from the developers so as to give you a first-hand look at the amount of sweat and blood that goes into Nintendo's most celebrated releases.
Nintendo Co., Ltd Entertainment Analysis & Development
Director (Hyrule Adventure, Shadow Battle)
Nintendo Co., Ltd Entertainment Analysis & Development
Director (Navi Trackers)
Nintendo Co., Ltd Special-Planning & Development
Q: When did this game begin development?
Eiji Aonuma: Well the original concepts began development a few months before E3 2003. It was really experimental and we weren't sure what direction we would end up going, but showcasing the title generated enough interest in our connectivity Zeldas. As a producer, I decided along with the development team that we should fuse the titles together. Suzuki took charge of Hyrule Adventure, and Shadow Battle; while Tsuchiyama took charge of Navi Trackers.
Q: How did the 3 games utilize the connectivity feature?
Toshiaki Suzuki: I have been working with connectivity for a long time, if you would all remember the Kirby Tilt N' Tumble projects. I wanted to use the GBA as more than a controller, by combining the two hardware and designing with that in mind, a truly refeshing game was produced.
Aonuma: Remember, at first we were only incorporating Hyrule Adventure and Navi Trackers. Suzuki proposed to add more content by adding a third game called Shadow Battle. Of course I said yes!!
Suzuki: I wanted the game content to satisfy any gamer out there. The idea of Shadow Battle was clever, and the engine to make it was not too impossible based on our prior work. The project was fun, but it was hard work (smile).
Q: How did Hyrule Adventure take this form?
Aonuma: Well, online gaming and multiplayer gaming is really becoming popular. Rather than a split-screen game, the connectivity allowed for us to develop this like a multiplayer online game.
Suzuki: We were sure not to make the game multiplayer only either. I think although the most fun can be had playing with friends, the event of a single player session must always be treated fairly. For many reasons, we spent a lot of time making the Hyrule Adventure huge. We could have made it smaller and still feel more than content with the multiplayer since there is so much to do! But for single player, Hyrule Adventure is your main game, thus we had to really make it huge.
Q: How is Shadow Battle?
Suzuki: The game is a straight forward single screen set-up where all the Links duke it out. However, we thought we needed to add something extra. So there are several clever GBA connectivity elements within it.
Aonuma: It's not only a battle game, but part hide and sneek.
Q: How is Navi Trackers which Mr. Tsuchiyama took charge of?
Yoshinori Tsuchiyama: Well we wanted to do a connectivity Zelda completely different than the Hyrule Adventure. That was the original plan.
Aonuma: We developed a game called Marvelous which used the Satella View almost eight years ago. In that game, we had a quest where you would collect stamps while listening to a radio which gave you clues. We took that idea and reproduced it by using connectivity instead.
Tsuchiyama: During the initial planning stage, we were using a woman in a passenger seat of a car, giving you vague directions on where to find the items. Almost like dealing with an annoying backseat driver who is giving you horrible directions as you try to reach your destination without losing your patience. Producers suggested we tie this in with the Zelda franchise, and soon enough Navi Trackers was born.
Q: The speech contents have been changed considerably from the original?
Tsuchiyama: Well just the other day, the scavenger items being collected were stamps. Upon further development and using the Zelda theme, we changed the stamps to pirate medals which sort of makes more sense.
Aonuma: Mr. Miyamoto spoke to us and told us how a small change can make you rethink the entire game. It is important to make careful and conscious decisions.
Q: Were quiz and bingo considered (smiles)?
Tsuchiyama: Well I wanted to put in a thing where the screen would be divided in parallel to play and incorporate a mini game.
Q: It is very cool the way Tetra speaks?
Tsuchiyama: Tetra is checking the number of the medals and progress for each player. Tetra will give you the scavenger hints, joke around, and give progress reports depending on the situation.
Aonuma: The Wind Waker team (now working with Mr. Aonuma on the next full fledged Zelda) spent the most of its time with the 4 Swords development team with this feature.
Q: What do you feel were some of the major accomplishments?
Aonuma: Well the majority of new Zelda titles are mainly concerned with the 3D element right now. With this array of 2D Zelda titles, we really wanted to push the GameCube to showcase how cool 2.5D could be. The split of two directors each working original ideas into the franchise is also a crucial element as to why this game(s) will be so special.
Suzuki: I have loved this series since the original on the Famicom. I could not express my happiness and excitement over directing this game.
Aonuma: We really are using a lot of technology to push this game in its traditional form. It's like instead of getting a next-generation sequel to the traditional Zelda titles, the formula changed with 3D. With this game, we are sort of pushing the old school formula with new technology rather than pushing a new formula. This game is also very friendly to someone who has not played the original Zelda titles.
Suzuki: I think this is one of the best Zelda experiences you will have.
Q: Any final words from the development team?
Suzuki: Just remember that this isn't a remake of the original four swords! Don't let the "Four Sword +" fool you, I mean to be honest it should be more like "Four Sword +++", and almost forgot to add another "+", (smile). The Hyrule Adventure alone is a full scale 2D Zelda! I mean it's the first of its kind since The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past. Please do not miss out on this game!
Tsuchiyama: I think that every mode can be enjoyed. Navi Trackers can be enjoyed from adults to children. It will cause frenzies when played together.
Aonuma: I have been involved as a director in the previous three console Zelda titles, so from a producer role, I got to play this game almost from the perspective the game player will. I was very surprised at how great and interesting the game was. This game offers exciting new ways to play video games that will surely be enjoyed by Zelda and non-Zelda fans. Thank you!!
Source: Nintendo Online Magazine #68
Transcribed by: Anthony JC