Nintendo’s been touting The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword as its most-labour intensive title, with over 100 staff at work for five years, but Shigeru Miyamoto says two of those years don’t count.
“I did say it was five years, but the first two of those were spent with assorted experimentation, so essentially it was three years. We went through kind of a long experimentation period, I suppose,” Miyamoto said in this week’s Famitsu, as translated by 1UP.
Although he wanted to get the game out “within three years”, Miyamoto doesn’t feel the extra experimentation time went to waste.
“When you have a development period of five years, it’s often the case that around two of those years wind up being completely wasted effort. With this game, though, I think all the work that everyone put into this project gets fully seen in the final product,” he said.
The Zelda creator admitted the latest Zelda suffered from a little franchise fatigue during development.
“It’s occasionally the case during game development that the project doesn’t proceed along as planned or doesn’t turn out as fun as expected when you make it. This Zelda had some of those problems,” he admitted.
“We ran into this issue of people wondering who really wants to make a Zelda sequel – whether a sequel was necessary from the company standpoint, or whether it’s just me saying ‘Let’s do it.’ A game really gets its start when you have someone who says ‘I want to do something like this,’ but sometimes it’s born simply because it’s a series title or there’s more story to cover.”
It sounds like Miyamoto really prefers to work around core gameplay ideas.
“For us games provide a structure for play, and if you’re making a sequel, you have to have that desire to improve, strengthen, and expand things right at the core of the project,” he said.
“To put it in an extreme way, the ideal for me is to build the play structure up to a certain point, then decide whether to make it Zelda or Mario. It’s like building up the engine and chassis, then deciding later what sort of car you want to use it on.”
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword releases exclusively for Wii this week. It is expected to be the last core first party title for the system ahead of the Wii U’s expected launch next year.