A lot of people have apparently been asking Nintendo if Retro Studios will ever get to work on the Zelda franchise – and many of our staffpeople are included in that number. The Legend of Zelda draws largely on Western mythology and culture, and I think it’s a strong sentiment for many that the best way to capture that aesthetic is to give the franchise over to a non-Japanese developer for a change.
If you’re a member of that crowd, however, you might not want to hold your breath. Speaking to GameReactor in an interview following his receipt of the Prince of Asturias Award, Miyamoto said that it’s unlikely that it’ll ever happen due to the need to keep certain elements of the franchise inside Japan.
Hop inside for his full comments… and a brief response.
UPDATE: We’ve tracked down a more complete quote – turns out the one we originally cited was a summary.
Really, with every game we develop, Zelda gets bigger and bigger. It’s reached a point where, if we had to do it entirely inside Nintendo, we would have to dedicate ourselves exclusively to Zelda given the dimensions it has reached. That’s why Nintendo is working with more and more companies either in-house or subcontracted, like Monolith or Grezzo. Ultimately, Mr. Aonuma is very close with these kind of companies in his work, so the possibility of Retro Studios making a new Zelda, following a good proposal, isn’t a farfetched idea at all and could be totally possible.
But on the other hand, so far the design and script was created within Nintendo and this must continue. Even though Retro Studios is qualified, in the end they would have to be in very close contact with us, and, being outside Japan the distance and timezone differences would make communication more complicated. Retro Studios should be a company that is more focused on developing projects with less dependence on Nintendo; they’re probably not the most appropriate [for Zelda].
I’m actually totally down with the idea that Retro should be given projects where they’ll have tons of independence and won’t need to be in constant communication with Japan. However, here’s the piece of the puzzle that I think Miyamoto and his cohorts at NCL don’t understand: people want both of these things to be true for a Retro-designed Zelda game.
The people looking for a Zelda developed by Retro Studios strongly desire a breath of fresh air from the “design and script created within Nintendo.” They want Retro to be able to work on these things without strong influence from their Japanese overlords. It’s like I said in my opening statement: a Retro Studios Zelda would represent a return to Zelda‘s heavily Western-inspired roots – a kind of direction that Nintendo has not been willing to fully embrace since Majora’s Mask.
If Nintendo is not willing to turn the Zelda series back over to the currents of Western culture and game design, then I foresee the continued decline of the fanbase as more and more gamers choose games like Skyrim as alternatives. By this I do not mean that Zelda should sacrifice those “classic” elements that made it popular in the first place – just the “Japanese” sensibilities that have divorced it not only from its mostly Western audience but from most of its Japanese fans as well.