The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker details

Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma reveal new information on the upcoming GameCube game.

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At a video teleconference hosted in Seattle by Nintendo yesterday, Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma discussed the latest entry in the legend of Zelda series, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. After a brief introduction, the pair answered a wide range of questions.

All told, development on The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has taken roughly two and a half years. The time frame includes preliminary work done on the GameCube hardware that actually started before the completion of Majora's Mask. The early hardware tests formed the basis for the early footage of Link and Ganon shown by Nintendo when the hardware was first unveiled at Space World 2000. Formal work with the director and programmers began after Majora's Mask was completed. The pair conceded that Link's new look was at least partially influenced by Japanese anime. Mr. Miyamoto admitted to being surprised at the reaction to the new look for the game, as he felt the style was interesting and never really expected people to assume the series was changing its focus to target children.

As for the game's story, The Wind Waker will offer a more cohesive presentation of the Zelda mythos. Set 100 years after the events in Ocarina of Time, the game will focus on a young boy named Link who is presented with green clothes that are tied to a legend that revolves around a hero dressed in green. One aspect of the back story to the Zelda games that hasn't been quite clear is that Link and Ganon represent the eternal struggle between good and evil. Just as Ganon represents timeless evil, Link embodies good, which explains why a hero named Link will always rise to fight Ganon. As a result, every Link seen in the various installments of the series can be considered to be a different one.

In terms of gameplay, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker will obviously feature wind as a gameplay element. The use of it in the game evolved from the game's setting, the ocean, as wind is vital to travel on the seas. The use of wind was actually something Miyamoto and his team had wanted to do for quite some time, but hardware limitations kept it from being done to their satisfaction. Another benefit of the GameCube's greater processing power and media limits will be a significant improvement in AI and animation.

The GameCube technology has also allowed the team working on the game to combine graphics and gameplay in innovative ways. For example, Link's eyes, which are heavily animated during gameplay, are both part of the art style and part of the gameplay. There had even been talk of having Link's eye color change dynamically according to his actions in the game--having his eyes turn red during combat, for example--but the idea was shelved due to the fact that the camera angles used wouldn't let players see the effect. As far as the size of the quest, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker should offer a challenge that's comparable to the Nintendo 64 games. It's estimated that the game should clock in at roughly 40 hours of gameplay.

In terms of the game's presentation, the pair was pleased with how the cartoon look has worked out. Link's size in relation to his surroundings has looked good and suited the gameplay they were aiming for. The game's look is complemented by Koji Kondo's soundtrack, which will offer a mix of new music that makes use of a disparate collection of instruments and new versions of tunes from previous Zelda games such as Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, and even A Link to the Past. In addition to setting the game's overall tone, the music in the game will change dynamically during combat to provide a more immersive experience.

On the subject of the GameCube ports of the Nintendo 64 classic The Ocarina of Time and the Japan-only 64DD game Zelda Ura that have been included on the Japanese preorder disc, the pair stated that, despite the fact that porting the games over to the GameCube was a very easy process, it doesn't appear likely that Nintendo will bring many Nintendo 64 games to the GameCube. In the case of Zelda Ura, a game made for the Nintendo 64's 64DD peripheral, Nintendo had always wanted to make the game available to fans given its limited original distribution. In terms of the elements in Ura that took advantage of the rewritable features of the 64DD, Miyamoto stated that the game didn't really use that many of the 64DD's capabilities and stripping them out had little impact on the game. He also noted that, ultimately, Zelda Ura didn't offer a dramatically different gameplay experience from Ocarina of Time. Aside from a few differences such as the difficulty level and the inclusion of some comedic moments in places, the game was essentially the same.

Watch for our upcoming video coverage of the Miyamoto and Aonuma teleconference.

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