Nintendo Was Well Aware Of The Wind Waker Backlash, Discusses The ‘Zelda Cycle’

Nintendo Was Well Aware Of The Wind Waker Backlash, Discusses The ‘Zelda Cycle’
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With The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker HD so close to release, Satoru Iwata got the band back together for a new episode of Iwata Asks and discussed, not only the making of the new updated version of the game, but the development of the original Wind Waker. The coolest thing about the whole discussion? Zelda head honcho Eiji Aonuma totally knows what the ‘Zelda cycle’ is.

The Zelda cycle: the theory that Zelda fans always prefer the style of the Zelda that came before the last version. For example, when Wind Waker came out, everyone whinged that it didn’t look like Ocarina of Time. Then, when Twilight Princess was released everyone complained the art style wasn’t as expressive and vivid as Wind Waker. And so and so forth.

That style of thinking has become known as the ‘Zelda cycle’, but I thought it was just something people discussed on websites and forums. So I got a real kick out of the fact that Eiji Aonuma is completely aware of the cycle, and even refers to it by name!

“There’s a ‘Zelda cycle’,” he said.

“Yes. Bill Trinen-san at Nintendo of America—who always plays a big role in preparing the overseas versions of The Legend of Zelda games—always talks about the Zelda cycle,” added Iwata.

Bill Trinen is a Product Marketing Director at Nintendo, he’s also the man you’re most likely to see translating for Shigeru Miyamoto at E3.

“Basically, as time progresses, negative opinions about The Legend of Zelda turn into positive ones,” continued Aonuma. “At first, I wasn’t sure about that, but seeing the response to The Wind Waker HD, I think it may be right.”

“And it isn’t restricted to The Wind Waker,” added Iwata. “Every time a new Zelda title comes out, there’s no shortage of negative opinions, but a year or two later, people are revising their opinions, and its reputation goes up.”

So that’s the Zelda cycle, in a nutshell, and Nintendo is all over it. It’s weird, because I always imagine that Nintendo HQ is just this black hole where designers and producers work completely isolated from public opinion. I guess it makes sense they would be aware of the idea of the ‘Zelda cycle’, but somehow I didn’t expect that it would be something they would think about or discuss. Very cool.

You can read the whole of Iwata Asks here.


  • I don’t imagine I’ll ever play a Zelda game and think “Boy, I wish this played more like Skyward Sword! I really miss having to recalibrate my waggle stick every 10 – 15 minutes!”

    • Did you enjoy the visuals of the game though? Or revisiting dungeons that have changed due to your actions on the first time through?

      From what I have played of Skyward Sword, there are definitely elements that I’d like to see again.

      I think it’s the same way people didn’t like the Triforce hunt part of Wind Waker. It has never bothered me, so I’ve never understood the need to change or remove it. Of course, I’m also probably part of the minority that was always in support of “Celda”.

      • I thought the visuals were a clumsy mish-mash of TWW and TP. I liked them, as much as I could in SD, but I wouldn’t miss them.

        As for revisiting the dungeons, not really. It felt rather unimaginative. The concept may have worked better if there was anywhere to go OTHER than the same 3 dungeons.

        I thought the Wind Waker style was off-putting when they first announced it, but by the time it came out I was a convert.

        • Yeah, I think Skyward would have been a very different beast if it had a more expansive world. Those 3 revisiting areas crippled the game in my mind.

          • (cc @doc_what) Ah, I seem to not quite have delivered my point as eloquently as I would have liked.

            I meant that returning to dungeons was great in concept, probably even executed well (I didn’t play past revisiting the first dungeon because damn that Fi), just lacking in quantity. I guess it builds upon a few existing elements of Zelda dungeons of having a single room hidden behind a bomb wall, so you backtrack to collect all the heart pieces/golden skulltulas/etc and things like Spirit Temple and Oracle of Ages where you used time travel.

    • Just as long as you are aware that, until a few years from now, your opinion adds more data that actually confirms the theory presented here rather than opposes it.

      • Not really. If that was true I should have realised by now that Skyward Sword was the best Zelda game so far (it wasn’t), it’s controls were misunderstood genius (they weren’t) and will be shocked and appalled when the next game comes out and is set in an expansive open world and uses the gamepad controls. Oh, and it’s missing the fussy painting textures that really didn’t work in SD I’ll be dreadfully disappointed (I won’t be).

        Nope. I’m pretty sure they broke the cycle. I love the Zelda games but Skyward Sword brought nothing to the table I’d want kept.

    • That went up to one of my favourite Zelda games. Don’t remember have to recalibrate. Maybe I did that, but I can’t remember it so it mustn’t have been a big deal.

  • Pfft, I still think Twilight Princess was overrated, to the point it made me think that the franchise was. Luckily a friend lend me Wind Waker to change my mind, which it did.

  • Yeah, still not liking Twilight Princess. Still think Wind Waker and Majora’s Mask are in a bitter struggle for the title of best Zelda game.

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