What obstacles appeared in making a game for Wii MotionPlus?
In Wii Sports Resort, we use Mii characters, so making them is simple, but Link has a realistic figure.
And he’s equipped with items like a shield.
That’s right. And Swordplay in Wii Sports Resort uses sticks, so whichever way you swing, as long as the trajectory is right, no problem. But Link is holding a sword. You can’t have him flap an enemy with the flat of his blade.
Oh, I see. If the edge isn’t facing the direction you swing, handsome Link would look rather foolish.
Exactly. He has to look cool when he swings his sword. He can’t just have a sword stuck to his hand and simply move it. So we tried all kinds of things for that at first.
Yes, we tried many things many times.
We really studied the skeletal structure of a person’s elbows.
At first we were too serious about faithfully representing human movement. Link still didn’t look that cool, so we decided it was necessary to fake some parts.
In other words, even if his movement isn’t perfectly realistic in some ways, your brain smoothes over it.
That’s right. Then Link’s movement seemed more natural that way and we knew swordplay would work out. What’s more, we were able to swing the sword in the direction we wanted and got to where we could think, “Which direction shall I swing from?” when fighting an enemy. But there’s a really tough boss named Ghirahim who can read your movements.
What he actually does is determine which direction he can be hit from.
Yes. Ghirahim fights barehanded. You’ll think, “All right, I’ll strike at him from this angle,” but he expects that and stops Link’s sword with his hands .
At Nintendo 3DS Conference 20117, Miyamoto-san said he struggled with that. 7Nintendo 3DS Conference 2011: A Nintendo 3DS presentation held in Japan on September 13, 2011.
That’s right. Miyamoto-san kept saying, “You can’t beat this guy!” (laughs)
As a player, he was infuriated. (laughs)
Yes. Well, he complained more than getting mad! (laughs) But he didn’t tell us to scrap it, so I think he liked something about it. He said that he wanted us to make the way to win more instinctive, though.
You can beat him by tricking him.
Right, you can. Ghirahim moves his hands wherever Link’s sword is, so you trick him. I can’t go into it in detail today, but I would like for people to fight him thinking how you can trick him with your attacks. Speaking of sword movements, before all this there was an idea about being able to stop the sword in mid-air.
You mean the sword is something you use to swing to defeat enemies, but now you’re able to hold it still mid-air, and use it for other things. Who’s idea was it that you could be able to hold the sword still?
I remember it clearly. All of a sudden, in the middle of the night, Miyamoto-san called us in and said, “Have it stop.” I thought, “Have what stop?” and he said, “The sword.” When I first heard “stop,” I didn’t think it was possible, but a moment later, I understood and thought, “Stop...? Oh, stop... I get it!” And there was more to that late-night conversation. After he suggested stopping the sword, he said, ”Then you raise up the Wii Remote and while you’re in that pose, energy builds up, and then you release a sword beam.”
Stopping the sword led to the sword beam?
Yes. At first, I think that the two ideas were separate in Miyamoto-san’s head, but I could tell as I listened that when he suggested stopping the sword, then he hit on the sword beam, and the two joined together at that moment.
The ideas combined right then and there.
And his face lit up, right? (laughs)
He made a face like, “Pretty good, huh?” (laughs)
It’s a perfect example of one idea solving multiple problems.
Yes. And once we adopted the sword beam, something like a ring would shoot out, making it clearly visible which direction you had swung.
Ah, I see.
And once we could hold the sword up high, we hit on the title of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
“Skyward” because you hold it up toward the sky, but I hear that there is a deeper meaning to it as well.
That’s right. From what I heard from the NOA (Nintendo of America) localisation team, the word “ward” also means to protect and guard something, so “skyward” can also mean “protector of the sky”, and “one who is protected by the sky”.
That’s very interesting. Using Wii MotionPlus, a device that can detect rapid movements to use it for fast-moving gameplay is one thing. I thought the person who thought of stopping the sword as a form of play was incredible, and it was Miyamoto-san who suggested it.
That’s a bit galling, I suppose. (laughs)
Argh... I wish I had thought of it!
Stopping the sword was revolutionary this time, but also important was freeing up the A Button.
Yes, that’s right. (laughs)
Up until now in the series, swinging the sword with the A Button was a matter of course, but using Wii MotionPlus for that frees up the A Button - an important point this time.
Yes, you can swing the sword without pressing the A Button.
How did you decide to make use of the A Button then?
Every time we make a new Zelda game, Miyamoto-san assigns certain tasks, like “Add a new action.” I wasn’t involved with development, but for example, in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening8, you jump with a feather. 8The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening: The first game in The Legend of Zelda series for the Game Boy system, released in Japan in June 1993. In December 1998, the remake The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX was released in Japan for the Game Boy Color system.
In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past9, you can pick up grass. So adding a new action was a theme whenever we made a new Zelda game. This time, we wanted to put in something before Miyamoto-san said anything and put in a dash. 9The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: An action-adventure game released for the Super Famicom system in Japan in November 1991.
You assigned that to the A Button.
That’s right. Link could dash before, but if he ran into a wall or other obstacle, he would stop abruptly.
In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, if you rammed into a tree or house, it would knock you down.
Yes, and that interrupts the flow of the game. For that reason, I had a strong desire to put in some kind of action so that whatever you hit, it reacts and won’t kill your speed. Thus, we made Link able to dash up .
As a result, since you’re not using the A Button as you usually would for your sword, you can smoothly perform the action of using the A Button to dash up immediately after a sword fight.
When you see videos of Link dashing up and over an enemy to move behind him , it feels great.
And you can scurry up a small cliff or steep slope.
But once your energy runs out, Link runs out of breath. His shoulders heave and he wheezes. (laughs)
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