Wii MotionPlus allows you complete control over Link’s sword, and you can stop that sword in mid-swing, fire a sword beam, and dash up using the A Button, but another big point is the big change from previous games in the UI for choosing an item.
That’s right. As alluded to earlier, in The Legend of Zelda games you have to be able to switch items in a flash.
Until now, you had to open the item screen and choose the Bow or a Bomb, disrupting the flow of the game. And that didn’t seem right to me. But the director Fujibayashi-san and Tanaka-san in charge of UI completely resolved that big problem.
Fujibayashi-san, how did you do that?
We were using Wii MotionPlus, so I wanted to do something revolutionary even for switching items, and what I came up with was quickly switching items without having to look at an item screen.
Item selection without looking at the screen. That truly is revolutionary.
Yes. I thought it might be possible with Wii MotionPlus, so after I had a rough idea of it, I talked to Tanaka-san and asked for the impossible. I explained it using gestures, like, “If you do this, then this happens.” (laughs)
After he laid that on you, Tanaka-san, how did you approach it?
When using the Wii Remote, the most common solution is to choose items with the pointer. But this time, we wanted to select items without using the pointer.
That way you make use of the features of Wii MotionPlus.
That’s right. We tested arranging the items on the screen in a circle, and you twist the Wii Remote Plus like a rotary switch to select an item.
You thought of selecting items the way you used to turn a dial to choose the channel on an old-fashioned television.
Exactly. But when we tried it out, you can only turn your wrist about 120 degrees, so when choosing one item from about eight, you end up selecting the wrong one a lot. Then we realised that turning your wrist wasn’t the right way to go and tried tilting the Wii Remote Plus with your arm.
That way, even if you don’t look at the screen, the items are at certain angles and you can select them by tilting the Wii Remote Plus . As you play, you remember that, for example, the bow is at the top and your bombs are on the right.
For example, you remember with your body that if you tilt down, you switch to the Slingshot.
So you can do it without looking at the screen. I think it was around the time you had just made that system, I remember very well that Miyamoto-san really bragged about it. He said, “Once you get used to it, you can select items with unprecedented speed and without interrupting the flow of the game. It’s quite unique.”
That was the first time Miyamoto-san ever praised me. (laughs)
Huh? The very first time? (laughs)
I’d never had that experience before, so I was overjoyed.
Yes. We were giving each other high-fives.
That’s how happy we were. We thought, “We finally did it!”
He even mentioned it to me before it was finished, so it must have really struck a chord with him.
I suppose so.
Tanaka-san, looking back at it now, what struck you the most?
Hmm, it’s difficult to pinpoint one thing, but what made me think it went well in the end was something I noticed when we were having game testers look at it. Many playing for the first time thought the Wii Remote was for pointing at the screen.
They didn’t notice that you controlled it by tilting the Wii Remote Plus.
That’s right. Using it like a pointer is second nature for the Wii console, so everyone has that preconceived notion. But even if you try to point, you can select items. When that went well, I thought, “Oh, this is good!”
The pointing movement syncs with the Wii Remote Plus controller’s tilt. But once you get used to it, you realise that it doesn’t have to be pointed at the screen all the time, which makes it much easier to play.
Exactly. Another important point is how when the finger icon appears on the item selection screen, there’s a string attached to it.
That was quite an invention, if I do say so myself. (laughs)
Yes. There’s a string attached to the icon, so even if you make a big movement with the Wii Remote Plus, it moves in a circle, but no further.
In other words, even if the Wii Remote Plus is swung all the way out, the finger icon never leaves the screen.
Oh, I see.
The first time I saw that, I thought, “What’s with this unsightly string!” (laughs) But when I actually tried it out, it felt very comfortable. When first seeing screenshots of that string, many people may feel like something is off, but once they play it, I hope they’ll realise how comfortable it feels.
The items are much more comfortable to choose. You can use familiar items from the series as well as new ones.
Take the good old Slingshot and Bow. Until now the sights jumped around and you had to point the Wii Remote at the screen all the time, but not this time.
That’s right. You don’t use the pointer. You hold the Wii Remote Plus like a bow and use the sights to take aim , so it doesn’t waver. That way, when you accurately aim at something far away, it feels incredibly comfortable.
You can spin the bombs?
But getting it in the UI was pretty hard, because the arrow needs to bend so sharply on the screen.
That’s true. The bomb will curve in the direction you rotate the Wii Remote, so there’s an arrow on the ground showing that direction.
Originally, you bought bombs at shops or picked them from Bomb Flowers growing from the ground, and then you used them, but this time, you can pick them from a Bomb Flower and put them in a bag .
You can gather bombs?
Yes. (laughs) At first, I thought, “Huh?! Is that alright?!” but when I actually did it, it felt incredibly natural. I’ve been involved with The Legend of Zelda games for a long time, so again I’m frustrated that I never hit on that idea before.
When you store them, they’re shooting off sparks. (laughs)
They don’t explode in your bag? (laughs)
No. The fire goes out once they’re in your bag.
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