Zelda 3DS producer ditches hand-holding; wants you to “get stuck and be lost”

Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma is going all-out to ensure that A Link Between Worlds has old-school, open-ended grit to it. He’s dedicated to the point that he spent a whopping three days arguing with his developer over removing a hint in the game. And you know what? They removed it.

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The lost art of in-game exploration: coming to a handheld near you.

Three days. Possibly 72-hours straight for all we know. And all to guarantee that the experience will cater to hardcore fans and usher newbies into classic-style Zelda exploration. Aonuma even insisted that he wanted to “make a game where it would be fun to get stuck and be lost.” Whether this will turn-off modern gamers remains to be seen. 

Soon as I read the news, I instantly thought of the NES Zelda, which went skimpy on hints and let you discover dungeons at your own pace. Remember having to burn a random bush to locate a dungeon? I doubt A Link Between Worlds will have objectives that are that unclear, but at least the game won’t ride us from dungeon to dungeon on a magic carpet.

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Nintendo was once nasty enough to hide a mandatory dungeon under a generic bush.

While I’m stoked for the new Zelda, the bigger issue here is a backlash against the gaming trend of hand-holding. The past decade-and-a-half has all but evicted the magic of exploration and challenge in favor of moving things along. Some games are simply linear (Final Fantasy XIII), while others spoil exploration by pointing you to the finish line (Metroid Fusion). Worse yet are the games that play themselves once they’ve determined that difficulty is bad for you. It’s awful, like a basketball coach urging you to pass the ball instead of refine your jump-shot. The New Super Mario series is the biggest offender here, and I was even appalled when Super Mario Galaxy 2 offered to complete a jumping segment for me.

This upcoming Zelda is a throwback in more ways that just its Link to the Past-inspired overworld. I was on the fence about the nonlinear dungeon order, but soon as I heard the game would go thin on hints, I was sold. November 22, my friends.

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6 thoughts on “Zelda 3DS producer ditches hand-holding; wants you to “get stuck and be lost”

  1. Just imagine if Ninja Gaiden or Mega Man had a block that you could hit that would let the AI take over the level for you. It would be looked upon as insane, but for some reason it’s become “the thing” recently. I’m so happy to hear this. I liked Skyward Sword, but it didn’t exactly lend itself to exploration to determine your next goal.

    • I cringed at that first sentence of yours. Stay brutal, Ninja Gaiden.

      As for Skyward Sword, I didn’t like the way all the areas (forest, desert, etc.) were sectioned off beneath the clouds. It was too neat and disjointed. The magic of Ocarina of Time (and the other 3D Zeldas) was that when you saw something in the distance, you could go there. Skyward was all about “Hey, drop me off in the desert, thanks!”

  2. The only thing that worries be about this game is the art style. It’s reminiscent of the recent super deformed style Square has taken to on many DS games (FFIV, Bravely Default). I don’t really care for it, but I’m sure it won’t hinder my enjoyment.

    • Good eye. I noticed the same thing, particularly in the newest video. Link looks dreadful in his close-ups–kinda resembles a 3D version of the cartoon art from Link’s Awakening and LttP.

  3. Hello Brandon. I notice you’re an avid gamer and a good eye for RPG video games. I’m also very thrilled over this new Zelda game’s recent developments. Video games do in fact have a lot of spoon feeding elements when it comes to easter eggs and treasure hunting these days, but wouldn’t you agree that sites like gamefaqs and online strategy guides have also contributed to gamer’s laziness these days.

    • Absolutely. However, there’s a colossal difference between seeking help online and having things handed to you in the game itself.

      I personally love GameFAQs. I rarely use it for walkthroughs, although it comes it handy when I want to locate items/sidequests/etc that may otherwise be impossible to find. The key thing with GameFAQs is that you don’t have to use it–it’s entirely up to you how much help you receive. There’s a sharp contrast between that and an in-game companion winking at the solution to a puzzle.

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