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Aonuma on Zelda: BotW story surprises, potential for a female protagonist in the series' future

A portion of an Eurogamer interview with Eiji Aonuma...

EU: Let's start with the latest Breath of the Wild trailer. I think fans loved what they saw. There were several familiar characters and faces - fans spotted the Deku Tree, for example, and the Koroks. There's continued speculation on where the game might fit within the timeline that we know. Can you expand upon that? Are people on the right track with theories that it follows Wind Waker?

Aonuma: So... in the trailer there was a sort of Wind Waker-esque element, and to a degree you could say that the animation and the art style have some influences from Wind Waker, so I can see why people would draw those connections.

But with Breath of the Wild, one thing I'm really keen to emphasise is that a big part of the appeal of the game is surprise, unexpected encounters, so I want fans to experience surprise and to experience an element of the unexpected - I feel if I spoke too much about that kind of thing, it might spoil things for people, so I'd rather not touch on that too deeply.

EU: Already people have been surprised by what this version of the Zelda series has already brought. Skyward Sword really set down the idea that each version of Link and Zelda were new incarnations of original characters, but with Breath of the Wild, the beginning seems like an attempt to sort of disrupt this and surprise the player by having a Link who's already a hero and has awoken 100 years later. Was it a conscious decision to disrupt the formula and what fans might be expecting?

Aonuma: The fact that Link has been asleep for 100 years is a particularly important part of this story. It's true that this is kind of a technique in a way - a storytelling technique - that we'd like to use this time so everyone can relate to that in his or her own way, and players can discover the importance of that point as they play through the game. How exactly that plays into the story as a whole... well, it's very important, so as you can probably understand I can't really say much more about it at this stage.

This is an idea I've had bubbling away under the surface ever since I started making games.

EA: Zelda fans continue to show interest in having Zelda as a playable character, and I wonder if that was something that was considered for Breath of the Wild?

Aonuma: I seem to remember three years ago when we showed the first trailer at E3, I said something along the lines of "I never said that Link would necessarily be male" or something along those lines, and that got taken out of context and turned into a rumour that took on a life of its own. Link has always been portrayed as a male character as the protagonist of the games.

After that happened actually, we did discuss in the team about whether or not we should have a female protagonist. I spoke to Mr Miyamoto about it and the whole team talked about it, but in the end, it just didn't happen.

On Wii U of course there's already Hyrule Warriors where Princess Zelda is a playable character, and there's actually quite an assortment of characters including several female ones. And that title is already available of course. So looking to the future, talking about the possibility of having a playable female protagonist, I'd say yes, it's a possibility.

Aonuma on Zelda: BotW's fan input, voice acting secret, timeline placement & series' future expectations

A portion of a Vice interview with Eiji Aonuma...

V: You only have to look back at all the speculation surrounding Breath of the Wild, from us adults in the press, to see how the series still fascinates older players, people who've got practically all of modern gaming to make their choices from. When stories were circulating—about what this game might be, and what form its characters might take—does that become a distraction for the team, at all? Is it difficult to not get too wrapped up, as the game's makers, in the audience's own expectations for it?

EA: We do actually pay a lot of attention to what fans are saying, after every Zelda is released. We want to know how people have found each game, how they've reacted to it. What their experiences were. And we also take on board what people are saying in the run-up to a new Zelda's release. Sometimes I'll see a reaction, to a trailer perhaps, and it's one I can empathize with—"Yes, I see what you mean. I feel the same way myself." And the opinions that resonate most with me, I definitely take them into account when the time comes to create the next Zelda.

But there are always going to be so many different opinions out there, before and after a game's released. And so many different ideas about what should, or could, be put into a Zelda game. If you listen to them all, you'll end up with… Well, I've no idea what kind of game you'd end up with, but it probably wouldn't be a very good one. So we have to follow our own vision, really, and not pay too much mind to speculation.

V: One of the biggest talking points when Breath of the Wild was first revealed was the possibility of Link being a woman this time—or, at least, for players to have the option to select their own gender for the Hero of Time. It was quickly confirmed that no, Link is very much a male in this game. But does seeing conversations like that inspire you for future Zelda games, or spin-off titles set within the same universe?

EA: I think it was three years ago, at E3 in 2014, when the game was still at an early stage of development that I said something that I maybe shouldn't have. There wasn't much serious meaning behind it, but I said something along the lines of, 'Well, I've not said that Link is necessarily a male,' and that got picked up on, and became a bit of a talking point.

Really, the main thing I realized then is that I have to be really careful with what I say, because there's always the possibility of, even when you don't quite mean what you've said, it can be taken differently, and become this big discussion.

And regarding the future possibility of us taking a Zelda title in a new direction, perhaps with Link as someone different, or with a new protagonist altogether who's radically different from what we've seen before, on the Wii U there's already Hyrule Warriors. In that you've got Princess Zelda herself as a playable character, and a real assortment of playable characters including numerous female ones. So, that title exists already. But in the future, regarding doing that sort of thing again, and changing what you expect from Zelda characters, I'd say yes, it's a possibility.

V: There's voice acting in Breath of the Wild, for the first time in the Zelda series. Is that something you'd considered introducing before now? And personally, in other games you play, do you find that you develop a better connection with games characters when they are voiced?

EA: I definitely feel that, when you're playing a game, if a character actually speaks to you, with a voice, then you do have a deeper connection with them. You get a clearer sense of who that character is, and what they're all about.

In terms of whether or not we'd considered using voice acting in the past, we definitely have thought about it. We weren't able to do it, though. This time, we could. Now, why we could this time, but not before, is to do with a certain system we've used in the game. But I can't really tell you any more about what that system is, because it'd kind of be giving too much away about the game. You'll just have to play it, and see how the voice acting fits in for yourself.

V: And where does this Zelda fit on the series' timeline, in its chronology, split as that is into three separate yet connected branches?

EA: I wouldn't say that it obviously fits into any one part of the timeline, but if you play the game, you'll be able to work out where it fits. As you probably saw in the trailer, the most recent trailer, there's a woman's voice, and she says: "The history of the royal family of Hyrule is also the history of the Calamity Ganon." And as you know, the Zelda series, up until now, is a history of repeated attacks by Ganon. So, there's food for thought there. I don't want to say anything more as I'd like players to work it out for themselves, to play the game and see what they think.

Super Mario Run is coming in March to Android devices


Nintendo Announces Fire Emblem Games for Mobile, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS

REDMOND, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nintendo surprised Fire Emblem fans today via a Nintendo Direct announcement with the news that multiple games from the hit strategy-RPG franchise are in development. These include a new game for smart devices, two games for Nintendo Switch and multiple games for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems. There’s no question that this is by far the most fiery, most emblematic Nintendo Direct ever.

In recent years, the popularity of the Fire Emblem franchise has grown exponentially,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “The devoted fan base and series newcomers alike will soon have an abundance of new games to play on a variety of devices. There’s never been a better time to be a Fire Emblem fan or jump in for the first time.”

Fire Emblem Heroes comes to smart devices: Nintendo launches its next adventure when Fire Emblem Heroes arrives soon on mobile. For detailed information about release timings by platform, please check https://fire-emblem-heroes.com/. Fire Emblem Heroes is an original strategy RPG about two warring kingdoms in a bitter clash. As a summoner, players build their army by calling upon popular Fire Emblem heroes from worlds that span the breadth of the series. Players will wage tactical battles streamlined for on-the-go play and level up a mix of new combatants and legendary heroes. Some familiar hero characters will become allies, while others will become enemy generals. Players can enjoy the full majesty of tactical role playing on bite-sized maps designed to fit nicely on a smartphone screen, even when playing in short bursts. Players lead their armies with easy touch-and-drag controls, including the ability to attack by simply swiping an ally hero over an enemy. If they manage to defeat every enemy on a given map, victory will be theirs. The heroes are depicted in new art hand-drawn by a variety of illustrators, and their voices have been newly recorded. Beyond the main story mode, players can engage in other modes to strengthen their army or to compete against others. Free and timely updates will add new characters and content for additional hours of gameplay as well. Fire Emblem Heroes will be available as a free download with optional in-app purchases available. Visit the Fire Emblem Heroes website for details about pre-registration.

To prepare for the launch of Fire Emblem Heroes, today Nintendo kicks off the Fire Emblem Heroes: Choose Your Legends event. Fans can visit https://events.fire-emblem-heroes.com/vote to browse through characters from the Fire Emblem franchise and select the ones they’d like to see make an appearance in Fire Emblem Heroes. The global community’s top-ranked hero and heroine will then be featured in Fire Emblem Heroes as Choose Your Legends event characters. Nintendo Account holders will receive a Platinum point bonus for voting.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia: In 1992, the second game in the Fire Emblem series, Fire Emblem Gaiden, launched exclusively in Japan. Now, for the first time, fans outside of Japan will get a taste of this classic game on the Nintendo 3DS family of systems. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is inspired by the 1992 original, reimagined on a grander scale. Every aspect of the Fire Emblem Gaiden game’s presentation has been updated, along with the game being fully voiced. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia recreates classic Fire Emblem gameplay with a modern twist, mixing in exploration of dungeons crawling with enemies. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia will launch on the Nintendo 3DS family of systems May 19. Characters from the game, Alm and Celica, will be available as amiibo figures in a two-pack, also on May 19.

Fire Emblem meets KOEI TECMO GAMES’ Warriors series: Fire Emblem Warriors is coming to both the Nintendo Switch and New Nintendo 3DS systems, which includes New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL. It’s being developed by the team that created Hyrule Warriors, and is scheduled to launch this fall.

Fire Emblem is coming to Nintendo Switch: For the first time since Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn on the Wii console in 2007, a new mainline game in the series is being developed for a Nintendo home system, with the ability to also be played on the go! The new game is scheduled to launch in 2018. Nintendo Switch goes on sale March 3 at a suggested retail price of $299.99, and lets players take their home games with them wherever they go (games sold separately).

Fire Emblem Direct - live-stream/blog


- Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is a reimagining of Gaiden. Coming to 3DS. Has free-roaming gameplay. Includes dungeons full of enemies. Flexible character progression.

- New Fire Emblem title coming to Switch in 2018
- Fire Emblem Warriors is coming to Switch, New 3DS and New 3DS XL in Fall of 2017
- Fire Emblem Heroes is the mobile Fire Emblem game, will have microtransactions to hire new heroes, features new artwork and voice recordings, level-up characters and earn new skills

Nintendo comments on Switch allotments, tech, battery life, online play, leaked info and 3DS support

Coming from Nintendo's David Young...

On preorder allotments

“What we’re doing is, of course, we want to meet demand, right?. I mean, it doesn’t do us any good not to, right? I mean, it’s in our best interest, and we certainly will do our best to meet that. Mr. [Nintendo president Tatsumi] Kimishima announced that during that launch window, you know, he announced a worldwide number of what’s available — I believe he said there was two million … so that’s in that launch window. So that’s the, you know, sort of the starting point, and then, we’ll have ways to react depending on what happens there, right? I mean, there’s probably some levers to pull if we need to accelerate things.”

On tech specs

- “more powerful than Wii U”
- no 4K mode
- 720p in handheld mode
- uses Wi-Fi and will not use 4G or LTE for any type of wireless connection
- does not have an optical out

On battery life

- screen has a brightness setting you can use to get more battery out of the Switch

On continuing with 3DS

“The Nintendo 3DS line is very healthy. We’ve had a great year. We’ve had several months of year-on-year growth … so that’s not going away. You know, we’ve got a good lineup of games we’re talking about in 2017 … so yeah, that business is strong. It’s not going anywhere. So, we’re still a company that makes, you know, the on-the-go games for the handheld system and these great experiences for the home console. But now, you can take your home console with you.”

On online play

“Yeah, you know, this’ll allow really a more robust kind of environment and development of that online. That’s what we’ve been discussing, is that this app will allow you [to use] the voice chat.”

On leaked info

“Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we keep our eyes open on those kind of things and it is disappointing because, you know, you want to deliver a message with the maximum impact, right? And so, we design things like today, right? And like the broadcast from Japan last night. You want to have things that are synchronized and timed and sometimes, when [there are] leaks, it will interfere with that. But, you know, we do the best we can, right? Sometimes, these things happen when you have this information spread in a broad way, you know. There’s somebody that always wants to say, ‘Hey, I know something you don’t know,’ and post things. And that stuff happens. But I think, for the most part, we did pretty well on moving through and sharing the information. And today, I think, is going really great for us.”

Ubisoft - Switch thoughts, winning back Wii audience, connecting mobile/TV worlds, future support, outselling Wii U

A portion of a GamesIndustry interview with Ubisoft's Xavier Poix...

GI.biz: What were your thoughts after the reveal of the Switch?

Xavier Poix: Every launch of a console, especially a Nintendo console for me, is an event. It is a console that we have been working on for some time. We have a very long history between the French Ubisoft studios - especially the Paris and Montpellier studios - and Nintendo. It is the third Nintendo console that will arrive with some Ubisoft titles at launch. On Wii, we had Red Steel and Rayman Raving Rabbids, and Wii U there was ZombiU, and now with Switch we have a few titles for launch and later. And of course we have more plans for the future. So it is an exciting moment. It will be interesting to see how the gamers, and not only the Nintendo fans but the whole market, will respond to it. Nintendo has proved it can surprise everybody. Even though we knew some aspects of the console, we were surprised by the high quality games coming. Plus, there are some very interesting features for it.

What I was very happy to hear about was the fact that Nintendo has followed its strategy of enlarging the gaming audience, with a console that could be appealing to a very broad audience of gamers. Yes, Nintendo fans first, but also in the longer term a more casual audience. The portfolio of games they showed reflected that.

GI.biz: A lot of that original Wii audience has moved onto other platforms and devices - particularly mobile. What makes you think Switch can win them back?

Xavier Poix: Today, we have two ways of playing - and a lot of people are doing both. There is the high-end, high value, experience that you have at home in front of your TV - in multiplayer or not. But when the TV isn't there anymore, if someone else is using it for example, then you are left alone with your mobile phone. So there is a need for Switch, and we probably don't realise it right now, which is what makes this so interesting. There is a promise of keeping the player in the world that he or she loves. Switch can really change the way people are interacting with their games and the worlds we are creating.

I am confident Nintendo can create a bridge between the worlds of mobile and TV. Between the desire to play on the TV, but also the need to play somewhere else because you can't be in front of your TV all the time.

GI.biz: With Wii U, you supported that machine in a big way initially, but then when the sales didn't arrive the support dried up. What makes you think Switch won't suffer the same fate?

Xavier Poix: The message of the Wii U wasn't clear enough. I think what they really did well with the Wii is that they found a new system, a new way of playing and an easy way of showing that to every audience. In terms of the Wii U, the idea of playing with two screens, and with a controller that is bigger than usual, it is something that is very hard to explain. It is ok when you play games that use this feature, because you understand, but it's not something you can understand very easily by just seeing it. I think the Switch, from day one - which I think is why they introduced the Switch at first without any other information - is to see if the message is something that people can easily understand. And for me it is simple. You know the handheld console, you know the home console, the Switch is the bridge. It is a home console on-the-go. It is a very simple message that anyone can understand. Of course there are more features that you'd need to play to understand it properly, but I am really confident that the messaging itself - which was key to the success of Wii - is there for the Switch.

-------------------------

Mr. Poix also had a bit to mention about Ubisoft's future support of the Switch, which you can find below.

So we are bringing titles that we think fit with what Switch is all about. Of course, in the future we have other things that we will be very happy to share with you at a later date.

Switch won't include many multimedia features at launch

Coming from a BusinessInsider feature...

The Switch isn't going to replace your iPad — it's a dedicated gaming machine to the point where it won't have many multimedia functions at launch, Nintendo's Kit Ellis told me. Don't plan to watch Netflix on the Switch, for instance.

We're sure those features will come eventually, but no word on when to expect them.

Reggie says Wii U struggled due to lack of clarity & steady flow of compelling games, Switch won't do the same

Coming from a GameSpot interview with Reggie Fils-Aime...

- Nintendo has thought deeply about why the Wii U didn't succeed
- Nintendo did not effectively communicate the novelty of the system
- the "clarity of the consumer proposition" was not strong enough
- also, there wasn't a steady flow of compelling games
- strong games coming out frequently is a "critical" component to selling Switch consoles and to keep existing users engaged
- Switch will have a "steady cadence of content"

"Nintendo Switch is a home console you can play anywhere, with anyone. Clear. Compelling. We see the reaction by consumers whether it's measured in Twitter trending topics or views of videos on YouTube or just the frequency with which I get called by old high school buddies that I haven't heard from in 30 years who are asking me how to get their hands on Nintendo Switch. We have communicated the proposition clearly and it is compelling.

Wii U will go down as having fantastic content--the issue was as you look at the reality of exactly when the games were launched, there were large gaps in between."