A fab and fun Q&A session with Zelda: Phantom Hourglass producer Eiji Aonuma and Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto had the designers talking about keeping in touch with the hardcore in an all-access world.
"Let's keep it light and lively, shall we," Aonuma tells the small audience of journos, setting the tone for today's E3 developer Nintendo Q&A in Santa Monica.
Aonuma, who also directed the acclaimed Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, just released the Wind Waker sequel Phantom Hourglass into the wild in Japan. The game's been consistently sold out since its launch last month, and it's not just veteran players who've been buying the game.
"In the past, I thought it was impossible to make a Zelda game that appeals to core and new users," Aonuma says. He explains that Phantom Hourglass has found an audience with first-time Zelda players and adult females, namely because of the intuitive stylus control.
"I wanted to get rid of preconceptions" of Zelda, Aonuma says.
"[Casual gamers] are just looking for something to play," he says, echoing Nintendo's belief that there's a gamer within everyone.
At Nintendo's press conference earlier this week, the message remained clear: the Nintendo strategy is accessibility. But where does this leave the hardcore gamer who doesn't want to be spoon-fed?
Aonuma believes that control can be pick-up-and-play, but that doesn't necessarily mean a game overall has to be easier. But he still states that his "goal was always to appeal to...a vast audience."
One attendee pushed the issue further, asking if all Zelda games from now on are going to cater to the more casual crowd-will we ever again need a strategy guide to complete a Zelda game? Aonuma says that judging by Japanese sales so far, accessible "stream-lined play has been effective," but he wants to see how Western audiences react to the new Zelda before making a final decision on future games' difficulty levels.
Aunoma also hopes to venture into new territory and create a wholly original game at some point in his career.
Phantom Hourglass launches in the US October 1.
Miyamoto has a way of lighting up any room he enters, especially when he's in front of a bunch of game journos. Real big surprise that the creator of Mario has that effect on those gamer types.
Starting up his half of the roundtable discussion, Miyamoto quips, "Where's the roundtable?! There's not even one to upend!"
Miymoto is currently working closely on two major projects: the newly-announced Wii Fit and Super Mario Galaxy.
Although they're completely different games, Miyamoto claims that "they both have one thing in common: We want them both to be accessible to everybody."
Again, you can almost sense the concern among the veteran gamers in attendance who prefer a challenge.
Miyamoto hopes that Super Mario Galaxy will attract new gamers, so it sounds like difficulty may be toned down a bit from previous installments. But he expects that the satisfaction from playing Galaxy will come from the unique control and gameplay, not necessarily a high difficulty level.
Despite saying this, he revealed that up until recently, the game was quite a bit easier, but he opted to ramp up the difficulty level to the point where people on the development team were becoming concerned that it was too hard.
The team working on Super Mario Galaxy is the same group that worked on Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. Miyamoto is directly involved with the Galaxy project as the game's designer, but someone else is directing the title.
He assured the audience that his place on the development team means that he is in fact more involved in Galaxy than he was in the creation of Super Mario 64, which he directed.
The development of the game began with about 30 people on the team, but as it nears completion, that group has been upped to about 50 members, according to Miyamoto.
During the session, he demoed the game, showing off areas not displayed on the E3 show floor. It may be jarring for Mario fans at first to see the plumber flying between spherical planets and being thrown about by gravity, which plays a big role in the game. But it's still distinctly Miyamoto and parts of the game still feature vivid, colorful worlds that define past Mario games.
Nintendo has shown that it can attract new audiences, but in that pursuit of expanding the market, it has found that it must be even more mindful of striking a balance between challenge and accessibility that will please the vets and the soccer moms alike. Finding that center will be difficult, but let's face it-vets are going to buy Phantom Hourglass and Super Mario Galaxy in droves either way.
Even if Super Mario Galaxy turns out to be a walk in the park, though, Miyamoto says it'll be a long promenade, as the game will feature 40 galaxies, 120 stars and lots of hidden areas.
"There's quite a bit of volume to this game," he says.
This article taken from Next-Gen.