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Aonuma admits hand-holding in games just isn’t fun

Legend of Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma admits developers can be overzealous with hand-holding in RPGs.

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The Legend of Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma was recently available in New York at the New York Comic Con, giving a presentation for the upcoming Nintendo 3DS title, A Link Between Worlds. Polygon caught up with him to ask him about the title in a new interview. One of the biggest revelations to come from the interview is that Aonuma himself thinks that the hand-holding of previous Zelda titles like Skyward Sword was in fact, too much.

“I think that one thing all game developers worry about when they’re putting something into a game is, ‘Will people notice it? Will people realize what they’re supposed to do?’ And we kind of have a bad habit of hand-holding, trying to make things easier for everyone. But more and more, I start to think that that kind of isn’t actually that fun.”

Aonuma acknowledges that developers sometimes underestimate the player and the level of hand-holding that some games incorporate can be off-putting for people who aren’t fans of the series. I know this is the case for me with several JRPG titles, as many of them have tutorial periods that can be upwards of 2 to 3 hours long. The most blatant example I can think of is Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, in which your companion Drippy is still treating you as though you’re stupid halfway through the game with a specific mechanic.

I’m happy to see Aonuma acknowledge this aspect of development as overkill and hopefully future titles such as A Link Between Worlds and the new Zelda Wii U title will see less hand-holding than a title like Skyward Sword.

Around the web
  • Yobrolo

    I agree

  • Guest

    UGHHHHH I was right behind Shiek ><

  • Super Buu

    Here’s hoping the next Zelda game doesn’t hold hands. It’s not fun when a game treats you like a person incapable of thought or reflection. Go all the way for Zelda Wii U. Alllllll the waaaaayyyyyy.

  • http://www.youtube.com/azhood321 AZHood

    I personally didn’t think Skyward Sword had too much hand-holding, but the repetitive item notification pop-ups for both that game and Twilight Princess got out of hand quickly.

    • Wishsong214

      There was a little bit too much in some places…for example, I was legitimately mad at the game for one puzzle, namely the one to open the 3rd dungeon. I simply tried rotating all the symbols to one side…didn’t work. Immediately, after just one time not getting the puzzle, Fi tells me to look at my map for the answer. It was honestly a really cool puzzle with an even cooler solution…but the thrill of figuring it out and discovering it for yourself was taken away by the hand-holding.

      • Daniel Carvalho

        It really takes away lot of the fun of finding it for yourself. They had already set the Sheika Stone to help you by literally hand-holding you by showing videos on how-to surpass challenges and find secrets. There simply was no need to make Fi that “helpful”, instead they could’ve worked more on her character and relationship with link.

        Skyward Sword was an amazing game, but I just didn’t feel the same pleasure I had when I completed puzzles when compared to other previous titles. I made my way through the Water Temple without the use of any walkthrough, I think I know how to solve a puzzle in a Zelda game!

        The problem is that developers want to bring more and more people to try out their games and they usually tend to be people who give up on the first challenge. Instead of using the level design to guide the player, they end up relaying on guide-without-option. Metroid Other M had the same problem with the tutorials insistently popping up on the screen, even though you’ve beaten the game so many times. There are also lots of other games that suffer from that as well, taking away the pleasure of dealing with something for yourself. It could be easily arranged by an on and off feature on that kind of guide.

      • http://www.youtube.com/azhood321 AZHood

        I think the fault of Fi lies more-so with how she is as a character as opposed to her role. If Fi wasn’t designed to be a stoic, computer-like A.I. companion from the start, it wouldn’t have translated over to the game-play as heavily as it did. I found Fi bringing up the odds and statistics to be amusing at times, but it got in the way of good character development, which honestly doesn’t happen until practically the end of the game for Fi.

        • Wishsong214

          I liked Fi’s character as the statistic-based creation, but she sometimes would spoil the solution to puzzles, and often after I only failed once. Would have at least been nice to turn that off.

          • Jacob D. Taylor

            She spoiled the whole dang game. Worst piece of Zelda games in my opinion.

  • Marcus Navarro

    B-b-but I want someone to hold my hand! ;~; I don’t want da big scawies to hurt meeeee!!!

  • Kenshin0011

    Windwaker is the best example of FREEDOM! There’s little hand holding as far as exploration goes. Going around and charting the entire sea is so fun to me

    • Stuart Thomas

      My GOD! I never played windwaker, so now i got it for WII U and its one of my favorite games period.The one thing they need to NOT change about a new zelda game is the ability to go “home” or to a “safe spot” like windfall or the outset island. When you spend hours in a dungeon, to be able to “go home” and relax, have a bit of fun is one main characteristic of Zelda games. E.G Skyloft in skyward sword and kakariko village in link to past. It’s so important! Oh not forgetting the FANTASTIC AUDIO/SOUNDTRACK/MUSICAL SCORE. I love Wind Waker HD and it was the best $50 i have spent in a long time.

    • Magnus Eriksson

      But isnt it strange? All the Zelda titles where Nintendo treats the player as he is stupid sells good, but those titles where they dont sells bad. Maybe it is because it becomes too difficult for the prime target of Nintendo? That is kids between 5-8 years old.

      • Wayne Beck

        Your just begging to get caught trolling by your mom again aren’t you?

        And for the record, With the exception of the first Legend of Zelda and OoT. which sold abnormally well, almost all Zelda games sell the same amount of copies.

        • Magnus Eriksson

          Nah, stop trolling mr. Beck. And please stop with your excessive obsession on my mom. Nintendo says so themselves. They realize that it is to much handhelding in Ninty games. But they also stated that they made Wind Waker in a style that could appeal to younger people too.

          • nf_zeta

            the thing is most gamers now tend to have become so accustomed to hand-holding that its actually the ones just before adulthood right now that seem to not be able to deal with it (i.e around 14-18)

            Also Nintendo makes all their games to appeal to everyone, after all most of the storylines in both Metroid and Zelda aren’t really that easily understood by anyone that’s fairly young however between the music and the more simple story bits keeps them included.

          • Magnus Eriksson

            This is what I said.

          • Jacob D. Taylor

            Key word was ‘too’ as in also. Not only

      • Nicolas Dorion

        Magnus Eriksson If you are talking about windwaker that didn’t sell well on the gamecube, it’s certainly not for that reason. It’s mostly because of the art style, nintendo’s reputation at the time and the videogame industry context at that time in general.

        • Nintenjoe82

          Why are people not impressed with the sales of Wind Waker? 4.6M copies on a failed console is pretty good.

      • Clel

        *sells well

        =D

    • Διονύς84

      Hand-holding is at its worst with Mario games too. I hope it stops :(

      • Jacob D. Taylor

        How so? I don’t know of much handholding at all in Mario games. They’re pretty easy to igure out but little luma isn’t hovering over you telling you what to do

  • SonicLucario

    I was In that pc behind Sheik, This was me Im the first Link

    • Ducked

      Why would you wear that?

      • Magnus Eriksson

        Well… you shouldnt speak mr. Duck. The only time you wear pants is in the swimmingpool.

        • Ducked

          Whoa whoa, lets not go there now. You’re the one without a shirt, at least it’s in my nature :)

          • Magnus Eriksson

            Yeah, a love child of you and me would probably become a nudist :)

          • Ducked

            True, but you’re a man, and I’m a duck, and were both male. So that be impossible. Unless we used some future machine not known yet, anyways now I’m grossed out

          • Magnus Eriksson

            You broke my heart there.

    • bizzy gie

      The forward-most Link is the best.

      • SonicLucario

        Yep that was me :)

        • sdmac200600

          I’ve been trying to find tights that fit just like those. Where did you get them?

    • asdfg

      That’s actually pretty nice! Good job :D

      • SonicLucario

        Thank you! :D

    • Chronic Gang

      which nerd are you?

  • Michael DeVore

    Hand-holding destroys Metroidvania style games. The original Legend of Zelda was defiantly a Metroidvania style of game. Telling me when and where to use an ability is like telling me the order I’m supposed to beat the bosses in Mega Man. Sure there is probably an optimal order, but finding that is part of the fun. It’s also fun to figure out how to beat it without the expected abilities, like doing a speed run of Metroid that forces you to skip useful, but not essential power-ups.

  • Simon Stevens

    Lol love the comparison to Ni no kuni, that game was a masterpiece but point taken, Drippy was annoying as hell >.> he just kept popping out with his annoying Welsh accent to explain things I was already aware of, surprised Oliver didn’t slap him silly like he was Roger from American dad with that mean kid :D that would have been a laugh.

  • Ducked

    Aonuma answered a fan regarding a Majoras Mask title for Wii U. Saying play A Link Between Worlds and you might find out! Hope this is true!

    http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/10/12/nycc-nintendo-producer-teases-a-majoras-mask-connection-in-zelda-3ds

  • pandaman27

    I’m not usually too critical, and I DID enjoy the game, but…

    ~Link walks into room~

    Fi: Link, see that button over there? Push it.

    ~Link pushes it, revealing a crate~

    Fi: Link! Push that crate over onto that button.

    ~Link pushes crate onto other button, opening exit door. Link leaves~

    /entirety of skyward sword

    • Magnus Eriksson

      Yes, Fi is even worse than Navi. She destroyed to much of the game (well, still a great game). I wonder why Nintendo never made it possible to turn on and off the hints. Would have made the game way better for us who likes a bit challenge.

      • JB

        Ha I was typing pretty much the exact same thing. You beat me to it. Lol

    • JB

      Yea, pretty much spot on. At the very least, they should give you the option to turn off the “hand holding” mode.

  • Javy G

    With comments made by Nintendo about Japan not liking a difficult game and the US prefering a challenge… I expect the next Zelda game to be on Super Ultra Catastrophic Hero Mode!

  • Keyser

    I’m very happy to hear this. I liked the original zelda games for their difficulty and freedom but feel the later ones were held back by excessive hints and hand holding, with Skyward Sword probably being the worst. I especially hated the fact that the in game controls were displayed on the screen for the entire game, like I’m going to forget how to dash or use an item…seriously? Please give me a challenge! Even something like Master Quest or Hero Mode would greatly be appreciated. And no hints! :)

    • C4

      “I especially hated the fact that the in game controls were displayed on
      the screen for the entire game, like I’m going to forget how to dash or
      use an item…seriously? ”

      That’s because Nintendo don’t like options. So you mostly can’t configure controls and on screen displays even if it makes sense in some games.

      As an option which can be deactivated those things makes sense IMHO.

    • Joey

      game controls were displayed on the screen for the entire game
      It can be turned off only simple controls is displayed.

  • majora :D

    Personally, I hope the next Zelda beats Dark Souls in terms of challenge

    • SmashFinale

      Sadism is not the Zelda style…

      • Andrew Chambers

        Dark souls isn’t THAT hard.

  • classicgamer20

    He just summed up what gaming is now a days in one sentence

  • Stoenk

    The 2D games never had hand-holding so Link between worlds wouldn’t have had it anyway

  • Zuxs13

    Yay!!

  • kid robo

    A Link to the Past, straight into the thick of the action and storyline, perfect start.

  • Is_Mort

    Zelda: Narrates every thing you should do next every 2 minutes. More trend towards 5-12 year old player.

    • Dylan Clark

      because it is a game for KIDS not grown adults. if theyre market is children they need to make the games easy for children

      • 00EpicGamer00

        In my personal opinion, I think the Zelda series should be rated T instead of E (with the exception of Twilight Princess, since it was rated T.) There’s so many things in Zelda games that can be a bit much for little children.
        Like Ocarina of Time. Wasn’t there a boss in that game that was a zombie covered in blood? There’s also decapitations you can do throughout the series. And the story of most Zelda games are probably too much for most kids to understand.

        It just really seems like a franchise like Zelda is more for teenagers and adults, rather than children….besides Skyward Sword.

        • Dylan Clark

          nah its for kids.

  • SleepySkullhead

    While I agree with this completely, my friend can’t seem to figure out Zelda games at all, with the exception of Skyward Sword. Coincidence? I dunno. With that in mind, it seems some sort of hand-holding is necessary for new players who aren’t used to Zelda puzzles.

  • Kevin Malone

    Yes, this is the feeling I got with Skyward Sword. I believe Mega Man X would be an example of the opposite, as in a game that does more to make the process of learning the controls and expectations intuitive, showing by example during “full” game play rather than in a “dumbed down” tutorial session and with many mini tutorials within “full” game play.

  • aldo2410

    I hope that it means the next zelda will be the most challenging in the series

  • FredMirotic

    The Legend of Zelda + Dark Souls = The best game I could think of.

  • Ben Ifits

    Honestly I think the fact that wii u has miiverse it makes perfect sense to not put hand holding in any game. Every time I’ve asked for help I always get a hint or solution from someone :)

    • FoxMulder900

      I’m hoping Nintendo realizes this, especially since you can tag your posts as a question!

  • Nicolas Dorion

    FI: master you are on your last heart even thought you can clearly see it by yourself, you can hear the fucking annoying beep beep that warns you that you are on your last heart and you can see a special animation on the player model. I suggest you try to find some hearts because if I didn’t told you you obviously wouldn’t have figured it out and you would have recommended all your friends not to buy the game.

    yes nintendo, that’s EXACTLY how a player would think

  • Ryan House

    Yahoo he noticed, I couldn’t stand how Skyword Sword would always tell you what item you picked up even if you picked up 100 of them

    • Rinslowe

      I thought it was worse in ME3 as it took arguably longer for the items to scroll through. So having to wait before initiating a conversation or something important became a little tedious at times. Mostly though, I thought Skyrim was masterclass in RPG greatness…

      • Ryan House

        What does ME3 Stand For? I’ve been playing The Legendary Skyrim. I’m really enjoying it.

        • Rinslowe

          Mass Effect 3… ;)

          Skyrim is masterclass in modern RPG’s, IMO

  • bizzy gie

    hhh

  • Paul Wright

    Dream team had really bad hand holding

  • Rinslowe

    Anouma a legend in the making… Miyamoto has chosen wisely.
    ;P

  • Sdudyoy

    I kinda wished He knew this before Skyward sword, it wasn’t a bad game just not the best Zelda game.

  • Ziggy

    fishing in twilight princess with the wii remote anyone?

    • Seth S. Scott

      ftw

  • Geoffrey Tasker

    how much was a red rupee again fi? my brain dumps information after being told for the 50th time…

  • Jared Garcia

    Fi was fine when I started because I sucked at the shield parry, but when I’m fighting Demise I know my health is low. If there was an update to shut her up about that, it would’ve been the greatest update ever.

  • Seth S. Scott

    Ni No Kuni was SO BAD with hand holding. But in terms of Zelda, Skyward definitely became my favorite for alot of reasons, and I did like Fi alot but she ruined a handful of puzzles for me because she told me what do to, RIGHT AWAY.

  • Jacob D. Taylor

    OH Pleas oh please oh please! Skyward sword’s handholding made me stop playing. I couldn’t stand it any more. Fi was insatiably annoying. These games need to return to the Water Temple days in Legend of Zelda OoT Master Quest. Let me hate myself for a minute. Maybe even just 30 seconds before you make it ever so clear what I have to do.

  • Jacob D. Taylor

    At this point in time I DO NOT need a little blue fairy sword dwelling entity to tell me a wall with cracks in can be blown up nor once I’ve blown it up to tell me it is now blown up

  • Arthur Jarret

    Finally he realizes… STOP SPELLING OUT PUZZLE SOLUTIONS IN ZELDA! It’s been happening ever since ocarina. A puzzle room is presented and then the camera dramatically zooms to each part I need to do in the order I need to do it in.

    Also: bosses don’t need obvious hit points – gamers like trial and error to find the weak spots ourselves.

  • Jacob D. Taylor

    Skysward Sword was the most pitiful example of handholding I personally have experienced… Fi ruined it for me. I stopped playing for months.