If you weren’t immediately sold on the art style in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, don’t feel too bad. A new ‘DidYouKnowGaming’ translation of a Nintendo Dream magazine from the mid-2000s reveals how Mario’s creator Shigeru Miyamoto wasn’t a fan of Toon Link or the rest of Wind Waker’s cel-shaded and anime-like aesthetics.
According to Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma – who was at the time the director on Wind Waker, Miyamoto struggled to move away from the idea of a realistic art style, right up until the end of the game’s development cycle. And when he first saw Link in Wind Waker, he apparently “cringed”, claiming it wouldn’t sell.
Here’s Aonuma’s side of the story – revealing how the team had to hide the whole thing from Miyamoto in order to get the project off the ground:
Aonuma: “If I had gone and talked to him from the very beginning, I think he would’ve said ‘How is that Zelda?’…Miyamoto had trouble letting go of the realistic Link art style until the very end.
“At some point, he [Miyamoto] had to give a presentation against his will. That’s when he said something [to me] like ‘You know, it’s not too late to change course and make a realistic Zelda.”
Miyamoto wasn’t really happy with the outcome but was left with no option but to accept this new look due to the time constraints and the fact the team would have supposedly taken “10 years” to make a realistic-looking Zelda game.
The more realistic “next-generation” take on the series during the GameCube’s life ended up being Twilight Princess, which was also released on the Wii as a launch title. Before this game and Wind Waker though, the earliest memories of Zelda on GameCube can be linked back to the famous Space World tech demo from the year 2000.
It’s also noted in the same video (below), how Nintendo’s initial plan for The Legend of Zelda series on GameCube was to simply improve the graphics in Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask – leading to a prototype (with the same visual style as these games).
Ultimately, Toon Link was born, and although Miyamoto wasn’t initially a fan of him – the rest of the team loved the new look, which took inspiration from the anime “they watched as kids”, especially the 1971 movie Animal Treasure Island.
What are your own thoughts about Wind Waker’s art style? Are you a fan of it? Tell us below.