In 2002, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker launched on the Nintendo GameCube and is now considered a beloved entry in the franchise. That being said, fans didn’t feel that way at the time, as the art style was believed to be a massive departure from the “realistic” design of the previous two installments. Following a recent episode of DidYouKnowGaming, it looks like Nintendo mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto felt the same way, as he supposedly “cringed” at the change in direction.
During the video, DidYouKnowGaming provides us with a translated interview with Zelda boss, Eiji Aonuma, who has been working on the series since The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and has gone on to direct or produce most of the entries in the franchise. Prior to the cell-shaded visual style, Nintendo developed a prototype demo for a “realistic” Zelda game, but a developer on the team came up with the idea of Toon Link – a concept that everyone seemed to love.
According to Aonuma, despite his love for the idea, he was originally hesitant to share it with Miyamoto. It turns out that his concerns were warranted, as he shared this quote during an interview,:
“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 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.”Eiji Aonuma, Director and Producer of the Zelda series
At the time, Shigeru Miyamoto thought that a realistic Zelda game would take more than a decade to make, so he eventually allowed development of the Wind Waker to continue. Unfortunately, the low sales of the game resulted in a direct sequel being abandoned in favor of Twilight Princess, though Toon Link would eventually receive some love on the Nintendo DS with Phantom Hourglass and its sequel, Spirit Tracks.