The lights are on
A little over a month ago, I had an amazing opportunity to speak to Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma and Nintendo sound group manager Koji Kondo mere days after finishing playing and writing my review for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. I asked a bunch of questions that you'll be able to read about in the January issue of Game Informer, but I wanted to share a couple of the most interesting responses I received right now.
With the clarification that I'm not the type of person who strongly believes Zelda games need voice acting, Skyward Sword was the first in the series where I was struck with the thought that voice acting could have added to some of the characters and deeper emotional moments. Traditionally Nintendo has shied away from even entertaining the thought of voice acting in Zelda, but given the changes to the formula in this latest entry and the shift to HD on the Wii U, I asked Kondo and Aonuma if they felt like there's a place for voice acting in the series' future.
Kondo responded first with the fairly common answer as to why Nintendo has avoided adding voice acting to Zelda games up to this point:
"The most important thing about the Zelda series is that the player becomes Link. One of the challenges with full voice is that if we’re trying to convey the player’s emotion through Link, but you hear Link talking in somebody else’s voice, that creates a disconnect between you and the role that you’re taking on."
Aonuma jumped in at this point and clarified, "...if you create a game where everybody else in the game speaks but Link doesn’t, it emphasizes the fact that he is silent and draws even more attention to it." Interestingly, though, Aonuma was not completely opposed to the possibility of voice acting snaking its way into the series:
"Of course, this was the first time we went with fully orchestrated songs in the game, and we’ve seen what that can do to help bring the world alive and make the game that much more fun. We’re continually looking at ways that we can evolve the series. We’re not confident that we can find the right balance with full voice, so we’ll see."
Aonuma also joked, "Everyone would be speaking Hylian, so even if you heard them speak, you wouldn’t understand them."
At the end of the interview, I asked Aonuma to provide his general vision for the future of the Zelda series moving forward from Skyward Sword. His answer surprised me:
"I started working on the series not at the beginning but part-way through its history. I think because of that, early on I was more looking objectively at the series and how we could change small, individual elements within it, rather than looking at how the series should evolve. As time has passed – particularly in the last few years – I’ve started to think a lot more about how I can take the series and really make it my own Zelda and evolve it further. As Mr. Miyamoto has allowed me to take the reins on the Zelda series, ultimately that’s what I need to do. Perhaps some people will think it’s a little bit late for me to start thinking about that, but as time goes by, that’s becoming more of a theme in how I’m approaching the series."
I certainly know some gamers who would call it a little late, but it's exciting to see Aonuma and crew continuing to look more seriously at how to bring bigger changes to new games in the Zelda franchise. Let's hope that they can deliver as greatly as they did with Skyward Sword.
For my full Afterwords interview with Eiji Aonuma and Koji Kondo, be sure to check out the January issue of Game Informer in the coming weeks.
I hope it does not get full VA. It would be odd after all this time.
I can live without it. I also see what he is talking about since i do connect with link in a way. Zelda is one of the best series in my book.
Hmm, I see where he is coming from. I always imagined Link's voice in my head. No biggie.
So is that why Fi talks like that?
I'm honestly not sure how I feel about voice acting one way or the other. I think if they were to want to try it, they should put out example videos so people can see what it would be like before they made the final decision.
However, I've always found the little noises that Zelda characters make when they talk to be part of the games charm.
Also, props to Nintendo for making the cutest Zelda and Link couple yet in Skyward Sword. The whole beginning of the game between them is just priceless.
How about, more side quests. Thats all, just lots and lots of side quests lol. Mini games, I mean, I love stuff where I can go and make a name for myself in the Zelda world.
Settings fish size records, beating the yetis in the snow races, just overall doing the Link Thing and being the best.
As far as Link being a puppet.. I guess...
But I mean, him always being a sleepy head. Its supposed to symbolize an awakening literally and metaphorically, as you step into character and you become him and then you accept this quest as you live out this legend. While Link is a total bad***, in truth, Nintendo is making you a bad*** and thats why they went with Motion+, not only cause its fun, cause you have more control over link. Love skyward sword, OCD'ing in Hero Mode.
I agree completely with the no voice acting, especially in handhelds. I hate it when handhelds have voice acting/no subtitles without you knowing it when you're playing it late at night and don't want your parents to catch you and don't have earbuds handy (couchcoughtheendofTWEWYcoughcough). Also, I am all for big changes, as long as what makes Zelda Zelda is still present.
Not sure if I want Link to speak. I like him as a cold hard kil...hero, I was clearly going to say hero.
I wouldn't mind Link having a voice...only as long as it were nothing like the cartoon from the 80's. "Excuuuse me Princess"! If I hear that one more time I think I'm going to hit someone with a boomerang! But after the end of the day of questing in my favorite game franchise, I would prefer Link to not speak. Keep him the way he is! And I must admit the new Zelda has grown on me quite a bit. I love how she and Link interact in the game so far. Now I must go and rescue her like a responsible hero should!
The general agreement among all gamers is at the most Link should never get a voice. Zelda, maybe. Ganondorf, easy to find a voice, but Link. Man finding a voice for that guy that fits is next to impossible. I like the voice acting in SS, it's not full voice acting which works because it allows you to get a general feel for how the character is supposed to sound like without giving them a definitive voice. Groose sounds like an idiot with his and his text supports that 100%. And I like how my mind is making him sound with his grunts as a muse. However Link I can't really get a good voice for in my head and I really don't want too.
So no voice acting for Link. Everyone else go for it.
I say no voice acting at all. I will stick with the comical grunts and heys. Voices would just ruin it.
I really hope Zelda games don't incorporate much voice acting in the future; the lack thereof is one of the charms of the series. Besides, if you don't want to read text boxes, then you shouldn't be playing a Zelda game.