Team behind 3DS title disbanded during prototype phase to work on next-gen

How the Wii U launch nearly derailed development of A Link Between Worlds

The launch of the Wii U nearly derailed the development of 3DS title The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, according to the lead developers behind the game.

Speaking during an Iwata Asks session, developers Eiji Aonuma, Hiromasa Shikata, Shiro Mouri and Satoru Iwata discussed the title’s problematic early development due to stretched resources at Nintendo.

Aonuma said the studio had a prototype ready and the team was prepared to enter full development on the title, only for staff to get called onto Wii U projects during October 2010.

Two years before Nintendo’s next-gen console was set to be released, Aonuma said Nintendo “absolutely needed more people to work on the Wii U launch titles”.

This resulted in A Link Between Worlds losing its core members. Aonuma revealed “basically, the team disbanded”.

Game director Shikata said he was unsure whether the project would be started up again.

“So at the time I lost hope. I had hardly ever heard of a project starting, disbanding, and then starting up again later.”

As the project was put on hold, Aonuma moved to develop Skyward Sword, while Shikata developed Nintendo Land and Mouri went to work on New Super Mario Bros U.

After development on Skyward Sword finished in 2011, Aonuma said he picked up worked on a Link Between Worlds again, but without the core development team behind the game.

“Development of Skyward Sword ended two years ago in 2011 and I started thinking about the next project. Since the idea of entering walls had come up, I sensed the possibility of making a new kind of Zelda game from that and thought I should do something about it,” he said.

“I wanted development to make even a little progress, so while they were gone, I resumed work on it.”

He added: “If I hadn’t, and we’d begun after they got back, we’d never have been able to bring it out by the end of 2013.”

“I brought in a programmer who would carry on Mouri-san’s intentions, and had Tominaga-san join who carried over for Shikata-san. They kept on making the game until the two directors came back.”

By the end of 2012, the project was said to have people “flooding in” to assist with development. Aonuma said by the time work on the game was in full swing, “an incredible number of people” were put on the title.

The Legend of Zelda: A link Between Worlds, is set to be released on the 3DS this Friday. The title currently has an average Metacritic rating of 91.

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