Oct 17th, 2013


In a recent interview with ShackNews, Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma has revealed a bit more about why the series hasn’t been annualized like some of the most popular Western franchises. In fact, Majora’s Mask was intended to be released one year after Ocarina of Time, in a time table given by Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto. He wanted to see Aonuma create a sequel to Ocarina of Time in just one year.

According to Aonuma, Nintendo believed at that time than an annualization of the series would be possible, thanks to Ocarina of Time being in 3D and the models being able to be reused, versus having to draw all new sprites, as Zelda games were 2D before the release of OoT. Despite the time table set up by Miyamoto, Majora’s Mask launched two years after Ocarina of Time and then Wind Waker 2 years behind it.

Since then, Zelda titles have slowed down. There was four years between Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, and five years between Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. Aonuma says the reason for this is to maintain quality.

“I don’t think it’s necessary that development needs to be longer. But to reach a certain level of quality, there’s just a certain amount of time that’s needed. Obviously, the company is telling me that I need to put games out as quickly as possible.”

If you’re interested in reading the rest of the interview with Eiji Aonuma, you can do so here. What do you think of longer release cycles versus annualization? Let us know in the comments below.

local_offer    Eiji Aonuma  Legend of Zelda  Nintendo  wii u  
  • starwars360

    Excite about new Zelda game for Wii U by next year details info!!!

    • Shota

      7-8 months then E3!

      • starwars360

        Yes!!! 8)

  • starwars360

    Got Sonic: Lost World for Wii U today. Start play it right sooner!!! Exciting!!!

    • It doesn’t release till 10/27/2013. How is that possible?

      • Wayne Beck

        Early release in EU?

        • starwars360

          Got game today. Yes it is UK and Europe release tomorrow so I got game day early if you preorder game. It is from shopto.net. You alway get games day before release or even 2 days before release either. Sometime you get games on day of releases either too.

          I completed 3 levels in Sonic: Lost World. I can saying game is amazing. Beautiful graphics, gameplay is fantastic. At moment I couldn’t access online in Sonic: Lost World because Sonic: Lost World’s Miiverse isn’t up yet. It is launch tomorrow. So I will have complete first 3 levels again to get register for time beat, save items into online for up to 48 hours before became discard. You can save items upto 5 but not more then but online in Miiverse. think you can save more items to put into online via Miiverse for 48 hours or just use one or more in level.

          I love this game so much. Been playing over hour now. I did also replay level 1 lots to collect miss of collectibles.

          • Wayne Beck

            Jealous, this is the game I’m most excited for this season, but I have to wait for NA release. Glad to here your enjoying though. Always a good sign.

          • starwars360

            Yeah it is amazing game. Also it got Mission achievements that require you to get whatever Mission achievements ask you for example kick enemy onto other enemy, find 3 1-Up Lives in one level etc… So I got 6 achievements unlocked. Plenty of Mission achievements. Mission Achievements is in-game and you can check what you need to complete from pause menu or in World Hub in gamepad.:)

    • Lil J Moore

      What? How? I thought it doesn’t release until the 29th.

    • Sonic the Hedgehog

      You didn’t get a leaked copy of my game, did you?

      • starwars360

        Hahaha. Nah. hate leaked or fake copy game disc. I preordered game from shopto.net. You get game early this why.

        I must say game is amazing. 😛

  • Fred

    I don’t want it annualized. I’d rather a quality game every 3-4 years than a decent game every year.

    • Michael DeVore

      As much as I agree they could use some expansions to fill in that gap a little. Five years between Twilight and Skyward Sword was a bit much.

      • Wayne Beck

        Five years was a bit much.

        Would be kind of cool if they could do a secondary storyline as DLC. Like shoving Majora’s Mask into Ocarina of Time instead of making it the next game in the same world.

        Nintendo quality DLC though. Not five pieces of two hours of gameplay for eight bucks a pop..

        • Magnus Eriksson

          They would never do that. If they make a new game like MM they will not release it as a DLC but take full retail price. Even if it took them 18 months instead of 3-4 years. And that is actually understandable.

          • Yousif Alromaithi

            I hundred percent agree.

          • Fred

            Isn’t that what they did with Super Luigi U?

          • Magnus Eriksson

            different story bro. They make much more money relatively speaking for NSMB games than Zelda. And its much easier to make a DLC for them.

          • Fred

            Thanks for bringing that up. Those are 2 legitimate points

          • Michael DeVore

            You’re right, but I disagree. They’d release it for retail at full stand alone price, and as DLC for a slightly reduced price. Like they did with Luigi U. They just couldn’t do it before now.

          • Magnus Eriksson

            Not with a game ike Majoras Mask for example. Maybe one extra dungeon or something like that. But a DLC for a new game is unrealistic.

          • Michael DeVore

            I’m sorry that modern marketing has been so effective in convincing you that is an acceptable business practice. Clearly you haven’t played Luigi U ether because it is all 80 levels redone with the exception of the boss fights. With your logic Nintendo should have sold it as an additional world 9 and 10. Instead we got an entirely new game reusing all the prior games graphics.

          • Magnus Eriksson

            Ehm… its about 1/3 of the game. Time is shorter and everything is reused. Theres nothing new.

          • Wayne Beck

            Are you serious? That is what you took from what I wrote? Seriously? Let me break it down in to even simpler words for you.

            The Ocarina of Time is a Zelda Game.
            It has a World.
            Majora’s Mask is a Zelda Game.
            It has the same World.
            These games have already been made.

            Theoretical Zelda Wii U Game is made.
            It has a world.
            Theoretical Zelda DLC Full Storyline that is dramatically different from the Original Storyline is made.
            It has the same World.
            This game has not been made yet.

          • Magnus Eriksson

            Im serious. But did you understand what I wrote?

      • Magnus Eriksson

        The reason for that was problems with the control system in Skyward Sword. And they never fixed it properly either, thats why you need to recalibrate the control a lot. Lucky they did that an easy thing though.

    • Daniel Carvalho

      Agreed! I still play Twilight Princess and Wind Waker, even Ocarina of Time without getting tired of them, just because of the quality of those titles. If they were released year after year, the quality would surely drop, and the series wouldn’t be near as good as it is now.

      If other companies launched their annual games with a space of 2 years, at least, I bet they could make even more profit on the long run!

      • Mc Robins

        Meh CoD technically launches every other year with the studio split.

    • gtosheex

      But think of the possibilities if Zelda WERE annualized – we could get turrets, helicopters, and most importantly KILLER DOGS!

  • ItzameyaToad

    I prefer longer release cycles over annualization. I prefer to have to wait longer between each one, it allows Nintendo to make the best possible Zelda game and also give people something to look forward to.

  • Marcus Navarro

    *sigh* The fact that he had to explain why Zelda wouldn’t see annual releases is a bad sign. Gamers are spoiled. They’d rather a game NOW and get screwed out of extra cash than get the complete experience later.

    *que dead horse beating*

    Look no further than EA for the steady decline in quality in a good number of its major titles. You can actually SUE EA if you purchased Madden new, make a case that it did not offer the experience as promised, and GET YOUR FULL INVESTMENT BACK! Sweet Jeebus, just the fact alone that you can actually do that is a bad sign.

    • Magnus Eriksson

      I think this proves that lazy Anouma is back on the bottle. These Nintendo guys should pull it together, get their heads out of the barrels and make their jobs instead of inventing excuses not to do it.

      • Christopher Acuna


        • Magnus Eriksson

          Why dont you want them to do their jobs, troll?

      • harelsen

        they are all in the same ship, if they do not do their jobs then they and their possy is out of work…

      • harelsen

        and secondly, i want them to have fun creating the game! 🙂

  • CMB

    Good, they don’t Milk it like call of duty

    • gamesplayswill

      Because we REALLY want a dog to fight along with.

      • SmashFinale

        Uhh… Don’t yell or anything but…
        Twilight Princess?

        • gamesplayswill

          Hahahaha, that is a big exception my friend.

        • harelsen

          but we are the dog (wolf)… comletllllltttttyyyyy diferentio :p

    • Magnus Eriksson

      True! Hardly no games in the series.
      Only: Zelda, Zelda II, Zelda a Link to the Past, Zelda (Game & Watch), The Legend of Zelda (game watch), Zelda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce, Zelda Links awakening, Link: The Faces of Evil, Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, Zelda’s Adventure. Zelda Ocarina of Time, Zelda Majoras Mask, Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons, Four Swords, Wind Waker, Four
      Swords Adventure,The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets, the
      Minish cap, Freshly picked Tingles Rosy Rupeeland, Tingles
      Balloon Fight, Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks, Tingles Twilight
      Princess, Links Crossbow Training, Skyward Sword.

      Annual releases on an average.

      • Lil J Moore

        Release years?

        • Magnus Eriksson

          One game a year on average. Milked product? Yes it is.

          • ZeldaFan86

            How is Zelda a milked product?

      • harelsen

        i do have to say that zelda cd-i games do not count. because those games were made without nintendo having a say in it.

        nintendo only gave them permission, but they did not get to supervise those games.

        • Magnus Eriksson

          I agree that its not part of the canon or timeline, but its still from the same franchise. It was a comment about milking products, and they are perfect examples of that.

  • Ace

    Thank you for NOT annualizing the series! Quality is what we would rather have.

  • Zuxs13

    I don’t see why he felt the need to explain this, it’s pretty self explanatory. No one wants a CoD Zelda game.

    • Yen

      Well, no one wants them to milk the series like they do CoD, but I don’t think I’d mind a more modern setting where Link shoots Ganondorf with a gun…

      • Lil J Moore


      • Wayne Beck


      • Daniel Carvalho

        I would mind. There is a reason why Zelda is set on a medieval scenery without guns: because they work differently from what the series purposes! If you put a gun and ammunition for that on a Zelda game, why would you put a Clawshot or Bow and Arrow? you’d take away the magics to use modern tools, take away the necessity of the Master Sword for combat, if you can just Shotgun your enemies.

        People love Zelda games because they’re different from that modern settings you see everywhere. I don’t believe a nice Zelda game could come of if guns and other modern settings were used!

        • Christopher Acuna

          A blunderbuss would be nice though. Just sayin 🙂

        • Yen

          I see what you’re saying. I just think it’d be interesting seeing a modern/future version of the Zelda story. There are plenty of older themed games that still had essentially steampunk modern weapons.

          • LadyCricket

            Idea: a zelda game set maybe 100 years after Spirit Tracks, with a Gaslight Fantasy level of technology (you seen Howl’s Moving Castle? Kinda like that). So the people of New Hyrule have learned to make iron railroad tracks and are no longer limited to the range of the Spirit Tracks. They’re experimenting with other forms of early steam machinery, and high-class homes have gas lamps. Heck, maybe Link could be a student at a boarding school, as a nod to the Knight Academy in Skyloft.

            …I just remembered that “Legend of Zelda: Clockwork Empire” thing that was on Wiiudaily. So I’m not the only one who would want this! 😀

            I’m torn about the idea of an early-industrial Zelda. It would be so wonderful to get right but so very, very easy to get wrong.

        • harelsen

          but then one could create a new franchise 🙂 instead of using an old one.

          jak and daxter anyone? 😛

          • Daniel Carvalho

            Then that wouldn’t be Zelda anymore ‘-‘

      • Zuxs13

        So what is he going to wield? the “MASTER M-16”!

        • The Golden Gun borrowed from James Bond GoldenEye

      • Link with a Gun? Um no..

      • harelsen

        it is up to the creators to do what they want with the series… but i think we the fans and the nintendo team, hold the zelda franchise as something deer to us… and would not sell out after almost 30 years of a beloved franchise like The Legend Of Zelda 😛

    • Magnus Eriksson

      I think comments like this is a bit scary: “It’s not like we feel like we have a duty to get one out a year,”
      Aonuma said. “Right now, we’re able to split ourselves between the
      handheld and console games and have two teams. I think we’re pretty
      efficient in getting games out on a regular interval.”

      To me it sounds like downpriority of something that need some steam. Bad decision. Should be making games to the console that lack games… But I guess they gave up on the Wii U.

      • Yen

        I think you read too much into it. Wii U has games, just not enough variety to appeal to everyone. I don’t think they should rush a new Zelda game, sacrificing quality, just to give the Wii U another game. Besides, they gave us Windwaker HD, it’s better than nothing.

        • Magnus Eriksson

          No, but it is stupid to split up the Zelda team in three when Wii U desperately needs this game. They should have aimed for a 2013 release instead of killing the Wii U.

          three teams: windwaker team, 3ds team and wii u team.

          • Yen

            Eh I don’t think they’re killing the Wii U, but I agree with you that they probably could have reorganized it so that the Wii U Zelda could’ve came out at least early 2014.

          • Magnus Eriksson

            I think they are. 1 year and still basically no games. They are not committed to it the way they should.

  • Lil J Moore

    I thank you for doing this. Yearly releases ruin a series big time. That’s just my opinion.

    • harelsen

      if they truly wish to do so, then by all means do so 🙂

  • lozman1122

    Quality over quantity any day. On a similar note, a lot of people have been wanting a zelda game where you play as Zelda. At first, I wasn’t interested. But I have an idea that I think could work that I wanted to share: this game would take place after OoT but before WW in that timeline. I just finished WWHD, and in the beginning it mentions a time after OoT where Ganon reappeared but the hero didn’t appear. THIS is where the game takes place. You play as zelda, in an era without the hero, and try to seal ganon. The end of the game would have Hyrule being sealed and flooded with zelda escaping to the world above. I call it, The Legend of Zelda: Eternal Slumber. Thoughts?

    • Magnus Eriksson

      Most of the games in the franchise is not good games. But the best ones are amazingly good.

      • harelsen

        i am a huge zelda fan and i have to admit i didn’t really enjoy zelda 2: the adventure of link…

        • ZeldaFan86

          That one was horrible. I really want a new Zelda game, but Wind Waker HD will keep me busy for now.

  • Jack5221

    If we got a new Zelda game every year, then it would get boring and repetitive like COD. Would hate to see an amazing series turn out like COD. If they want to deliver more Zelda games then I’d be okay with more HD remakes. 🙂

    • The True Gamer

      Nintendo started to release Mario games constantly, and the quality on those games dropped tremendously.

      • Jack5221

        Like? There is one Mario Kart, & 2D/3D Mario Game per console. (Galaxy is the exception). ALL of them are great. Some better than others, but not one of them is bad.

        • The True Gamer

          I hated 3d land and nsmb2. I didn’t mean Mario kart. I was just dissapointed by the 3DS entries, but I expect 3D world to be MUCH better considering its a console game.

      • harelsen

        i don’t think so 😛

      • In your opinion. Many still find the Mario Platformer games (Both 2D and 3D) very fun and challenging. Their latest upcoming release is getting high praise for it’s innovation in game play and game mechanics.

        • The True Gamer

          I thought super Mario 3D land and new super Mario bros, 2 were too easy. 3D land was innovative, but it was made to appeal to gamers who enjoy smaller games to pick up and play. I thought new super Mario bros 2 was terrible. It took away the great features from NSMBWii and was way too easy. Galaxy and galaxy 2 and the other 2d games were incredible, and the 3DS installments were….ok. Not anything I expect from Nintendo. Maybe I just didn’t like Nintendo’s portable game strategy this gen.

  • Guest

    But think of the possibilities if Zelda WERE annualized – we could get turrets, helicopters, and most importantly KILLER DOGS!

    • Super Buu

      Does Wolf Link count as a killer dog?

    • They would include the smart fish that get out of your way when you swim toward them if it wasn’t already done in Super Mario 64 on the N64.

  • darkcreap

    I pray they never, ever annualize it. Actually, I think they are overusing their other big franchise: Mario. I pray they stop with 2D and 3D Marios for a couple of years. With New Super Mario Bros Wii, 2 and U plus 3D land and 3D world it is too many marios in a short span of time.

    Annualisation brings a creativity draught. There is a limit to how many ideas you can have in a short span of time. It is better to release a game every 2-4 years with fresh ideas. The good thing about Zelda is precisely that they often take that time to release a game, so they offer completely different experiences. Thanks to that we have around 17 different zelda games in the span of 27 years.

    It is probably one of the franchises in the videogame world with the longest lifespan. And I hope it lives much more. Of course, always doing fresh things.

    EDIT: Minor spelling mistakes. I add: around 17 different Zelda games. I mean, not counting remakes.

  • Brandon Gardner

    As much as I agree and don’t want a zelda game every year…. I think the gap between Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword was a little bit too long maybe a zelda game every 2-3 years but half a decade is pushing is it

    • Earthworm Jim

      Don’t forget, if you include the handheld releases, we’re not really waiting all that long for new Zelda content.

      • My thoughts exactly.. They seem to alternate with that. One Console then a handheld one within a couple years.

        • harelsen

          but sometimes they get a little help, like minish cap was (also) made by capcom.

    • harelsen

      actually, skyward sword was held back to be released for the legend of zelda 25 anniversary.

  • Elitepwnsface

    Zelda would loose its luster if it was released annually. I am so tired of assassins creed its not funny. COD is another story of go the F away i wont say anything else.

  • Felix De Jesus Gonzalez R.

    I can not imagine ocarina of time 3d adapted to Wii U. … would be amazing.

    But really should be 2-3 years this type of game

  • Niknique

    5 years is a bit too long in my opinion. But around 3 years I think is good enough for a high quality game.

  • Ty J Sides

    Zelda is such a Prestigious franchise that it would ruin them to become annual. also making a game annual does not always downgrade the quality of the game (except for Madden) when you have more then one studio working on the game (Infinity ward and Treyarch) because they have 2 1/2 years each to make the game. Same thing with Assassin’s Creed, multiple studios, amazing games, and I know most people now hate the AC franchise for being annual and nobody like connor bla bla bla, they are just trying to make money and hey, it’s working

    P.S. Thank you Ubisoft for taking more time to finish Watchdogs

  • Green

    Sometimes I feel many companies try to push a big title every year, and ultimately the games start to become suckier and suckier, so I’m glad we get to wait 3-4 years because this way the overall quality of the game improves :D.

  • If they did not only would the quality go down due to less development time to get good storylines and new ideas but the game would become overdone. We would not want all games to become yearly installments like Guitar Hero, CoD and many others that often end up killing the series.

    Not to mention Nintendo seems to alternate between giving gamers a console version and a hand held version. They stagger the releases most times to give everyone their Zelda fix. I think no less than 3 years in between games to keep the name fresh is more than acceptable.

  • Denvy

    Did he really even have to explain that? It’s common sense and a dumb question to be asking him to begin with.

  • Jacob D. Taylor

    This doesn’t include the release of off-shoot Zelda games and handhelds, which for me tides me over fine! After Windwaker we had Phantom Hourglass Spirit Tracks and Four Swords Adventures. Fine by me. Then OoT 3d which held me over for a bit as well as AlbW coming out next month. I am glad however it’s not an annual release. I mean holy hell, I can’t STAND it when CoD boys scream about how stupid Zelda is and how they need to drop it when Call of Duty released 6+ games on the 360 alone! I mean… what the hell are you complaining about!?!?

  • Adam Porter

    i’m not sure the quality would go down, but i don’t think it would feel as special if it were released every year, 3-4 years is absolutely fine by me, though i think what’s more important is that nintendo have a zelda experience on each console no more than 18 months after release, it’s killing me waiting to see zelda in HD.

  • No, just No to annual releases. Just give it a longer cycle as now. No new Zelda, Metroid and other franshise on yearly release base. Please No.

  • iamserious

    Sounds like the next zelda game is going to have a similar art style to wind waker and not the tech demo we all got excited about which would be a huge let down imo. :-/

    • Pikachief

      It’s never like the tech demo. And he has said multiple times that it wont be like the tech demo already. He also said in a recent interview that they aren’t going for a “toon” artstyle for Zelda U.

  • Madmagican

    If Nintendo could pump out a new Zelda every 3-3.5 years or so I think that’d be optimal

  • steve

    with annual releases we obviously think of call of duty but cod is doing something very right, wich i think could be applied to zelda to give 1 every two years. and thats to have 2 teams work on zelda simutaniously with a game release 2 years ahead of the other, that means 4 years time for each team. and i always felt that wind waker skyward and majoras fell into a type of zelda while twilight ocarina esc, fell into their own class. so every other game be similer.

  • ZeldaFanzzzz

    Eiji Aonuma, THE LEGENDARY PRODUCER!!!!!

  • greengecko007

    I guess I’m the only Zelda fan that realizes Zelda WAS annual for quite a while.

    Oracle of Seasons/Ages – Gameboy – 2001
    A Link to the Past Remake – GBA – 2002
    Wind Waker – Gamecube – 2003
    Four Swords Adventures – Gamecube – 2004
    The Minish Cap – GBA – 2005
    Twilight Princess – Gamecube/Wii – 2006
    Phantom Hourglass – DS – 2007

    Just because not every single one of these Zelda games got critical acclaim and are fan favorites doesn’t mean that they weren’t released annually.

    • kaygivs

      ok ok but the wait from spirit tracks to skyward sword was unbearable!

  • Entropyguy

    I’d rather have fewer great games than lots of mediocre games, to be honest.

  • Brandon Gardner

    It would be cool for the WII U zelda game to take place after Majoria’s Mask and before Windwaker…. To tell the story of the real “Link” adventures and how he got lost and why he never returned to Hyrule.

    • Pikachief

      Wind Waker takes place after Ocarina of Time and not Majora’s Mask.

      Twilight Princess takes place after Majora’s Mask and features the same link from OoT and MM as the Hero’s Shade who teaches you the sword techniques.

      They really do need to show what happened inbetween OoT and Wind Waker though.

  • kaygivs

    didn’t they make windwaker hd in six months? hmm could totally do skyward sword, twilight princess, majora’s mask next then release the next game

  • The True Gamer

    I like to point out how the game could be like cod if it was a yearly franchise the fact that COD is technically two series, each developed by a different developer, so COD really isn’t truly a yearly franchise, unlike madden or fifa

  • companyoflosers

    you could just say that unlike anualized games, you actually want zelda to stay GOOD. that would be enough.

  • Michael Ocampo

    THANK YOU GOD!!! Remember you guys, Quality> Quantity

  • D-Man

    If they were annualized, there’d be a decrease in quality. Take your time Ninty.

  • Dez

    Annual Zelda titles would be a disaster. I’m even more grateful that Aonuma has taken such a stance. It prevents Zelda from being a watered down, beaten pile of crap. I think a minimum of 2 years should be considered for any sequel and I’d argue for 3-4 at least which generates hype which also equates to greater sales when they are released. I believe due to how long it takes for a major Zelda title to be released is one of the big reasons why it sells so well and Nintendo is very careful with how they handle the franchise. Still, I’d love a Twilight Princess HD version, I think with its darker settings and some tweaking (like fixing that game ending bug prior 9th dungeon) it would look fantastic in glorious HD and they could also utilize Wii Motion Plus since Twilight Princess missed out on it.

  • CaesarGood

    makes sense

  • David Horowitz

    Just make it huge, gorgeouse, and awesome! I’ve been very satisfied with all Zelda game’s I’ve played, and the Wii U has all the specs to do the same, only better! Look at all that memory per disc! We thought Wii games could be large, with their 8.5gb per double layer disc! Each Wii U disc holds a whoppin 25gb per single layer disc! And add the intuitive gamepad!? Wii U has the makings for the best Zelda game ever!

  • Pikachief

    Guys! Zelda Wii U needs to have a cooperative mode that has selectable co-op dungeons! They need to be specially designed for 2 or more players and they need to be playable offline and online with a Time Attack scoreboard on it. We need to ask for it lots on Miiverse!

    I sometimes read about how Aonuma wants to add online, but isn’t sure how or if at all and I feel like co-op side dungeons like the challenge mode in Pikmin 3 would be the best way. He also reads Miiverse posts and considers people’s ideas. If you want to play online co-op Zelda without it disrupting the core game I think this is the best way to do it and we should let our voices be heard! 🙂

  • tronic307

    I don’t know about annual, but every 3 years sounds good. The Zelda team should get some time off between games to see the world, but always be at work on the next game, and never release until the game is as great as it can possibly be.

  • I_I

    actually we get a new Zelda every 2 years if you count the handheld so who need it annually they can fill the gaps with remakes like the Ocarina 3D and wind waker HD I’m OK with that

  • WiiU4life

    Prediction: Zelda Wii U will have a co-play mode which allows one player to play as Link in one dimension utilizing the television while gaming as Link, simultaneously in another dimension utilizing the Gamepad.