When Nintendo’s Zelda team began looking at ideas for a new Zelda game on Wii U, they conducted a few experiments with regard to HD graphics, by converting previous Zelda games to HD.
Initially, Nintendo attempted to do this with Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, series producer Eiji Aonuma tells Wired. However, since both games were “semi-realistic” representations of the Zelda world, the results weren’t very surprising. Then they attempted it with The Wind Waker, the results of which they did like.
“When I suggested moving forward with Wind Waker HD, internally there was actually a lot of pushback,” Aonuma shares.
“The reason for that is, people were saying, ‘Oh, that Link. People didn’t like that Link.’ But in talking to our counterparts in the U.S., that wasn’t actually the case, people didn’t have that negative reaction maybe anymore to that younger Link.”
Aonuma is referring to the time when The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was first revealed. At the time (and even today), there was a subset of fans that voiced their dissatisfaction with the game’s cel-shaded visuals and more cartoony look. To put things in perspective, just a few years later, the more realistic Twilight Princess received a standing ovation when it was revealed.
Now, however, The Wind Waker is far more warmly received than it initially was.
“It could be that when we introduced Wind Waker in that graphic style, people resisted it because it was so new, but over time, we may have created this environment that 10 years later is ready to embrace that graphic style,” Aonuma hypothesizes.