Many had speculated that the long awaited Wii U Zelda game, now known as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, would end up in a Twilight Princess-like situation and release on two consoles at once during the next generational transition. This was eventually confirmed in April of this year when Nintendo announced that the game would be coming in 2017 and launch simultaneously on Wii U and the upcoming NX platform.
IGN caught up with both Shigeru Miyamoto and Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma at E3 2016 and asked them in separate interviews how and why this decision came about.
Miyamoto had the following to say:
“It’s complicated because as we’re developing this — obviously development of NX started a while ago — and unfortunately, I’m sorry, but the development of this game took a lot longer than expected. We really felt like we would be able to get it done last year, but there was a lot of struggle with using the physics engine, so that’s why it took a long time.”
“Also, when we thought about developing a Zelda game for the NX, it would have to be way further down the life cycle of the system. And this game, rather than really focusing on the unique features of the Wii U, it’s really a game you sit down and get into. There was a change in direction, so we decided to develop for both consoles a while ago.”
The interviewer asked Aonuma also specifically about the similarity to Twilight Princess’ release and received the following response:
“From the beginning we were thinking of releasing this title [Breath of the Wild] on both platforms. With Twilight Princess, I was looking at, this [then-new] platform called Wii and I had more of an outsider objective view of, ‘Oh this is coming out.’ But for this one I was slightly more involved with NX and just judging on the timing of development. When we were going to finish this, we thought it might be fun to have that available for NX as well. I don’t see it as something too unfortunate. I think it’s nice to have a single title that can be played on two different platforms.”
“I should preface, I probably shouldn’t say that because the staff working on this game. It’s probably a lot of extra work for them so maybe they’ll get mad. To them it might be an unfortunate circumstance.”
While this doesn’t tell us when the dual-system release decision was made exactly, it’s still interesting to learn that the decision has been made quite some time ago and that there has been a change in direction for the game, resulting in the more system-neutral nature of the game as both versions will supposedly not be different (unlike Twilight Princess was).