There is a common mistake that gaming press makes when it comes to talking about game development, that they have passed on somewhat to gamers themselves, or that they perpetuate among each other.
In Warren Spector’s words, ‘There’s a tendency among the press to attribute the creation of a game to a single person.’ And sometimes the creators and game companies will lean into this idea in marketing, but no one in the industry really wants you to believe that these AAA games are solely the credit of one person.
With that in mind, too many times credit for The Legend of Zelda games and the decisions made for it are given to Eiji Aonuma. While Eiji is supervisor over the franchise, he isn’t the sole creative head in charge, and he isn’t even the one who did that in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
The Fuse, Ultrahand and Autobuild systems did not come from Eiji Aonuma. As Aonuma points out in an interview with the Washington Post, it was The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’s actual director, Hidemaro Fujibayashi, who came up with it.
Fujibayashi pitched the idea to Aonuma on Breath of the Wild, by building a makeshift tank using cog wheels, boat paddles, and stone slabs.
Of course, now Fujibayashi sees what everyone has been making using these tools, and he couldn’t be prouder. Fujibayashi says that they are “exactly what we were trying to do and seeing people really enjoying it provided the confidence in knowing that what we’re attempting here is going to be a fun and enjoyable experience for people.”
In fact, there’s something quite ironic about the implementation of these systems, as Aonuma himself was a carpenter.
As a carpenter, Aonuma actually disliked that you could see the green glue that attached your creation’s disparate parts together. As a craftsman, of course, he was very discriminating about how things looked, and he considered this aesthetic unclean.
Aonuma acquiesced to the designers and programmers who insisted that this was how the systems should be implemented, and he now sees that they were right.
Even if it isn’t aesthetic, it’s better that players clearly see how these contraptions were put together. It also fits in with the Zelda franchise’s new ethos; rather than polishing the same old game design that the franchise had for decades, Nintendo now looks for new and unexpected ideas for play.