Creating The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the Wii U and Switch simultaneously put ‘a large extra burden’ on its development team, Nintendo has admitted.
In a wide-ranging and extensive interview with Eurogamer, series producer Eiji Aonuma discussed some of the major challenges of adding Switch support to the open world RPG midway through development.
The executive stated that originally, “the development team had been developing it as a Wii U title and making it as comfortable and enjoyable an experience as possible on Wii U”, and that Nintendo “knew in a way [it] would be placing a large extra burden on the development team” by adding in simultaneous Switch development.
Aonuma added: “I knew some would complain about it, as they’d been developing it for Wii U and they’d have to make some changes, but I really led that process myself – I really thought myself about how we could make that title work on Nintendo Switch, and had to sell the idea to the development team, in a way.”
According to Aonuma, achieving parity between the Wii U and Switch versions of the game required “some adjustments to the development process” to be made, primarily with regards to the game’s controls.
Originally, Breath of the Wild made extensive use of the Wii U Gamepad, but this had to be altered with the Switch’s single screen in mind. The producer added: “Of course on Wii U, you have two screens – the main screen, and one on the GamePad – but the Nintendo Switch has one screen. That was a major change, but we achieved it a lot more easily and quickly than we expected. In the end we’re happier with how the controls came out, having made those changes. I feel that the control system we landed on was better than what we originally had.”
In the article, Aonuma also discussed whether or not Nintendo ever had second thoughts about releasing the game for Wii U.