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Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker originally had Link play theremin

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker originally had Link play theremin, rather than conduct the winds using his titular conductor’s baton.

The detail comes from a 2003 issue of Nintendo Dream magazine, which popular YouTube channel Did You Know Gaming? has now translated.

Zelda series boss Eiji Aounuma was all set to use a theremin as Link’s musical instrument of choice, with each control stick on the GameCube pad set to control each of Link’s hands as he manipulated its volume and pitch.

Why the theremin? Apparently a film had recently released in Japan detailing the electronic instrument’s creation in 1919 by Russian physicist Leon Theremin. Several of Nintendo’s developers were fans.

Fancy some classic Zelda? Majora’s Mask is now on Nintendo Switch Online’s Expansion Pack.

Legendary Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto was not a fan, however, and critiqued its control scheme. Eventually, Link’s hand movements were changed to a baton – and the Wind Waker itself was born.

Miyamoto also had things to say around Wind Waker’s cel-shaded art style – but Aounuma had apparently anticipated this to a degree.

To counteract this, Aounuma waited to show Miyamoto the new art style – though Miyamoto apparently “had trouble letting go of the realistic Link art style until the very end”.

The video is a fun watch for Zelda fans, even if not all of the detail here is new. There’s mention of Wind Waker’s legendarily-strict development time, which meant early ideas to explore more of Hyrule underneath the waves never made it into the game.

There’s also an admission that the game’s ocean is as large as it is – larger than Aounuma wanted – to enable the GameCube to load islands in the distance slow enough the console didn’t crash. Watch the video in full below.

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