Way back in March of 2015 we were told the news that the hugely anticipated open-world game The Legend of Zelda for Wii U was to be pushed back from the original end-of-2015 release date into an unspecified time in 2016. So whilst we may have been looking forward to unwrapping The Legend of Zelda Wii U at Christmas just passed, we had no such luck. Nor did we get to see any pre-release footage screened at 2015's E3, as had been expected.
But we can't be too mad about the fact that it's been pushed back, as The Legend of Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma addressed fans directly and explained why the game would not make its original release date:
"Since I declared at The Game Awards in December that the game would launch in 2015, the directors and the many members of the development team have been working hard developing the game to make it the best it can be. In these last three months, as the team has experienced first-hand the freedom of exploration that hasn't existed in any Zelda game to date, we have discovered several new possibilities for this game."
The "new possibilities" which arose during the development of the game, Aonuma explains, opened up the scope for new ideas and concepts for the most ambitious instalment in the history of the Legend of Zelda series, allowing the potential to create something to exceed even his own expectations.
"I feel strongly that our focus should be to bring all these ideas to life in a way that will make Zelda on Wii U the best game it can possibly be. So, I must apologise to you all that were expecting the game by year's end, but we are no longer making a 2015 release our number one priority. Instead, our priority is to make it the most complete and ultimate Zelda game."
To be honest it's quite nice to see Nintendo adopting this upfront attitude in a climate of release day download patches. Though it is undoubtably a shame that we're experiencing a longer wait for The Legend of Zelda on Wii U it's better to allow the developers to take their time with it, rather than having an incomplete or imperfect game rushed through to meet release dates (are you listening Ubisoft? You lot could take a leaf from Nintendo's book here).
So what's the big hold up? Well likely it's got something to do with the new "open-world" mechanics (though Aonuma doesn't really like using that world in relation to The Legend of Zelda).
In October 2015 Aonuma spoke a little about the new game to IGN, revealing that The Legend of Zelda is going to have a "surprise" twist, one which will address criticisms received by the earlier Wii platform game in the series, Skyward Sword.
"We actually had some feedback from Skyward Sword, where people were saying, 'This is not exactly the Zelda game I was looking for, I was looking for a bigger open world'. Unfortunately, I can’t go into details but I’m hoping to put a surprise, or kind of a twist, on my view of an open world game."
Open-world games tend to contain similar elements (hence why it's considered a genre); a marked location map, the ability to fast travel between unlocked locations, a navigation system/compass, freedom of non-linear narrative movement, etc etc. It's hard to imagine a game that could come along with a twist to shake up the already established format, but it's certainly making the upcoming Legend of Zelda sound even more exciting.
Possibly it has something to do with pushing the boundaries of the system, as Aonuma explains that the "open-world" tag only really applies to the upcoming game because of the advanced capabilities of the Wii U. The Legend of Zelda games have always involved exploring open-world areas and navigating dungeons but never with this kind of scope before, and Aonuma says that's all down to the Wii U:
"A huge, seamlessly unfolding world is something that can't be achieved if the hardware isn't advanced enough. Ever since we made the very first generation of Legend of Zelda games though, we've had as large a world as can be realized with the hardware, so you could say it was inevitable that we've now done the same with the new Wii U title."
So this might be the first true open-world instalment in The Legend of Zelda series, but that's only because this is the first time Nintendo have tried translating the more contained games to the next-gen Wii U console.
And according to Nintendo's Creative Fellow Shigeru Miyamoto each individual area of the new game will be equivalent to the entire map of Twilight Princess (an HD remake of which is also coming to Wii U next year). That's a hell of a lot of nooks and crannies to be explored, and doubtless a great number of side quests and item acquirement missions to be played through.