The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is almost a week old, and it’s already become one of the most critically acclaimed games in history. For fans of the series, it was exciting to finally be able to get their hands on a game that they’ve been waiting for for nearly four years. To the development team, the game was an impassioned sendoff to Satoru Iwata, whom they considered a close friend and mentor.

Iwata was one of the team’s biggest supporters within the company, so losing him so suddenly hit them hard. He had influence in many titles created by Nintendo, including Breath of the Wild, and in an interview with The New Yorker the game’s director, Hidemaro Fujibayashi, credits him for the amount of creative freedom they had when creating the game. “They said, ‘Change anything you want,’” Fujibayashi states, “So we wrote down all of the stress points, the things that make Zelda games less enjoyable, and we replaced them with new ideas.”

As Fujibayashi explains:

“When he passed away, there were moments we’d come up with an idea which we’d be excited to talk to Iwata about. Then we’d remember he was no longer here. Miyamoto told me it was the same for him. He’d come up with an idea at the weekend and would feel excited to speak to Iwata about it on Monday, only to remember. The sadness runs deep. This is approaching spiritual talk, but we had the sense that he was watching over our work. That became a source of motivation, a drive for us to improve and be better.”

Clearly, those on the development team were hurt by Iwata’s sudden passing, but it didn’t stop them from creating a fantastic game. With Breath of the Wild, Fujibayashi and his team confirmed that Iwata’s legacy will carry on for generations to come.

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Written by Bobby Soto

Bobby is an animator, a voice actor and a writer. He’s a storyteller who's constantly working towards bringing his characters and ideas to life. When he needs an escape from his work, gaming is his go-to activity.