Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime On Why Classics Like Zelda and Mario Will Never Die

Some of Nintendo’s best-known series such as the Mario and Legend of Zelda games are ones that players keep coming back to for years, and Nintendo of America’s president Reggie Fils-Aime has an explanation for why those gamers keep returning.

Fils-Aime said the credit belongs to the developers who constantly innovate their way through new games while also sticking to the series’ foundations that made them what they are. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Fils-Aime brought up The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as an example of this innovation.

“I think the best example of this is Breath of the Wild,” Fils-Aime said. “The Zelda franchise — which I love, my favorite franchise of all time — there was a formula to Zelda games. You would go into a dungeon, you would beat the miniboss, you would get a weapon that would allow you to progress to the next stage of the game, and that would continue. The development team for Breath of the Wild blew open all of those conventions with a brand-new construct.”

Fils-Aime spoke more about the open world aspect of the game that let players take different routes through Breath of the Wild and even let them go fight Ganon early on if they wanted to. He cited the weapon system as an example of sticking to the Legend of Zelda’s core components where players get more powerful and ability-enabling tools and weapons as they progress, but these weapons could break, a change from past games in the franchise.

He also brought up Super Mario Odyssey when talking about games that evolve and innovate. Everything from Paper Mario to Super Mario Sunshine to Super Mario Odyssey are still Mario games at their core, but they’re decidedly different experiences from the last.

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“It’s that kind of thinking, to understand what is foundational in the franchise — in this case, it’s Link, Zelda, the legends of Hyrule — and constantly look to innovate and provide something new,” Fils-Aime continued. “That’s Zelda, that’s Super Mario Odyssey. It’s constantly taking that approach. That’s why these franchises endure and that’s why these franchises become must-have products of [each] generation to experience and to share with others.”

Fils-Aime also brought up Nintendo’s steady pace of releases, some of which incorporate these well-known characters in different ways, as one of Nintendo’s keys for maintaining its success, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate being one example of this that brings together characters from all across Nintendo’s franchises.