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The design of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was recently explored in a series of videos detailing the development of the game. One of the concepts that was almost part of the story is almost too insane to mention. That's right, Link was almost set to do battle against aliens. How that would have fit into the story would have been a real sight to behold.
Instead, Nintendo decided to play it safe and center it around the three characters that the series has always revolved around: Link, Zelda and Ganon.
In a way, it's possible to see how Ganon could have been replaced with an intergalactic alien menace. He's essentially this kind of smokey, menacing, evil creature. He has the presence of an alien invader who takes over the land. So while aliens themselves might seem like a far-fetched concept, the actual actions of taking over Hyrule wouldn't have changed much based on the story they went with in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
What's more is that art director Satoru Takizawa explained in one of the documentary videos that the young designers on the development team were actually the ones who came up with the alien abduction line, and that the aliens would steal cattle and rain down a hail of laser fire from the sky.
Takizawa obviously thought the idea was ridiculous, but some of the young engineers used the design tools to put together a demo to showcase what they had envisioned for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. While the aliens weren't used, some of their concepts for the villains were, especially the laser firing beams, which were later implemented into the very dangerous sub-bosses known as the Guardians.
So, where did this whole alien thing come from? Well, according to Takizawa and director Hidemaro Fujibayashi, the executive producer, Eiji Aonuma, wanted to reinvent the way The Legend of Zelda was played. This was done by examining different creative ideas and directions for the series, including utilizing the open-air, open-world concept that would become one of the staple features for Breath of the Wild.
Despite the fact that they really went in a completely different direction with Breath of the Wild compared to all the previous Legend of Zelda games, funnily enough Takizawa explained that the hardest part -- and the one thing that they debated on and iterated on, all the way up until the game went gold -- was Zelda.
It turned out that aliens, Guardians, Ganon, and open-world designs were nothing compared to trying to ensure that they nailed down the characteristics, design style and presentation of Princess Zelda. From her attire to her eyelashes, the team worked feverishly to depict a meticulously designed heroine. I just wonder how her depiction would have changed had they decided to replace the evil Calamity Ganon with cattle-stealing alien invaders? I guess we'll never know.