Posted By Snow at 11:59 PM on Thursday January 12, 2012
The following was translated by Patas. It has yet to be double-checked by another translator.
•On Approaching the 25th Anniversary of The Legend of Zelda
Nintendo Co., Ltd. Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development
General Producer of The Legend of Zelda Series
I started working on the project of the first Legend of Zelda game along with a very small staff in a corner of the development room of Nintendo, located in Kyoto. It was approximately 2 years after the release of the Famicom, around halfway through the 1980’s. Back then, I was also working on a compilation of the Famicom’s Super Mario Bros. [TN: A port of the original game for the Disk System that included several minus world levels.], but since the release of the Disk System was getting near, we had to work on a launch title too.
The first thing I thought about was a game that made use of the Disk System’s function of rewriting data so that two players could each create their own dungeons and make the other player solve them. We actually created such a game, and when I played it, I felt it was very fun playing in the dungeons themselves. So we put together a game with a series of dungeons underneath mountains distributed around Death Mountain for a single player to solve them. But we also wanted it to feature a world above, so we added forests and lakes, and so Hyrule Field took form gradually.
Now, we didn’t decide the game’s title from the very beginning either. Originally, I wanted it to be “The Legend of X,” but I couldn’t find the appropriate word for the “X.” Then, the planner to whom we assigned the PR project suggested we did a story book of the game.
He had the idea of doing an illustration book that would add to the princess Link rescues an eternal beauty appealing to all men. He then mentioned that there was an American writer whose wife was very famous. He said she was named “Zelda,” and suggested that name for our eternal beauty. I had no interest in such a book project, but I loved the name Zelda, so I asked him if we could only keep the name and he said it was OK. And so, the title of “The Legend of Zelda” was born.
We named the main character “Link” to convey the meaning of someone who connects. The idea was of a character that would cross time and link the energy spread around the world. There’s also a character that would pass that information on to Zelda: an old lady named “Impa.” Her name comes from the verb “to impart.” This old lady, Link and Zelda were “the three guardians of the Triforce.” The Triforce relationship nowadays is between Link, Zelda and Ganon, but that was established in Ocarina of Time; the first Ganon was a villain looking for the Triforce.
Twenty five years have passed since then and we’ve been able to create many Zelda games. At first, Link had a simple design of a bunch of pixels, but now he’s got a heroic fearless look and fluid movements. Ganon has become a more powerful, greatly evil being, and Zelda has turned into a beautiful lady.
Along with the evolution of hardware, production values get more luxurious. But I was afraid that by relying on those luxurious production values, the most important parts of playing would be neglected. What matters in a videogame are the game system, the action, the sensations, the creativity, and the production values. Production values have been evolving with time, and in order for other game elements not to lose any ground against them, I’ve been involved in the development of the series, watching it over like some sort of guard.
Because of that, I feel that Skyward Sword, the most recent game and which was finished for the turning point of the series’ 25th anniversary, is a very well-balanced game. Over this 25 years span, we’ve though up new items, we’ve changed the way of using some of them, or we’ve made Link’s controls more comfortable for solving puzzles, and sometimes we’ve improved all that when adapting them to a specific controller. We’ve repeatedly designed the controllers themselves assuming the movements in Zelda games. But I feel that with Skyward Sword, which is played with the Wii motion plus and the nunchuck, we’ve arrived to an answer.
Actually, 2011 was also the 30th anniversary of Donkey Kong. I started my career as a game developer with that title. I’ve been involved in the creation of many games during those 30 years, but the only ones in which the player can name his character are those from The legend of Zelda series.
I’ve already mentioned that we named Link with the intention of conveying a “connecting” meaning, but Link is the player himself. Ultimately, the series has continued because the player saves the world while struggling to solve puzzles or defeating strong enemies. As a result, I’m very thankful that players around the world and our team could “link.”
Even though Ganon is defeated time after time, he’s a very evil being that comes back vengefully. So, whenever signs of evil start to cover the world, a young boy and a girl will be born. As long as you continue to love this world, the adventures of you and Link will continue. We’ll keep developing new games of this series as new hardware brings new experiences. Please play those games.