The Missing Link
[UPDATE: In case you hadn’t guessed… APRIL FOOL’S! The prank question for Twilight Princess has been crossed out, and the real question appears below it. Please note that this is still a spoiler topic, but if you avoid the crossed out question, this should be safe for the reading.
All further discussion about the April Fool’s prank should be delegated to the comments section of our official AFD post.]
Have you ever secretly dreamed of being able to interview Miyamoto or Aonuma? I know I certainly have. Working inside the gaming industry has been a dream come true for me, but to meet the masters and actually talk shop with them would be just as cool if not more so. And so I had a great idea of a neat idea for an interview to have with the masters of Zelda if I ever had the privilege of interviewing them. I’d ask them one question about each of the Zelda games in order (with a few oddball kicker questions every once in a while) to answer those burning questions about the Zelda series.
So here is my list of questions that I’d love to ask:
(Legend of Zelda) The first Zelda title was a ground-breaking game in many ways. In some ways, it radically changed the direction of games, creating a new genre unto itself, really, carving out the way for other series such as Final Fantasy. Were you at all worried that this brand new approach to gaming would catch on and not alienate the early video game audience?
(Adventure of Link) Zelda took a drastic turn with The Adventure of Link, switching the “levelling system” over to something that was nearly a full-blown RPG system, and I imagine that this was caused by some experimentation in trying to figure out exactly where the Zelda series was destined to go. Did you take some inspiration from Final Fantasy when doing this, or where did the idea come from to switch gears and play by a different set of rules?
(The Zelda cartoons) So I have to wonder, did you ever watch the Zelda cartoon series? It’s sort of a cult classic in the United States, something that many people are obsessed over but also something that many people groan at whenever you mention it. Is there going to be a concerted effort at any point to expand the Zelda trademark outside of simply video games?
(A Link to the Past) I don’t know how much of this is truly intentional, but Link to the Past started a trend that has become almost a mainstay in the Zelda series, the idea of having two worlds that are connected together here and there. With Link to the Past you had the Light and Dark Worlds; with Ocarina of Time, child and adult worlds; Oracle of Ages: past and present; Oracle of Seasons: four worlds, one for each season; Wind Waker: The Great Sea and old Hyrule; Four Swords Adventures: Light and Dark Worlds again; Minish Cap: big world and Minish world; and Twilight Princess: Hyrule and the Twilight Realm. Do you think that this idea has been used so much that it’s overused, or do you think there’s still a lot of creativity left within this concept?
(Link’s Awakening) Link’s Awakening started another interesting trend within the Zelda series: the emphasis on music. You had Marin the singer, three ocarina tunes, and eight Wind Instruments that you had to collect. Since then, we’ve had the Ocarina of Time in both N64 titles, the Wind Waker, even Link howling familiar songs within Twilight Princess. The music within the Zelda series has been recycled and remixed, so to speak, in newer titles—like the Dark World theme cropping up in Twilight’s Kakariko Village theme. And the music has also gotten more dynamic, changing on cue when a battle starts to a darker melody, even having orchestral beats occurring when Link strikes major blows. How much hands-on emphasis do you actually take when working with the games, or do you really just leave that completely in the hands of Koji Kondo?
(The CD-i Zeldas) So a small side question for you, Miyamoto-san. Around the time of the SNES and Game Boy Zeldas, we saw the release of the CD-i Zelda games published by Philips. These games are… rather well-hated by most fans. Do you share the same general disillusionment with those titles and wish that they didn’t actually exist?
(Ocarina of Time) To this day, Ocarina of Time remains one of the best loved Zelda titles of all time, even to the point that the popularity of this game seems to cannibalise the popularity of each subsequent Zelda title. While there are people who like Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess more—all of which being fantastic games, still Ocarina seems to reign surpreme. What do you think that you did right with Ocarina that made it the success that it really was?
(Majora’s Mask) Finally, we have a question for you Aonuma-san! Majora’s Mask I imagine put you in a very tricky position as you needed to develop a Zelda title fairly quickly after Ocarina of Time to capitalise on all the great press than Ocarina brought. While Majora’s Mask excelled over Ocarina in some features, such as extremely well-done side quests and perhaps creating the most realistic town ever at that time, it also had a few drawbacks such as a very short game length and a story that almost seemed somewhat alien to Zelda fans, at least in the Western world. Do you think that Majora’s Mask surpassed Ocarina, and if not, what do you wish you had done to Majora to make it even better?
(Akira Himegawa mangas) One of the great delights in the community is to see the Zelda mangas made by Akira Himegawa. First off, have you read any of these personally, and secondly, when Nintendo gives them permission to make these, how much collaboration takes place between Nintendo and the artists during the course of their creation?
(Oracle of Seasons) Ah, so it’s time for the Oracle games. And since there are two, we’ve got to ask two questions about them! So first off, which Oracle game did you personally like more: Seasons or Ages?
(Oracle of Ages) So the next one is a little more challenging a question, of course. Back when they were called Nut of the Mysterious Tree, there were originally going to be three titles in the series, one for each Triforce, Oracle, and goddess. However, due to the complexity of using a password system across three games in any order, the third title was dropped. What was the third game going to be about, and of what would Farore have been the Oracle?
(Wind Waker) Now I’m not going to ask about cel-shading here, so you can breathe a sigh of relief! I actually want to ask about the characters in this one, mainly Medli, Makar, and Zelda. While the trend technically started with Kafei in Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker was the first game to strongly utilise playing as other characters to defeat dungeons or have helper NPCs to defeat bosses. We’ve seen this continue throughout the rest of the series, with Four Swords Adventures and Twilight Princess. Do you expect to continue doing this in the future, and—other than the Tingle RPG—will we ever come to see the point when we have a Zelda-themed game where Link is not the main character?
(Races of Hyrule) Once Wind Waker came out, we had established a good number of different races across Hyrule, and you continued to add to them even after that. Just counting the good guys in the series alone, you’ve got more races that I could possibly name. There are the Hylians, the Deku, the Kokiri, the Gorons, the Zora, the Gerudo, the Sheikah, the Koroks, the Rito, the Twili, the Oocca, the Minish, the Tokay, and I’m sure I missed several more. Which races that you have created have turned out to be your favourites?
(Four Swords) I know one of the troubles I had with Four Swords was finding other people to play the game with. I mean, I was a senior in college, and it was hard to find people who had GBAs much less had Zelda games! Despite the fact that Link to the Past shipped side by side with Four Swords, do you think that having what effectively could be considered a multiplayer-only title hurt the sales of that game?
(Four Swords Adventures) Four Swords Adventures, I noticed, seem to be very respectful of all of the Zelda titles that came before it, giving many of the earlier titles a nod of acknowledgement. We even get to see what I believe is intended to be the origin of Ganondorf’s trident—which is a reference to A Link to the Past. But A Link to the Past also references Ocarina of Time with the Seven Sages’ seal… which seems to be a contradiction. So when you’re making a new Zelda game and you’re tossing in all of these hat tips to previous Zelda games, are you really truly trying to look at the history from Hyrule all at once, or are these merely “inside jokes” (for lack of a better term) to veteran players to see if they catch onto them?
(Minish Cap) One thing that’s been sort of confusing in the recent years is that there seems to be two divergent forces within the Zelda franchise. On one end, you seem to have games like Wind Waker and Minish Cap that seem to be rather happy-go-lucky titles, surrounded by almost cute and happy environments. On the other, you’ve got games like Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess that seem to explore the darker elements of the Zelda series. Do you believe that these two very different trends are compatible with one another, that Zelda is big enough to explore both light and dark simultaneously?
(Tingle RPG) So I want to sidetrack briefly to discuss the Tingle game. By now it seems apparent that you have no intention of completely Tingle scrapping despite how much he turns off Western audiences. He’s obviously got his own game now, potentially a series at that should you choose to go that way, but what about his future role within the main Zelda series? Is the feedback so negative that you’re going to remove him from the series completely, or will he make small cameos here and there in either the portable or console parts of the series?
(Twilight Princess) Ocarina of Time was a landmark Zelda title at the time, and it has since sparked many so-called sequels to the game. Not only was Ocarina of Time an effective prequel to the earlier Zelda titles, we also saw that Majora’s Mask took place immediately after Ocarina, Wind Waker’s story was rooted off of Ocarina, and Twilight Princess is an obvious sequel to the game as well. In short, it’s as if Ocarina has become the Kevin Bacon within the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. Now that Twilight Princess is out, the so-called next greatest Zelda title, are future titles going to root themselves off of this title, or will we continue to see the trend of Ocarina being the mother of all Zelda titles in the future?
(Phantom Hourglass) One thing I know from my bits of experience with cel-shading is that it’s technically more difficult than realistic rendering, at least at comparable resolutions. What I’m so impressed to see is that you managed to bring the Wind Waker-style toon graphics onto the DS despite what had to be something of a down step in technology. How difficult was it to get cel-shading working on the DS?
(The Future of Zelda) For my last question, I’d like to look to the future, post-Hourglass. Zelda recently celebrated its 20th birthday, which we’re all ecstatic to see come to pass, but it has gone through some growing pains. The first 10 years of Zelda, from late 1986 to 1996, saw only four Zelda titles come to market; the last 10 years brought forth nine Zelda titles (not counting Tingle RPG), over a 100% increase in the number of games created within the franchise. Do you consider this a good thing or not? Has the Zelda franchise strengthened itself or diluted itself because of this saturation, and do you think that the next 10 years will be more like the first 10 or the second 10?Follow This Entry | Read Other Posts by The Missing Link