N.O.M. interview with the Director of Majora's Mask, Eiji Aonuma - August 24, 2000
Translation by Zethar-II
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Main Director Eiji Aonuma
Marvelous ~ The Other Treasure Island (Super Famicon)
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64)
- Could you please tell us your role in "The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask"?
On this particular project there were 6 directors. Out of those I am the Main Director. In the previous game, "The Ocarina of Time" I was the Game System Director. meaning I became very familiar with the look of the "Zelda World". I basically took on a role that encompassed everyone.
- What sort of work specifically did you do?
In this game there are activities in the Town, things about the dungeons, and largely two different types of stages. The story about the dungeons becomes rather integral, and I masterminded it.
- What was the reasoning for making the story rather frightening?
Because this is only a supplementary story, I wanted to present a world a little bit further away from reality. The story is basically "The moon is falling, whatever shall we do?!" and to represent that we made a slightly eerie and slightly mysterious world.
-Because this is a RPG, you probably [made] the story first, right?
The thing is, "Story" is something that changes depending on the different kind of things you play during game. First we have to think of the field or topography that Link and the other characters revolve around. Making a mountain or making an ocean is quite an endeavor. Once the field is basically done we change design into graphics, but from there things can change a bit. Because of that we leave it rather rough for them to smooth out. After we finally decide the main subject matter of the game, the 'stage' is changed again. That's basically how everything shapes up.
- This time we have a three day time limit to solve all of the puzzles.
That's right. Actually, in "Majora" the original plan was for it to be a one year time limit. However we found that it would be impossible to make a grand story like the previous game. Then we had the idea to try and compact the came. Within the condensed version it would become apparent that within the same place there would always be different happenings. So the possibility of reverting time came up. We now wanted a game of how much can you accomplish in just three days? And that is how the three day time restriction was settled.
- Out of the ideas that came up for items, are there any that got scratched?
There were so many that I can't remember them all! There were, in some cases, an idea unlike anything else, but when trying to reflect it in the game there were some strange circumstances that made it impossible. Plus, once we merged it with the program there was always a possibility that they would become no good, or that even on paper it wasn't good. Because all of us were making it together we just kept shooting out ideas and writing them down. Some of the "Why don't we use this item?" ideas were inevitably scratched, and there were probably twice as many ideas for items than those that were actually put in the game.
-In this game a lot of the characters have a a great deal of personality, such as Tingle....
When I asked the Art Director "I want you to make me a strange character that has a balloon on his back," he drew me Tingle. Of course, depending on what he does or what he says, a character can change a bit. At least for a game in a 3D world. That actually didn't happen much when making a 2D game.
-Why is that?
Well, in the case of 3D there are life-size characters. Talking to them is one thing, but a single gesture they make can change your whole image of a character. In a 2D world the amount of graphics we can put in is small, and images will appear only as we exactly have programed them to. In a 3D game the feature is expanding the image. Of course, this means it will take up more time to make.
-So is it your goal to balloon out the image of the game?
Yes. Though it would be an exaggeration to say that "Majora" came out as all of us staff members had planned. Some characters seemed to evolve without me even realizing it.
- Is that okay?
It's okay as long as the we all have the same overall goal in mind. This time, the Producer Miyamoto (Shigeru) didn't object to much. Still, after releasing the game, there were many review meetings.
-Meetings even after release?! That must have been very hard. You have established a mail address specifically for user opinions to be sent in (firstname.lastname@example.org). Will you be using this as reference material for future games?
Yes. We used those a lot for the daily review meetings after release. Opinions like "I liked this," or "This was okay, but could be better." We are very grateful for everyone's opinions on the game that have been sent in. As it would turn out opinions on the previously made "The Ocarina of Time" were reflected in "Majora." If you have anything Zelda you would like to talk about, please submit them! They will all be directed to our staff.
-Is there anything you can tell us that would let us enjoy the game more?
For those who follow everything in the town, try playing again after taking a break with clearing a dungeon. If you play enough the ending changes, and you get to appreciate the side stories in the game. When I say the things that happen in the town, I also mean that all of the characters who are scattered about the town have a set schedule for all three days.
Yes. If you follow one person, they will go in and out of stores and such as time progresses. That was actually the reason the Memory Expansion Pack was needed.
- That is impressive! By the way, Mr. Aonuma, do you have a particularly scene that you liked?
In place called Ikana Village there is a doctor who studies ghosts, and gets turned into a mummy. Then, you meat Pamela, the daughter, and you agree to help her father. I feel that one of the best scenes is when you get to see Pamela and her father embrace.
Also, you know the scene where Link gets turned into a Deku Scrub in the beginning? Well, that is actually a scene from my dreams. Right about in the middle of making the story, I was thinking and saw a dream where I was surrounded by Deku Scrubs, persecuting me and saying "What are you gonna do?" I woke with a start, and even my family should remember it well. One day, I was looking at the different Cinema Scenes and I saw this one that looked just like my dream! I hadn't even told anyone about it. It was just a coincidence, but it was still unsettling.
- Wow, such a fitting scary story for summer. Do you have any final words you wish to say to the readers?
If you ever get stuck, ask your mom or dad for help. This is the kind of game where you can have fun with the whole family while solving puzzles.