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Talkin' Zelda with Mr. Miyamoto - Space World '99

Space World 99 was the first chance for the public, and most game media, to see and to play Zelda Gaiden, the sequel to Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It also saw the debut of The Legend of Zelda: Mysterious Fruit for the Game Boy Color. Nintendo Power Source was lucky enough to get some time to talk to Mr. Miyamoto about these new Zelda projects.

Q: After hearing rumors of Ura Zelda for Nintendo 64 Disk Drive, Zelda Gaiden for the Nintendo 64 cartridge format was a pleasant surprise. Can you tell me how these two games came to be developed?

A: We are working on two follow-ups to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. "Ura Zelda" uses the same system as Ocarina of Time but uses the 64DD to add game data. The story in "Ura Zelda" will be similar to Ocarina of Time but with new maps and scenarios. Zelda Gaiden, on the other hand, is a completely different game, although it too uses essentially the same game system as Ocarina of Time. Everyone has enjoyed the Zelda series but there's typically at least a 3 year wait between sequels! People who are in Junior High School when they play one Zelda game would be in High School by time the next game comes out, and those in High School will graduate before the next game came out! So, we wanted to make a new game in the series sooner. "Ura Zelda" will use the existing Ocarina of Time cartridge but with different dungeons, and new locations for the treasures. Since the 64DD media is cheaper than a new cartridge, this is an inexpensive way to make a sequel. We may also consider using network technology for "Ura Zelda." Right now, most of the staff is concentrating on Zelda Gaiden.

Q: How involved are you with the different Zelda games?

A: As time goes on, my direct involvement has become less. On the first Zelda, my involvement in directing the game was, say, 100%. With Ocarina of Time, my involvement was about 60%. For Zelda Gaiden, it will be about 20% and for Zelda: Mysterious Fruit for Game Boy, only about 10%. Until Ocarina, I was the Producer and Director of the game-not of everything but some parts. For Zelda Gaiden I will be in a Producer role. In that capacity, I'll decide the overall direction of the game, but I won't write the actual specifications myself. If Zelda Gaiden turns out to be fun to play, from now on we'll see new entries into the Zelda series with shorter time intervals in between. And, I'll probably have less direct involvement in the games. I've been saying all along that I have a lot of confidence in my teams, and I think they will make some good games.

Q: What kinds of things do you do as a Producer?

A: I just tell the staff members what kind of game it should be. The staff then figures out the details of the scenarios. So far, we've had thee big meetings to reviews the game's scenarios. As Producer I approve and disapprove of ideas in these meetings. Mainly I say things like, "If you try to go in this direction, you will never finish the game!" I help set the development priorities, and make staff recommendations.

Q: So, what are some of the overall directions you have given to your game developments teams on Zelda Gaiden? What are some of the things that you want the players to experience in this game?

A: I had several ideas that I wanted to incorporate into Ocarina of Time but that didn't make it. I've already given those to the staff. In Zelda Gaiden, players will meet some characters that they previously encountered in Ocarina of Time. There were many characters in Ocarina of Time who were in the background-- those characters will be more involved in the story of Zelda Gaiden. You'll talk to them more, and in the end you'll feel a deeper connection to the story of Ocarina of Time. Another thing we want to work on is time in the game. In so many games, you have, for example, eight dungeons. Finish four of them, and you're halfway through. You can guess how far you have to go. But that's not the true nature of interactive entertainment-it shouldn't be like reading a book and knowing you're halfway through it. That's not just something we're working on for Zelda Gaiden, we need to improve this for all of our games. The beauty of interactive media is it is different from other types of media, so we need to concentrate on those differences. Finally, we really want Zelda players to come away from this game feeling that they've played something totally unexpected.

Q: In Zelda Gaiden, the moon is slowly falling towards the planet, and the player has a limited amount of time to save the world before it is destroyed. So how does the time limit in the game work?

A: What can I tell you….hmmm. There are certain time limits in the game, but, you can play it again and again. If you don't do something in one game, you can try to do it in the next game. The amount of different things you actually do in the game will depend on the player's ability. This isn't a totally unique concept, but we do want to try something new with game time in Zelda Gaiden. To do that we are working on improving the "density" of the world. For example, say you have three days of game time. We are trying to see how many different events we can fit into those three days. That is why we need the Expansion Pak for this game-to keep track of all the events that are happening simultaneously in the world.

Q: So the world actually exists and different things happen in real-time, even if you're not there to see them. OK, how about the masks? How many different ones do you think will be in the game? It looks like there is space for a lot of them on the Subscreen!

A: There are three main masks-these are the only ones that make you actually change, or morph, into something different. Several other masks will have "human" like faces, and will be necessary to trigger certain events. You can use these masks to disguise yourself as different people. As for the actual final number of masks in the game, that will depend on time. I'm aiming for just under 30 different masks, but that depends on how long things take to develop.

Q: You mentioned that the story in Zelda Gaiden will be closely connected to Ocarina of Time. How about the Running Man-will you finally be able to beat him?

A: Maybe you didn't see him in the Space World version, but there is a Running Man who is four times taller than the one in Ocarina of Time! We are experimenting with this character to see if we can make him interesting and fun. Did you see the dogs? In Ocarina of Time, they would follow you. In Zelda Gaiden, their reaction will vary. When you morph into a Goron, they will bark at you and run away. As a Zora, they will approach you. Don't try to become a Deku Scrub if there are dogs around, though! They will try to bite you!

Q: What about the other fairy that is shown with Navi in the introductory cinema scenes?

A: I don't know, I need to ask the staff about that! I have a feeling it's going to be an important character!

Q: Things are busy on the Zelda front with the Zelda games for Game Boy Color that Capcom is developing. How did that deal come about? What is the plan for these three titles?

A: Well, it's the same situation as when our team develops a Zelda game-the quality has to be high. Mr. Okamoto (head of development at Capcom) is a young and energetic game developer who says he came into the industry because of games like the original Donkey Kong and Zelda. He came to me and was very serious about developing a Zelda game. He has great teams of developers and he promised to use his best people on this project. A company called Flagship has 20 or so people who are working on the scenarios. Some people have asked me if this means Nintendo will be allowing other companies to develop games using our characters. But this is a very special case. I felt good about Mr. Okamoto and his team. We're not going to be letting everyone work on our characters. We'll be checking the quality of these three titles.

Q: What is the connection between the three titles?

A: This project originally started to convert the original NES Zelda to Game Boy Color. So one of the titles will be a perfect conversion of NES Zelda. However, in working on this game, we have come up with a lot of new ideas, so there will be some new features. Basically I can tell you that there is a connection between the three tales. You can start with any one of them, but if you play them in a different order than someone else, the two player's games will be different….

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