Why didn’t you experiment with a first-person perspective game?
I was making the model for Link, so I couldn’t stand to see my Link not appear.
Oh, I see. In first-person perspective, you wouldn’t be able to see him.
Right. Link is cool, so I wanted to always be able to see him.
But...I do think we tried out first-person perspective a little.
I think we made something to try it out, but decided it wasn’t interesting visually and abandoned it right away.
Oh, is that right? (laughs) So we had Link appear from a third-person perspective, but it was really hard to get the art to connect right. I remember making the most impossible requests to Iwawaki-san.
No, no... (laughs)
You went straight to making irrational demands. (laughs)
Yes. (laughs) Thanks to him, we were able to show Link the whole time, but it got really hard in ways that would have been extremely easy in first-person view, like how to handle the camera and battles.
You tied your own noose.
Yeah. In order to solve those problems, we had to create a bunch of new devices, one of which was Z Targeting.11 11Z Targeting: When the player presses the Z Button, not only does the viewpoint shift to a view from directly behind Link, but Link can also talk with characters at a distance and gain an advantage in battle by locking on to enemies. In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, players press the L Button.
How did Z Targeting come about?
In Super Mario 64, for example, when you tried to read a sign, sometimes you would just go around it in circles.
The axes wouldn’t match up.
Right. We wondered what we could do about that, and when Koizumi-san joined the team, I said, “Since we’re going to include chanbara-style action, let’s go to Toei Kyoto Studio Park!”12 12Toei Kyoto Studio Park: Part of Toei’s film studios in Kyoto open to the public as a theme park where visitors can see period drama sets and shows.
Huh? Going to Toei Kyoto Studio Park...because you were including chanbara-style action?
I don’t get it. (laughs)
We thought if we went there, we might get some ideas. We got our boss’s approval, and Koizumi-san, Ikeda-san and I went. It sure was a hot summer!
Yes. Very hot.
As we went along looking at everything, it was so hot that we ducked into a playhouse to cool off. They were doing a ninja show. A number of ninja were surrounding the main samurai and one lashed out with a kusarigama (sickle-and-chain). The lead samurai caught it with his left arm, the chain stretched tight, and the ninja moved in a circle around him.
And... that led to Z Targeting?
Yeah... I think so, if my memory serves me correctly.
So it wasn’t like the chain led to the idea for the Hookshot?
Huh? Everyone looks confused! (laughs)
I don’t think that’s quite right. (laughs) The way I remember it...
With regard to Z Targeting, I believe we started talking about how we wanted a good way of hitting opponents in front of you when we were making Super Mario 64.
But you couldn’t do it.
Right. Then, when we were making The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, I thought up something when we were making the camera system for fighting enemies. What caught my attention in the studio park was the sword fight. They regularly put on shows in which the hero defeats ruffians. Watching that, I thought, “Hmm, that’s weird.” That was because there was no way one person could fight and win when surrounded by 20 opponents.
Because he’s vastly outnumbered.
I thought there must be some kind of trick, so I watched very closely, and it was simple. It’s a sword battle, so there’s a script and a certain setup. The enemies don’t all attack at once. First, one attacks while the others wait. When the first guy goes down, the next one steps in, and so on.
It’s arranged so they attack one-by-one, in order.
Right. One thing I had been trying to figure out with regard to Z Targeting was how to fight multiple enemies. If I just made it like normal, the enemies would swarm the player all at once, so it would be a mess.
Watching that show at the studio park was a clue toward solving that problem. Z Targeting flags one particular opponent, telling the other enemies to wait.
Your opponents go on standby as in a staged sword fight.
First, you have the other enemies wait while you fight with the first one, and the moment you beat that one, you can switch the Z Targeting to the next opponent.
So when it’s one against many, you fight one-on-one over and over again.
Right. Like that. We actually made something. Do you remember that, Iwawaki-san?
Yeah. A battle against two skeletons...two Stalfos.
Yeah. There’s a place in the Forest Temple where you fight against two Stalfos. We were only able to pull off that scene because of that show we saw at the studio park.
So if you hadn’t gone to the studio park?
If we hadn’t gone, we wouldn’t have hit on the system for fighting multiple opponents. But I think Osawa-san and I were each seeing it a little differently.
Osawa-san focused on the kusarigama.
Yeah, that’s right. Watching the kusarigama show, I hit on the idea of making a kusarigama that you can’t see when you use Z Targeting.
A kusarigama you can’t see?
When you use Z Targeting, I would make it so something like a kusarigama you can’t see exists between Link and the opponent. If you push the analogue stick forward, you can close in slowly, and if you move it to the side, you can move to the side in a circular motion, getting around behind your opponent, seeking for an opening.
Then do a jump attack.
I see. Different people notice different things even when they see the same thing.
I’m glad the studio park is here in Kyoto.
Yeah. It was incredibly helpful.
We just went into that playhouse by chance.
Because it was hot. (laughs)
To cool down because it was so hot! (laughs)