3. Make All Characters Suspicious Types

Aonuma:

It wasn’t until Link’s Awakening that the Zelda titles started having a proper plot.

Nakago:

A Link to the Past had a bit of a story, but a story running throughout the whole game really started with Link’s Awakening.

Iwata:

That must mean Koizumi-san the romantic, who was in charge of the story, had quite a large influence over the general direction of the Zelda series.

Aonuma:

That’s right.

Iwata:

Koizumi-san is probably sneezing about now. (laughs) (Editor’s note: In Japan, it is customary for people to jokingly say to each other that if someone sneezes for no reason that it must mean someone is talking about the person who is sneezing.)

Everyone:

(laughs)

Iwata:

Link’s Awakening, which Tezuka-san did whatever he wanted with, had quite an influence over subsequent Zelda games.

Tezuka:

I wonder about that…

Iwata:

As far as the general flow goes, I think so.

Tezuka:

I didn’t try to do that on purpose, though. Oh, right, about Twin Peaks…

Aonuma:

Whoa, here we go. (laughs) Iwata-san, do you know about Twin Peaks?

Iwata:

No. Bring me up to speed. (laughs)

Tezuka:

We were talking about this before you arrived. I was talking about fashioning Link’s Awakening with a feel that was somewhat like Twin Peaks. At the time, Twin Peaks was rather popular. The drama was all about a small number of characters in a small town.

Iwata Asks Iwata:

Okay…

Tezuka:

So when it came to Link’s Awakening, I wanted to make something that, while it would be small enough in scope to easily understand, it would have deep and distinctive characteristics.

Iwata:

That makes me think of Wuhu Island in Wii Sports Resort11. The events occur at a well-known location, so background elements come into clarity. You were thinking about that for Link’s Awakening? 11Wuhu Island: The island that is the setting of Wii Sports Resort and Wii Fit Plus. The general concept is to develop a wide variety of games entailing adventures and other activities that take place on the island. For more on the “Island Concept,” see Iwata Asks: Wii Sports Resort.

Tezuka:

I remembered it earlier. (laughs)

Aonuma:

At the time, I didn’t know what he was talking about. I was like, “What is this guy talking about?” (laughs) But since Twin Peaks was popular at the time…

Iwata:

You thought he just wanted to be trendy?

Aonuma:

Yeah. (laughs) I thought, “You really want to make Zelda like that?!” Now the mystery is solved. (laughs) When I was reading Tanabe-san’s comments in the strategy guide, I saw, “Tezuka-san suggested we make all the characters suspicious types like in the then-popular Twin Peaks.”

Iwata:

Did that guy who looks like Mario appear because you wanted to make someone who looked suspicious? He did look suspicious, but… (laughs)

Tezuka:

After that, in Ocarina of Time12 and Majora’s Mask13, all kinds of suspicious characters appeared. I didn’t tell them to do it that way, but personally, I did find it considerably appealing. 12The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: The first 3D Legend of Zelda title. Released in Europe for the Nintendo 64 in December 1998. 13The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask: Released in Europe for the Nintendo 64 in November 2000.

Aonuma:

The staff who worked on Ocarina of Time had all played Link’s Awakening, so they had a sense of how far they could go with the Zelda series.

Tezuka:

Oh, I see.

Iwata:

That makes sense. Tezuka-san, you broadened what was permissible for Zelda without even realising it.

Tezuka:

I guess I did. Well, I’m glad I could contribute.

Everyone:

(laughs)

Iwata Asks Aonuma:

I’m certain it was a breakthrough element in the series. If we had proceeded from A Link to the Past straight to Ocarina of Time without Link’s Awakening in between, Ocarina would have been different.

Iwata:

Yes, I agree. It made a big difference that the staff knew the possibilities.

Aonuma:

That’s right.

Iwata:

Tezuka-san, you worked on handheld Zelda titles after that, too, didn’t you?

Tezuka:

Yes. That was together with Capcom. At that time, Yoshiki Okamoto14 was at Capcom, and he wanted to make a Zelda game. The plan was to create a remake of the first The Legend of Zelda. I thought if it was just going to be an adaptation of the first one then it should be alright. Then, while we were talking about it, I realised he had quite a strong affection for the Zelda games. Normally, though, I would have been resistant to leaving games like Zelda or Mario to anyone else. 14Yoshiki Okamoto: A game creator who helped develop the Street Fighter series, among other titles, while at Capcom. Currently he is president of Game Republic Inc.

Iwata:

I vividly remember being shocked when I heard that. I almost thought it must be some kind of mistake. Not because of Capcom, but because I thought Zelda was a prominent title that Nintendo kept very close. I just assumed that it would be impossible for a major Mario or Zelda game to be made by external entities.

Tezuka:

Usually, that would be true, but Capcom works really fast, and talking to them, I could sense their enthusiasm for the series, so I thought we could trust them with it. We had them make Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages15. 15The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages: Two action-adventure games released simultaneously in Europe for Game Boy Color in October 2001.

Iwata:

But you were checking in on it rather frequently.

Tezuka:

Yes. Capcom is in Osaka. Since they were so close, I visited them on numerous occasions. We hadn’t dealt with them in the past, and I found the temperament with which they develop a game is different from ours.

Iwata:

What was your impression?

Tezuka:

They struck me as being real sporty types. (laughs) Not at all like us.

Iwata:

What type were you Nintendo guys?

Tezuka:

A circle of like-minded people.

Nakago:

Yes, that’s right. You’re definitely a circle of like minds. (laughs)

Aonuma:

Like an afterschool club. (laughs)

Iwata:

So it was the Afterschool Club of Like Minds versus the Strictly Hierarchical Athletic Types, and it was that unusual combination that brought forth Zelda for Game Boy Color.

Tezuka:

The first one went really well, so I thought I could leave more to them.

Aonuma:

That led to the later Zelda games for the Nintendo DS.

Tezuka:

You guessed it.