2. Diehard Fans

Iwata:

Marunami-san and Hosaka-san, what did you think once you began working on The Legend of Zelda?

Marunami:

When I played The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, I thought, “This isn’t just a cute game.” I felt like a lot of attention had been paid to detail around a hefty core of gameplay. For example, you can cut the grass, and whether it came to stones or a tree growing over there, if you do something, there’s sure to be some kind of response, which was pleasing.

Iwata:

There isn’t just unresponsive stuff sitting around taking up space.

Marunami:

Exactly. That is what is familiar about The Legend of Zelda.

Iwata:

If the player does something to some object, the game considerately responds and surprises. In our session of “Iwata Asks” on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, (Yoshiki) Haruhana-san called that hospitality that attacks.

Marunami:

That’s right. That kind of consideration is a part of the Legend of Zelda tradition, so when I made objects, I wanted them to provide a satisfying reaction.

Iwata Asks
Iwata:

How about you, Hosaka-san?

Hosaka:

It’s the feeling of immersion, like I said before. For example, I noticed something when I played The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Link goes to help a young girl who gets kidnapped. She was his childhood friend. Was her name Ilia?

Everyone:

Yes.

Hosaka:

After you rescue her, she matter-of-factly, says, “Thank you. Go on ahead.” The line is kept to the absolute minimum, but I was completely into it, so I thought, “Oh, come on! That’s all you’ve got to say?!” I was like (gesturing a hug), “Why aren’t you doing this?!” (laughs)

Everyone:

(laughs)

Hosaka:

That’s how absorbed I was in the game, and when making the games, I try to find a way to create that kind of immersion. What I learned then was how each character in The Legend of Zelda is not completely determined at the beginning, but each person devises various things that...

Iwata Asks
Iwata:

The people making the game join forces in breathing life into the characters.

Hosaka:

That’s right. I learned after starting to work on the games that the ideas of many staff members build up in the characters so that in the end they become vivid characters.

Iwata:

I see. Iwasaki-san, what is your history with The Legend of Zelda?

Iwasaki:

I always played The Legend of Zelda a lot. The first one I played was The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.9 I got it when I was in primary school and thought, “This is fun!” 9The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: An action-adventure game released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in November 1991 in Japan.

Iwata:

You’re a diehard Zelda fan.

Iwasaki:

That’s right. I loved it! (laughs) I played it for years - so much that I don’t know how many times I finished it! I got The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as soon as it came out, too, and again thought, “This is fun!”

Iwata:

Since you loved The Legend of Zelda so much, it must have been moving when you first began working on it.

Iwasaki:

It was. I was overjoyed, but I guessed it would be hard.

Iwata:

You were wondering, “Can I really make something like that which I enjoyed so much?”

Iwasaki:

Yes. I was worried about whether I could actually make something of that quality, but the only thing to do was give it my best. (laughs)

Iwata Asks
Iwata:

Did you discover anything once you did?

Iwasaki:

Like Marunami-san said, it’s pleasing when you casually try something out on an object and something happens. Looking at it as a game developer, there were a lot of times when I discovered something that one of my co-workers had slipped in without others knowing, and I thought, “That’s really getting into details!”

Iwata:

And you used that discovery in making the objects this time.

Iwasaki:

Yes.

Iwata:

How about you, Hirono-san?

Hirono:

The first game in the series that I played was The Legend of Zelda on the Nintendo Entertainment System.10 10The Legend of Zelda on the Nintendo Entertainment System: An action-adventure game released simultaneously with the Family Computer Disk System in February 1986 in Japan.

Iwata:

An even greater diehard fan of The Legend of Zelda! (laughs)

Hirono:

Yes. (laughs) And I played the Super Nintendo Entertainment System game, too. After that, there was a time when I didn’t play video games very much, but when The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time came out for the Nintendo 64 system, a friend said, “It’s really cool!” so I tried playing it. I had never played a 3D game before, so I was shocked.

Iwata:

You jumped from the 2D world of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past to the 3D world of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and experienced something like culture shock.

Hirono:

Yes. I got totally into that world and played around with all sorts of things. For example, if there was a tree, I would run into it or strike it with the sword, and talk to the townspeople all the time, and if I found a Sheikah Stone11, I would send it flying for no reason! (laughs) 11Sheikah Stone: A stone in the game that will provide hints.

Iwata Asks
Iwata:

With a Bomb.

Hirono:

Yes. (laughs) They fly off like rockets, but gazing at one, I would think, “This is so fun...” Then once I joined the company, I became involved a little as staff on The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and had the chance to watch from the side how they made the characters.

Iwata:

You watched those with more experience go about their work.

Hirono:

Yes. It felt like the characters were really alive. None of them simply talked.

Everyone:

(nodding in unison) Exactly!

Hirono:

As development went along, the characters would gain backgrounds and have more life breathed into them. I was surprised, thinking, “Oh, so that’s how you make them!” Something I tried to do in making the characters this time for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was making them feel familiar and be cute even if they looked weird. Like Marunami-san and Hosaka-san said, cuteness is a good hook.

Iwata:

And you made the characters rich, or “dense.”

Hirono:

Yes! (laughs) I paid attention to designing the characters to have an instantly memorable impact so that even if small children saw them, they would easily take to them.

Iwata:

That’s interesting. I asked about your experiences playing past Legend of Zelda games, and you mention, for example, how fun it was to launch Sheikah Stones!

Hirono:

Yes. (laughs)

Iwata:

And cut grass.

Marunami:

Yes! (laughs)

Iwata:

And wondering why Ilia didn’t hug you!

Hosaka:

Yes! (laughs)

Iwata:

The Legend of Zelda is a game about using a sword to fight horrible monsters, but when I hear the comments from you girls, not a single one of you said anything like, “Defeating a tough monster felt so good!” I think that shows the broad range of The Legend of Zelda’s appeal.

Everyone:

(nodding in unison) We think so, too!