The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia
Shigeru Miyamoto, senior executive director of Nintendo Corporation and general producer of the Legend of Zelda series
I started working on the first Legend of Zelda project with a small staff in a corner of Nintendo’s development office in Kyoto. It was the mideighties, and the Famicom [Editor’s note: Famicom is the Japanese name for the Nintendo Entertainment System or NES] console had been out for about two years. At that time I was working on a Super Mario Bros. compilation for the Famicom, but the Disk System [Editor’s note: The Disk System was a peripheral for the Famicom that was not released in the United States] was about to come out, and we needed to develop a launch title for it.
I thought that we should take advantage of the Disk System’s ability to rewrite data by making a game that allowed two players to create dungeons and then explore each other’s creations. We designed that game, and the overall response was that playing through the dungeons was the best part. We made a one-player game with dungeons under mountains that surrounded Death Mountain, but we couldn’t shake that “I want to playaboveground, too!” feeling, so we added forests and lakes, and eventually Hyrule Field.
Of course, the title of the game wasn’t decided right at the beginning. I knew I wanted it to be The Legend of something, but I had a hard time figuring out what that “something” was going to be. That’s when the PR planner said, “Why don’t you make a storybook for this game?”
He suggested an illustrated story where Link rescues a princess who is a timeless beauty with classic appeal, and mentioned, “There’s a famous American author whose wife’s name is Zelda. How about giving that name to the eternal beauty?” I couldn’t really get behind the book idea, but I really liked the name Zelda. I asked him if I could use it, and he said that would be fine. And that’s where the title The Legend of Zelda was born.
We named the protagonist Link because he connects people together. He was supposed to spread the scattered energy of the world through the ages. The old female storyteller who feeds information to Zelda is named Impa; her name comes from the word impart. Impa, Link, and Zelda were the guardians of the Triforce. Today, when you think of characters who are connected to the Triforce, you think of Link, Zelda, and Ganon, but that started in Ocarina of Time. Originally Ganon was only a villain in relentless pursuit of the Triforce.
So, twenty-five years have passed, and we have made a lot of Zelda titles. In the beginning, Link was just a bunch of
pixelated dots, and now he is a hero who appears fearless, capable of realistic and free movement. Ganon has turned into a powerful archvillain, and Zelda, an incredibly beautiful woman.
With better hardware come richer and more elaborate production values. However, I feared that the game play might come to rely on, and ride solely upon, the benefits of improved technology. The most important aspects of a game are the game system, the action, the sensory experience, the creativity, the production values, and the performances. With each generation the production values evolve, but in certain respects my involvement has been that of a guardian, to ensure that game play doesn’t suffer.
And in respect to game play elements, I feel that Skyward Sword, the most recent game, which came out at the turning point of the twenty-fifth anniversary, is very well balanced. Over these twenty-five years we have come up with new items, changed the way many items are used, made Link’s controls more comfortable for solving puzzles, and adapted to, and improved, new controllers. We have even designed the controllers themselves with the Zelda games in mind, and I feel the Wii MotionPlus and the Nunchuck are ideal for Skyward Sword.
The year 2011 was also the thirtieth anniversary of Donkey Kong, where my life in video game design all started. I’ve
can input his or her own name. I said the name Link came from his role as a connector, but Link is you, the player. The series has been so successful because the player must solve puzzles and defeat tough enemies in order to ultimately save the world. I am so thankful this has allowed us to “link” with players all around the globe.
Even though Ganon is defeated time and time again, he is evil incarnate and will come back time and time again, with a vengeance. Each time, when the world is blanketed in evil, a young boy and girl will be born. Link’s adventures will go on for as long as you continue to love his world. With new hardware will come new games in this series, and I emphatically ask you to please give them a shot. 25th Anniversary
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