May I ask you a question?

The newest Iwata Asks feature has recently surfaced, and this time Satoru Iwata discusses the upcoming 3d remake of Ocarina of Time with none other than the creator of Zelda, Shigeru Miyamoto.  The feature has questions including why Ocarina of Time is a special game to many, and a few facts from the history of the development of the game, and also Miyamoto once again compares Ocarina of Time to Star Wars!

The interview has officially been translated and you can read it right after the jump:

Why, of course!

Iwata: There’s been a huge response to this remake of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, particularly from those who played it all those years ago. What do you think it is that makes Ocarina of Time a special game for so many people?

Miyamoto: Hmm… What indeed. I don’t understand it all that well myself.

Iwata: Of all the Zelda games, you were very deeply involved with Ocarina of Time.

Miyamoto: I was. I think I was most deeply involved in that one.

Iwata: That just may be the answer, right there (laughs).

Miyamoto: No, no (laughs).

Iwata: Well, to me, it seems as though Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time laid the foundation for modern 3D games, to a great extent. For example, I think that even 3D games from widely different genres were influenced by those two.

Miyamoto: Hmm… I wonder. I really don’t know about that.

Iwata: How should I put it? It seems to me that there were a lot of “first experiences” in those games.

Miyamoto: Ah, you’re right. One of the biggest features of Ocarina of Time may be that it has so many firsts packed into it. And then, this might sound a technical, but the Ocarina of Time game is built, not from a story, but from elements and composition.

Iwata: Elements and composition.

Miyamoto: Right. There are people who wrote the story, and of course, if you have no story, you’re in trouble. But, more than the story itself, I think the various character settings and other factors are what make the fundamentals of the game come to life. In other words, it isn’t that there’s a certain worldview and a certain story around which the characters and items and landscapes are constructed. The heart of Ocarina of Time lies in what the individual designers composed with the elements produced by the person in charge of writing the story.

Iwata: I see.

Miyamoto: The theme of Ocarina of Time is very simple: it’s about a child becoming an adult. There are people who watch over that protagonist. There are many encounters and partings, and the three women. We protected that structure. But if you just scatter that theme and story around a landscape, it won’t make the game interesting.

Iwata: Right, right.

Miyamoto: So, what is it that makes it interesting as a game? The foundation lies in the puzzles that have appeared in The Legend of Zelda franchise since the first game. It’s taking that traditional series material and skillfully transposing it to 3D that really makes the game The Legend of Zelda. When we took series elements and used 3D composition, things just got more and more interesting.

Iwata: I see. That’s how Ocarina of Time was produced.

Miyamoto: Right. And then, there’s really no way around it; we had the most freedom with Ocarina of Time in that respect.

Iwata: Because it was the first 3D Zelda game.

Miyamoto: That’s right. It was the most primitive, and the freest. That’s all there is to it. It isn’t that subsequent games lost that freedom, only that the games which were put out later simply had more things which needed to have attention paid to them. Of course, even Ocarina had traditional elements dating up to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the Super Nintendo, so it wasn’t completely free. It’s just that it was the first 3D Zelda game, and we were able to explore what would be most interesting about making it in 3D without worrying about much else. I think that may be a big part of it.

Iwata: Ah, yes, I see. In other words, as long as you kept the basic composition of the fun of 3D and the traditional puzzle-solving, you were free to design however you liked. Then lots of new things and Zelda series traditions that worked well just soaked in.

Miyamoto: Yes, that’s right.

Iwata: That’s why, even as they experience new things one after another, players will feel that this is definitely a Zelda game.

Miyamoto: I think that’s probably it. This is a bit of a difficult topic, though; maybe I shouldn’t have gone into it here (laughs).

Iwata: (laughs) But it’s really very interesting. You see, we’ve never actually talked about why Ocarina of Time is evaluated as prominent before. Because if we didn’t phrase things correctly, it could sound as though we are not valuing new things.

Miyamoto: That’s just the same as with the first Star Wars: the first one really is special. It isn’t about which one’s better.

Iwata: Yes, that’s true.

Miyamoto: It isn’t about skill or quality. Again, it’s the same with the first Star Wars: when I look at Ocarina now, the graphics are really rough. So rough that I think it’s a wonder people actually played it.

Iwata: Well, but the way I remember it, it doesn’t seem rough at all. I felt as if I was seeing incredible graphics. I remember this part well: Ocarina of Time was the first video game in which looking down from a high place made me feel a bit weak in the knees.

Miyamoto: That’s actually more due to the camera work than to the graphics. At the time, the phrase “cinematic game” was used mostly in regard to graphics, but to me, that wasn’t what cinematic really meant. I thought what we should really be learning was how to use camera techniques to explain situations.

Iwata: Ahh, I see.

Miyamoto: I spoke about this back then, too, but when the camera is up above you, and you’re being watched from that angle, you feel that there’s somebody up there. When you want to make it clear that a place is so high it makes your legs go weak, you change the camera angle slightly depending on how high the character has climbed, and when he reaches the top, you slide the camera up farther and make players look down.

Iwata: So you included filming techniques like that.

Miyamoto: That’s right. The skillful use of cuts can make a fighter jet and pilot look cool; we did things like that in Star Fox, but I think it was in Ocarina of Time that we first saw clearly that we could use cinematic camera work as a production technique.

Iwata: It seems to me that the whole game exudes that thrill of your discoveries.

Miyamoto: Yes. It’s like that precisely because it’s a first game.

Iwata: Well, I feel that I’ve started to understand, little by little, what makes Ocarina of Time special. Of course, the Nintendo 3DS version of Ocarina of Time is crammed with interesting things that weren’t in the Nintendo 64 version, but we’ll wait to talk about those the release.

Miyamoto: Right (laughs).

Iwata: I’ll expect lots of stories from you then. Still, to think it’s been thirteen years already…

Miyamoto: I know. My kid was in the upper grades of elementary school… Oh, that’s right; one thing I remember very well from that time was when my wife saw our child playing Ocarina of Time. She said, “When I’m just looking at it, I think it’s pretty, but I’d never want to try it.” I thought, “Something has to be done about this!” (laughs).

Iwata: Yes, I remember that (laughs).

Miyamoto: I mean, she’d never really cared about games at all before, and here she was, finally showing an interest, and yet… It felt as though a customer had come right up to the entrance, but then she’d turned around and gone back home.

Iwata: The roots of your later “expanding the gaming population” concept can be traced to that incident, right?

Miyamoto: They can (laughs). I thought, “No! I was so close!” That’s what started it.

Iwata: That was a good story to end on (laughs). Thank you very much for your time today.

Miyamoto: Thank you.

Thank You!




  • Shrub

    Miyamoto <3

  • hero of twilight

    i hope the new elements are conections to skyward sword and other games

  • Zelda777

    I am not sure I get all of this. I do get the part about different areas being created by different people. That my have helped the game. And I also get the part about cameras. That was nice too. But how does this make the memorable OoT I know?

  • xxx


  • This makes me more sad that I won't have a 3DS when it comes out. DX

    • Anorand

      Me too I was hoping to get it at release, but I kind of got too tempted to spend my money on some other things that came out recently. I use to have 200 dollars but I spent 40 so i'm left with $160. 🙁

  • Anonomus

    Thats what I thought about LoZ games when I was young. I used to just watch my dad play the game while I just tried to help him. We took turns playing because I was sort of afraid of the game enemies. Now I'm playing the games without fear of the enemies.

    • GenoKID

      That's how I started Zelda, too. I think quite a lot of us sort of learned from it that way.

    • Adrian Quiroga

      Me too, I never really beated Ganon in OoT because I was afraid. It was like I really felt like Link facing that big and scary monster.
      It wasn't until I replayed it all by myself that I beated Ganon. And it felt so good, I felt that I weren't afraid. I felt that I had grown up, just like Link did.

  • Scrivs

    I think it's true what Miyamoto said about the story being less important than the "elements and compositions", and I think that is one of the main reasons that there are so many holes in the timeline theory. Nintendo makes amazing technical achievements for each Zelda game they make, and tack on a plot afterwards. Which makes sense, because the majority of people to whom they want to sell the game is not looking for the epic plot. I am not in that majority, but that's just me.

  • hero of PLACE

    the three women could be Zelda (obviously one of them), Ruto, Navi, Saria, Malon, Impa, or Nabooru. My best guess is that he is talking about Zelda, Ruto, and Saria because these seem to be the women that the game implies that Link has the deepest connection to. Zelda is obvious, Saria is Link's "long lost" childhood friend and the first significant female character you meet in the game other than Navi, and Link shares an entire adventure with Ruto as a child and she's the first female to show a romantic interest in him. I feel that Nabooru comes too late in the game to be considered one of the 3, and both Impa and Malon have too short of parts. Navi, in my opinion, is not visual enough and acts more like a guide than a character most of the time.

    • Nick

      Hmmm. I reckn the three woman represent the triforce. Din, Something-er-rather, and the other one. Three woman! Maybe they just express it as the three woman in Japan rather than the Triforce of Woman?

      Food for thought.