Many Zelda fans will argue that Ocarina of Time is the greatest game of all time. It is remembered very fondly for its many iconic moments and challenging puzzles. In a recent interview with Denfaminicogamer in Japan, Aonuma discussed the reasons why puzzles were included and how they add to the overall game. He also goes on to describe the pressure he felt when creating Majora’s Mask, mainly because Ocarina of Time’s success.

Aonuma explained that it was Ocarina of Time which made solving puzzles “the key element of the game” for the Zelda franchise. Aonuma revealed that he was not asked to make a game with puzzles, but because he “was in charge of designing every dungeon”, he had the most creative control and thought they would be appropriate to include. Apparently Aonuma was only asked to “think about dungeons” within the game. Aonuma wanted to include puzzles because he likes “surprising people” and “also like puzzles.”

Aonuma wanted the player to “see the entrance of the room where the boss is” when they enter the dungeon, to give an extra incentive to complete these puzzles. Aonuma also wanted the door to the boss to be near the entrance so that the player is “allowed to come back to the entrance” even if they fail at a puzzle or die. Aonuma admitted to laying “baits” which encourage the player to attempt the dungeons and puzzles again, even after failing the first time.

“I went out of my mind in the whole time [developing Majora’s Mask]”.

This was a very successful formula which added to the praise that Ocarina of Time received. However, this praise also led to a lot of pressure on the Zelda development team for the follow up game. They wanted to release the game quickly after the release of Ocarina of Time, and Aonuma explained, “I did my best to finish it within a year”. The development team had “set a higher goal” for themselves for the next game, but also “started off unprepared” for Majora’s Mask. Aonuma admitted that “I went out of my mind in the whole time”.

Aonuma suggested that some more dedicated Zelda fans prefer Majora’s Mask, which he finds “kind of ironic”. Aonuma noted that he “could only get an approval for development” because of his track record with Ocarina of Time. Both games are certainly classics for the Nintendo 64 and were featured prominently in the Nintendo 64 Anthology.

Zelda fans will always debate over which game from the Nintendo 64 era they prefer. But Aonuma revealed that Majora’s Mask would have never been developed if Ocarina of Time was a big success first. There are many different factors which made Ocarina of Time such an instant classic, but the dungeon puzzles are certainly one of the most important. Breath of the Wild has adapted many of the traditional conventions of the series, but it seems puzzles are one of the franchise’s defining features and may never be replaced.

Which is your favourite: Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask?