Following the release of a particular Marvel movie that got a ton of people talking, we’re no longer unaccustomed to the horror of seeing our favorite heroes fade away (in the literal sense). Despite this, I’m still struggling to come to grips with the concept of Link and his childhood friends from Ocarina of Time disappearing upon reaching a certain age. Link’s farewell Saria was sad enough.
And yet, earlier in the game’s development, this is what producer Shigeru Miyamoto envisioned.
Ocarina of Time was first released in Japan on November 21, 1998. This month, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the most beloved games of all time. Two decades on, Ocarina of Time is still widely regarded as not only the pinnacle of The Legend of Zelda series but as one of the greatest achievements in video game history. Throughout Ocarina Month, we’re going to be looking back on the game that shaped childhoods, defined the action-adventure genre, and introduced a generation to how magical exploring a 3D world could be.
Princess Zelda’s Study is a series where we examine the history of The Legend of Zelda to bring you some fascinating (or just plain weird) trivia. In our studies, we’ll explore each game’s development, curiosities within the rich lore of the franchise, and the impact it has had on our culture. From time to time, we’ll also look at Nintendo’s past to unearth some facts about our favorite company.
In the final version of Ocarina of Time, the Kokiri are a race of forest dwellers born from the Great Deku Tree, who serves as their guardian and protector. They never age and remain forever as children, unless they venture outside of the forest and out of the Deku Tree’s reach.
Earlier in the game’s development, the Kokiri’s physiology was quite different. In a 1997 interview with Japanese magazine Famimaga 64 (translated by IGN), producer Shigeru Miyamoto was asked if Link’s family would make an appearance in the game. He responded, “For some reason or another, there are no parents in [the Kokiri] race, only many children of the same age. All of a sudden, they grow up until they reach a certain age, when they disappear. The next generation is born just as abruptly. So at some point, Link will disappear.”
While this is a sorrowful fate for the Kokiri compared to the one from the Ocarina of Time we know and love, it seems as though Miyamoto was at least always set on introducing a magical element to this race. I can only imagine how bittersweet the game’s ending would have been if Link disappeared after completing his quest, or even if it was just hinted that this destiny awaited him.
The rapid aging factor could have also been an alternative means to quickly transition Link from his younger and adult forms which is, of course, a key element in the game. Another interesting point to draw from this is that Miyamoto originally planned for Link to be a Kokiri, rather than a Hylian-born child who was raised with them.
While I was fascinated by this idea, I think Miyamoto made the right call with his final decisions as the Kokiri being an ageless race turned out to be a very compelling component of these characters. The realization that Link would grow up while his friends would remain as children felt somewhat tragic, and served as a strong beginning to an unforgettable story.