Interviews with Shigeru Miyamoto are always enlightening. As the creator of some of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises, he can offer a unique glimpse behind the scenes of games such as Mario, Donkey Kong, and of course, The Legend of Zelda.
As interesting as recent talks with Miyamoto are, it’s just as fascinating to look back at older interviews with him. Buried in a 1992 issue of Electric Brain magazine (found on Archive.org) is an interview with the Zelda creator himself, around the time of A Link to the Past’s release.
In it, Miyamoto discusses the limitations of the original Legend of Zelda for the NES, and how they could improve with the sequel. “We wanted to improve on all the short comings [sic] on Zelda 1 and throw in a couple of new ideas that we had left out,” Miyamoto stated. Later, he talked about features that were cut due to the limitations of the Super Nintendo. “… we were not going to sit around doing nothing because all of the ideas wouldn’t fit onto the given memory space, so we dropped the average ideas and picked the best.” Some of the things that didn’t make the cut include fire spreading in the field, and digging canals that the lake could flow into.
It’s also fascinating to hear him discuss how and why they kept the game linear. Miyamoto expresses an interest way back then in allowing games to be more open, but technical reasons held them back. “… when you take out the order in which things come, messages which crop up now and then in the game would have to be altered because if you read message 4 before message 3, it won’t make sense.” He also mentions how frustrating it would be if you had to backtrack for a key item you missed long ago, and how they designed A Link to the Past to avoid this.
Twenty-five years later, Miyamoto found ways around both of these problems with Breath of the Wild. By giving the player all the essential tools at the beginning and making most of the story take place in flashbacks, he was able to make a truly open Zelda game. Looking back on this interview, you can see the start of so many ideas that would later be fully realized.
The whole interview covers more than this, and is worth reading if you enjoy Zelda history. You can view the two-page interview below, or read it along with the rest of the magazine at Archive.org.