Following Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has been hailed as both the best and most unusual game in the entire franchise. Someone calls her a game that surpassed the success of Ocarina of Time. The remarkable thing is that it shouldn't have existed. An exclusive excerpt from a series of book projects from Boss Fight Books: Season 5 tells the story of the creation of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.
Zelda, which came out by accident
Shigeru Miyamoto had a humble plan to squeeze more juice out of the Ocarina of Time. Shigeru was reluctant to develop a new game in the series and instead decided to make Second Quest - an additional campaign for Ocarina of Time, very similar to Second Quest in the original Zelda, which was unlocked after the completion.
The world in the game will be a mirror image of the original, enemies deal double damage, and most importantly, the dungeons would have been redone. Much of the work on Second Quest for Ocarina of Time fell on the shoulders of her dungeon designer Eiji Aonuma.
But Aonuma was reluctant to redo his own dungeons immediately after their creation, and he said the same to Miyamoto. Instead, Miyamoto presented Aonuma with a much more difficult challenge: to avoid having to work on Second Quest, he and the new team should use Ocarina's existing engine and resources to create an all-new Zelda for the N64, with a release next year.
Aonuma himself spoke about this in an interview. In his words, it was like accepting a challenge to a duel after the enemy threw a glove in your face.
However, in another interview, Aonuma told things a little differently. According to him, Miyamoto asked him to work on Second Quest, and Aonuma at first "hesitantly agreed", but then "could not really grasp the task." So instead of working on Second Quest, Aonuma began designing entirely new dungeons that went far beyond the existing dungeons of Ocarina of Time.
“It was much more fun. So I got up the courage to ask Miyamoto-san if I could make a new game, and he replied that there is no problem if I can do it in a year. ”
Despite his big plans for a new Zelda powered by the Ocarina engine, Aonuma was unaware that he was taking on the role of director. According to him at GDC, this work naturally fell from the sky to him. If Miyamoto himself did not intend to lead the game [and he did not], it is important that this work is done by someone who already knew Ocarina of Time inside and out.
Board game and German action movie
As soon as Aonuma started to work, he felt a lot of pressure.
“We are faced with a very difficult question,” Aonuma said in his speech at GDC, “about which game can follow Ocarina of Time and its seven million copies worldwide.”
Since he had a much smaller team in the new game, Aonuma realized that the game needed to be smaller than Ocarina of Time. But he also knew that fans would be disappointed with a less ambitious game. Aonum needed what he called a "brilliant idea" to bridge the gap between fan expectations and the team's limited resources. Stunned, Aonuma turned to one of his Ocarina of Time colleagues.
Yoshiaki Koizumi was working at the time to create an addictive board game from Nintendo in which cops try to catch robbers in a limited time [Eiji described it as a compact game in a big world that can be played over and over again.].
Aonuma introduced him to his new game and Koizumi replied that he would work on his team, the quote "only if you let me do whatever I want." The first one agreed.
Koizumi immediately had ideas on how his playing with cops and robbers could solve Aonuma's problem of how to make a satisfying Zelda in just one year.
“I wanted to make it so that you would technically have to catch the criminal within a week, but in reality you could finish the game in an hour. I thought I would just transfer what I already had to Majora's Mask, ”explained Koizumi in an interview with Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun
Aonuma liked Koizumi's idea:
“You played in the same locations, enjoying the same activities. We thought we could create an interesting game by giving it depth, not breadth. ”
In an interview with Famitsu, it is mentioned that Koizumi's play was influenced by Tom Tweaker's 1998 German action film Run Lola Run. Koizumi's suggestion was simple: "What if we do something like this [Run Lola Run] in the game?"
In this movie, a woman named Lola rushes through the streets of Berlin to get 100,000 DM in 20 minutes and save her boyfriend Manny's life. When Lola dies in the process, she inexplicably gains another life, counting down from twenty minutes to her death in order to save Manny. Remembering her last attempt, she tries a new tactic. When her second attempt fails and she dies again, it starts all over again. And only for the third time has she managed to raise money.
Here, again, different interviews tell slightly different versions. In an interview with Hobonichi, Miyamoto recalls seeing the trailer for Lola while Majora was already in development and thinking, "Oh, this is crazy!" because the idea was so close to what they came up with. When he watched the film and found that it was very different from Majora's Mask, he relaxed.
Regardless of whether or not the film directly inspired the game, it's interesting that Lola influenced Majora when video games themselves often influenced later time-loop movies like Source Code and Edge of Tomorrow. In these, the character must complete the same mission over and over again until he or she finally succeeds. Movies inspire games that inspire movies that inspire more games - this wheel doesn't stop spinning today.
Conveniently, Ocarina of Time already had a basic time mechanic: the world had an internal clock with a rising and setting sun, which resulted in different enemies appearing depending on whether it was day or night. Therefore, Koizumi and Aonuma developed the concept of a loop in which the game is repeated over and over again over the same three days.
Miyamoto supported their idea and liked how the replay mechanic combined with his belief in replayability.
“There is no point in doing something that the viewer will just watch like a movie at a time. The full aroma of creation is revealed gradually with each new viewing. Since all the subtleties and details become visible. "
The team initially planned to bring in a full week, but found keeping track of the days would be hard work for the players.
“In this game, the townspeople do different things every day, and a lot of different events happen, when the time frame becomes a week, it's too much to remember everything. You can't just remember who, where, what is doing on what day. [...] When you came back on the first day, it would feel like a burden ”- recalls the designer
For a while, Koizumi was still trying to divide time between Majora's Mask and other work: "
At the time I started working on Majora's Mask, I was already busy developing another game. You see, I am incredibly ambitious. But then Miyamoto stepped in, canceling my project and sending me to work fully on Zelda.
Koizumi and Miyamoto laugh when they remember this, but I guess canceling the game was not a very pleasant thing for Koizumi when it happened. The challenge for telling a story based on interviews with Japanese game developers is that Japanese game developers are almost invariably polite. If you want to find examples of a current Nintendo employee getting discouraged over a canceled game, all you can do is try to read the despair between the lines in his "jokes" on the topic.
It wasn't even clear at first what Koizumi's role would be.
“When my other project was canceled, the team and I did not know how to proceed and asked Shigeru. Miyamoto's response was, "Do what you can!" Koizumi thought to himself, "This won't help me.
Alas, the new Zelda was Nintendo's second largest project and had a huge priority over other games. So if Koizumi wanted Aonuma, he got it.
Zelda without Shigero
It took Koizumi and Aonuma a while to realize that Miyamoto had indeed decided not to be involved with Majora's Mask. This was partly due to the fact that Miyamoto's role at Nintendo was changing, and he was following many projects at the same time instead of focusing on one specific one. During the creation of The Mask of Majora, Miyamoto was also involved as a producer on Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Mario Tennis, Paper Mario, Mario Party 3 and Pokemon Stadium 2, and was also involved in the development of the GameCube.
No one is used to this rhythm of work, especially after the intense daily attention that Miyamoto paid to Ocarina of Time. According to Koizumi, the team whispered that Shigeru would come back anyway to make last minute edits or manage work.
In his speech at the GDC, Aonuma refers to Miyamoto as "knocking over the tea table." The phrase is taken from a scene in the manga in which a stern Japanese father hits his son so hard that he flips the table.
Whenever the game is nearing completion and all that remains is the final polish, Miyamoto will inevitably knock our tea table over, and the direction in which we were all moving suddenly changes dramatically, ”he recalls.
I think I spent more time with Miyamoto than with my own father, so I really should be able to read his mind already, "he said in an interview with Nintendo Everything.
“I am still far from reaching the level of Mr. Miyamoto's prospects. When you reach my age, the number of people pointing out your mistakes becomes very limited. So in this sense, too, I would like him to always give advice and express his opinion about the products we create. ”
Miyamoto does not always balance between approval and criticism. At times Miyamoto was a kind of "father" who refrained from praise so that his team worked to impress him.
“He will never say we did a good job,” Aonuma said in an interview about Dragon Quest. “When Mr. Iwata was here, he told me Miyamoto liked the game. But then I said, “What? He never said that to me. " This was not the preferred way to manage me as an employee. When I receive a compliment, it will calm and relieve me, and I will soften.
But in this game, Miyamoto completely trusted Aonuma and his team. If his hand can still be felt in the game, it may be because he has already trained his staff well in previous games. After working with Miyamoto on Ocarina of Time, Aonuma and his team are now turning tea tables for themselves.
The Topic of Article: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask - Random Zelda.