One of the things that we love about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is how easy it is to just take Epona out for a ride; whether it's a quick boost from point A to B, or just making prints in Hyrule Field to past the time, horse riding has now become a staple of main Zelda games.
As the latest Iwata Asks session reveals, it wasn't always like that. Nintendo CEO and president Satoru Iwata probed Nintendo EAD general manager Shigeru Miyamoto about the early development stages of the Nintendo 64 classic and some interesting nuggets of information were shared.
The console was relatively new at the time, and developers were still faced with unknowns that could only be answered with hardware experience. Since the development team was working the narrative around what it could do on the system, Miyamoto had a completely different vision for the game we know today:
... at first I thought only having Ganon's Castle might be enough... I thought about putting in all kinds of adventures into the different rooms, like making a dark meadow or an ocean—like in Princess Peach's Castle in Super Mario 64... In the worst case, Link wouldn't have been able to go outside the castle! (laughs)
At the time, having Link represented in 3D was more important to Miyamoto than having a huge open area like Hyrule Field, although this was more as a result of being uncertain what could be achieved technologically. As more ideas were carried out and the team got more comfortable with what it was doing, the idea of horse riding began to stick:
... making a broad landform that you could ride a horse across weighed down the processing, so we took it out for a while. And after awhile I returned to work with the production team and launched a huge campaign to regain the grassland! (laughs)... We started by testing whether we could have two horses out at once. We thought if we could do that, then we could make other forms of play for that grassland. It went well, so we made a demo video with two horses. We showed that at Nintendo Space World, and I was like, "Now that we've shown this, there's no backing out!" (laughs)