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Ocarina of Time at One Point Confined Within Ganon's Castle

Posted by Trevor Chan

Could have turned out very different yet still familiar

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)


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User Comments (41)



Lan said:

so it could have been first person AND only in Ganon's castle.



TKOWL said:

So... it changed from an extremely linear game into an extremely un-linear game?



Punny said:

I'm glad Mr. Miyamoto changed his mind about just having Ganon's Castle. The game wouldn't have been as open and vast with just that.



Retro_on_theGo said:

"Easy to take Epona out for a ride."It took me forever to find out how to ride epona!! Dx I'm still such a noob to Zelda.
Anyways, the idea does sound interesting, but I prefer open worlds.



KLZ said:

Dark meadow and an ocean inside Ganon´s castle sounds amazing



OldBoy said:

Sounds like it would have been awful but I'm sure Miyamoto & Co. would have made it awesome.I bet it would have been kinda creepy actually.No blue skies and sunrises?!!



warioswoods said:

I've never been a fan of OoT's dull fields anyway.

You go from the 2D games (Link's Awakening in particular) where every detail of every screen is meticulously planned and well designed, then suddenly you have OoT's lifeless field where you spend several minutes (pre-horse, that is) rolling tediously across a landscape that is generic and unimaginative.

I actually prefer even the oft-maligned ocean in Wind Waker to OoT's field... at least there were fun little events here and there on the sea. It was still a bit dull at times, though, when great distances needing traversing. Twilight Princess might be the best in this particular regard out of all the 3D Zeldas... open and expansive areas, still not exactly teeming with details and secrets, but at least consistently interesting to gaze upon.



Link977 said:

thats what made this game a huge hit when it came out, all the open land.



Chris720 said:

WarioWoods summed it up nicely really... OoT was never sprawling with life, it was just grass with a few odd trees here and there compared to Twilight Princess.

Ganon's Castle would've been cool, but just sounds too... boring... and too much like Mario 64. I'm glad how OoT turned out, it was experimented on like crazy and became a worldwide phenomenon.



bezerker99 said:

The castle idea isn't that bad...we prolly wouldn't have needed an annoying Navi going, "Listen!" every 5 minutes.



Meta-Rift said:

That would be great. The whole game taking place inside a castle would have been a perfect fit for OoT.



DarkLloyd said:

well im pretty sure some of you guys wouldnt have the mind set of "im glad we got oot like it is" if that wasnt how they put it out the first time many years ago i can assure u that you wouldnt think the castle idea sucks



Meta-Rift said:

@TeeJay: Of course I am. Most of the concepts introduced in the game would make sense and work really well in a setting like that. It would be cool to see them do something like this eventually, maybe in a handheld game.



Hokori said:

how do we know hyrule isnt in a castle already Hyrule could be just one world inside a painting via SM64



komicturtle said:

I feel the same way. OoT's field is so boring. There's some trees.. what, 5? I think if it was much bigger but also had large hills, pathways and maybe a small house here and there, it would have been so much better.



Meta-Rift said:

@Otaku: How do we know that Majora's Mask isn't just a dream that Link has during his seven-year nap in the Temple of Time?



CowLaunch said:

I'm glad they didn't do that, but I'd like to see the idea realised in a later game though. Maybe they could have a similar dream world idea to Link's Awakening that's set entirely in Ganon's castle, with Link going into different dreams or something.



Cia said:

How can you say that OOT:s field is generic and unimaginative? Remember that when it originally came, there was nothing like it on the market, and hyrule field was the most gorgeus thing in videogames.



Willerz said:

Totally agree with @komicturtle92 on this one.
Hyrule field was very bland. Yes, it was expansive, but there wasn't much going on there. A few houses, characters, and secrets would've made it a ton better.



NintyMan said:

Well, I'm glad that they chose to go with more exploration than limiting it to just Ganon's Castle. That would've been too much like Super Mario 64. That interview was actually pretty interesting, especially when they talked about making landforms for the game.



Retr_acro said:

I guess people don't know what fields are.

Anyway, yeah It's interesting to see it, but it would be too much like Super Mario 64.



Meta-Rift said:

@NintyFan: Yeah, I would have liked it if they focused on exploration. But since they didn't, putting the whole game in a castle wouldn't feel that out-of-place, and they still could have done everything that makes it a good game.



SuperLink said:

How can you say that Hyrule field was BLAND? There's not a better feeling than just running around with Epona across the vast and wonderous Hyrule field. Plus, you get to shoot poes, collect rupees, bomb holes in the ground for secret rooms, attack peahats, jump over fences, and attack stalchildren (at night, that is). Not to mention, Hyrule field is gorgeous! It's like a center gateway to all of the other lands that you journey across.



Capt_N said:

@superlink64: Funny you should mention that. I was just thinking about shooting the poes in Hyrule field many comments up this page. As I came close to reading your comment, it just occurred to me, what if shooting the poes in Hyrule field was actually more of a possible last minute thing added in, to give more gameplay time/function to the field?



Teh-Ray said:

By today's standard, Hyrule field is pretty bland, yeah. I think we've forgotten the feeling of the first time we were able to explore it, though.

At least, I remember it being wondrous.



Meta-Rift said:

@Teh-Ray: It's bland by today's standards, it's bland by 1998's standards, it's just bland in general. I didn't realize that the first time I played the game, because I had never played a Zelda game before.



Milkman-123 said:

ganons castle already had a couple rooms. but MORE and BIGGER ones would just be copying mario 64. oh well. im still not complaining

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