It's been over twenty years now since the release of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, but it's interesting to look back at the state of the Zelda series around the time of its release. In many ways, A Link to the Past was the first true sequel to the original Legend of Zelda, after Zelda II: The Adventure of Link went on a bit of a tangent with its gameplay structure. An old interview with Miyamoto from before the game's Western launch recently received a translation from Shmuplations, giving interesting insight into the game's development.
For one thing, it seems that the game was originally planned to be a launch title for the Super Famicom; Miyamoto mentioned how the game was originally in development alongside Super Mario World:
We started making the game at the same time as Super Mario World. Even back when we first unveiled the Super Nintendo at the company in July, 1989, our plan had always been to develop and release the game alongside Mario. We had wanted to make it a launch title for the SFC, too. We had been hoping to release it in March, but it got delayed to the summer vacation, and, in the end, it came out for the SFC's 1 year anniversary. (laugh)
Later on, a question was asked regarding the kinds of cut ideas that didn't make it into the final release, some of which eventually went on to appear in future Zelda games:
One idea was with the lantern: if you used it on a grassy area, it would cause a huge brushfire. If you cut a little circle of grass around you, you could safely stand there in the middle of it! In swamp areas, you could use a shovel to dig a ditch, and then it you bombed the swamp breakwater it would cause the water to rush into the hole you'd dug. That idea was actually half-complete… if we'd had another 6 months, we might have been able to make it a reality.
Interestingly enough, Miyamoto also talked about an original vision for an "open-ended" Zelda, but the SNES didn't have enough memory to meet their standards. It's fascinating, as what he talks about sounds a lot like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
We did include alternate paths/solutions for players that are easier, though. Originally, the system in Zelda we envisioned was more open-ended: for example, if there was a rock blocking your way, you could safely ignore it and keep playing: there was always another way around. I wanted something that players could get so lost in, it would take them a whole year to finish. The problem with making an "open-ended" version of Zelda like that was the messaging and plotline. If you ignore structure like that, then the plotline can quickly get screwy and NPC messages start to not make sense. Programming in enough logic to handle all the different possibilities probably would have required about 150% more memory than we had.
You can find the full interview here; it's a fascinating read, especially with the knowledge of the series that we have now.
What do you think? What was your favorite part of A Link to the Past? How would you compare it to other Zelda games? Drop us a comment in the section below.