It's no secret that many are enjoying The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D at the moment. The much-anticipated remake of the Nintendo 64 classic rectified some of the issues present in the original release and streamlined the whole experience to make it more enjoyable.
Just recently, Game Informer conducted an interview with Eiji Aonuma - the Zelda series' producer - that focused on both the original The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask and the 3DS remake, asking questions about everything from initial choices made during development to certain changes made in the remake. Unsurprisingly, Aonuma-san had many interesting things to say.
To begin, Game Informer asked Aonuma why assets were reused from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Aonuma said that it boiled down to a bit of a time saving technique and a bit of a stylistic choice; going on to say that it let the team use the same characters to express things that couldn't be done in Ocarina of Time, while cutting back on development time as an added bonus.
Really, it was a little bit of both, whether it comes down to the decision of saving time in the schedule or it being more of a stylistic decision. I think a lot of it comes down to those character models having the ability to express something that they couldn't in the setting of Ocarina because we had this very different image for the world where Majora's Mask takes place. You know we described it as being a nearby land, but in feel, it's almost like another dimension. Even though these characters have a similar appearance to the version of them that appeared in Ocarina, they express something different in a different world.
Aonuma was then asked whether he was surprised or not that the game was divisive amongst the fans due to its confusing nature. He stated that it was rather interesting to hear different opinions on the game just from friends and family due to the fact that the relatively young internet at the time limited contact between the greater player-base and Nintendo. In addition to this, he remarked how appreciative he is to have the opportunity to go back and fix any gameplay problems with the recent remake.
I guess I should start by pointing out that when the Nintendo 64 version of Majora's Mask came out this was the pre-internet era so we didn't necessarily have as many opportunities as we do now for the voices of players to reach us directly, but I certainly did have a lot of opportunities to talk to friends and family who played the game and to hear their reactions, and of course I heard some pretty interesting things among those. In fact someone mentioned that they got pretty close to throwing the controller at one point, and that really stuck with me...What I'm really happy for now was the opportunity to address some of the things that made the game difficult in the wrong ways in this remake, and that's been really nice for me.
Shifting gears, Game Informer asked whether the entire game is all taking place in a dream, citing another famous example - Link's Awakening - from the franchise. Aonuma said that a particular song was thrown in as a reference to the previous game and nothing more, but was amused to see how players will ponder over various details such as this.
The reason that this song from Link's Awakening was used in this game really came down to a decision by the sound team. They were looking for inspiration, something that would fit the theme, and since the previous game was about collecting instruments it made sense that you would want to use this for a band in this case. For us, really, it was just a playful choice that referenced a previous game and nothing more than that.
However, I love that people think about stuff like this, and I think it shows how they feel about the franchise as a whole that they're interested in these possibilities.
The next question was why bottles are so rare in Zelda games. Aonuma said that they're limited due to how effectively they can be used in-game. Interestingly enough, after mentioning the addition of another bottle in the remake, he revealed that an interesting event will occur if all bottles are collected.
As it turns out, in this remade version of Majora's Mask, we added one extra bottle. If you happen to collect all of them, you're going to see a slightly interesting event. It certainly is true that they were hard to find in the original games, and we wanted to address that by giving people more chances to find bottles by adding this extra one.
Regarding the bottles themselves being very valuable? I suppose it's true since they can hold so many different things it makes it possible for you to do more in the game. They do have a very precious existence, from that perspective. As to why there are so few, I would simply say it has to be that way based on how powerful they are in the game.
Moving on, Game Informer asked why the bank is able to resist the time reset and still hold the same amount of rupees. Aonuma didn't really answer the question, saying that the idea of there being a bank was born out of necessity and that they decided on the idea of there being a mark of the account on Link's hand that would be invisible to the naked eye.
Part of this is just the most practical answer. The bank needs to maintain your rupees, otherwise you would lose them at the end of every three day cycle, despite the fact that it's really important to build up enough money to buy things in the game. We needed to find some reason for stuff to stay in the game, and we considered the idea that there would be some kind of markings on Link's hand that maybe you could only see if you shone a black light on them. This was talked about, the identification of his account and the current balance in it.
This would sort of make sense in that world because every time he goes back to the beginning of that three day cycle, he goes back in time but he stays who he is, he retains everything that is part of his person. We thought that would kind of make sense, because you could just look at your hand and say, “Oh, yes, you were this person, with this account, and this is your balance." But that still would represent a situation where the amount of money in the vault was changing over time.
Finally, Aonuma was asked why other characters don't react to Link's transformation process when he puts on different masks. He brought up the development of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and how at one point this was considered, with Link unable to transform in front of other characters. The idea was dropped, however, as it impeded gameplay too much.
I should point out that this is something we actually considered during the development of Twilight Princess. We had an early iteration of the wolf transformation where you couldn't transform when in front of other characters that could see you. We thought this would be an interesting way to address exactly the thing you're bringing up here, but what we found in practice was that it was simply too troublesome. So for purely practical game reasons we decided to avoid that.
Overall, this was a very interesting interview and you can read the whole thing here. What did you think of this? Were you surprised at anything Aonuma had to say? Sound off in the comments below.