It seems that the recent release of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D has opened a veritable floodgate of memories for Eiji Aonuma, the Zelda series’ producer. He’s partaken in numerous interviews in the wake of the re-release and in each one, more details were unearthed as to how the game came to be what it is today. True to this, the Japanese-based game magazine, Nintendo Dream, conducted an interview with Aonuma-san and he had even more interesting things to say about the development of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. The translated text is courtesy of Nintendo Everything.
To start, Aonuma remarked how difficult it was to get the game pushed out in one year, adding that this was one of the only times that he had to pull an all-nighter to get something done:
That’s right. For example, it has been a long time since I started working on Zelda, but I have almost never pulled an all-nighter. However, I did that once for the N64 version of Majora’s Mask. I did that together with Koizumi and (Takumi) Kawagoe. We were responsible for a movie which Miyamoto had rejected the day before. We had to do it again until the next day and there was barely enough time. It left a lasting impression as I worked quietly in a room with no one around.
This is a rather surprising revelation; one would think a man as busy as Aonuma would have a crushing workload, but it really just speaks volumes as to how efficient he can be at getting things done. Perhaps it has to do with how well he can divide up work, as he went on to mention how Yoshiaki Koizumi - one of the lead designers of the project - was the man who planned out everything that occurs in clock town, while Aonuma designed the surrounding area and dungeons.
Speaking of our roles back then, Koizumi was responsible for planning events inside Clock Town and I planned surrounding areas, including dungeons.
Speaking of Koizumi-san, he was the one who initially came up with the time management system. This was a point of subtle conflict between the two; as Aonuma wanted to do content based around time management as well, but that would have meant the overworld would be constantly changing, so time management activities were mostly relegated to Clock Town.
But I wanted to make [things for the time management system], too. I said I wanted time management outside [of Clock Town], but the gameplay becomes strict if the passage of time can be seen in dungeons and on the field. That is why I was told to include time management only in Clock Town.
Aonuma did get to put in some time sensitive events, however, such as how the frozen goron elder will change location based on the time of day. Moving on, Romani ranch was brought up. Amusingly enough, Koizumi justified this, too, as being part of Clock Town and scheduled the events that occur there, as well.
That was Koizumi’s work. Because Cremia is at Milk Road, that place is a part of the time management content and received the same treatment as Clock Town. Despite Koizumi being told to only plan Clock Town, gradually he encroached up to that area! When cattle mutilation became a topic at the time, Koizumi wanted to do that content, but that content couldn’t be done within Clock Town. Therefore we wanted to have a vast place like a ranch. Also it would have been weird if there wasn’t a ranch following Ocarina of Time, so Romani Ranch was born.
An interesting topic is how the Anju and Kafei wedding event tied into the real world. It started when the development team was attending a member’s wedding during the Taepodong-1 missile testing by North Korea. Somebody on the team remarked how odd it was to be attending a wedding when missiles could hit and this was seen as fitting in with the setting of the moon falling.
We were attending a wedding of a staff member and were talking with Koizumi and the others: “Come to think of it, it’s somewhat strange to come to a wedding in a situation when missiles may fall down today.” The discussion progressed into noting how it would also fit the setting of a falling moon and whether to do a wedding in the game.
Aonuma then went on to talk about where the Pamela character in Ikana Canyon came from. After deciding on putting in a sidequest related to a little girl, he came up with the name because of a Brazilian Jazz song stuck in his head that had “Pamela, Pamela” in the lyrics. When he saw how small she was in relation to the rest of the canyon, he decided to make her character brave and added in the setting around her father.
Particularly Pamela was named after a part of a Bossa Nova song. “Pamela, Pamela ♪” was stuck in my head at the time (laughs). I remember well the day when I was informed Pamela was in the game. When I checked it, the camera showed all of Ikana in a distant view, but I had no idea where Pamela was. “Where is she?” I asked. The only reply I got was: “Isn’t she there?” I looked hard and saw something that moved and looked like a little spot. I said: “Did I get it!?” But when I saw that figure moving around, I got the feeling this child was brave. That’s why I created a little troubled setting for her father.
Lastly, Aonuma talked about the origin of the Indigo-Go’s. He wanted to add in a more relational aspect to the game and figured that a band would also act as a good youth-like symbol, based partly off of his own experiences in a band. The idea of the band also helped to tie the Great Bay area back in with Clock Town, so it was scheduled that the band would play in town.
When considering relations for those characters, I ended up thinking a band could be good. I joined a band as a student and I’m still playing wind instruments so I thought a band would give a youth-like feeling. When I discussed this with Koizumi, we thought “let’s make them have a concert in Clock Town”, and so the setting was quickly decided. We wanted to connect Clock Town and the surrounding areas so that’s why this plan got great support.
It really is staggering to consider just how much goes into the development of a game. As you can see, lots of heart and soul was put into the creation of Majora’s Mask.
What do you think? Was the final product representative of the work put into it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.