The Legend of Zelda series is famous for mixing a large, non-linear open-world with multiple dungeons, but in an interview from 1999 that has recently been translated by Shmuplations.com, the legendary designer revealed that the original game was very nearly "just dungeons."
In the interview – which is primarily focused on Ocarina of Time – Miyamoto is asked about transitioning the dungeons into 3D, and replies:
In every Zelda development, the dungeons take a huge amount of time to make. I can't tell you how many times they end up having to be remade and revised, while the team is on the verge of tears. Did you know, in the original Legend of Zelda, at the beginning of the development it was just dungeons. There was no overhead map. That's a testament to the "Dungeon Supremacy" philosophy we've always followed. However, with Ocarina of Time, for the first time we didn't spend as much time on the dungeons. It was a very a "un-Zelda" thing to do. (laughs)
Released in 1986, The Legend of Zelda first appeared on the Famicom Disk System before being ported to the NES in 1987.
Interesting how he would describe Ocarina of Time's design focus as rather "un-Zelda", since nowadays it's considered the most "Zelda"y Zelda game of all.
Now that I think about it, I think I would have liked the original without an overworld map.
Glad they went and added it then. Just going from level to level like it's Mario would've been pretty dull.
@BloodNinja Given how cryptic it is at times, yeah
I'm glad they added the overworld, I love the freedom and non-linearity it gives the game.
Fun fact: Ocarina Of Time was originally supposed to be all dungeons as well: In the early stages of development the entire game took place in Ganons Castle with several sub-dungeons. This may explain the design of Ganons Tower in the final game.
@EarthboundBenjy nah, to me Link to the Past is the most Zelda-y Zelda.
Someone created a hack of Zelda OoT with only dungeons and a hub to progress in the game. Frankly I hate being stuck In a dungeon forever.
@nesrocks To be fair, it's mostly cryptic due to the poor english translation. Also, the manual actually contains some very valuable hints to find the last dungeons.
So many dungeons but not enough dragons.
If you consider the manual akin to Navi's or Fi's hints — and I certainly do --, then the original is frankly not that cryptic. Outside of maybe that one bush you have to burn. (The vast majority of bombable walls are optional secrets, so I'm not counting them.)
i played it 10 yrs ago with a map. i really can't understand how people played it in late '80 without any help.....like anyone now can't understand how the Egyptians built the pyramids
@BananaMetallurgica I don’t think people played without help. Hint lines, magazines, and guides were big back then.
@Eel yeah, that's true
Dungeon supremacy? Design dungeons without world map?
Man, Breath of the Wild broke everything.
@EarthboundBenjy It's almost like things change over time
I could see why dungeons would be a huge pain, since they are essentially a bunch of puzzles within one large puzzle.
They didn't: a full-color map came in the box with the location of several dungeons. (The first four spelled out; others cheekily referenced with question marks). The map had blank spaces at the very top you were supposed to draw in yourself, but those are all late-game areas. You can check it out here, at the bottom: https://www.nintendo.co.jp/clv/manuals/en/pdf/CLV-P-NAANE.pdf. Yes, Nintendo did ask that people use the map "as a last resort," but it's certainly there and most kids probably used it. (I certainly did for my own playthrough in 2020.)
Now our Zelda's have next to no dungeons.. (going into a temple to fight a few enemies does not a dungeon make) Sad times.
Kinda weird because I thought miyamoto said it was inspired by his childhood and adventuring in nature etc
@timp29 I think part of that was exploring caves which might explain the dungeons.
While I think a link to the past is massively overrated, it is what made the series. In a sense ocarina is basically just a remake of ALTTP. Without it Zelda probably would not exist today.
it is? please explain.
Assuming you are talking about me saying ocarina is basically a remake.
It has the same exact story. Go get the three stones to access the master sword. Then go rescue the Seven Sages all ending with a fight in Gabon’s tower. It has repeating locations even reusing music from a link to the past. Similar dungeon themes. It is structured the exact same.
Interesting. I always thought Ocarina of Time had some of the most well thought out and - in some cases - the most complex series of dungeons in the series - at least to that point (the infamous Water Temple, anyone?) I mean, I guess the 3D aspect could have made OoT's dungeons seem more complicated than they actually were - but at the same time, I still find it very hard to believe that dungeons weren't really much of a focus in the game.
Maybe Miyamoto is just trying to be humble or something - or mayhap he's eaten one too many edibles? The mystery deepens.
@chipia That sounds a lot like Super Mario 64
Dungeons only would have been terrible! The game wouldn't have stood out, back in the day.
I'm glad they put the overworld in. Otherwise it would have been just a clone of Dandy, the 1983 game for the Atari 8-bit computer, and its sequel Gauntlet from 1985. The overworld exploration is what makes Zelda stand out, along with the excellent combat and dungeons.
I always liked how Four Sword Adventures had its level and item system.
This ISN'T news!
I've been saying this for years!
Those didn't really exist until after the first Zelda game came out.
@Spider-Kev what those?
If you go by Miyamoto's own vision of what Zelda was supposed to be, I would have to say BOTW. My personal favorite, however, is Wind Waker.
Of course it was, didn't we already know that it started out as a dungeon editor?
is strange hearing for Miyamoto, he stating Ocarina of Time is a unzelda game, Breath of the Wild is a unzelda game not Ocarina of Time, due the lack of tradicionals Dungeons.
i remember back hearing that Ocarina of Time was planed to be set on Ganon Castle.
@Kehkou BOTW is my favorite 3D Zelda; I just miss my dungeons. I will say that no prior to BOTW brought back the feeling of actual exploration that I'd had from playing the original on my NES.
Tap here to load 37 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...