The newest interview in the series commemorating the release of the NES Classic Edition has finally been released by Nintendo, and it is all about The Legend of Zelda. The Legend of Zelda was originally released alongside the Famicom Disk System in Japan in 1986 (then later in the West in 1987). As with the other two interviews in the series, this interview is conducted by Akinori Sao, a writer from Kyoto, Japan.
Other interviews have been conducted on The Legend of Zelda before, and one of which was during an Iwata Asks interview. Take a look below:
The birth of the Second Quest, which is available for play after finishing the main game, is discussed in detail in the bonus sections of the Iwata Asks article covering The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks.
This installment is an interview, once again, with Shigeru Miyamoto, Takeshi Tezuka, and Koji Kondo. Of course, this year marks the 30th Anniversary of the release of the the game in Japan, and so it’s refreshing to still learn new things about it, on occasion. Little did we know, the original idea for The Legend of Zelda came from a popular style of movies at the time of concept.
Sao: Last year was the 30th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. (laughs) To jump right in, why did you decide to make The Legend of Zelda, which came out 30 years ago for the Family Computer Disk System?
Miyamoto: The Indiana Jones movies were out around that time.
Sao: Adventure films were popular in the Eighties.
Miyamoto: Right, I wanted to bring that sense of adventure to a video game. And people playing computer RPGs back then were bragging about how strong their swordsmen had become and were calling each other at night to exchange information. When I noticed that, I thought it was an interesting milieu.
Sao: Since it was so absorbing, you wanted to make something similar yourself.
Miyamoto: Yes. So with a world of swords and sorcery as my theme, I decided to make an adventure game based on treasure-hunting, and that was the beginning of The Legend of Zelda.
For those of us who are old enough to remember, the Indiana Jones movies at the time, they certainly were very popular, and it’s so funny that they served as inspiration for the game that we all know now as The Legend of Zelda. Another bit of amazing information, is that way in which this time period influenced video game music creation for Kondo-san, to this very day. Having put in an all-nighter to compose the opening for the game, Kondo-san developed a lasting method for game music composition that was imperative.
Sao: (laughs) What is the NES for you, Kondo-san?
Kondo: It’s a kind of basis. I’ve always worked in video game music, and I think that’s thanks to the NES.
Sao: For you, it’s the origin of video game sound design.
Kondo: Yes. In the days of the NES, I learned how to compose video game music and about the importance of sound effects. Then, along with the development of hardware, the sounds improved in quality and we were able to use a greater variety of sounds, but when it comes to the essence of composing game music, the crucial elements haven’t changed at all. In that respect as well, I owe it to the NES that I’m able to write all kinds of music today.
Sometimes I find it fascinating that in the current climate of the gaming industry, a lot of consumers have found it convenient to buy into the notion that “more power” is the way to more appealing and creative experiences. So many people think that this race to more powerful consoles is the way to get to the most imaginative and creative games we will ever experience…such a poor set of priorities.
Sao: Last, I’d like to ask about the NES. Miyamoto-san, what did the NES mean to you?
Sao: As in various people competing through products?
Miyamoto: Yes. I’ve been in the design world since my student days, so I’m extremely aware of how important it is in competition to put forth the best possible performance within certain conditions. In that sense, the NES was competitive hardware.
Sao: You have to make games as fun as possible within certain conditions and constraints.
Miyamoto: When it comes to thinking up ideas, I think the NES represents the ultimate form of competition.
Sao: And with the NES’s limited memory, the constraints were considerable.
Miyamoto: Also, whereas you had to pay a hundred yen to play games in video arcades, people would use the NES to play for long periods of time at home…
The early days of video game creation at Nintendo, especially during the NES era, are a treasure trove of historical significance. The game developers were embracing the challenges of a true learning curve that came with making games for play in the home. I think sometimes we take for granted exactly what it was really like to be on the pioneering edge of the video game industry, as we know it to be now. There were many things that are common knowledge today, that were just being figured out then, mostly through trial and error. That is exciting to me, as we are not only able to discover these gems of info, but we can truly appreciate them in this time that some of the pioneers are right here with us to be appreciated.
If you would like to read more from the interview, feel free to check it out here. Also, if you missed any of the earlier interview posts from me, you can check out Donkey Kong and Balloon Fight, as well as Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3.
Did you know what inspired Miyamoto-san to create The Legend of Zelda? Have you ever wondered how Kondo-san can up with the music for the games he has worked on?
As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!