The Cautionary Tale of How Zelda: Ocarina of Time Was Almost Released With a First Person POV

The Cautionary Tale of How Zelda: Ocarina of Time Was Almost Released With a First Person POV

Video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto found first-person gameplay experiences fascinating, but something forced him to change his mind.

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The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is widely regarded as one of the greatest video games of all time. In fact, those who have played it still consider it a masterpiece. The game, released for the Nintendo 64 in 1998, introduced several innovations in gameplay that had a significant impact on the industry. These include Z-Targeting (the “locking on” system) and the scale and design of an open-world adventure, which was a rare sight in three-dimensional games at the time.

Although the game had several directors, the legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto the was one responsible for bringing the Zelda saga to three dimensions. This was a significant challenge with many obstacles. The result is obvious today: Miyamoto created a game that took the franchise in a revolutionary new direction. However, some surprising details about its development have recently come to light, including the discarded plan to have the adventure play out entirely in the first-person perspective. Yes, you read that right.

The Use of First Person in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

It might seem surprising, but it’s been revealed that Miyamoto initially proposed the idea of having Ocarina of Time played from the first-person perspective, like a first-person shooter (FPS). He mentioned this in a session of Iwata Asks, a series of interviews conducted by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, stating that he had always been drawn to this type of game.

Zelda 1 It’s hard to imagine The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time being played completely in the first person.

This is what Miyamoto told the Nintendo CEO, who was stunned at the revelation:

“I’ve always been into first person shooter (FPS) style games, 3D games where you can walk around freely and see things from your own point of view… I think it's more comfortable, more natural. We are creatures of habit. We don’t look at our feet when we’re walking around… Even in these games I want people to be able to get really into the 3D geography, so it feels like you’re really there.”

As a result, during the pre-production of Ocarina of Time, Miyamoto proposed the use of a first-person perspective to experience the lands of Hyrule in a unique way. He thought this new approach could take advantage of the Nintendo 64’s power to create better environments and enemies by avoiding the need to focus on Link’s modeling and animations. It seemed like a good idea. However, something made Miyamoto change his mind.

Zelda 2 Developers used the first person only in specific times during the use of objects.

As you probably know, one of Ocarina of Time’s particularities is that Link travels through time, which allows you to play as Link both as a child and as an adult. Miyamoto ultimately scrapped the idea because it would’ve made it difficult to convey the time jumps and their impact on the character. The Nintendo team was particularly concerned about that since this was the main premise of the adventure. As such, they finally stuck with their initial idea: using the third person.

Despite this, the developers still allowed for first-person viewing by pressing a button, which was particularly useful in dungeons. In addition, the camera also changed when using items such as the slingshot or the bow and arrow, enhancing the experience. It’s evident, though, that Miyamoto’s interest in a first-person perspective remained, leading to his work on the spin-off game Link’s Crossbow Training.

Zelda 3 It’s interesting to see how Nintendo experimented with Link’s Crossbow Training.

While the Wii video game made the most out of the Wii Zapper peripheral, its main aim was to introduce first-person shooters to an audience that wasn’t accustomed to them. In Japan in particular, there wasn’t much interest in this genre of game, and Miyamoto sought to change that. In fact, he was a strong advocate for the release of Goldeneye 64, as he truly believed in the potential of this type of game. He was right.

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