This is a translation of an article on Nintendo of Japan’s website; part 3 of a 6-part series on The Legend Of Zelda in celebration of the series’ 30th anniversary. Translation mine, all other contents, text, images are copyright by 任天堂株式会社. See below for a link to the original article.
For part 3 of our six-week The Legend of Zelda nostalgia project, I am going to interview one of the developers involved in making The Adventure of Link and find out why this game is so unique among the series’ titles. The person I’m going to talk to is The Adventure of Link‘s director, Tadashi Sugiyama.
◆ Tadashi Sugiyama’s profile
Personality: young at heart!
Hobbies: bicycling, mountain climbing
Favorite food: Ramen
Titles he has worked on include The Adventure of Link (his first), Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart 64, F-Zero X, Wii Fit, and Steel Diver, among many others.
I’m going to ask him some questions I imagine you readers might have. I put them together Q&A style. Enjoy!
Q1: I think The Adventure of Link is a unique game in the Legend of Zelda series. How did its development get started at the time?
Mr. Sugiyama’s response: We started based on these few words by Mr. [Shigeru] Miyamoto: “I want to make a side-scrolling action game where you can attack and defend both upwards and downwards.“ Actions like attacking while jumping, downwards-stabbing and defending high and low with the shield became the focus. Things you couldn’t do in the first game. Originally, rather than producing a sequel, we worked on a new type of game experience where you’d use a shield and sword and could move them up and down. We didn’t have the game system of the first part in mind. What today is called a „unique entry in the series“ was rather our struggle to create a new play style altogether, more of a side story. We added in the story and a setting with a 16-year old Link, attached „The Legend of Zelda 2“ to the title, and released it as the second part of the series.
Q2: What was the development environment like at the time?
Mr. Sugiyama’s reply: To be honest, I remember very little from what happened 30 years ago… (wry smile) Back then about 10 people worked on developing one title, very few people compared to today. I think the development time for The Adventure of Link was rather long for a title at the time. Data was exchanged in paper form, which seems old-fashioned these days.
Q3: Why did you decide to call it “The Adventure of Link”?
Mr. Sugiyama’s reply: I’d say because the title “The Adventure of Link” summarizes the game’s content neatly… (I don’t remember.) The first game was “The Legend of Zelda”, and at the time there weren’t many games with epic titles like “The Legend of…” or “The Adventure of…”, so we decided on calling it that, I think.
Q4: I had a very hard time fighting the enemies in the game. Was this degree of difficulty considered normal by players back then?
Mr. Sugiyama’s reply: Difficult game, isn’t it? (laughs) Basically, all of the action games from that period seem to be difficult. The games weren’t very rich in content, so to lengthen the play time, we made them so hard that it took some time to beat them. We had to do everything ourselves, including the debugging, and so we played the game a lot. We raised the difficulty to a level that felt entertaining to us.
I remember one story. A customer called and asked, “Why can’t I defeat the final boss?” We talked to him and realized he already had all of the equipment. We had to tell him there’s no other way to beat the game but to rely on your own skill. That was a hard thing to tell someone. And he seemed to be playing for his child… We were very sorry.
Q5: Things like leveling up Link and meeting enemies in random encounters (symbol encounters) are unique to The Adventure of Link. How did it get this way?
Mr. Sugiyama’s reply: While there were various limitations at the time, we added an element of repeatedly fighting enemies to level up Link. About the random encounters, since the field map was so small, we used that method to introduce an element of luck.
Q6: In your opinion, what elements of The Adventure of Link influenced the later titles in the Legend of Zelda series?
Mr. Sugiyama’s reply: I wasn’t directly involved in the series’ later games, but as an example, the names of the towns in The Adventure of Link were later used as names for characters (the town of Saria, Ruto, and Rauru, among others). Also, swordfighting action elements like attacking with the jump stab and the downwards stab were influenced by The Adventure of Link.
Q7: Lastly, how about a message for the fans for whom The Adventure of Link is their favourite among the Legend of Zelda games?
Mr. Sugiyama’s reply: People like that exist!? (laughs) I’m just kidding. I’m very grateful to hear people say that. As a creator, it makes me so happy that you are so much into it. Thank you. It’s been 30 years since its release; please continue giving The Adventure of Link your love!
And with that, Mr. Sugiyama has dragged up memories from 30 years ago and answered, one by one, very politely, all of this youngster’s ignorant questions. Thank you very much, Mr. Sugiyama, that was very kind of you.
I bet this cleared up some of the questions you guys might have had.
See you all next time.
edited by: 企画部 ひろＰ (HiroP)
Original article: なぜ『リンクの冒険』は当たり前にならなかったのか？
Original text and images are copyright by 任天堂株式会社
List of related articles:
- A look at the “puzzle solved” sound in the original The Legend of Zelda
- I started up a Famicom Disk System that was slumbering in the depths of the storehouse
- Why was The Adventure of Link so unusual?
- Comparing the Hyrule of the Past and the Present
- The Legend of Zelda’s 30th birthday