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Many SPOILERS are contained throughout these posts. You have been warned!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Shigeru Miyamoto's Zelda timeline craziness

This interview with Miyamoto explains a lot about why he often disregards the timeline in the Zelda games.

Iwata Asks: Ocarina of Time 3D with Shigeru Miyamoto

In regards to why there are so many inconsistent plot connections between Zelda games that don't always make sense:

The stories in The Legend of Zelda may not match up as the series progresses. We actually expend a lot of time trying to make them match up, though. It would make things a lot easier if the players said, "Oh, that doesn't really matter."

He also goes on to say this:

But the moment I say Yoshi lays eggs so Yoshi must be a girl, they'll say, "Then Yoshi's voice needs to sound more like a girl's!" But I want to make video games without having to worry about such background info. Take the animated series Popeye, for example. In old cartoons like those, the roles of the characters were different every time.

Even though the setting was different each time, the characters you knew and loved would come out and perform. Well, the Mario games are set up like that. It would be much easier if we could use any setting in The Legend of Zelda while preserving the essential relationship between Link, Ganon and Zelda.

Heh, I think I'm beginning to understand Miyamoto's insanity a little now. This kind of reasoning explains some of the stuff he's done like his simplifying of FSA's story, and his decision to throw Ganon into TP at the last minute just for the hell of it (see this article for details). He likens the Zelda games to a sort of episodic cartoon series, with only the roles of the characters remaining consistent as they are placed in random settings and situations that don't even try to follow a timeline. If it were up to him, the Zelda games would be no more connected together than the Mario games are.

I have to agree that OoT wouldn't have felt as epic as it did, had it not been for all the interesting character involvements that really brought the game to life. The story alone isn't award-winning material, it's the way in which it was told. This is what Miyamoto means when he emphasizes putting the game together first, and writing the story second. Putting the game together also involves adding the characters that would best suit certain roles/elements of the gameplay. The story is then built around the game, instead of the other way around.

Fortunately, Eiji Aonuma seems to be doing a good job of following the Miyamoto tradition of game first, story second, while still balancing out the plot connections and keeping some semblance of a timeline in tact. It must take some insane writing skills to connect the games together with all of Miyamoto's wacky random plot holes... and for hardcore fans like me it more fun and challenging to piece together the a series with so many unexplained connections...

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