Iwata Asks reveals new insight into Ocarina's development.
In the first of two Iwata Asks interviews about everyone's favorite musical time-traveling adventure, Ocarina of Time, original development team members Toshio Iwawaki, Eiji Aonuma, Takumi Kawagoe, Yoshiaki Koizumi and Toru Osawa assembled to discuss the ins and outs they went through while making the game, various problems and ideas that evolved into core gameplay mechanics, and other fascinating facts.
One revelation was that early in its development Ocarina of Time featured a jump button (as opposed to the auto-jump feature present in the final build of the game) and was largely inspired by chanbara, a samurai-like Japanese movie genre involving dramatic sword fighting actions, roughly equivalent to swashbuckling films of western popularity. The original intent from the ground up was to produce a Zelda game with chanbara-style action.
The developers then discussed the inspiration behind Z-targeting, which came from seeing a play about ninjas at the Toei Kyoto movie studio theme park. This ultimately led to the development of the Navi character as a stylized targeting icon during battle, and also explained the origin of her name – the Fairy Navigation System.
Similarly, Epona was named after the goddess of horses and fertility in Celtic mythology.
Due to all the swashbuckling intent, Link was only going to be an adult, and it wasn't until Miyamoto insisted that there be a cute young Link in the game that the story had to be rewritten to include both, thus birthing the time travel element of the game.
Additionally, Miyamoto toyed with the idea of making the game in first-person perspective, with side-scrolling 2D battles similar to those featured in Zelda II on the NES.
Koizumi: Right. In the beginning, he had the image that you are at first walking around in first-person, and when an enemy appeared, the screen would switch, Link would appear, and the battle would unfold from a side perspective.
The idea was quickly dropped, as Koizumi was working hard on a 3D model of Link, and couldn't stand the idea of players not being able to see him throughout most of the game.
In the second Iwata Asks interview on Ocarina of Time, modelers and designers of the games NPCs, enemies and bosses and landscapes discussed the artistic and technical direction of creating Hyrule and its inhabitants, as well as the surprising amount of procrastination that ended up becoming the Lake Hylia fishing game.