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The Legend of Zelda's Handheld Adventures

Linksawakening There's more fascinating discussion and history coming from Nintendo's "Iwata Asks" series of interviews, and this time the topic revolves around the many handheld titles in the Legend of Zelda series.  History's spotlight falls on Link's Awakening, Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons, Minish Cap, and just a touch of Phantom Hourglass as Takashi Tezuka and Eiji Aonuma reminisce with Satoru Iwata.  Here's a sample of the dialog in which the surreal nature of Link's Awakening is explained:

Tezuka: I remember that we made The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening in a real peculiar frame of mind. We began in the free spirit of an afterschool club, so the contents are quite unrestrained. If you look at it, you can tell.  Characters similar to Mario and Luigi appear, and  Yoshi dolls appear, too.

Iwata: Characters like Mario and Luigi?

Tezuka: Yeah. (laughs)

Iwata: Was that all right?

Tezuka: It was for the Game Boy system, so we thought, "Oh, it'll be fine." (laughs)

Everyone: (laughs)

Aonuma: We couldn't do much visually anyway.

Tezuka: That's right. It was monochrome. We've moved along at quite a good clip in a relatively freewheeling manner. Maybe that's why we had so much fun making it. It was like we were making a parody of The Legend of Zelda.

Iwata: A parody of your own game? (laughs)

Tezuka: Yeah. (laughs)

Iwata: Today, if you just barged ahead using characters resembling Mario and Luigi-even if it were for a Nintendo game-it would be quite a problem.

Tezuka: Yeah, I'd get mad. (bluntly)

Everyone: (laughs)

Nakago: And it wasn't just Mario and Luigi, but something like Kirby, too.

Iwata: Huh?

Tezuka: Um... Kirby was in there, too. I think we asked for permission, but...

Iwata: Oh. (laughs)

Tezuka: But some people at HAL Laboratory might say they never heard anything.

Iwata: I suppose so. Oh well. I'm not sure how many people at that time recognized it was Kirby.

Aonuma: But that character appeared as one of Link's enemies, and if you got close, he would suck you up! (laughs)

Iwata: About that time, Kirby was still just a fledgling character, so I think people thought that it was an honor to have him appear in a The Legend of Zelda game.

Stick around past the end of the interview to see some never before seen ancient design documents that detail early concepts from the very first Legend of Zelda game for the Nintendo Entertainment System back when the game was still called "Adventure" and an early schematic for some unused level design in the first Super Mario Bros.  I would love to be a fly on the wall for one of these discussions.  Aside from the history being discussed, these meetings must be absolutely hilarious because these guys never stop laughing.  It's no wonder their games are packed with fun.