The Legend of Zelda games do not enter this world fully formed. Like all games, each entry in the series goes through a variety of growing pains and evolutions to become a final finished product. In the case of the latest entry in the series, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Nintendo's developers took the concept of Link becoming a scrawled painting on a wall through different iterations until everyone was pleased with the result. A new Iwata Asks interview with the design team outlines some of this process, and the most interesting part to me was the reveal that the game actually began in 3D with Toon Link from the previous handheld Zelda title, Spirit Tracks.
Iwata: When you made that prototype, was it a direct top-down view like in A Link to the Past?
Shikata: No. As in Spirit Tracks, the viewpoint was overhead from an angle.
Aonuma: At the time, we were thinking of it as an extension of the Nintendo DS games.
Shikata: I brought that prototype today. Iwata-san, would you try it out?
Iwata: Sure. (taking the Nintendo 3DS) Link looks like he's from Spirit Tracks.
Aonuma: Yeah. He was still Toon Link.
Shikata: And if you press the A button...
Iwata: Oh! I went into the wall! I don't think I've ever seen anything like it!
Aonuma: I saw this today for the first time in a while too, and it's surprisingly good! (laughs)
Iwata: (plays in silence) I see... You got riled up and made this in one night?
Mouri: Well, I didn't make this whole thing in one night. At that time, I only made the turning corners part.
Aonuma: With a prototype like this, you would usually go on to enter serious development based on it.
Aonuma: But that wasn't to be.
Also of interest in this interview is how the developers cheat the top-down camera angle. A pure plan view perspective would make most of the characters unrecognizable, so the objects in the world are slanted slightly to make them identifiable. It's a fun look into the development of the latest Zelda game and a reminder that not every game just sails through the creation process. The team worked hard for this one. It looks like the payoff is worth it.