Interview:Iwata Asks: Ocarina of Time 3D (Sound)

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Iwata Asks: Ocarina of Time 3D (Sound)

Date

June 1, 2011

Interviewee

Interviewer

Description

Zelda sound composers talk about their previous experience with Zelda sound and their struggles with Ocarina of Time 3D.

Source

The Ever-Changing Music of Hyrule Field

Iwata: Thank you for coming today.
Kondo and Yokota: It's our pleasure.
Iwata: This year is the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Legend of Zelda . Today, I would like to ask you about the music in The Legend of Zelda. You have both appeared in "Iwata Asks" before, but would you please introduce yourselves?
Kondo: I'm Kondo from the Sound Group in the Software Development Department of the Entertainment Analysis & Development Division (EAD).
Iwata: In our session of "Iwata Asks" covering the twenty-fifth anniversary of Super Mario Bros., you said that the second game you worked on was Super Mario Bros. Does that mean your third game was The Legend of Zelda, for which you worked on the music?
Kondo: Yes, that's right.
Iwata: It's amazing that a new employee at Nintendo would make the music for Super Mario Bros. as the second game he worked on, and then for his third game, make the music for The Legend of Zelda.
Kondo: I remember the development periods were right next to each other, with only about three months in between.
Iwata: Nintendo practically made Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda at the same time.
Kondo: Yes.
Iwata: The Legend of Zelda was for the Family Computer Disk System, which came out after the Famicom system, so you could use a new sound source.
Kondo: Yes. We could only use three sounds with the Famicom system, so that was hard.
Iwata: It went from three to four, and with the new sound source it was possible to output sounds that were completely different than before.
Kondo: Yes. We mostly used the new sound source for sound effects, but just having one more was a big help, so I had a good time as I worked.
Iwata: Alright, and Yokota-san?
Yokota: Yes?
Iwata: Compared to Kondo-san, you may not have worked on development of The Legend of Zelda games that long, but you've been playing it forever, right?
Yokota: You can say that again!
Iwata: Oh? (laughs)
Yokota: Talking about it could take forever! (laughs) I love The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time beyond all reason!
Iwata: Go on, tell me about it! (laughs)
Yokota: What about my self-introduction?
Iwata: Oh, I forgot! (laughs) By all means, introduce yourself!
Yokota: I'm Yokota from the EAD Tokyo Software Development Department. I appeared in the session of "Iwata Asks" about Super Mario Galaxy 2, but some people may wonder why I'm here talking about The Legend of Zelda.
Iwata: I suppose so.
Yokota: I've been totally immersed in The Legend of Zelda this past year.
Iwata: Immersed in Zelda?
Yokota: I've only been working on The Legend of Zelda series. Two games at the same time!
Iwata: Huh? Two at the same time? I didn't know that!
Iwata: After development of Super Mario Galaxy 2 ended?
Yokota: Yes. That's about the time. At E3 last year, when we were going to exhibit Skyward Sword for the first time, we talked about using orchestral music. But (Shigeru) Miyamoto-san said it wasn't necessary.
Iwata: We were going to have attendees of last year's E3 try out the new game's operability, so he said orchestral music wasn't necessary right away.
Yokota: Right. Then, toward the end of summer break, they finally decided to put in orchestral music and I joined the development team.
Iwata: You're sort of the orchestration director for the Legend of Zelda music, aren't you?
Yokota: Yes. I was in charge of the orchestral songs for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess as well.
Iwata: Now pour out your love for Ocarina of Time! (laughs)
Yokota: Okay! (laughs) I have, of course, played all the Zelda games since the first one, and played them all the way through, but Ocarina of Time was an eye-opening experience as to how great video game music can be. I played song after song on the piano.
Iwata: I feel like I heard something similar when we talked about Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition in "Iwata Asks". (laughs)
Yokota: Really? I talked about that? (laughs) When Ocarina of Time came out, I was working at a different company, and I went around haranguing everyone about how amazing the sound was.
Iwata: I feel like I've heard that, too. I've got déjà vu! (laughs)
Yokota: Oh, sorry! I'm like a repeating record! (laughs) I may have said the same thing about Super Mario Sunshine.
Everyone: (laughs)
Yokota: Getting back to Ocarina of Time, the music was different every time you went out to a dungeon on an adventure and came back to Hyrule Field, the main setting of the game. The general feeling of the music itself didn't change that much, but the melodies came along at a different tempo.

And even if it was the same song, if you were fighting an enemy, the tune would become more thrilling. Then, when the battle was over, it would return to the usual majestic music. When Link stood still, it would grow quiet. The music was constantly changing.
Iwata: It didn't always play the exact same music.
Yokota: Right. In the land of Hyrule, the music changed between three patterns, normal, battle and quiet.
Iwata: Back then when there were still strict restrictions in the amount of memory that you could allocate to sound, it was common to stream pre-created music tracks. But by taking advantage of the ROM cartridge of the Nintendo 64 system, it was possible for the music tracks to be combined and generated depending on the situation. That is why in Ocarina of Time, music was constantly changing throughout the entire game. But even though Kondo-san did that for the sound on Hyrule Field, I doubt many people back then noticed and could talk about it.
Kondo: Not many people noticed.
Iwata: Yeah, I bet not. So, aren't you a little happy that Yokota-san did? (laughs)
Kondo: (looking really happy) I'm so happy! (laughs)
Iwata: (laughs)
Kondo: He noticed! He really noticed!!
Iwata: Is it like, "Please say that again!"?
Kondo: Yes, I'm ultra-happy that he noticed it! (laughs)

Koji Kondo Upends the Tea Table

Yokota: It's nothing special now, but as far as I recall, no games before The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time switched seamlessly to the fight music when you were on an adventure and a fight scene began.
Iwata: That was new.
Yokota: When a fight started, the enemy motif would start. Then, when the fight was over, it would go back to the original music. I thought the transition was really smooth and clean. The feeling of plunging into adventure was so strong that - and I'm not saying this because I was not working for Nintendo at that time but - I thought Ocarina of Time was a great masterpiece to me.
Iwata: After a long history of loving Ocarina of Time, how did you come to work on the Nintendo 3DS version?
Yokota: In or around March last year, they were asking if anyone was available to work on the music for it. At first, I was going to leave it to the younger guys, but Kondo-san asked me to keep an eye on them.
Iwata: Kondo-san tapped you for the job?
Kondo: Yeah. They were really new guys, so I wanted him to teach them all about video game music.
Yokota: At first, I was involved as a supervisor.
Iwata: But I bet you couldn't bear to just look on! (laughs)
Yokota: Yeah. You got that right! (laughs) I told them to run everything by me.
Iwata: Because you love it. (laughs)
Yokota: Earlier, we talked about how back then games could only stream sound in most cases, and we were under technological constraints this time, too, so at first we decided to stream it. It was difficult technologically to change the music in real time to fit different game situations.

For that reason, at first I decided to spruce it up by arranging slightly more up-to-date music. But when I'd done about half, Kondo-san suddenly said, "Make sure you stay faithful to the Nintendo 64 sound."
Iwata: Oh. (laughs)
Yokota: It was really sudden! He upended the tea table.
Kondo: Is that really an upending of the tea table?
Yokota: It sure was! (laughs)
Iwata: Kondo-san doesn't remember it that way. (laughs)
Yokota: So I gathered together the development team and said, "We've got to remake all the music. We need to recreate the Nintendo 64 sound, so let's do our best!" Then we set about redoing it all.
Iwata: You decided to faithfully recreate the Nintendo 64 sound.
Yokota: Yeah. By the way, Kondo-san, why did you have the music for Hyrule Field change each time?
Kondo: When I first heard the plan for Ocarina of Time, I thought, "This is going to be a really big game!" There was this big field in the centre, and you needed to ride a horse to reach the other side!
Iwata: Yes, Hyrule Field was big enough that you were thankful for your horse!
Kondo: But if you went to all these dungeons and came back and the same old music was playing…
Iwata: You'd get sick of it.
Kondo: Right. I wanted to avoid players going to a dungeon and coming back to find the same song droning on. I thought about what I could do to have different music playing whenever you listened to it, and eventually I created several eight-measure "components" to play randomly.
Iwata: They shared a certain chord progression, so the music could shuffle them around.
Kondo: Right. Each group of eight measures ended with a chord that would lead nicely into whichever group started next. It sounded natural even when you played them randomly.
Iwata: How many of those "components" did you make?
Kondo: About 20. They're in battles, too.
Iwata: So even if the general atmosphere of the music is the same, it sounds different each time.
Kondo: Right. In your regular RPG, when an enemy appeared, the music would suddenly switch.
Iwata: The pattern for RPGs back then was for the screen to change, a fanfare to play, and fight music to start.
Kondo: Yeah. But in Ocarina of Time, you can see the enemy from far off. If the music suddenly went into fight mode, you would listen to the music for the fight mode even though you hadn't started the fighting, and when you went away, the music would switch back right away. The flow of the game would break down.
Yokota: It would be hard to get into the game.
Kondo: So I made eight-bar patterns for the fights, too. As you got closer to an enemy, they would smoothly transition into fighting music.
Yokota: And when the fight was over, the music smoothly transitioned back.
Iwata: You could compose music by thinking to that extent as early as in 1998, and I think you could do so because you had been making games together with Mr. Miyamoto.
Yokota: Yeah. In the case of movies, the lengths for the safe scenes, fight scenes and calm scenes are predetermined.
Iwata: Movie music is compartmentalised at the start and made in line with the pre-determined length of the video. In the case of games, players interactively move the character, and the music interactively responds.
Yokota: What Kondo-san was most insistent about this time for Ocarina of Time 3D was that interactivity. He said, "You absolutely must recreate that!"
Kondo: That's right.
Yokota: So even though you were arranging new music…
Iwata: He overturned the tea table! (laughs)
Yokota: Yep! (laughs)
Kondo: But I didn't have any intention of overturning any tea tables! I mean, if you changed the sound like that, it wouldn't be Ocarina of Time!
Yokota: Yeah…you're right. I'm glad we fixed it!
Everyone: (laughs)

The Sound of an Ocarina Drifting from the Forest

Iwata: In addition to making the music on Hyrule Field interactive, what was difficult in recreating the music for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D for the Nintendo 3DS system?
Yokota: In the first place, it was really difficult recreating the sound of a home console like the Nintendo 64 system on a handheld like the Nintendo 3DS system.
Iwata: Different hardware doesn't make the same sounds.
Yokota: Right. I have remade other games, but I was surprised how difficult it was this time.
Iwata: How so exactly?
Yokota: Like recreating distinctive sounds.
Iwata: Distinctive sounds?
Yokota: Take, for example, the song for the Forest Temple. You can hear this odd sound like "hooit-hooit-hooit-hooit"…
Iwata: Right, right.
Yokota: I wanted to recreate that distinctive sound as closely as possible, but it just wouldn't sound the same as on the Nintendo 64 system. But I retuned it over and over for the Nintendo 3DS system's speakers, and in the end it turned out close to how I imagined it.
Kondo: Yeah. You recreated that song with a great deal of precision. The sound quality may be a little better, though.
Yokota: Yeah. I upped the quality a bit.
Iwata: It gets the Kondo seal of approval? (laughs)
Kondo: Absolutely. (laughs)
Yokota: Phew! (laughs) He did put in some requests, though. When I made the title background music, he wanted me to make some adjustments.
Iwata: The title background music plays during the very first images when Link is trotting around Hyrule Field on Epona, right?
Yokota: Yeah. It's a really mellow song featuring an ocarina melody and piano accompaniment. Kondo-san said the volume of the ocarina was too high. I thought I had followed the original, so I thought, "Huh? How's it any different?" I had him listen to it over and over, and he said, "Ah, there's no reverb."
Kondo: Oh, that's right.
Yokota: Reverb is that echo-like effect you get in a concert hall. There wasn't any of that in the song for Ocarina of Time 3D, so the ocarina really stood out.
Iwata: You could hear the ocarina too clearly.
Yokota: Yeah.
Kondo: I had the idea of the sound coming from far away. I wanted to create the atmosphere in the title BGM of someone you can't see in the forest playing an ocarina. When I heard the music Yokota-san had made, he had faithfully recreated the length of the notes, but it didn't sound like it was coming from somewhere off in the distance.
Yokota: That's right. I almost gave up. There was a fear that putting reverb into the Nintendo 3DS music would make the game too heavy and it wouldn't run right.
Iwata: Is adding reverb really that heavy?
Yokota: Yes. But Kondo-san had told me to faithfully recreate the sound of the Nintendo 64 system, so I somehow managed to make it sound like it was coming from inside a forest. And, like we discussed earlier, we made the music on Hyrule Field interactive, so we ended up assigning a lot more of the CPU to sound than we usually would.
Iwata: In other words, you used more of the CPU for sound than in any other Nintendo 3DS game.
Yokota: That's right. It's probably heavier in sound than any other game. I think we've pushed the capacity of the Nintendo 3DS system as much to the limit as is possible today - we are using lots of power. When it comes to the music on Hyrule Field, the music shifts seamlessly depending on the scene. And I think we were able to make the title BGM sound as if an ocarina is coming from inside the forest.
Kondo: I think so, too.
Yokota: Also, I think it's really important in faithfully recreating the sound of the Nintendo 64 version to generate the same sense of tempo as with the Nintendo 64 ROM cartridge. For example, when collecting the Gold Skulltulas.
Iwata: You have to collect 100 spiders hidden within the world.
Yokota: Right. When you find a Gold Skulltula hidden in a dark spot and defeat it, a token appears that you can pull to you with the Hookshot. The flow of the sound when you pull it in is really satisfying. The tempo as it goes "shwi-wi-wi-whip" and then ends with a fanfare is great!
Kondo: But if we didn't adjust it just right, the tempo would break up.
Yokota: Exactly. The play speed would be out of sync. And the frame rates of the Nintendo 64 and Nintendo 3DS systems - the number of times the image is refreshed over the course of one second - are different.
Iwata: For the Nintendo 64 system, the frame rate was about 20, while it's 30 for the Nintendo 3DS system.
Yokota: Yes. That throws off the timing of sound effects and other sounds. When the frame rates are different, how you handle the sound is different, so we adjusted each one until they were just right.
Iwata: So it will feel just right even to people who played the Nintendo 64 version.
Yokota: I think so. With regard to that, something really memorable happened. Early in the year, I went to Nintendo World 2011.
Iwata: You performed on stage.
Yokota: Yeah! I played music from The Legend of Zelda on the piano. We exhibited Ocarina of Time 3D in the hall, and later I got to see the responses from those who had tried it out. Someone said they were happy that the music was the same as in the Nintendo 64 version!
Iwata: The fans must have been happy that the sound in the Nintendo 3DS version hadn't changed from the Nintendo 64 version. It calls up memories of playing it back in the day.
Yokota: Yes. Reading that comment encouraged me. With the technology for transplanting games today, like emulation, many people think it's only a matter of course that games turn out the same.
Iwata: But this time, you put your nose to the grindstone making adjustments in order to recreate the Nintendo 64 original for the Nintendo 3DS version.
Yokota: Yes. So when I read that comment about how the music was the same, I felt like my hard work had paid off. I was also glad I hadn't done anything dumb like arrange new songs!
Iwata: So the upending of the tea table was a good thing? (laughs)
Yokota: I have to say it was! (laughs)

Orchestral Sound on the Nintendo 3DS System

Iwata: This time, you dedicated yourself to recreating several songs that Kondo-san had made over 10 years ago.
Yokota: Yeah. But I also put in a song recorded with an orchestra. Only one, though.
Iwata: As Nintendo's head man in charge of orchestral music, you just couldn't hold yourself back?
Yokota: Yeah…you got me. (laughs) You'll have to play the game to find out which song it is, though.
Iwata: You have the job every game fan can dream of! (laughs)
Yokota: Yeah, thankfully! (laughs) The orchestra sounds great on the Nintendo 3DS system, so I want people to hear it.
Kondo: I was actually involved with the hardware design for the Nintendo 3DS system's speakers and amps.
Iwata: Oh, that's right. Sound team members participated in figuring out how to achieve the best sound quality within the size constraints of the Nintendo 3DS system.
Kondo: We listened to various sizes in figuring out how many centimetres the speakers should be.
Iwata: A difference of one millimetre in the diameter of the speakers can make a dramatic difference in how they sound.
Kondo: That's right. And we also made adjustments so the orchestral music would sound good.
Iwata: Oh, you did? You chose speakers and adjusted the amps with orchestral sound in mind?
Kondo: And we put special programming into the Nintendo 3DS system to improve the quality of the surround sound.
Yokota: So even though the speakers are fixed in the system, it feels like the sound is coming from around your ears.
Iwata: Once you hear that expansiveness, you'll feel like something is missing without it.
Yokota: Yes. For example, there are lots of Cuccos at Lon Lon Ranch in Ocarina of Time 3D, and there's a minigame called the Super Cucco Game in which you have to catch three Super Cuccos. When you play it with the surround sound, it sounds like the clucking is coming from all around you. The effect is outstanding.
Iwata: So you recommend playing with the sound coming out through the speakers to enjoy the surround sound.
Yokota: Yeah. If possible, I want people to play with the sound high.
Iwata: But you don't just rave about Ocarina of Time because of the sound, right?
Yokota: Of course not!
Iwata: Fans all over the world say that Ocarina of Time is special. I wonder why so many people love this game? As a representative of such fans, what do you say, Yokota-san?
Yokota: May I?
Iwata: Yes, please!
Yokota: Until Ocarina of Time came out, the Legend of Zelda series was always in 2D. When Nintendo announced that the next game was going to be 3D, I was sorely disappointed.
Iwata: Until Ocarina of Time came out, you always looked at the game field from above.
Yokota: Right. I thought, "Why would they do that to such an awesome game?" I was shocked that you were going to destroy my idea of what The Legend of Zelda was supposed to be like. But it wouldn't have been right as a Nintendo fan if I complained without buying the game, so I thought, "All right, I'll buy it."
Iwata: You decided to give it a shot.
Yokota: Yeah. Besides, it was Shigeru Miyamoto-san's latest creation in the Legend of Zelda series, so I thought, "Well, I should take a look at it," as if I were one to judge! (laughs)
Iwata: Yeah… (laughs)
Yokota: I bought it and played it and (looking happy) was pleased that I didn't have to jump.
Iwata: It has auto jump.
Yokota: You jump without even pressing a button, and there was Z-targeting.
Iwata: That's right! (laughs)
Yokota: I found out in Kokiri Forest on the very first stage that even though it was in 3D, you could play it like it was in 2D, and after that, I couldn't complain. I realised that as a 3D game, it was more than I had imagined. My prejudice against 3D action games was wiped out in about the first five minutes. And you can't ever stop playing this game! The more you play it, the more tasks it presents you with. They're like personal challenges. And all the puzzles in the dungeons were so well-made. I wanted to go around telling people about them! I'd say, "I figured it out, but what about you?" as if I were the only one who'd solved them.
Iwata: The sound it makes when you solve a puzzle in The Legend of Zelda really makes you feel smart!
Yokota: Yeah. (laughs)
Iwata: Like, "Am I the only person in the whole world who figured this out?!" That can't be true…but still. (laughs)
Yokota: Yeah. (laughs) I played it through to the end. It has so much volume. I enjoyed going to various places and seeing the whole game world.
Iwata: Ocarina of Time was the first game that made my legs get weak when I stood someplace high and looked down.
Yokota: You feel a thrill when you look out from a high place. That's something to pay attention to in the Nintendo 3DS version, too. You can climb a ladder in Kakariko Village. The view when you look out from there is superb!
Iwata: Ocarina of Time has always had a lot of great landscapes. I imagine that's also enjoyable in stereoscopy with the Nintendo 3DS version.
Yokota: I think it is.
Iwata: So, Yokota-san, this time you paid attention to how the sound aspects of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - the game that occupies a special place in the hearts of long-time players of the series - would change when remade with today's technology.
Yokota: It was thoroughly enjoyable.
Iwata: (laughs)
Yokota: It was work, though, so it was hard. For example, when I see a game someone else has made, sometimes I think, "Oh, I wish they would have handled the sound here a little differently." Well, this time I could focus on such places and give them my all, so I'm very satisfied.
Iwata: Kondo-san, from the point of view of someone who made the original game, how does it feel to hear Yokota-san talk so passionately about it?
Kondo: Well, it's harder than it seems to transport a game to a new platform. Unless you have the deep consideration for video games that Yokota-san does, you wouldn't do so much fine-tuning.
Iwata: In that respect, he was the perfect man for the job.
Kondo: I think so.
Yokota: Oh my… I'm glad I came today! (laughs)
Everyone: (laughs)

"I'm Envious of First-Time Players!"

Iwata: Yokota-san, when you make music, what do you think is the "essence of Zelda"?
Yokota: The essence of Zelda?
Iwata: Something you think the music absolutely must have.
Yokota: To put it in a somewhat abstract way, an exciting scene has music that's on fire. That's not quite right, but…
Iwata: Do you mean music that reflects what the player is feeling?
Yokota: A song for a battle with a huge enemy will even be exciting to me as I play the game. And I think music in The Legend of Zelda is very heroic. Just like in Super Mario Bros., you go to save a princess, but in the case of The Legend of Zelda, there's more of a sense that you are a cool hero risking your life for someone. I make music in strong consideration of what is happening at each point - music that sways your spirit, music that fires up your heart. What do you think about that, Kondo-san?
Kondo: What's most important to me when making music for The Legend of Zelda is generating an ambience expressing the situation and scene. Picking up on what Yokota-san said, Link is your other self in the Legend of Zelda games, but in a Super Mario Bros. game, you control Mario, a character on the screen.
Iwata: Ah, to you, Mario is a character you move with a controller.
Kondo: Yeah. Link is you. So it feels like you are in him when you play.
Yokota: I see.
Iwata: So in your head, you're wearing that green outfit. (laughs)
Kondo: Yeah. And that green hat! (laughs) I make the music in that state of mind.
Iwata: If Link strikes down an enemy, you think, "Oh, I'm so cool," and if he solves a difficult puzzle, you think, "I'm so smart!"
Yokota: So the music is from Link's point of view.
Kondo: Right.
Iwata: All right, this is my final question. The world is full of people who know about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as well as people who don't know anything about it. Yokota-san, what aspects of Ocarina of Time 3D should appeal to each of those groups?
Yokota: I see it from the point of view of a total fan.
Iwata: Right. Because you love this game. (laughs)
Yokota: It's difficult for me to recommend certain aspects to those experiencing it for the first time, but I'd say it's moving in a way that only a video game can be.
Iwata: That's like our marketing tagline (in Japan) for the Nintendo 64 version.
Yokota: Yeah. I hope players will experience an even more moving experience on the Nintendo 3DS system because of the stereoscopic 3D.
Iwata: What would you say to fans like yourself?
Yokota: This game is a remake, but it's the kind of game to make you think, "This is exactly what I wanted from Ocarina of Time!" In particular, the Master Quest this time is a mirror image of the main game, the placement of enemies and the puzzles in the dungeons are different, and you take double damage. That makes it quite a challenging game, even for people who played the Nintendo 64 version a lot and beat it on the Virtual Console. I hope people will play it through.
Iwata: How about you, Kondo-san?
Kondo: I worked on the Nintendo 64 version, so when I see the Nintendo 3DS version, I feel like it's smooth.
Iwata: Exactly what do you mean?
Kondo: The Nintendo 64 version feels coarse.
Iwata: You mean that the Nintendo 3DS version is more polished?
Kondo: Right. It's smooth and shiny. It's not just that it looks prettier, but looking in the shops, there are more products, it's more sumptuous, and there are more people. Just seeing that is nice.
Iwata: The essence of the game hasn't changed, but you've worked on it a number of ways.
Kondo: Right. I hope people who are familiar with the Nintendo 64 version will enjoy spotting what has changed and how. And I hope people who play it for the first time will have a true experience of The Legend of Zelda precisely because it's in 3D. I hope Ocarina of Time 3D will help people who have bought a Nintendo 3DS system to thoroughly experience what a real 3D game is like.
Yokota: As you were talking just now, I started wanting to see all the scenes in 3D, even though I've played Ocarina of Time tons of times! I've played it, thinking, "Oh, even this part is better!" and "And that part, too!" so I hope people who played the Nintendo 64 version will enjoy this game like that.
Iwata: Thank you. As I listened to the two of you talking, especially to Yokota-san's enthusiasm as a fan, I became a little envious of people who don't know Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64 system. I mean, they'll be playing it for the first time without knowing anything about the world that awaits them! And in 3D!
Yokota: Yes, I'm envious of first-time players!
Iwata: If I could become a player without any Ocarina of Time plays before, I'd want to become someone like that. So I hope people won't think that this game isn't for them if they don't already know about The Legend of Zelda. Because back in the days of the Nintendo 64 system, Ocarina of Time showed people who had never played video games in 3D before how to play in 3D. They were simply impressed, like Yokota-san, with the auto jump and Z-targeting. (laughs)
Yokota: Exactly.
Iwata: I do, of course, hope that people who know the game will enjoy pointing out what has changed or improved, but I especially want people who don't know the game to play it! I don't think they will feel like it's a game that was designed a decade ago.

Our Favourite Songs

Iwata: It looks like we've got a little more time, so I'll ask one more thing. If you were to choose one song that you especially like in Ocarina of Time, what would it be? But Yokota-san, I suppose it's hard for you to choose just one! (laughs)
Yokota: If I were to choose just one, it would be "Zelda's Lullaby". I performed this at Nintendo World 2011. I loved that song so much that I sat around practising it at home. When I was preparing for my entrance exam to Nintendo, I thought you might check my piano skills.
Iwata: You practised it for your entrance exam? (laughs)
Yokota: Yeah. I thought there might be a practical skills test, so I practised a lot, but then there wasn't one! (laughs) I arranged it my own way on the piano. That's how great I think it is.
Iwata: I see. What about you, Kondo-san?
Kondo: If I were to choose just one, it might be an unusual one. (laughs)
Iwata: Oh? (laughs) What if I asked you to name three?
Kondo: As I was playing the Nintendo 3DS version, there were several that struck me as done well.. Although, it's a little embarrassing to say so myself! (laughs) One plays when you go to Zelda's castle and hide in the garden so the guards can't find you. I forgot the title, though.
Yokota: That's "The Courtyard Game at Hyrule Castle."
Kondo: It sounds like a game of hide-and-seek. It represents that feeling of final relief you get when you're able to hide from the guards by carefully making stealthy steps. I thought, "I did a pretty good job!" (laughs)
Yokota: Like you're praising yourself 10 years ago? (laughs)
Kondo: Yeah! (laughs)
Iwata: It sounds like the value of the music for you, Kondo-san, is less about how the melody is appreciated by itself than how well the sounds serve their purpose in the context of the game.
Kondo: That's right.
Yokota: You can only use that song at that place. But you only go there once, so you can't hear it twice.
Iwata: It's a one-time-only minigame. When you clear it, you get to meet Princess Zelda.
Yokota: Right. So I want players to pay attention to that song when they play that part in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D.
Iwata: And your second song?
Kondo: The one for the Super Cucco Game mentioned earlier.
Yokota: Oh! (laughs) That is a good song! I clucked along as I played.
Kondo: That song represents the sound chickens make.
Iwata: Again, you match the music to the game content.
Kondo: Right. I think I found the right tempo for all those chickens running around.
Iwata: And your last one?
Kondo: Um…another one?
Yokota: I like the way he hasn't mentioned a single major theme! (laughs)
Kondo: The song during the ending credits! It looks like the images have been set to the music, but actually it was the other way around.
Iwata: Huh? You didn't come up with the music first?
Kondo: No.
Iwata: You matched the music to the pictures?
Kondo: We put in the music later. So when that girl shows up, we put in her vocals. I forgot her name, though. (laughs)
Yokota: Malon. She sings Epona's song.
Kondo: Right, right! Malon! Malon shows up, and you hear her sing. Gorons appear, and drums pound. I arranged each strain that way.
Iwata: Now that's surprising!
Yokota: Kondo-san, sorry. We may need to cut this part.
Kondo: Oh, really? Because it's the ending song?
Yokota: No, we're making the final adjustments and it just doesn't fit right.
Iwata: You've got to put that in, Yokota-san. It's one of Kondo-san's three favourite songs.
Yokota: Oh, right, I suppose so… It's just that on the Nintendo 3DS system, it loads during the ending, too, and there's a problem with it being off a little, but…well, I'll make it work somehow! I will!
Iwata: That way everyone can enjoy it right up to the very end.
Yokota: Yeah. Please, enjoy it!
Iwata: Thank you for your time today, guys.
Kondo and Yokota: Thank you!

Bonus: Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony Concert

This portion of the interview was withheld until after E3, as Iwata explains below, and released on June 27th as a bonus section of the volume "Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto."


Iwata: Hello, everyone. I'm Iwata from Nintendo.

We've talked about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D five times in this series of "Iwata Asks." In our first discussion of the sound of The Legend of Zelda, we talked about the games' orchestral music, but we left out the part about the Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony Concert in order to first announce it at E3.

We're including that part of the conversation between Kondo-san and Yokota-san of the Sound Group here as a bonus. I hope everyone will read it. Thank you.
Iwata: May I also ask about the sound of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the Wii console?
Yokota: (happily) Ooh, can we talk about that, too?!
Iwata: Today, we're talking about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, but it's also the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Legend of Zelda.
Yokota: Oh, that's right!
Iwata: What are the main points with regard to the sound?
Yokota: One of the characteristics of the music of The Legend of Zelda series is the background music with folk instruments. So not only the regular orchestral instruments, but we also recorded some folk instruments live.
Iwata: Is there a particular key instrument, like the ocarina in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time?
Yokota: Yes. It's still a secret, though. Keep your ears pricked!
Iwata: Kondo-san, how did you divide up the work for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword when it came to the sound?
Kondo: The sound director is (Hajime) Wakai-san. The core staff is a few people in the Software Development Department at the head office. And Yokota-san and one other person from Tokyo are involved.
Yokota: I'm mostly in charge of the orchestral elements.
Iwata: You are increasingly becoming our man in charge of the orchestra!
Yokota: I am! I'm happy to be doing more of it. But at first I was just helping out when it came to orchestral music. I was only lightly involved.
Iwata: Then the next thing you noticed, you were up to your neck in it?
Yokota: Yes! (laughs) I was working along, and all of a sudden there were more orchestral songs than ever in Nintendo's history. I had so many songs that I wondered if we could actually write the scores for them all! I recorded the orchestra too, and this time, as always, Kondo-san's songs didn't come until the last moment.
Kondo: Sorry. (laughs)
Yokota: He pulled an all-nighter.
Iwata: Right before recording?
Yokota: Yeah.
Kondo: Yeah. I stayed up writing music until morning.
Yokota: Once I got them, I transferred them to sheet music, and went to record. When I was there, I asked Miyamoto-san if there was anything different regarding the orchestral music for Super Mario Bros. and that for The Legend of Zelda.
Iwata: That's an interesting question. How did he answer?
Yokota: He said that an orchestra was more suited to The Legend of Zelda.
Iwata: I see. I feel like there may be places in all The Legend of Zelda games where we could have used an orchestra.
Yokota: That is true.
Iwata: But I don't think all the Super Mario Bros. games could have used an orchestra.
Yokota: Especially the Super Mario Bros. games in 2D.
Iwata: The orchestra really fits the 3D games like Super Mario Galaxy, but if I were asked whether an orchestra was right for New Super Mario Bros. Wii, I'd probably have to say no.
Yokota: It wouldn't fit.
Iwata: I suppose that's what Miyamoto-san meant.
Yokota: I suppose so. Actually, when listening to past music for the Legend of Zelda series, there were several songs that I wanted to arrange for an orchestra. I chose some I liked and put them in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
Iwata: Ah, I knew you would! (laughs)
Yokota: Yeah, I did. (laughs) And when I did, I was glad we had recorded live.
Kondo: That was amazing. When real musicians perform...
Iwata: I'd love to hear them live, too. And isn't there talk of doing that? As one of the events for the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Legend of Zelda?
Yokota: That's right!
Iwata: How is that shaping up?
Kondo: Aonuma-san was thinking about events for the twenty-fifth anniversary and suggested a concert for The Legend of Zelda.
Iwata: We did a lot last year for the twenty-fifth anniversary of Super Mario Bros., and we want to do something new for the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Legend of Zelda.
Kondo: That's right. As the orchestra really fits The Legend of Zelda, we decided to hold The Legend of Zelda twenty-fifth anniversary orchestral concerts.
Yokota: In fact, I've actually been saying I wanted to hold a The Legend of Zelda concert ever since I joined the company. I keep getting turned down, but it finally becomes a reality on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary. Kondo-san, you've also been saying for some time that you want to do an orchestral concert, haven't you?
Kondo: Yes.
Iwata: Why couldn't you until now?
Yokota: They said it wasn't our "main business"! (laughs)
Iwata: Oh, as in, "That's not what we do. Go and make some fun games!"
Yokota: Yeah! (laughs)
Iwata: That's the way it goes. (laughs)
Yokota: But if Nintendo were going to hold a concert, I wanted to do something unique. So for one year, I plan to be steeped in The Legend of Zelda again.
Iwata: Just when you thought you were free from The Legend of Zelda, further days steeped in it await.
Yokota: I want to be involved in it though.
Iwata: You can't stand to see someone else do it. (laughs)
Yokota: I'm not sure whether I could stand others to do it or not, but I wouldn't be able to keep my mouth shut! (laughs)
Iwata: I doubt speaking up would be enough for you. You would have to get your hands on it! (laughs)
Yokota: (laughs) You're right, I've got particular songs in my head that I want to have an orchestra play.
Iwata: You're already thinking about it? (laughs)
Yokota: Uh, yes. (laughs) I hope you'll come listen to the concert on October 10. (Editor's note: This is for the Japanese date of the concert. Dates for other regions are TBD at the time of this interview.)
Iwata: If at all possible, I will. Nothing compares to hearing live music!