The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’s fishing game is one of the franchise’s most beloved mini-games, but it began as an illicit side project.
In the latest Iwata Asks, Kazuaki Morita, who programmed the game’s bosses, expl;ained how the fishing game came about.
While working on Morpha, the boss which inhabits the Water Temple, Morita “casually” created the fishing mini-game.
“I just happened to have a model of a fish, so… I borrowed that and had it swim in the pool in the dungeon, and when I saw it swimming around, I thought, ‘Oh! I can go fishing!’” he said.
“I took the model for something and made it a cylinder, and then [used the animation of a sword swing].
“At that time, it was just for my own enjoyment. You know, for when I needed to take a breather.”
Despite his tendency to switch off his screen whenever a colleague passed by, it wasn’t long before Morita’s unofficial project was noticed by his teammates. That should have been the end of it – but Morita continued to steal time from other duties to work on his fishing pond, despite delays to the game.
Eventually the field design team requested a fishing pool be created, and Morita assumed control, down to the placement of floating weeds – and the acquisition of sounds from other parts of the game.
“I requested it and put it in myself, and it got left that way,” Morita said of the mini-game’s sound design, but producer Eiji Aonuma rebutted this.
“When you say ‘request,’ you mean you took it without permission and put it in yourself!” he said.
“I’d get in trouble if I did that today!” Mortia agreed. “The sound staff would be like, ‘You can’t just use that!’”
Other Ocarina of Time staff called the fishing pond Morita’s “holy ground”, where he “could do whatever he wanted” while the others “were mere assistants”.
But even though it was conceived independently, the fishing is very close to the notorious Water Temple, which went down badly with players due to interface problems switching in and out of equipment.
“The people who got lost there can refresh at the Fishing Pond,” Morita said, jokingly claiming this had been his intent all along. “It’s the perfect placement.”