This interview from 1992, which first appeared in the 1/92 issue of Famicon Tsuushin, has now been fully translated by shmuplations. Topics include how they decided on the name, an open-ended Zelda, and stuff they had to cut out. This interview was originally partially translated in 2012, but the transcript used was missing the questions and around 30% of the overall content. This complete translation now has the missing content. Check out some excerpts below, and the complete interview over at shmuplations
—40 hours, wow… yeah, if you get stuck on some of these puzzles, it can eat up a lot of time. That might be a bit intimidating for players used to more conventional, linear RPGs.
Miyamoto: We did include alternate paths/solutions for players that are easier, though. Originally, the system in Zelda we envisioned was more open-ended: for example, if there was a rock blocking your way, you could safely ignore it and keep playing: there was always another way around. I wanted something that players could get so lost in, it would take them a whole year to finish.
—Wow, a whole year—but the payoff for that struggle would be enormous, no doubt.
Miyamoto: The problem with making an “open-ended” version of Zelda like that was the messaging and plotline. If you ignore structure like that, then the plotline can quickly get screwy and NPC messages start to not make sense. Programming in enough logic to handle all the different possibilities probably would have required about 150% more memory than we had.
—Were there other ideas you had for Link to the Past which had to be cut due to the 8MBit limitation?
Miyamoto: Yeah, a lot! But you can’t just throw every good idea you have into a game. The idea has to connect up with something else in the game, and there needs to be consistency between the ideas. There was a ton more we wanted to do, though!
—What kind of ideas did you have?
Miyamoto: One idea was with the lantern: if you used it on a grassy area, it would cause a huge brushfire. If you cut a little circle of grass around you, you could safely stand there in the middle of it!
—That sounds like it would be fun. Anything else?
Miyamoto: In swamp areas, you could use a shovel to dig a ditch, and then it you bombed the swamp breakwater it would cause the water to rush into the hole you’d dug. That idea was actually half-complete… if we’d had another 6 months, we might have been able to make it a reality.