Zelda Z-targeting inspired by ninja show

Developers dreamt up idea at theme park.

The concept of pressing a button to lock onto an enemy or object is now regarded as something of a standard in video games.

But in 1998, Zelda: Ocarina of Time was the first game to offer the system.

How did this invention come about? At a theme park, according to the game's general director, Toru Osawa.

"We thought if we went there, we might get some ideas. We got our boss's approval, and Koizumi-san, Ikeda-san and I went. It sure was a hot summer!" Osawa recalled in the latest Iwata Asks.

"We ducked into a playhouse to cool off. They were doing a ninja show. A number of ninja were surrounding the main samurai and one lashed out with a kusarigama (sickle-and-chain). The lead samurai caught it with his left arm, the chain stretched tight, and the ninja moved in a circle around him."

Pressing the N64 controller's Z Button keeps the game's camera and Link's movement focused, allowing for accurate targeting even from a distance. On the 3DS, the L button is used to similar effect.

The group of developers observed how in the scripted stage show a single samurai was able to defeat a group of attacking ninjas, as each attacked one at a time.

This one-on-one fighting style was then implemented in Ocarina of Time, along with the lock-on mechanics of the Z-targeting.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our policy.

Jump to comments (16)

About the author

Tom Phillips

Tom Phillips

News Editor  |  tomphillipsEG

Tom is Eurogamer's news editor. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and makes sure we put the accent on Pokémon.


You may also enjoy...

Comments (16)

Comments for this article are now closed. Thanks for taking part!

Hide low-scoring comments

Buy things with globes on them

And other lovely Eurogamer merch in our official store!

Eurogamer Merch