The original concept for N64 classic Zelda: Ocarina of Time saw the game play out entirely within the confines of Ganon's castle, according to creator Shigeru Miyamoto.
Speaking in the latest Iwata Asks Q&A on the Nintendo website, he explained that players would then access different areas via portals in its rooms.
"I thought about putting in all kinds of adventures into the different rooms, like making a dark meadow or an ocean - like in Princess Peach's Castle in Super Mario 64.
"In the worst case," he added, "Link wouldn't have been able to go outside the castle!"
Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata then asked if that decision was fuelled by a lack of confidence in being able to create Hyrule Field with the limitations laid down by the N64 hardware.
"Yes," he replied. "I thought so from the perspective of the hardware's processing abilities while making Super Mario 64. At first, I didn't mind making the game complete within a single building as long as I got to make Link in 3D. In other words, it might have turned out like Zelda II: The Adventure of Link."
The decision to attempt a more ambitious structure and take 3D Link out into the open was born out of Miyamoto's desire to have the game's hero ride a horse.
"Making a broad landform that you could ride a horse across weighed down the processing, so we took it out for a while," he explained. "And after awhile I returned to work with the production team and launched a huge campaign to regain the grassland!
"We started by testing whether we could have two horses out at once. We thought if we could do that, then we could make other forms of play for that grassland. It went well, so we made a demo video with two horses. We showed that at Nintendo Space World, and I was like, 'Now that we've shown this, there's no backing out!'"
The finished game launched to massive critical acclaim in 1998 a response as good as matched by the 3DS remake released earlier this month.
Take a look at our Ocarina of Time 3D review for more.