With the impending re-release of Ocarina of Time for 3DS, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata invited key members of the Zelda team to participate in a new Iwata Asks roundtable. While the entire conversation is a fascinating look into the development process, one point stood out quite a bit. Apparently, there was a moment when Shigeru Miyamoto experimented with making a first-person Zelda game.
"I talked with Miyamoto-san about how we should make The Legend of Zelda for the Nintendo 64 system, and he asked, 'How about making it so that Link will not show up?'," Yoshiaki Koizumi remembers. "He wanted to make it a first-person game."
"He wanted to make an FPS (first-person shooter)," Iwata added.
"Right. In the beginning, he had the image that you are at first walking around in first-person, and when an enemy appeared, the screen would switch, Link would appear, and the battle would unfold from a side perspective," Koizumi added.
While the concept was thrown around, Koizumi, who was working on making the Link character model at the time, said that he "couldn't stand to see my Link not appear." But in reality, the decision to abandon first-person Zelda was that "it wasn't interesting visually." Given the adoration of Ocarina of Time's eventual release, it seems the team made a very wise decision.