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Nintendo artists on coming up with the design for Ganondorf in Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Posted on February 11, 2017 by (@NE_Brian) in General Nintendo, News

There’s no question that Ganondorf’s design in Ocarina of Time is extremely iconic. Ganon had appeared in previous titles in beast form, but the N64 game was Nintendo’s first attempt at giving him a humanoid form. Ganondorf’s look turned out well in the end fortunately, but it took some time to get there.

A couple of Nintendo artists spoke about creating Ganondorf’s design in the new Zelda: Art & Artifacts book. As the person in charge of enemies for Ocarina of Time, the job of making his model was left to Satoru Takizawa, who accomplished the task done after much trial and error.

Takizawa’s first attempt at Ganondorf resulted in a model that was actually “a lot thinner, and his head almost looked bird-like.” As for Yusuke Nakano, he came up with an illustration that had “wide-open eyes.” According to Takizawa, the art for Ganondorf “initially looked like a brute who had nothing but raw strength.”

Here’s the full discussion from Zelda: Art & Artifacts about Ganondorf’s design in Ocarina of Time:

Ganon is basically a pig, but the humanoid Ganondorf made his first appearance in Ocarina of Time. What was your inspiration when you started designing him?

Takizawa: Well, I started by thinking to myself, “What kind of guy is worth defeating?”

So he couldn’t just be incredibly strong?

Takizawa: Right. The enemies you feel the best about defeating are the ones that outclass you in every way, from abilities to experience. He also had to be an appealing character, even though he was the enemy. After a lot of trial and error, I slowly completed his model. Then Nakano-san took that and improved upon it. Come to think of it, of all the illustrations that came from Nakano-san, I had very few comments on this one.

Nakano: Hardly any, in fact. However…

Takizawa: Yeah, I did have one request that I felt strongly about. He initially looked like a brute who had nothing but raw strength. I wanted him to have clever eyes so you knew he was a man of high caliber.

Nakano: Right: At that time, I had been at the company for three years, and Nakano-san was three years my senior. I might have been out of line making such a request, but it was the one point I wasn’t willing to back down on.

Nakano: I remember it well, and how tenacious he was about it too. [laughs] The first illustration I did for Ganondorf had these wide-open eyes. Not exactly an intelligent look, but more like he might have been a little mad. In the end we arrived at a design that made him look not only more intelligent but also, at the same time, like the epitome of an evil ruler.

Takizawa: He is the final boss, after all! And another thing: the first model I created for Ganondorf had him looking a lot thinner, and his head almost looked bird-like. One of the backstories for Ganondorf referred to him as the “Gerudo King of Thieves,” so I imagined him to be lean and not well muscled. I wanted him to move gracefully, like a whip. But when I saw the finished illustration for Ganondorf, it was quite different from him I imagined him to be…

Nakano: Emphasizing muscles more than necessary is just my style. [laughs]

Takizawa: I guess so! [laughs] Then again, it did become the basis of the Ganondorf in The Wind Waker and the Ganondorf in Twilight Princess. The design you came up with became the foundation for his design in several other titles, so I think it was a good thing.

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