Ty Anderson: A Miketendo64 Interview (Link’s Awakening 64)

Whenever I think of The Legend of Zelda, I think of the 90’s. Sure the Zelda series came to be in the 80’s but the 90’s was the decade that shaped the series into something gamers around the world came to love, especially when the 90’s saw the release of A Link to the Past, Link’s Awakening and Ocarina of Time. 


There is so much love for each of those titles, so much so that demand for a Link’s Awakening is so high that when we learned about a ROM hack for Ocarina of Time is in the works, a rom hack that makes OoT become Link’s Awakening, a lot of us went a little mental. Now not only were we, Miketendo64 actually one of the first outlets to cover the story, beating the likes of Gamnesia and Zelda Informer, but we actually got in touch with Ty Anderson to arrange an interview. Ty said yes, accepted all of our questions and sent the responses back to us and we are ready to share with you, what he shared with us! Get ready to hype yourself up because it’s time for a Link’s Awakening 64 Q&A:


The Man Behind the Name:

Miketendo64:Firstly, who are you? What’s your background and what made you decide to remake one of the greatest Zelda titles in the 3D graphics of Ocarina of Time?”

Ty Anderson:At home I am a humble, simple man. I love the natural world and just getting away to quiet spots away from society. If I am not at home listening to reggae, working diligently on my mod in my free time then I am spending the day out exploring in the mountains and woodland where I live. I guess you could say it has been a key inspiration to my Patch. It is almost as though the environment plants seeds inside my mind that I then water and feed through the computer until they flourish into the maps and characters you see.”


 Link’s Awakening 64’s Current Progress:

Miketendo64:You have been working on Link’s Awakening 64 for over a year now. How have you found the development and how far in would you say you are?

Ty Anderson:There is a lot of work to be done, and like all good crops I cannot rush its growth period, it must come organically, so as far as a percentage I would say around 25% of the mod has been made, though much of the past year has been spent taking a reductionist approach to the ROM, breaking down its inner mechanisms in order to exploit them. But with passion, perseverance and a little bit of luck, I have been extremely successful and finally have all the knowledge and skill required to make an entire game within the Ocarina of Time ROM as though it was a games engine and not a compiled and finished product. So this year I should be able to put a lot more content into the ROM and easily accomplish twice what I already have!”


Development Difficulties:

Miketendo64:With Link’s Awakening being the much loved game that it is, what has been the hardest part so far with regards to developing it and keeping it true to the original?

Ty Anderson:The hardest part of the development has to be the limitations of the ROM itself: originally when I made Mabe Village, the map was split into three parts like clock town in Majora’s Mask. But the fanbase had a hard time understanding the layout and how it related to the original. After a long time trying to increase the capability of the ROM a few techniques were discovered that allowed me to import it all as one map without the boundaries. The same was true for the Link model – trying to get hair to look realistic with less than 1000 polygons on an entire model is extremely difficult. In order to perfect it, I had to remake the model 10x, each time posting it to the fans asking for their feedback, until one day everyone agreed, ‘it’s right this time’. I always use the feedback from my fan base to make everything as good as I can. I see them as more of a community of supporters cheering me through the finishing line; and for all their support I want to give back to them as much as possible.”

Miketendo64:And that is a very commendable act!”

Link's Awakening 64 Screenshot 14

How the ROM Hack Works:

Miketendo64:Just how exactly does this ROM hack work and how do fans go about implementing it when the ROM releases?”

Ty Anderson:It will be released as a patch with a tutorial on how to patch it into the ROM. Nothing of Nintendo’s will be included. That way there should be no copyright issues as far as distributing Nintendo’s original content. The fans will have to provide their own copy of the N64 ROM.”

Miketendo64:Sounds good.”

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Link’s Awakening 64 is a Two Man Deal:

Miketendo64:Link’s Awakening 64 is a huge undertaking. How much of the project have you handled yourself and have you had to get some outside help with it?”

Ty Anderson:Everything you see in the ROM has been made 100% by me. Everything you hear has been made 100% by Lezg_g. Every now and again someone drops in with a little helpful insight into how the Ocarina of Time ROM works, or how to pull something off, but other than that, it is just us two walking this rocky road alone.”

Link's Awakening 64 Screenshot 3

Fan Reaction:

Miketendo64:From what I’ve seen so far, fan reaction has been nothing but positive. How surprised are you to see this project so warmly embraced?”

Ty Anderson:Truly, I had no idea it would be loved by so many; I expected this to sit in a dark corner of the web, only played by a secret few. Honestly, it warms my heart that something I am creating could be so adored and followed by so many people. To them I say thank you so much for your kind words and support! It feels like I have gone from being a lone individual, lost in a strange world, to being surrounded by people who think like me – it is incredible. I have been smiling constantly ever since I posted the video!”

Remake Vs the Original (Version Differences):

Miketendo64:Just exactly how much does the story for Link’s Awakening 64 vary to the original game?”

Ty Anderson:It is a combination of the original game, the manga and my own fiction, some of the changes are because of the gameplay, others are just the natural progression of turning a two-dimensional map into a three-dimensional world and playable in Ocarina of Time. In my opinion, the most iconic feature of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask’s gameplay that makes them stand out from the other Zelda titles, was the fact they were all based around a fairy as a navigation, targeting and help system. For me, that is one of the key nostalgic features for younger Zelda gamers of the N64 generation like myself that the proceeding Zelda titles lacked. So I knew I had to keep this as the beating heart of Ocarina of Time’s game mechanics – despite the fact that it was not featured in Link’s awakening on the Gameboy.

So I needed a fairy companion and discovered Felicia the fairy from the manga of Link’s Awakening. She is portrayed as a mischievous, headstrong little ‘bossy boots’, but when it comes down to it, an incredibly compassionate companion to Link.

The manga also goes into way more depth into this whole, dynamic yet haunting and dark storyline of Link’s love interest with Marin that the Gameboy version only touched on. It speaks of Link’s heartbreak over waking the Windfish and Marin’s reaction to the fact that the man she has fallen in love with, is the bringer of Armageddon, and chooses to kill her rather than stay in the dream forever…

So when I talked about expanding on the story, the darkness and the inspired story line, I mean heavily taking inspiration and dialogue from the manga and using it in my mod.

So what about the original content? Well, personally I felt that I as a player and reader of the manga, I could not relate to Link’s lack of reason to wake the Windfish and kill everybody, no matter his duty to Hyrule. Thus I really wanted to develop and build on a back story. Why was the island created? Who was the Sunfish? What was the Windfish? Where did the instruments come from? Why was the Windfish having nightmares?

For those of you who played the game, you will know that Mambo distinctly called himself the son of the Sunfish, yet you never meet him in game. In fact one can only logically ponder, if the Windfish was a creator god, then what was the Sunfish? Essentially, I want an origin story of how the island came to be, and to play on the mythology behind these gods.”

Miketendo64:If I wasn’t interested in this already, I would be now. You have just blown my mind!”


 Link’s Awakening 64 Graphics:

Miketendo64:As regards to Marin, who as I am sure you are aware, became a playable character in Hyrule Warriors. When the news of this came about, what made you continue to work with the graphics of the Nintendo 64 instead of upping it to the likes of Hyrule warriors?”

Ty Anderson:Purely love and passion for this era of gaming, and I will always make my own assets. This is my creation, my journey, my path to tread. In order for this tree to bear fruit, I must turn the soil in my own personal way before planting the seeds. This is my personal artwork; downloading the model of Marin from another game would be beside the point of the creative journey I am taking. Plus, I would be at this point distributing things that were not mine, and then Nintendo would have a real reason to close me down.”

Miketendo64:I see. You make a good point.”

Link's Awakening 64 Screenshot 1

Link’s New Look!

Miketendo64:I’m not got to lie, I am in love with the look you have given Link for this rom hack. How much time and thought did you have to put in to it before creating the perfecting LA/Child Link fusion we have now?”

Ty Anderson:There have been so many hours of research behind to Link’s real age in Links Awakening. Working from interviews and Hyrule Historia, Link in Link’s Awakening is most widely accepted to be around 16-17 years of age. It’s the same incarnation Link from A Link to the Past, and though Link’s age is not determined, it has been confirmed that Zelda was 16, therefore one can assume Link to be of the same age. Link’s awakening also takes place a year or so after A Link to the Past and Marin has been confirmed to have been 17 in that game, so again using the same logic Link must be around 17. So when I had all the information I needed, it was a case of sketching out concepts and designs and systematically throwing them in the bin until I was happy, and also constantly feeding off fan feedback until it was perfect!”


 The Perfect Marin:

Miketendo64:One of the most iconic characters in Link’s Awakening, is Marin. How is development going on creating the perfect Marin?”

Ty Anderson:The perfect Marin must be made in much the same way as Link. Hours of research, sketching out designs and above all, basing her appearance on both her role, character, and original artwork of the game.”


Google Sketchup:

Miketendo64:To undertake a task this size you must be using quite a powerful program because GameMaker it isn’t. What program are you using and where did you get the models from for this project? Are they directly from the Ocarina of Time ROM, a web server, or did you make them yourself from scratch?”

Ty Anderson:It’s funny that you say a powerful program, but I use Google Sketchup. It is simplistic, has everything I need and I am very comfortable with it. The artist is as good as his knowledge of his tools, not just the quality of the tools themselves. I make them all from scratch except a few models that are intentional references and eater eggs to other Nintendo titles. I spent a lot of time playing the 3DS titles too and I have tried as hard as I can to replicate some of the art style, plants and such in the earlier engine. ”


In-game References:

Miketendo64:Every Zelda game has a reference to either another Zelda title, or another Nintendo game or character including Mario, can we expect to see something similar with Link’s Awakening 64?”

Ty Anderson:Definitely, there are countless references to the other Zelda titles in this version, as well as Super Mario – keep your eye out for them in the videos; there are even some classic Mario enemies like flying Shy Guys. As for jokes, not to worry, there will be plenty of the fourth wall humor, as there was in Link’s Awakening on the Gameboy.”

Miketendo64:Sounds good to me.”


There Will be Masks, Skulltulas & More!:

Miketendo64:In a comment you’ve made on your Facebook page, you stated Link’s Awakening 64 will have a Skulltula house. Are there any other side-quests and the like we can hope to see in the full game?”

Ty Anderson:Yes, there most certainly will be, including a mask collection quest, and many optional mini dungeons scattered across the world.”

Link's Awakening 64 Screenshot 4

Loopholes and Technicalities:

Miketendo64:It was only a week or so that the world was graced with Super Mario 64: Last Impact, which was made by Modder Kaz Emanuar. He also created a completely new game from a classic N64 Title and was well received by the general public and seems to just slip under the Nintendo’s Radar. Did this help boost motivation to continue with your project and is it what you are hoping to achieve with your rendition of Link’s Awakening.”

Ty Anderson:Definitely. ROM hack have been a well-known medium for fans like myself to create these tributes to Nintendo for many years now, and the reality is, what harm do they do? They do not distribute the original ROM for free, nor aim to replace Nintendo’s original work, and often encourage people who see the ROM hack to play the original it was based off, such as is the case with my mod and Link’s Awakening. I can completely understand why Nintendo would be going after independent games using the IP of Nintendo, but a ROM hack is a small DLC – you need to have the original to play it. I believe Last Impact that is a great example of Nintendo simply telling us additional content to a pre-existing game is fine, but trying to make a new game is not.”

Nintendo’s Reaction:

Miketendo64:Nintendo aren’t exactly the most welcoming developer/publisher when it comes to fan-made projects. Are you at all worried how they might react to this?” 

Ty Anderson:I do worry, but I feel confident that the fact this is a ROM hack will be enough. I am not actually distributing any of Nintendo’s original content, just creating a free Patch for the great game they already made. All this attention to my mod has also encouraged many fans to buy and play Link’s awakening for the first time. They are looking to Nintendo to see what all the fuss is about. I wonder if Nintendo will experience a rise in the number of people downloading Link’s Awakening on the 3DS from the Nintendo Eshop over the next few months. I hope when Nintendo one day see my work, their reaction will be to invite me to work with them some day. It has been a childhood dream and will probably never happen, but a man can only think wishful thoughts.”

Miketendo64: “Indeed.”


More Nintendo Talk and Patreon:

Miketendo64:Nintendo has quite a strong stance in protecting it’s IP’s and do not tolerate when people are earning money from their assets. In regards to your Patreon page, how do you get around that issue?”

Ty Anderson:I am not selling any of Nintendo’s content or distributing it. The Patreon page is there purely in the hope that if I can get enough support, I can drop some hours at work and spend that time on my projects, meaning it will come out a lot faster.

The patron is not specifically for Link’s awakening either, it is for all my artwork, texture work, and future game development. I spend a lot of time talking and interacting with the followers of my parteon page. This is still a non-profit project, but I am very hard for time, being a full time student and working – the patron people are just helping me get a little more time to do this. I am not selling Nintendo content, fans have a patreon for music covers, fan fiction and artworks based on Nintendo’s games for many years now, and some have thousands of dollars coming in each month. This is no different, I am having people donate money for me to create, and some of that content just happens to be a patch for a game Nintendo created, but uses Nintendo’s IP in the same way as any other fan made art form.”


What Comes Next after Link’s Awakening 64?:

Miketendo64:Do you currently have plans to take on another project after you have completed Link’s Awakening, and what game would it be? Would it be another Zelda game or would you tackle another franchise.”

Ty Anderson:After this project I intend to make my own game in the Cryengine, it will be an open world dungeon exploration RPG, based around a spiritual quest for enlightenment undertaken by a young boy from a tribe on a distant planet.”

Miketendo64:Well best of luck to you with the both of them.”


Talking to Ty, he didn’t just give us a few details, he painted us a very vivid picture of what Link’s Awakening 64 is, how it differs and has given us plenty of reasons as to why we should be excited about this ROM hack. Link’s Awakening 64 may not be the official Nintendo remaster we want, but it is remaster we deserve and will fall in love with and because Ty has one last thing to say, here he is with a message for his fans:

I never expected it to get this big, Thank you everyone for all your support and I will not disappoint you!

Link's Awakening 64 Screenshot 11


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