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With The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild's release fast approaching, lots of details about the game's development and characters have been going public lately, including some details about how characters were originally designed.
In a recent discussion from Zelda: Art & Artifacts, artist Yusuke Nakano and modeler Satoru Takizawa explained how they first came up with the humanoid form of Ganondorf, which was used for the very first time in the N64 classic, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Nintendo Everything ended up capturing a snippet of the interview and posted up the relevant parts, where Satoru Takizawa explained,
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. 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.
According to Satoru Takizawa, he actually somewhat pulled rank on Nakano due to the fact that Nakano was three years his senior. However, Takizawa made it known that he didn't want Ganondorf to look like nothing but a brute. It was very important that Ganondorf maintained a regal air about himself for his depiction in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Previously Ganondorf had always been portrayed in his pig-monster form, battling Link for control over Hyrule. Giving him a humanoid form in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was the first step toward eventually turning Ganon into a different kind of villain in the latter Legend of Zelda games, including Wind Waker, Twilight Princess and even Koei Tecmo's take on the series with Hyrule Warriors.
According to Satoru Takizawa, they wanted a main boss and villain that would feel satisfying to defeat; not just because he was a brute, but also because of his intelligence and ability to craftily set dangerous plans into motion. So the design had to be both threatening and intelligent.
At one point he mentions that he designed Ganondorf to be too thin and with a bird-like face. However, Takizawa mentions that after seeing more of Nakano's work, he ended up making Ganondorf thicker and more robust. Eventually he ended up with the iconic look he now has, which has persisted throughout the Legend of Zelda games since the Ocarina of Time and even into his appearance in Super Smash Bros.
Given all the talk about Ganondorf and a lot of the history of the Legend of Zelda franchise, don't be surprised if he plays a rather significant role in the events that unfold in the upcoming Wii U and Nintendo Switch release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.