Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Project Zelda 3D: The Development of Zelda 64

The birth, the development, the cancellation and the rebirth of the Zelda 3D project.
[Original article in Italian by monokoma]

The Legend Of Zelda: 64DD

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The first version of Zelda 64 was originally conceived as a title developed specifically to make full use of the innovative features of the 64dd, like the internal clock, rewritable disks with a double capacity of a normal cartridge, internet connection, and image editing. Zelda 64 was presented by Nintendo as a really complex title, hardly possible to be made on a simple Nintendo 64. Miyamoto and his team would have liked to make Hyrule a persistent world,entirely adaptable at player’s will; any changes that Link would perform on it would be saved: any cut tree, any breaked container, any foot-marks on the sand, and any other changes made to the environment would stay here for the entire adventure. All this thanks to the innovative features of the 64DD. But the add-on was not received well by the developers, in part because of the past commercial failures of other expansions, and the 64DD was postponed so often that even Nintendo lost faith on the ambitious project. At this point the big N had to make a choice, and announced that Zelda would be redeveloped for a release on cartridge, hoping at the same time that the game would renew the attention of the videogame market on Nintendo 64. But, as we will see, the removal of the interesting features of the 64DD would have a huge impact on many sections of the story and of the game.

The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time

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Certainly, the first 3D Zelda game managed to preserve the feeling of the series. Released in the winter of 1998 on the Nintendo 64, Ocarina of time was however a mere shadow of his former self, the Zelda 64 Project, which born on the 64DD. Inside the game it’s still possible to find the leftovers of the original game and some of the features that would have made possible the connection with the add-on. With a Gameshark it’s even possible to recreate some of the beta events. Ocarina is a great game, but because of the cuts and the changes we may never know how the game was really intended to be.

The Legend Of Zelda: URA

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Zelda Ura ( “Another Zelda”) has already attained a legend status, and the maximium point of the absurdity that can reach the quest for unseens.After Ocarina was redeveloped for a cartridge release, Nintendo had the idea to create a 64 disk add-on with some of the features cut from the original game. As the released (in Japan) F-zero expansion, Ura was meant to be an “extension” to Ocarina Of time, with new mini-games,sub-quest, redesigned and new dungeons.In an interview, Miyamoto tells us that when the player reached the end of the Ocarina of Time, with Zelda Ura he could revisit the same world, but with new features, characters, and places to explore. Many questions and mysteries from Ocarina of Time would be aswered in Ura,like the invincible runner on Hirule Field, the Unicorn Fountain, the Ocarina Pedestal, and many others.

The Legend Of Zelda: Beta Quests

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The Beta Quests are events and scenarios not seen in the game, but that can be reached with an Action replay/Game Shark. There is an incredible number of variants in the beta quests, and most likely no one has really seen them all, so we can’t know the wonders still left in the cartridge. Some of these are connected with the new features of Ura, while in others it’s still possible to see some of the items cut in the transposition from disk to cartridge, or particulary situations changed in the final version. Certainly a precious source of information of Zelda beta.

The Legend Of Zelda: Master Quest

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Released as a preorder bonus for Wind Waker, Master Quest was essentially a new edition of Ocarina of time with slightly redesigned dungeons. The order of the room was changed, as many of the puzzles. The Outside world is still  the same as Ocarina, like the original Zelda’s Second Quest. Master Quest is probably only a small part of the original Zelda Ura for 64DD.

The Legend Of Zelda: Debug ROM

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This debug version of Ocarina of Time came to light many years after the original release of the game. In one way or another it was rediscovered and shared with the Online community. It is the build which the developer used for testing specific section of Ocarina, and it is possible to go anywere inside the ROM code with the debug menu.  The most interesting aspect of the debug rom is, of course, that you can still find many leftovers from the beta, like some locations showed years from the release of the final game. The rom was found not too long ago, and so we can still hope to find more information about the developement of Zelda 64. Another interesting fact about the debug is that it should be based on Master Quest.

The Legend Of Zelda: Gaiden

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When it was already clear that the first Zelda for the Nintendo 64 was being converted on cartridge, Nintendo began to develop a new Zelda game. The title, formerly known under the codename Zelda Gaiden, it would have full exploited the add-on features, especially the internal clock. Gaiden it would have featured Link trapped for a week into a strange world already on the verge of destruction. At the end of the seventh day, a natural disaster it would have occured and the only meaning of survival for Link it would have been to travel back in time, trying again to find a solution. All the environmental and time changes were going to be saved in the rewritable section of the special 64DD disks, thus influencing the events of the seven days, like the original Zelda 64 project.Another interesting feature it would have been a new version of the great fishing mini-game already seen on Ocarina of Time, this time called Jabu Jabu fishing. Obviously, with the 64DD failure, Gaiden was cut and quickly redeveloped for a release on the Nintendo 64, which was then already being forgotten because of the next-gen consoles.

The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

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Released for Nintendo 64, the “sequel” of Ocarina time lacked many of the features of the original 64dd version. Four days out of the original seven were removed, some dungeons were never completed, and many subquests never seen the light (or who knows.. maybe they were used in Wind Waker). Yet, even so heavily redesigned, Majora is certainly one of the best games of the series.
A Link To The Past
But what has been left inside those games of the original project? We can only speculate how much more is still hidden in these binary sequences,which Ocarina and Majora are composed of, and thanks to countless hours of exploration spent in the two games, and to the Gameshark is possible to find some evidence of the many cuts made.

Zelda 64DD / URA > Ocarina Of Time

In the Japanese version of Ocarina of time, with a 64DD connected, a screen is displayed that warns the player to insert the Zelda URA disk.
The Runner, found at the tent of Gerudo Valley, has already become famous for his unbeatability. In fact, even stopping the time with the Gameshark and finishing the course with a 0:00 timer, the runner will always say that he has already beated you by a second. Nintendo admitted that is not possible to beat him in Ocarina of Time, and it was probably going to be a quest of Zelda Ura, where with a new item or some changing with the flowing of time in the game, it was possible to beat him.
When checking the text inside the Ocarina Of Time rom, it’s possible to find some sentences that don’t appears in the game,like “Hi! I’m a talking door!”- “The Entrance to the Past” – “The Entrance to the Present” – “The Entrance to the Future” – WHAAAT!? Look at all those flags! Can you figure out which ones are real? -  This door is currently being refurbished [Thanks to Triforce of the Gods for the contribution!]
Thanks to some codes for the Gameshark, it’s possible to recreate in one of the Beta Quests this ice structure, later used in Master Quest.
In this Beta Quest, you can see this strange pedestal with a drawing of an Ocarina, not used in the final game but probably connected in some way or another with Zelda Ura. The pedestal is located at Zora Domain, at the entry of the Jabu Jabu’s mouth.
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These two icons left inside the rom of Ocarina can be translated as Wind Medallion and Ice Medallion, and they are most likely the leftovers of two temples removed from the final game and probably scheduled for Zelda Ura.
Also, It’s possible to find two of the tunics which perhaps were going to be used in the removed dungeons: The golden one (Light Temple?) and the white one (Ice Temple ?).
In the secret cave across the entrance of Gerudo Valley, it’s possible to find one of the gossip stones. The message that the stone tells is: “They say that there is a switch you can only activate by using the spin attack”, but in the game there isn’t a button which it is activated only with the spin attack, and then it is likely that it refers to a puzzle of URA. UPDATE:  Thanks to Ultraman82 we found out that in Ocarina of Time there is really a switch that should be activated only with a Spin Attack. Is this one in the Water Temple:
In reality, the 3D engine collisions in the game is not perfect, so you can activate it with the Biggoron Sword too (because is longer than the normal sword), but otherwise only a spin attack can activate it!
Another strange message of one of the gossip stones at Zora’s River is: “They say that there is a man who can always be found running around Hyrule Field”, but this statement is pointless because in order to read the advice you need the Mask of Truth, available only when you have already met the Hyrule Field runner.
A code for the Game Shark can instead make appear in the Kokiri village an Air Wing , a spaceship (for those who don’t know) used in another Nintendo game, Star Fox. The polygonal model is perfectly animated, with a laser gun that attacks Link, and when hit it even falls down and explodes..therefore it seems much more than a simple model left inside the game. Maybe it was originally used for an easter-egg quest, available only with URA.
Inside the Debug Rom of Ocarina of Time: Master Quest it is possible to find a room not available in the final game, but showed many years from the release of Zelda 64 in many beta screenshots. This beta room was left inside the rom all these years..Nintendo forgot it because it didn’t notice it or for another reason ? We are still researching the secrets of this new Debug Rom.. and maybe some day it will be possible to find even the fabled Unicorn Fountain.
Here is another beta room from the Debug version of Ocarina of time, which was first showed in many old screenshots of the game, and that is was also left inside Ocarina of Time all these years..
Another beta room not available in the final version of Ocarina of Time, but explorable with the Beta Quests..
Do you know some more beta connections? Join our forum!

Ocarina Of Time / URA > Gaiden / Majora’s Mask

Even if not normally found in the game, the Blue Fire of Ocarina of Time was left inside the final version of Majora Mask. Unfortunately, it is possible to see it only with a code for Gameshark.
Another two items from Ocarina of Time not used in the final version of Majora Mask: The Fairy Ocarina and The Fairy Slingshot.
The photo on the left show the design of the treasures in one of the beta versions of Ocarina of Time. In the final game they were replaced with another kind, but, as you can seen from the screen on the right, they were later used in Majora.
It seems like that some of the Skulltula House of Majora Mask were originally beta dungeons of Ocarina of Time which were never completed but later rearranged for the sequel.
The Bunny Hood is one of the mask of Majora, used to go faster. In Ocarina of Time. the runner says that with this mask you could run faster and became unbeatable. So it is likely that it was one of the new skills of the masks in Zelda Ura, and with one this mask it was finally possible to beat the runner. When Zeldan Gaiden was began, some of the ideas for the new masks were taken from the same characteristics of the masks featured in URA.
Do you know some more beta connections? Join our forum!

Gaiden > Majora’s Mask

Thanks to the Gameshark it is possible to make appear this unused item in Majora Mask’s inventory. It’s probably just a fish or a bait in a bottle. The japanese text tells us that the item is called “Hyrulian Dojo”, and it is most likely a leftover from the already quoted fish mini-game that was going to be available in Zelda Gaiden.
Another text not used in the final version of Majora, The “Grandma’s Drink”, probably a potion like the one from Wind Waker.
Do you know some more beta connections? Join our forum!

Once Upon a Time


The original story of Zelda 64

Link is preparing for his coming-of-age ceremony, in which he will receive his guardian spirit. In the tradition of his people, children receive a fairy from the Fairy Tree when they reach adulthood. This fairy becomes a person’s lifelong familiar. The fairy accompanies the youthful adventurer seeking his or her fortune in the maze-like forest or in the lands beyond. Link’s ceremony, however, is not destined to be a happy one. The Fairy Tree, source of guardian spirits, is captured by a strange creature from the depths of the forest. Link is able to locate his guardian spirit, Navie, and with her help, slay the creature. However, in the process, the Fairy Tree is grievously damaged. As its life force ebbs, the Fairy Tree speaks the words that will shape Link’s destiny.
“Do not allow the thief, Gannondorf, to claim the Triforce … ” the Tree mystically communicates. “Oh brave one, you must take this sacred stone to a wise man….”
Gannondorf was infamous throughout the land for his evil practices as the king of thieves. He lusted for the power of the Triforce and searched throughout Hyrule for its resting place, most recently plunging into the forest of Link’s people. Link knew he was in grave danger should Gannondorf find him. He took the sacred stone from the Fairy Tree and set out for Hyrule Castle, the capital of the Hyrulian people. Upon entering the castle, Link is welcomed by the young Princess Zelda, a woman of the Hyrulian royal family about the same age as he. She is well aware of the crisis facing the land of Hyrule. Zelda relates further details about the Triforce’s hiding place, telling Link that he needs to find the three sacred stones that fit into a magical Ocarina, which serves as the key to hidden realm. Link’s race with the evil Gannondorf to find the sacred stones and the hiding place of the Triforce is on!

The Legend Of Zelda URA vs Master Quest

With the Zelda Bonus Disc (included in the Limited Edition of Wind Waker) we can play Zelda Master Quest. It was probably just one of the many play modes of Zelda URA.
Zelda URA on the 64DD:
  • Ura Zelda supposedly unlocked new mini-games, new sidequests, characters and shuffled around items to give Zelda players some new stuff to do in the familiar world of Hyrule.
  • Shigeru Miyamoto told us shortly before the launch of Ocarina of Time, that “you first play the initial disk version of Zelda — after finishing everything, you can enter into the world, into the basic design of the same.
  • It’s very much a parody game based on Ocarina of time, but with new dungeons to explore. It even features the same storyline.
  • The title might support the GB Camera to create masks for Link. Miyamoto hinted of this possibility in a 64 Dream interview. If this does turn out to be true, gamers will be able to create their own masks in Talent Studio and implement them into Ura-Zelda.
  • Ocarina Of Time was design with the introduction of the DD in mind, and if you load the game with the drive connected to your system, you will see a screen option, which says “Ura Zelda” another version of Zelda.
  • There were several ideas I could not incorporate into Zelda because of the lack of time and various other factors. For example, I wanted to creat some extra dungeons for those who had completed the quest.
  • The 64DD adventure is said to enable gamers to revisit areas and dungeons of Ocarina of Time and experience new adventures in familiar surroundings.
  • Every change Link would make to his surroundings would stick. If you smashed a box, it would stay broken. If you dug a hole, it would remain there until you covered it. If you left footsteps in the sand, they would stay. All this was supposed to be made possible by the enhanced storage space of the 64DD.
  • Miyamoto: “Whether or not we release it or not, we are still working on the game.”
  • Ura-Zelda isn’t so much a new game as it is an expansion to an existing one: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (it is not compatible with Majora’s Mask).
  • One of the few features that Nintendo told us about was the addition of new mask quests. Apart from the existing masks, Ura Zelda was to include many more — some of which were no doubt included in Majora’s Mask.
  • August 25/2000: Speaking to the press in an open forum held yesterday in Tokyo, Japan, Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto casually commented that “Ura-Zelda” (aka: Legend of Zelda DD) has been completed for some time now.
  • Ura Zelda could not be played without owning Ocarina of Time – and Nintendo was hoping one would help sell the other. After literally years of delays, Nintendo quietly dropped Ura Zelda from its release lists.
  • Because the 64DD is unlikely to see an US release, Miyamoto also said the following. “We may have to have a special edition release (of Ura-Zelda) in the future.”
Zelda: Master Quest on the GameCube:
  • In the Deku Tree there’s this one chest I can’t open… it looks like a big blue box with a fancy design on it… and there’s a track next to it, as if it could be pushed or pulled… except it can’t.
  • The dungeon maps are all (supposedly) the same. It’s just the insides that are different.
  • Music seems to be exactly the same as the N64 version. The game select screen at the very beginning has a nice rendition of the classic Zelda theme.
  • The general map layout of the first dungeon is the same, but the puzzles, enemies, enemy locations and item locations are different. For example, many of the torches, chests, crates, floating platforms and the like have been mixed up and moved around, and some rooms have different requirements for you to fulfill in order to be able to proceed.
  • Also, remember those little mini-gohmas that Gohma dropped from the ceiling during the boss fight? Well, they’re all over the dungeon now… in eggs. When you get close to one, it pops out of its egg and starts attacking.
  • One room in the Deku Tree is full of tombstones with little Triforce designs on them. If you hit them with your sword, items pop out (rupees, hearts, etc.). I don’t remember anything like this in the original Ocarina.
  • Enemies are tougher. Some that required one hit in Ocarina require two in Ura. I’m not sure if they do more damage or not, though.
  • Also noted, some of the enemies, like the Deku Babas (Venus Flytrap head things) will some times be larger, which take more hits to kill. Enemy placement is different. Places where there would be a Deku Scrub, there may be a Deku Babas, or something.
  • Dodongo’s Cavern and Jabu-Jabu were both remixed nicely. In the case of Jabu-Jabu, there are cows lodged in the walls all throughout the dungeon now. :) You have to hit them with the slingshot or boomerang to make them drop chests or open doors and whatnot. It’s pretty cool.
  • I’m probably about 50% to 60% of the way through Ura Zelda, and to this point, the -only- changes are inside the dungeons. The overworld stuff is all exactly the same as in Ocarina of Time.
  • They added in more of those blue boxes that you can make appear/disappear with the ocarina, and they shuffled around some platforms and whatnot, but otherwise the layouts have been mostly the same.
  • The Ice Cave has areas that were featured in earlier shots, remember the two ice horses looking down? Well this is actually a new puzzle which is hella cool.
  • There is also a new mini boss which is a mutated version of a white Wolfos.
  • There are three new rooms in Ice Cavern with different puzzles.
  • The game is IDENTICAL to OoT, except for the dungeons.
  • There are NO extra items.
  • The fire temple plays almost completely backwards.
  • Lizard guy. Half-way bosses in the fire dungeon. They appear all over the place now, but also ones with white trimmings that seem to fight better.
  • A bigger blue floating jellyfish, that appear in Lord Jabu Jabu.
  • I also encountered a “mother” sand dweller. You know those plants that surface in the desert and come at you. This one was bigger and black.
  • The Thieves Cave (where you win the Ice Arrows) is a pain and a half. A lot of rooms with time limits. Especially one where you have to defeat an axe armour guy in sand, which makes your movement difficult, with a strict time limit.
  • There seem to be more “kill every enemy to open a door” rooms with more, strong enemies.

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