The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the most open and free-roaming game in the series since the original NES classic that got it all started. No boundaries, no specific tools required for progression, just straight-up finding your way in the world and hoping to make progress. It seems impossible for such a massive 3D space, but Nintendo worked its magic by originally creating the game in the vein of that same 8-bit original.
Director Hidemaro Fujibayashi recently revealed this 8-bit prototype to the series fans at GDC, saying it was used to test each of the mechanics. Without it, Nintendo wouldn’t have been able to test the boundaries or see if progress were even possible in the game.
I wanted to create a game where the user could truly experience freedom in this play field, and a sense of adventure again and again, as they freely navigate through it. When I started to think this way, the NES Zelda came to mind. Every time the screen scrolled, there was a new discovery to be made.
The prototype provided simple combat and a goal to accomplish, and using the physics and chemistry from the main game, it helped the Breath of the Wild team come up with plenty of ideas for their gaming world.
So… when do we get to play that?
Nintendo… we need to talk for a second. I’m not sure if this is ever intending to be an actual game, but you know… fans are going to obsess about this prototype until the end of time or at least until they are able to play it. Why not just spare us the agony and let us play it? You have a game with that all on its own, and it fits perfectly into my ideas for an overhead Zelda game on the Switch.
Retool the prototype, turn it into “The Legend of Zelda Maker” or a full-fledged adventure, promote it as an 8-bit throwback because we certainly don’t have enough of those, and voila! Instant adoring fanbase!