Zelda 64 (partially found beta version of "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" Nintendo 64 action-adventure game; 1995-1998)

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Zelda 64 logo.png

Zelda 64 logo.

Status: Partially Found

Zelda 64 refers to the beta version of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a critically acclaimed action-adventure video game released by Nintendo in 1998 for the Nintendo 64, and the first game in the Legend of Zelda series to use fully 3D graphics. Zelda 64, which was originally being designed for the Nintendo 64 Disk Drive add-on, was much more ambitious in scope and scale than the final game, but the game's transition to a standard cartridge release led to much of this content being cut or altered.

Zelda 64 has never been made publicly available, but the various prerelease materials, as well as assets salvaged from leaks and dumps, paint a markedly different game from the final release.

Background[edit | edit source]

Zelda 64 was first revealed to the public at the Shoshinkai (also known as Space World) video game trade show in 1995, with a tech demo featuring the protagonist Link fighting a metal knight.[1] It was originally intended to be a sequel to Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.[2] Development began on the Nintendo 64 Disk Drive (64DD), a then-unreleased add-on for the Nintendo 64 that read magnetic disks which had greater storage capacity than the standard cartridges, while also boosting the console's capabilities. Director Shigeru Miyamoto had ideas, such as saving Link's footprints.[3]

At Shoshinkai 1996, a second trailer was shown, showing off smooth animations, advanced lighting, and a large skeleton enemy. It was in this era when Zelda 64 was taking shape.

In March 1997, Nintendo confirmed that Zelda 64 would be a cartridge release.[4]

Details[edit | edit source]

Zelda 64 went through several iterations, most noticeably seen in the heads-up display. Originally, the only the sword and a secondary item could be equipped on the A and B buttons, respectively. This was followed by having secondary items equipped to the C-buttons, with the B button instead being reserved for context-sensitive actions. For almost a year afterwards, the sword would remain on the A button before being swapped to the B button, as in the final game.

Character designs and overall visuals were simpler and more cartoon-looking, similar to Super Mario 64, which Zelda 64 borrowed elements from. Despite this, the character animations are much smoother than the final game, with Link performing flourishing sword swings which seamlessly flow into each animation. Unlike the final release, Link could manually jump forward, and his jump slash was different, with him doing a bodyflip before slashing. The trails on his spin attack was red instead of blue. Great Fairies had a much different design, with a blue-white, angelic appearance as opposed the more humanoid appearance.

Taking advantage of the 64DD's enhanced capabilities, several environments were much larger and more detailed, while other areas were still in the early stages. Hyrule Field had great, rolling hills, with its river having two branches instead of one path. The entrance to Castle Town had a big gate. Lake Hylia had a differently designed house, with one screenshot of it featuring an unknown woman whom fans have nicknamed Aria. Kakariko Village had a more simple layout, with houses placed along a path. The inside of the Great Deku Tree had a more complex layout, with the lobby containing a large central tower, and rooms being more spacious. The arena for the boss Volvagia had designs on the periphery reminiscent of a coliseum. There was an intricate cave system which was not in the final game.

The Medallions, the main collectables needed to beat the game, originally let Link use a magic spell based on the corresponding Medallion. The Soul (or Spirit) Medallion let Link become his fairy companion Navi,[5] similar to his fairy ability in Zelda II.

Availability[edit | edit source]

Zelda 64 has never been publicly released, with no available ROM image. "Beta restoration" projects have been attempted, such as one by Team Beta Triforce, which was never completed.[6]

On July 25th, 2020, the second Nintendo "Gigaleak"--a large scale leak of Nintendo data--took place. It contained several assets only used in Zelda 64, including cut areas and enemies.[7]

On January 19th, 2021, video game preservationist Forest of Illusion dumped an F-Zero X development cartridge, obtained from a former Nintendo employee. The cartridge contained graphic and map data from the Space World 1997 build of Zelda 64.[8]

Videos[edit | edit source]

Shoshinkai 1995 tech demo.
Shoshinkai 1996 trailer.
"Almost an hour of Zelda 64 leak footage (with old screenshots compared)" by Ryan LeCocq.
"Zelda 64/OoT - All A+C footage combined" by B4ndeiras.
"Gaming Mysteries: Zelda 64 Beta Redux (N64)" by Yuriofwind.
"Ocarina of Time beta map exploration on real hardware" by Meyadin !.

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]