Breath of the Wild’s Prototype Resembled The Original Zelda

It would seem that the developers of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild started with a prototype resembling the original, 8-bit Zelda from the NES. Nintendo of America has shared a series of tweets covering a Game Developers Conference (GDC) panel about the making of Breath of the Wild, including abandoned concepts and the prototype in question. This 2D prototype was created to demonstrate BOTW’s new concepts to the development team.

The prototype was a re-skin of the graphics engine used in A Link Between Worlds for the 3DS, with the same manner of 3D collision detection (bottom image).

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As was announced by Eiji Aonuma back in 2013, the goal of this new Zelda was to break existing series conventions, by taking a passive game and making it active. To the developers of BOTW, led by director Hidemaro Fujibayashi, art director Satoru Takizawa and technical director Takuhiro Dohta, they wanted to create a game in which players could interact with objects, and those objects would interact with the environment. To wit, “physics” and “chemistry” defined the game’s design.

The game’s freedom is such that a player could push a boulder from the starting area, the Great Plateau, all the way to Ganon’s Castle.

Other discarded concepts shown in the panel included a biker version of Link, alien invasions for a theoretical Legend of Zelda: Invasion, and Hyrule Wars (not to be confused with the Omega Force-developed Hyrule Warriors).

Today’s panel also confirmed that the graphical art style of The Wind Waker HD was the inspiration for BOTW’s art, only “refreshing and full-flavored” in the words of Mr. Takizawa. These graphics reconciled playability with reality. The Zelda team made early experiments with Wind Waker’s art in the early development days of Wii U, one reasoning how it was the key influence on BOTW’s look.

In the end, Mr. Takizawa aimed to create a Zelda adventure that stirred the soul of the player, or “Gutto Kuru” in Japanese. Early praise for BOTW pins critical scores very high, including perfect 10s from outlets such as EDGE Magazine and Famitsu’s lauded 40 score. The game launches on Friday, March 3rd, for the Switch and the Wii U, for which it was originally announced.

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A man with a plan. My favorite video game franchise is Pokemon, but his favorite video game is Resident Evil 4. I can also tell you trivial cartoon factoids.