Legend of Zelda is one of the most iconic video game franchises in history, forming the backbone of Nintendo’s success. Countless spin-offs, merchandize, artwork and even a cartoon have been released over the years. This has also spawned an even greater amount of fan-made art, games, videos and other homages. This time, a small group of about 10 people has set out to remake the Nintendo 64 Zelda Ocarina of Time in 2D, following a style similar to the old SNES versions. While the current progress seems quite promising, the future of the project is uncertain, particularly on legal grounds.
Ocarina of Time, while hardly the first in the Zelda series, is perhaps one of the most beloved ones. It was the first to introduce Link to a full 3D world and successfully translate a lot of the concepts and gameplay mechanics into the third dimension. This is why, perhaps, going back to the 2D space seems so interesting. On the surface it might feel like a step backwards but the unending new 2D Zeldas on Nintendo’s handheld consoles shows the format is hardly outdated and can still bring tremendous amounts of enjoyment.
However, this is hardly the first attempt to remake Zelda Ocarina of Time in 2D. Similar project was started by Daniel Barras a decade ago, albeit the work stopped abruptly with many speculating the game was shut down by Nintendo. Another one was started by Richard Denton, albeit the author was allegedly killed in a car crash. Hyrule Online was one of the few massively multiplayer fan projects based on the world of Ocarina of Time. It is now, unfortunately, no longer live. Aside from these remakes, there are also countless fan spin-offs or homages to the series as well, such as Kousou Games’ The Legend of Zelda: The Final Challenge made in three weeks for a competition.
The new remake project seems like an ambitious attempt. Instead of relying on an existing game engine or a toolset such as Game Maker, the creators are building everything from scratch using C programming language to get “full control over everything, resulting in a high-quality product!” The choice is a bit peculiar, given that C is a fairly old language with many more robust and modernized alternatives for PC programming that give just as much control. There are also several very flexible 2D game engines or libraries, such as SFML or SDL, that could make the development easier. However, the project may very well be already relying on some of these tools as the exact technical specifications are unknown.
Nonetheless, the progress seems to be going well with about 10 percent of the game finished according to Eurogamer reports. A working version can be already downloaded from the website, featuring the opening cinematics and the initial area. While the sprites are lifted from SNES’s Link to the Past, the music is a 16-bit remastering of the original N64 tunes. Several users on the project’s official forums have also eagerly jumped in offering their programming and artistic skills.
Despite the promising state of this Zelda Ocarina of Time 2D remake, there is some cause for concern. After all, the franchise and especially the graphical assets, are copyrighted and owned entirely by Nintendo. The company has already shut down several other fan projects in the past, such as the Zelda: Hero of Time fan movie back in 2010. While many smaller fan-games are still alive and well, a full remake of one of their most successful classics is a different matter entirely. Looking at recent re-releases of Ocarina of Time on Nintendo DS, Nintendo definitely still has a keen interest in the title.
By Jakub Kasztalski