No matter how monumental a game or series is, there are always ways it could have been different. Developers will play around with different ideas, mechanics, and character traits, tweaking as they go along until they think the title is as perfect as they can make it. Sometimes we can catch glimpses of these ideas through pre-release trailers. And sometimes we may not find out about them until years later when a company decides to release concept art from their vast vault.
The Legend of Zelda is one of the most respected franchises in video game history. And due to its stature in the industry, there are innumerable ideas and concepts that Nintendo had to change or remove entirely that can provide an interesting look into an alternate video game timeline. The unreleased expansion of Ocarina of Time; the dungeon building aspect and general layout of the original The Legend of Zelda; the human masks of Majora’s Mask. Each classic entry in the celebrated series had to be altered in some way for some reason, making for different games upon release. Some of these changes have been small, while others had intriguing impacts on the ways the games would have operated.
This isn’t to say that each Zelda game was negatively affected by these changes. The series is respected so much because of how much effort Nintendo pours into every one. But they certainly would have been different. Here are 25 amazing things deleted from the classic Zelda that would have changed everything.
25 The Legend Of Zelda: A Choice Between Two Starter Weapons
By now, it’s hard to imagine Link starting his adventure with something other than his trusty sword. But during development, Nintendo planned to give players the option to choose between two different starter weapons.
The options players would have been given would be between the sword and the boomerang.
Switching it to just the sword was probably the simpler move, and the boomerang was just made available later in the game. Footage taken from the promo video for the Famicom Disk System, with the player’s two options, can still be found online.
24 Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link: The Unused Graveyard
Many fans consider Zelda II: The Adventure of Link to be one of the weaker entries of the franchise. And it’s precisely because the game tried so many new things that have given it that reputation. The game is played from a top-down perspective while traversing the overworld but switches to sidescrolling whenever Link enters a town, palace, or battle.
But there is one battle sequence taking place in a graveyard that players have been able to find in the game’s code that never made it in. Why it was deleted or where it would have occurred is unknown.
23 Link's Awakening: Preset Warp Locations
Link’s Awakening brought many new elements to the Zelda franchise that would become staples of the series, such as trading sidequests and playing songs on an ocarina.
But there is one element that many future games in the series have that was taken out of the first portable Zelda.
It seems that there were initially pre-set warp locations planned for the title. Players have been able to hack the game and warp Link to 11 locations in a specific order. But it’s likely this was deleted early on as several of them put Link inside an object.
22 A Link To The Past: Familiar Items
A Link to the Past quickly became the pinnacle of the series when it was released in 1991, and one of the things that made it the new gold standard were its items. The game introduced incredible new weapons like the Hookshot and the Fire Rod, but these new items meant getting rid of some old ones.
There are graphics for items from the original game found in the game’s code. These include meat (which resembles bait), a letter, and the useful stopwatch that would freeze any enemy on screen as soon as Link picked it up.
21 Ocarina Of Time: A Massive Expansion
The amount of content that was taken out or not implemented in Ocarina of Time could make up its own list (and has). But one of the more fascinating ideas that never saw the light of day was Nintendo’s planned expansion titled Ura Zelda.
This would have added an insane amount of content such as new characters, new sidequests, new dungeons, and even functionality with the Game Boy Camera that would have let players create masks for Link to wear. This all would have been possible if the Japan-only disk add-on it was planned for, the Nintendo 64DD, hadn’t tanked.
20 Majora's Mask: More Familiar Items
Similar to A Link to the Past, Majora’s Mask also had some items deleted that were seen in a previous game. Some from Ocarina of Time were meant to be carried over as they were seen in pre-release footage or screenshots.
But including these items would have been entirely unnecessary since there were alternatives.
The fairy ocarina was simply changed to the Ocarina of Time. The Deku shield was taken out in favor of the Hero’s Shield. And the megaton hammer wouldn’t make sense with Goron Link’s abilities just like the boomerang wouldn’t have made sense with the Zora’s fins.
19 The Wind Waker: A Water Dungeon
It may be hard to believe, but The Wind Waker was released over 15 years ago so we’re still counting it as a classic. And just like many classic Zelda games, it was meant to follow the same first-three-dungeons formula.
Or so it is thought.
It hasn’t been confirmed by Nintendo, but many believe that Greatfish Isle was meant to house the water dungeon instead of becoming the wreck we see. There’s a lot of evidence that points towards this, mainly the fact that director Eiji Aonuma said in an interview that they had to delete a couple of dungeons.
18 A Link To The Past: Cannon Soldier
The enemies from A Link to the Past (or any older game) are tough as nails and relentless in their pursuit of our hero. Just like every foe, they can be avoided and bested, but when there’s a bunch of them on screen it can be enough to overwhelm you.
So it’s probably a good thing that one of them was deleted.
Agahnim’s corrupted Hylian soldiers come in variations. Some use swords while others use a bow and arrow, but one who shot giant cannonballs at Link was deleted. I, for one, am grateful.
17 Ocarina Of Time: The Ocarina Pedestal
Ocarina of Time sure does love using pedestals. Most of them are spots for warp points inscribed with the medallion of the corresponding sage that is meant to watch over that area. But one has been found in the game’s code that has become something of a mystery.
Some players have been able to dig up an unused cutscene with Lord Jabu-Jabu in the Zora’s Fountain. Within this cutscene is a pedestal with the picture of an ocarina on it. No one knows what it would have done or why it specifically appeared in Zora’s Fountain.
16 Oracle Of Ages & Seasons: Human Ganondorf
These dual titles developed by Capcom for the Game Boy Color each feature a different villain. But for players who completed both and linked their save files, they would receive the true final boss fight with the revived Ganon.
However, there apparently were plans to have him play a bigger part initially, just in his human form. There is concept art of a human Ganondorf that was created while the games were in development, but he for some reason was left out of the games.
15 Zelda II: Palace Spikes
Zelda II is a hard game for a great number of reasons. The enemies are powerful, and the combat is a lot more in-depth than the previous title since players must block high and low attacks. Each palace you come across features a variety of ways to end Link’s life.
Thankfully, one of those ways was taken out before release.
Buried in the game’s code are graphics for spikes that come in a variety of colors, pointing towards the fact that each palace would’ve had them. There were enough hazards to worry about without the threat of being impaled.
14 Wind Waker: Sneaky Link
Having to sneak your way through a monster-infested fortress was a fairly stressful thing to include towards the beginning of Wind Waker. Link was able to hide inside barrels to fool the various Moblins patrolling the corridors, though it seems this feature replaced Nintendo’s original idea.
In a pre-release trailer for the game, Link is shown tiptoeing through the Forsaken Fortress instead of using a barrel. Why Link’s ability to sneak was taken out is unknown but it could have been useful later in the game, particularly when it came to a certain empty bottle sidequest.
13 Majora's Mask: A Simple Save Feature
Saving in Majora’s Mask is more inconvenient than it should be. It requires you to travel or warp to one of several owl statues around the world. It’s a little disappointing considering the previous game, Ocarina of Time, simply let players save through the pause menu.
Since so much of the code was borrowed from Ocarina of Time, that save feature still exists within Majora’s Mask. But it was deleted by Nintendo in favor of the owl statue save points. It can still be accessed by hacking the game, of course.
12 Ocarina Of Time: Controlling Link
Ocarina of Time was groundbreaking in many ways, but particularly in how it taught players to operate a character within a 3D space. Playing as Link was unlike anything that players had experienced before but it went through a variety of changes before the game was released.
For one thing, Japanese pre-release footage showed B as the jump button. Link also at one point had the ability to perform a front flip instead of just a backflip. In an early interview, Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto stated that if Link took damage from an enemy, he’d move more slowly.
11 The Legend Of Zelda: Dungeon Building
Way back when Nintendo was developing the first The Legend of Zelda, they had no idea what it would come to be and were still playing around with different ideas. The project itself began by developers crafting dungeons and testing them out on each other.
But Miyamoto and the team decided it was much more fun to play through the dungeons than build them, so that aspect was taken out. After designing several dungeons, Miyamoto thought the game needed an overworld to explore as well and that is how Zelda came to be.
10 Wind Waker: New Sails
One aspect that was approved upon when The Wind Waker was given the HD treatment was the ability to gain a sail that made your boat faster. But originally, sail upgrades were planned to make an appearance in the game.
Though no graphics exist, players have found text in the game’s code that point towards the inclusion of Zora and Tingle sails.
These were most likely taken out due to the loading limitations of the GameCube. And the Swift Sail was included in the HD remake since the Wii U didn’t have the same problem.
9 A Link To The Past: Another Magic Meter Upgrade
A helpful feature that was introduced in A Link to the Past that makes appearances in future Zelda title was being able to upgrade your magic meter. In the SNES game, it is possible to reduce your magic consumption rate by ½. Not too shabby.
The second upgrade, where Link consumes magic power at ¼ of the rate, was taken out of the final game. This no doubt would have made the game a bit easier, but probably wouldn’t have appeared until late in the game. It can still be accessed through a cheat though.
8 Oracles Of Ages & Seasons: Unused Sprites
Unused sprites can point to a host of features that could’ve made character movements and weapons completely different. For the Oracle games, each hides unused sprites within their codes that appeared in their partner game.
For example, the Rod of Seasons can be found in the game code of Oracle of Ages even though it only appears in Oracle of Seasons. The same is true of the Mermaid Suit from Ages being found in Seasons.
Whether this was because both games were developed at the same time or because Capcom initially planned more crossover between the titles is unknown.
7 Ocarina Of Time: Sword Beam
The Zelda games that appeared on Nintendo’s first two consoles are some of the most difficult in the series, so Link needed every weapon and magical property at his disposal. One of the nifty things he could do was shoot beams from his sword as long as he had full health.
That sword beam was originally meant to reappear in Ocarina of Time but was taken out before release. It is still possible to hack the game’s code and get Link to perform the attack by charging up, similar to a spin attack.
6 The Legend Of Zelda: Dungeon Layouts And Enemy Placements
A few years ago, a prototype version of The Legend of Zelda was uploaded online. And while most of the game didn’t seem to play that differently, there were a lot of changes made to the layouts of certain dungeon rooms as well as enemy locations. And in some cases, the number of enemies in each room was changed.
While this clearly didn’t have a drastic effect on how the game would be played, it’s interesting to see how Nintendo was able to play around with difficulty levels without changing the core features of the game.
5 The Wind Waker: Deleted Islands
Though there are a literal ton of islands that can be explored in The Wind Waker, there are two that were never shown in the game. However, concept art for them can be found in Hyrule Historia.
One of them resembles a GameCube and was aptly named GC Island. This idea would be brought over into the game’s sequel, Phantom Hourglass, where Link could find an island shaped like a DS. The other, named Stovepipe Island, could’ve been more interesting. It was a volcanic island with a hot spring lake and a small town.
4 Majora's Mask: Masks For Adult & Young Link
Hyrule Historia is a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes facts of the Zelda series that would engross any fan. And Majora’s Mask went through several mask transformation ideas before it was released.
Concept art proves that masks for both Adult and Young Link were meant to make appearances in the game.
A pre-release screenshot also shows an equipped Adult Link mask, though some believe this was replaced by the Fierce Deity Mask. Then there’s the concept art of Deku Link putting on a Young Link mask, implying this would be how Link would transform back to his human form.
3 Ocarina of Time: Using Medallions
In Ocarina of Time, completing each temple as Adult Link earns you the sage’s bright and shiny medallion. While you have to get them in order to complete the game, they don’t serve any other purpose.
This wasn’t always the case.
During an interview with Miyamoto while the game was still in development, he stated the idea behind each medallion was to power up Link’s arrows with each element. This way, the medallions would actually be items the player could equip and use. But this idea was deleted and obtaining magical arrows through certain events was kept instead.
2 The Legend Of Zelda: Guruguru Bars
Before Nintendo was the giant we all know today, it was trying to save the video game market from the brink of collapse. It eventually did so with games like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. And both of these games were developed at the same time.
Miyamoto and his team of developers would come up with great ideas for video games and divide them between Mario and Zelda. One of the traps initially meant for Zelda, revolving chains of fireballs, was given to Mario instead. Although, they would later show up in A Link to the Past.
1 The Wind Waker: Link Would Have Aged
Part of what makes the version of Link in The Wind Waker so charming is his cartoonish, childlike wonder at everything he experiences. But Aonuma and his design team originally had an idea that may have taken away some of his childlike qualities.
While it was never modeled, a version of Adult Link was sketched and can be found in Hyrule Historia. There were no masks or time jumps planned to make this happen. Instead, they wanted to have Link age gradually over the course of the game but it was thought this would be too difficult to pull off.