Every few years, a game is released that takes an entire genre and showcases how it should be expertly crafted. To say, "This is how it's done." And for years after that, others will try to replicate or build off of it, either to expand and bring players something new, or to slip past the social awareness never to be heard from again.
In 1998, Nintendo released the seminal The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and there was no one, no where, who wasn't impressed. Whether it deserves to be praised as the best in the series is debatable. But there is no denying how important to the landscape of the gaming world it truly is. Better games with better mechanics have obviously since come out in the past twenty years. But at the time, and for a good while after its release, it was the crown jewel of the action adventure genre.
But what some don't realize is that one of the greatest video games of all time was almost something entirely different. Just like the chests for which Link scours dungeons for, there is a literal treasure trove of behind-the-scenes secrets about what Ocarina of Time could have been.
From different mechanics to unique character traits and designs to entire locations that were completely left out, the history behind the making of one of Link's grandest adventures is an intriguing one. Here are 25 amazing things deleted from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time that would have changed everything.
This is definitely the most famous changes made to Ocarina of Time. The original music for the Fire Temple featured Islamic prayer chanting over some percussion. But as Nintendo usually tries not to feature any real-world religions in their games, the chanting was changed.
The percussion remained the same, but the vocals were changed to something much more ominous.
You can still find both tracks on YouTube and other places. But since the music was set inside an incredibly dangerous (and active) volcano, the change to something less peaceful made sense on two levels.
The mid 1990s saw a lot of developers struggle with how to approach 3D gaming for the first time, but Nintendo had knocked it out of the park with Super Mario 64. The title launched with the Nintendo 64 to massive acclaim.
When Ocarina of Time was in early development, the team working on the title thought about giving the game a hub world. Ganon’s Castle would have operated the same way Princess Peach’s had, with Link reaching new areas through portals. That idea was eventually condensed to the fight with Phantom Ganon, who goes in and out of paintings.
That’s right, one of the best games of all time was originally planned to be a remaster of a previously released game. Nintendo wanted to bring the second game in the series, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, to the SNES by using the same Super FX chip that gave us the original Star Fox.
What was different, however, was their desire to have a greater focus on sword combat than previous entries. While the project never got very far, it did evolve into what would become Ocarina of Time.
This may sound incredibly bizarre, but the reasoning behind it actually makes a bit of sense. Shigeru Miyamoto, the man behind the entire series as well as Mario, wanted the game to be from a first-person perspective.
They were building a massive, beautiful world in 3D for the first time, and he wanted players to be able to experience every detail.
The game would switch to third-person for combat. But Yoshiaki Koizumi, who created the design of Link for the game, wanted his design to be on screen. The choice to scrap the first-person idea was definitely the right one.
While pre-rendered cutscenes can often give games a more cinematic feel, it’s something Miyamoto has never had much interest in. Ocarina of Time could have had pre-rendered scenes, but he fought against it.
His logic is sound, however. He can sometimes make last minute changes to the story, wanting them implemented right away. Pre-rendered cutscenes would cause huge delays in these scenarios, needing to be reworked to fit with his changes. Not using pre-rendered cutscenes also made it so the in-game graphics matched those of the cutscenes.
This might not sound like a big deal, but the changes Nintendo had to make because of it altered Ocarina of Time forever.
The Nintendo 64DD was a Japan exclusive add on, but it never made it to America due to incredibly poor sales. Nintendo was forced to scrap the idea of having Ocarina of Time be a game for the disk drive and just released it in cartridge form instead. It would have utilized an in-game clock and an impact feature. For example, if Link cut some grass, it wouldn’t regrow when he returned to that area.
While most of the Kokiri solely serve to teach the player the simpler mechanics at the beginning of the game, the two that are more fleshed out are Saria and Mido.
But there could have been a third.
Fado, a Kokiri girl with big bushy pigtails, has an alternate design from the other Kokiri that is buried within the game’s code. She also has much more varied dialogue than the others, referencing the bossy Mido whenever Link talks to her while wearing different masks. She may have been part of something cut when the game was still a 64DD release.
Nabooru, the lead Gerudo Pirate, gets captured while Link is a kid and forced to act as an Iron Knuckle until Link can come back as an adult seven years later to save her.
But she is not the only Iron Knuckle you fight.
The others just burn away and vanish once defeated. But by positioning the camera a certain way before the fight begins, you can glitch it through the helmet to reveal the face of another Gerudo pirate. Some players believe this means the sinister Ganondorf captured other pirates and forced them to fight for him.
Once Link acquires the Master Sword, he meets the Sage of Light, Rauru, who instructs him what to do next. He also gives him the Light Medallion, adding his power to his. But there were originally plans for a Light Temple, and Link would obtain his medallion just like he does for the other Sages.
There are remnants left in the game that are linked to this, such as the song Prelude to Light, which transports Link to the Temple of Time. But for whatever reason, the temple was scrapped early on.
Originally, the Forest Temple was the Wind Temple while the Water Temple was the Ice Temple. There are a couple of clues left in the game that point towards this. The medallion for the Forest Temple looks like a fan while the medallion for the Water Temple looks like a snowflake.
But there are also the puzzles found in Ganon’s Castle. The Forest room centers around a wind puzzle while the water room centers around an ice one. It’s unclear why they were changed, but I for one wish we lived in a world where the Water Temple didn’t exist.
In the final version of the game, the medallions just serve as the thing you collect once you’ve beaten their respective temples. But Miyamoto initially planned for them to be something much more.
The original idea was to use them alongside Link’s bow and arrow. Each Medallion would give Link a different magical property to add to his arrows. This idea was obviously scrapped in favor of including the fire, ice, and light arrows found in the game. Although a shadow arrow sounds like it would have been pretty cool.
The design for the Great Fairies is one of the stranger aspects of Ocarina of Time. Bursting out of the water with a shrieking laugh wearing only vines probably took a lot of players by surprise in 1998.
But as strange as they are, they are certainly more memorable than what they could have been.
The original design was aligned with what one would expect a giant fairy to look like: a crystallized body with massive, silver wings. This appearance, especially the giant wings, was a bit more in line with how they would look in Twilight Princess.
A simple change, but one that would have made a huge difference. As the game began as a remake of Zelda II, it’s likely Nintendo would have kept the jump button from that title. Early Japanese previews of the game showed the B button labeled as jump.
But it was taken out in favor of the Auto jump. Link would be able to jump by running towards the edge of a platform, or by pressing A + a direction while Z-targeting. But there wouldn’t be a jump button until Breath of the Wild almost twenty years later.
In past Zelda adventures like A Link to the Past, Link would be able to shoot beams out of his sword as long as he had full health. For the first 3D Zelda, sword beams were intended to make a return, only players wouldn’t be required to have full health to use them.
While sword beams would show up in later 3D Zelda games, they were removed from Ocarina of Time for some unknown reason. That hasn’t stopped some players from hacking the game’s code to see what they would’ve looked like, however.
The character design for Link in Ocarina of Time is now iconic, though it could have been something quite different. Early concept art for Link gave him a more raggedy and tattered appearance, which would have fit nicely with the older games. But for the first 3D appearance, Yoshiaki Koizumi chose to go with a neater design.
Also, Koizumi originally planned for there to just be an adult version of Link. Miyamoto had to fight to get Young Link included in the game because he always thought of him as spirited and childish.
Once you figure out how to hurt an enemy in Ocarina of Time, the combat itself isn’t exactly tough. All of them, including the bosses, have exploitable weaknesses. The difficulty of the game comes more from solving puzzles and figuring out what to do. But that wasn’t always the case.
Link originally had an exploitable weakness of his own.
During an interview before the game was released, Miyamoto revealed that if Link took damage he would move more slowly. This would have made it easier for the enemy to land another attack, making it easier for them to beat Link.
Link’s weakness wasn’t the only thing about the combat that was changed. As previously stated, while Ocarina of Time features puzzle solving and combat, it is definitely more puzzle heavy. In early gameplay footage, however, the combat was shown to be much more fluid than what ended up in the final version.
Link could have been able to swing his sword freely a plethora of different ways multiple times. But in the finished version of the game, Link performs combos (of a sort) of three different slashes. There is also a slight pause in between each of these combos.
As you can tell, the way in which Link could be controlled changed several times. From simple movements to combat, what we ended up getting was pretty different from what was shown in the pre-release footage of the game.
Link originally could be manually turned around 180 degrees while walking or standing still. This would have made him easier to control, especially while during movement. While Link’s movement controls aren’t exactly hard to grasp, it’s just an extra touch that would have given him more mobility.
While the idea to have Ocarina of Time be a 64DD title was scrapped, Nintendo still planned on releasing extra content via a disk expansion. It was known as Ura Zelda, which literally translates to “Another Zelda.” Players would have to own the cartridge while the disk was inserted into the add on.
The expansion would have given players more like new mini-games and characters to meet, but due to the poor sales of the 64DD, it was never released. There was also a second expansion, Zelda Gaiden, but that ultimately led to Majora’s Mask.
What fans call the Unicorn Fountain is, like many things from the Zelda Ura expansion, shrouded in mystery. It’s even unclear whether or not it was actually part of the expansion or of the original game. All we know for certain is that at one point it did indeed exist.
It was shown in an old issue of Nintendo Power, and some players have managed to dig it up in the game’s code and recreate it themselves. While similar in design to the Great Fairy fountains, it’s unclear what its purpose was.
Nintendo’s Game Boy Camera is a product of a simpler time. It let players use their Game Boy like a camera and, if they also owned the Game Boy Pocket Printer, print their pictures out. It also came with a few built-in mini-games.
Apparently, Zelda Ura would have given players the option to use the Game Boy Camera to create their own masks for Link to wear. It doesn’t seem like this would have added much to the gameplay, but Nintendo thought it might be a fun feature to include.
While Ocarina of Time isn’t really known for its side quests, one of them could have been longer. There were apparently more masks that were planned to be included in Young Link’s trading quest before it was shortened.
These could have been the few masks you unlock upon completion, which include a Goron mask and a Gerudo mask, or they could have been entirely new ones. This side quest resulted in you obtaining the Mask of Truth, which could be used to gain vital clues from Gossip Stones around Hyrule, so it probably didn’t need to be prolonged.
While many games have Link wearing green, that isn’t the only color he’s sported over the years. In Ocarina of Time, the red tunic allows him to venture into incredibly hot locales while the blue tunic allows him to breathe under water.
But those weren’t the only colors that were planned.
Like many other hidden aspects, players have found other colors in the game’s code that were never used. These include a yellow tunic and a white tunic. Some believe these would have been used when the Light and Ice Temple were included, but it can’t be confirmed.
No doubt, one of the more disappointing things kids experienced during Ocarina of Time was an inability to beat the Running Man. You come across him twice in the game: once at the end of Young Link’s trading quest when you give him the Bunny Hood and once as Adult Link in Gerudo Valley.
It’s there that he challenges you to an unbeatable race.
Even if you use a song to warp, he will always be victorious. But an extra thing that Zelda Ura would have added was the chance to finally beat him.
While Ocarina of Time has no shortage of dungeons and temples, its expansion would have given us more. The idea behind Zelda Ura was to add on to an already completed game.
After defeating Ganondorf, the world would have expanded introducing a ton of new content.
And one of the most exciting pieces of content it would have added were more dungeons. While it’s unclear what the story behind these new dungeons would have been, it’s interesting to think about how Nintendo tried to create their own version of DLC before anyone else.