Newly discovered design documents have revealed some interesting details about a canceled Zelda game for the Nintendo DS, Heroes of Hyrule. This rather unusual entry in the franchise would have been one part adventure roleplaying game and one part tactics game. Heroes of Hyrule was pitched to Nintendo by the developer Retro Studios back in 2004, but the publisher passed on the project, confining the game to the dustbin of video game history.
The news comes from a recent video by the popular YouTube channel called Did You Know Gaming. “Today, we take a look at Retro Studios' canceled Zelda game for the Nintendo DS, Heroes of Hyrule, with some exclusive facts straight from the developers who worked on it,” the description reads. “The game was planned to be a strategy game in a similar vein to Final Fantasy Tactics set in The Legend of Zelda universe.”
Several fascinating bits of information about the game were discovered by Did You Know Gaming such as the fact that Heroes of Hyrule would not have featured Link as the primary protagonist. The game was apparently going to be cut up into two playable components, two thirds of the game taking place in the past and one third of the game taking place in the present. While the latter would have had a boy named Kori as the player character, the former was going to feature three player characters, namely Dunar the Goron, Seriph the Rito, and Krel the Zora.
“One hundred years ago, three heroes defeated an ancient evil and sealed it away in a magical book,” a design document explains. “For many ages, the people lived in peace and freedom, free of the scourge that had tormented them for so long. Until one day, when the book came into the hands of a young boy…”
According to the documentation in question, Link would have appeared only briefly in Heroes of Hyrule as a non-player character, having been captured by Ganon while trying to save the eponymous protagonist, Zelda.
When it comes to the gameplay mechanics, the adventure roleplaying component in Heroes of Hyrule would have featured environmental puzzles along the lines of a much more recent entry in the series, Breath of the Wild. “Gameplay in the heroes’ world consists of turn-based strategy and puzzle solving,” a design document notes. “The player controls the heroes and their occasional allies in a series of discrete encounters. Although most of these encounters will involve combat, much of the gameplay in the heroes’ world is oriented toward solving environmental puzzles.” This goes on to explain that “most of the items the heroes can employ have functions in environmental puzzle solving as well as combat.”
The video by Did You Know Gaming dives into the details, featuring over 20 pages worth of design documentation and interviews with the people who worked on the project. Heroes of Hyrule was however ultimately scrapped, bewildering many of the workers at Retro Studios, Programmer Paul Tozour explaining that “we sent it over to Software Planning and Development and got an immediate ‘no, you’re not doing that.’ To this day, I do not know why. They just didn’t seem to have any interest in that gameplay concept which is too bad. It was a really solid concept and had the potential to be something great.”
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