The Legend of Zelda continues to delight players decades after its release, not only thanks to its appearance on a variety of Nintendo hardware platforms, but thanks to emulation and ROM hacks like one released this week that allow players to experience the classic game with changes to make it feel like a completely new experience. The assets are the same, but a little ingenuity and reorganization obviously goes a long way to ensure The Legend of Zelda is still important in 2022 and beyond.
Originally released on the Famicom Disk System in Japan on February 21, 1986, then brought to the NES in the US on August 22, 1987, The Legend of Zelda has been delighting fans for more than 35 years. It has also influenced many developers during that time; the list of games that memorably parodies The Legend of Zelda (or borrow other inspiration from it) is indeed a long-standing one.
In the ROM hacking community, a contributor named arnpoly this week released a new hack titled The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Dungeon which recasts the game as a roguelike. It promises virtually unlimited gameplay, thanks to randomly generated dungeons, battles and item drops that will keep players on their toes as they strive for longer runs. There can be a lot of games together with other such hacks, for example the many Super Mario World ROM hacks produced over the years.
According to the ROM hack’s descriptions, features besides randomized enemies and dungeon layouts include dynamic enemy layouts that draw from both dungeons and the overworld. Certain items are excluded from the hack, while others gain new skills. The notes also vaguely promise “other secrets” that players can discover on their own. Long-time players can probably already imagine some of these secrets, proof of that The Legend of Zelda needs a modern remake.
Games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild demonstrating the continuing appeal of Zeldaits classical approach, and even Link’s Awakening remaster highlighted the charm of classic Zelda. New fan projects like Old dungeon ROM demonstrates well the untapped potential even the original entry in the series possesses. Hopefully, Nintendo will continue to explore it in the near future. Even if it doesn’t, the ROM hack community is clearly capable of picking up the slack and providing the new experiences old fans crave.
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