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Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore is an honest love letter to the worst Zelda games

Arzette rides a zipline in Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore.
Limited Run Games

The Phillips CD-i video game console has one unfortunate claim to fame: a pair of notoriously panned Zelda games that have been memed into the ground. In 1993, the platform got Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, each starring the aforementioned character in their respective game. They are both 2D level-based action-adventure games with relatively straightforward hack-and-slash gameplay along with the ability to use some items along the way. They were torn apart by players at release, creating a pair of black sheep in Zelda’s family tree.

Considering its reputation, you might be surprised to learn that the CD-i and its Zelda titles do have sincere fans … and one of them is making a spiritual follow-up to them with Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore. After playing a full level, as well as speaking with its creator, it’s clear that Arzette is an earnest love letter to those despised Zelda games. It’s a wild “what if” scenario, imagining what a new game inspired by those titles would even look like in the modern age.

Creating a love letter

Arzette is an animated adventure from Seedy Eye Software and publisher Limited Run Games, which will release a physical edition of the title this year. The project is primarily developed by Seth Fulkerson, who has had a long and intimate history with the Zelda CD-i games. Fulkerson is responsible for creating the fan-made remasters of both Zelda titles and among those as well as other personal game projects, Fulkerson decided that he wanted to make a true spiritual successor based on whether the CD-i console had a future that serves as “a passion project that sets out to respect and pay loving homage to those original games, not make fun of them.”

“I realized that they actually held quite a lot of potential,” Fulkerson tells Digital Trends. “There was something to the gameplay loop, which was a very prototypical non-linear/linear action platformer, mixed with a distinctive hand-painted art style and amusing cutscenes…My development philosophy was, if there was a ‘CD-i II’ that had SEGA Saturn-level visuals, and Animation Magic lost the Zelda license and wanted to make a third game in the ‘series,’ this would be that game.”

“My development philosophy was, if there was a ‘CD-i II’ that had SEGA Saturn-level visuals, and Animation Magic lost the Zelda license and wanted to make a third game in the ‘series,’ this would be that game.”

A character ina yellow shirt points off screen in Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore.
Limited Run Games

With that in mind, it is apparent that Fulkerson has done everything he could to make that a reality. During the early development of its ongoing three-year cycle, Fulkerson was able to recruit Rob Dulaney, the original background artist of both Zelda CD-i titles as well as getting the original voices of Link and Zelda Jeffrey Rath and Bonniejean Wilbur.

Those good intentions were apparent when I played a slice of Arzette at PAX West this year. The level I played did a great job at replicating the feel of those old Zelda games, with its hand-painted backgrounds full of Earthy brown colors. It was also equipped with animated cutscenes in the same style and execution as the Zelda CD-i titles using a bright color scheme and overexaggerated facial animations which brought some good humor through my playtime.

Similar to Link’s CD-i adventures, Arzette attacks enemies with her sword to collect gems to purchase them from a shop which can prove useful whether it be in battle or to find secrets on the beaten path. If you’re looking for a modern, complex 2D action platformer, don’t expect it here; its relative simplicity is the point. Arzette, while more updated with its controls, is trying to replicate a specific type of experience and, like the games that inspired it, I had to feel out the controls to understand what would and wouldn’t work as I continued through my demo.

Arezette runs through a forest in Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore.
Limited Run Games

As I progressed through the level, I found secret areas hidden behind out-of-place doors or discovered by using a bomb to blow up a crack in the ground. The level ended with a fight against a buff horse named Klive. I had to utilize ladders hanging from a tree to get behind him and deal damage before he turned around and served me a mouthful of hooves. After his defeat, he couldn’t help but leave me with a tasteful pun or two.

There’s something beautiful about seeing a maligned piece of game history getting a sincere second chance. It’s a nice reminder that games of all types have their audience. Arzette only wants to do right by its inspiration regardless of its reception and create a more realized and, based on what I’ve played, better version of what came before it. Don’t call it a redemption story, though. It’s the work of a team that loves what came before and wants to continue that legacy rather than rewrite it. I genuinely can’t wait to see where that journey leads.

Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore is scheduled to launch later this year for PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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Cameron Hawkins
Cameron is a freelance writer who has a particular love for JRPGs. Some of his favorites include Kingdom Hearts and The…
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