A Zelda superfan steamrolled ‘Breath of the Wild’ into a 2D NES game

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild pushes the franchise into an exciting new direction, and it looks absolutely stunning on the Nintendo Switch, but fans of the earlier, top-down 2D Zelda games could feel like they’re being left behind. During the game’s development, Nintendo actually made a prototype that looks quite a bit like the original The Legend of Zelda, and a fan has released a playable version that you can try right now.

“After being inspired by Nintendo’s 2D prototype of Breath of the Wild, I’ve decided to try out making my own fan game!” said developer Winter Drake on the game’s itch.io page. “‘Breath of the NES’ offers a new adventure in the classic Zelda style, but with smooth animations and a more interactive world!”

Looks can be deceiving — from a distance, the game appears to be almost identical to The Legend of Zelda, but newer gameplay features like weaponizing falling trees, a day-to-night cycle, and a quick-switch item menu that features a number of never-before-seen objects and weapons. It allows the player to explore the open world and defeat enemies, though it isn’t a “full” game.

Nintendo originally created the 2D Breath of the Wild prototype as the game drew large influence from the very first The Legend of Zelda — particularly in its environment and approach to emergent gameplay. Though Breath of the Wild introduced new gameplay mechanics and dungeon system, its focus on near-immediate freedom to explore the world and its “teach by doing” style are clear throwbacks to video games of the ’80s and early ’90s.

Drake is well aware that Nintendo could send him a cease-and-desist letter, as he hasn’t received permission to use the game’s characters, but that won’t put an end to the project. According to an interview with Kotaku, he’ll simply use original characters, instead.

How do you feel about “de-makes?” What are some games you’d like to see given the retro treatment? Let us know in the comments!