The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is already being hailed as a revolution for both the franchise and gaming in general. Nintendo’s latest take on the Zelda series is particularly notable for the way that it successfully transitions everything that is great about Zelda into a true open world environment.
What’s truly amazing about Breath of the Wild, though, is that it began its life as a reimagined take on the original Zelda experience.
At GDC 2017, game director Hidemaro Fujibayashi revealed a prototype version of Breath of the Wild that, at first glance, sure looks like the 1985 NES title that began the franchise. However, this prototype sports a few key features not included in the NES classic.
Among these many differences is the fact that this version of the game does actually incorporate a few 3D elements. It’s very difficult to spot the third dimension in still shots, but the video makes it clear that this effect is used in clever ways. Actually, the entire prototype is something of a monument to the cleverness of the developers. It functions as kind of a testing ground for the puzzles and mechanics that would eventually be incorporated into Breath of the Wild. The developers wanted to see if the mechanics they envisioned were actually fun to play and could be used to create genuinely interesting puzzles.
For instance, there is a moment during the prototype reveal video when Link uses a wind-based attack that actually causes nearby trees to rustle slightly. Later on, Link sets a tree on fire and uses this same wind attack to spread the flame to a nearby forest and open up a new path. As shown in the video, this same basic technique was transferred to Breath of the Wildalong with a few other concepts revealed during the demonstration.
Aside from being an amusing video in its own right, this footage proves that the classic Zelda experience is alive and well in Breath of the Wild.