Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s creators prototyped with the original NES classic

Talk about a Link to the Past...

Sometimes creators need to go back to their roots to find inspiration for their latest games. They’ll look at what went right, what went wrong and what inspired them. 

The same is true for Takuhiro Dohta, Hidemaro Fujibayashi and Satoru Takizawa, three of the lead designers on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But instead of simply returning to the series’ roots to find out what worked, the team created an updated version of the NES classic as a prototype for their new game, Breath of the Wild.  

The team showed off its creation at a panel during GDC 2017 entitled "Change and Constant: Breaking Conventions with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild." 

Fujibayashi, along with the rest of the team, felt that the game needed to balance the open nature of the original but incorporate new mechanics that “stirred the soul” of gamers. 

And there was no better place to build and test these mechanics than the original world built 30 years ago. 

 Some old, some new 

 One of those aforementioned mechanics was a chemistry system in which elements (water, fire, wind, electricity) impacted objects in the game world.   

In a short video, Fujibayashi demonstrated how the creators first shot an arrow through a camp fire in the prototype to demonstrate how it lit a tree on fire to see what it would feel like before importing the mechanic to Breath of the Wild.  

Fujibayashi showed off several examples of how the prototype the team made helped mold and shape Breath of the Wild including everything from item collection to how the map should be built to allow players to go wherever they want without invisible boundaries limiting them.   

Sadly, while you won’t be able to play Fujibayashi’s NES-style prototype of Breath of the Wild, you will be able to play the full game – including HD graphics and, you know, three full dimensions – when it comes out Friday, March 3 on the Nintendo Switch.