Earlier this year, Nintendo showed off a 2D version of Zelda that it used to conceptualise some of the mechanics in Breath of the Wild. It was cool! No surprise, then, that a fan decided to recreate that prototype so that anyone could play it.
Breath of the NES is available for download on itchio, and as you can see above, it recreates the style and look of the demo from GDC. You can cut down trees, harvest food, shoot arrows, use physics and even the Korok leaf to kill enemies in novel ways. The visuals have also gotten some love: there’s graphical bloom, realistic shadows, and some lightning effects. The whole thing was built in Game Maker Studio over the course of a few months.
“This project is still in its early stages...I’ll be adding more areas with distinct elements and atmospheres, puzzle elements for dungeons, and lots of ways to creatively kill enemies,” Winter Drake, the developer behind Breath of the NES, told Kotaku.
Winter Drake says they are trying to capture the broad and open-ended interactivity available in BOTW, but with some added twists as well.
“I don’t feel the need to be bound to BOTW’s exact structure,” Winter Drake said. “For example, one of the original items in the game is a ‘Byoki Berry,’ which the game tells you is poisonous to humans. However, if you drop a Byoki berry near some Octorocks, they’ll flock to it ignoring everything else, allowing you to trap them, kill them, or sneak by.
“I have a lot of plans for original features in the game, and although I’d like to capture the spirit of BotW and NES Zelda, I’m not restricting myself to be perfectly faithful.”
I played the demo for about ten minutes and died many times, so it’s certainly captured that aspect of modern Zelda. As the project is still in development, in addition to more gameplay mechanics, they plan on adding things like difficulty settings, more languages, and more music.
And yes, they are aware that this game could catch Nintendo’s eye.
“When a lot of people hear about this project, they jump to worrying about a cease and desist from Nintendo,” Winter Drake told Kotaku. “While I’m going to stay hardworking on Breath of the NES for as long as I can, if Nintendo asks me to stop using their IP, I do plan to continue development with my own original characters. I’m having way too much fun creating this world to just give up.”