At the Game Developer’s Conference (GDC) 2017, Nintendo provided some insight into how The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild‘s mechanics were actually prototyped in 8-bit form. During the conference, Nintendo’s speakers talked about how they began brainstorming possible new mechanics or gameplay for Breath of the Wild by using a specially made 8-bit prototype of the Switch launch title.
I thought the quickest way to bring this idea to life and to present this to the rest of the team would be to create this in 2D.
The 8-bit prototype deliberately mimicked the 2D sprite work and gameplay of the original NES The Legend of Zelda, while replicating as many of the new mechanics of Breath of the Wild as possible but in a 2D perspective. For example, shooting an arrow through fire and watching it make the world burn.
…we use this as a way to experiment with mechanism I was talking about earlier. So you can say this is a legitimate prototype of Breath of the Wild.
By setting the prototype in a traditional 2D Zelda, it allowed Nintendo see the new ways players would use the new tools and abilities from Breath of the Wild, but in intuitive ways that players associate with a quintessential Zelda game. It also shows that in many ways, Breath of the Wild really does harken back to the original Zelda. Despite how some may feel that the latest in the Zelda series has shifted focus into open world exploration and physics-based shenanigans, the fact that that the new mechanics can easily fit in its 8-bit ancestor shows that the two games really aren’t that different after all.
What do you think of Nintendo prototyping Zelda in 2d? Do you wish we could play this 2D version of Breath of the Wild? Share your thoughts in the comments below!