Over the years, Nintendo's main man Mario has been a part of three different RPG series. There's the original one for the SNES that teamed up with Square for a fresh take on the Mushroom Kingdom and tons of Geno fans, the Paper Mario games, which have become more experimental and less RPG over time, and the now-deceased and more traditional Mario & Luigi games. But what if another big Nintendo IP got the RPG treatment? An itch.io user called TheRetroRoomRoo is asking this question with Paper Zelda RPG, a 2.5D mockup that puts Link in an unofficial JRPG.
Originally created for the Paper Jam game jam, Paper Zelda RPG lets players roam around and fight monsters in the world of Hyrule. But instead of the usual action-adventure combat, Link fights his opponents in RPG battles. For the most part, the characters use their sprites from A Link to the Past, but other sprites also show up along with some 3D objects. It might be odd to see The Legend of Zelda as a JRPG, but Yakuza took a shot by turning an April Fool's joke into reality, and it turned out pretty well.
However, this experiment is likely going to be a short-lived one that won't get out of the beta stage. It's no secret that Nintendo guards their IPs ferociously, and will gladly whip DMCAs at any fan game or mods for their games, no matter how old the games are. Unless Nintendo has actual plans for a Zelda RPG, it's likely that this will be one of the few times Linkn can actually be in an RPG.
You can download Paper Zelda RPG for free on its itch.io page here. At least until Nintendo has it shut down.