The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of the most beloved video games ever made. But, believe it or not, at one point in its development history, it looked like this:
This is a shot of the Zelda 64 demo that Nintendo showed off while it was gearing up to release the Ultra 64 (which became the Nintendo 64 before it hit store shelves). This screencap comes from the February of 1996 issue of Next Generation magazine, so the general public wouldn’t get its hands on the actual game for over two and a half more years.
It was a radically different game at that point. It was initially supposed to be a launch title for the 64DD (or “Bulky Drive”), a compact disc add-on to the N64 (think Nintendo’s answer to the Sega CD) that never launched outside of Japan. In fact, at one point, Nintendo even played around with the idea of making this a first-person game.
Thankfully, common sense prevailed, and the Ocarina of Time version we all know and love came into being without requiring the purchase of a pricey add-on. The game’s $59.95 price tag was brutal enough, especially considering this was 1998.
Now, obviously, Nintendo wasn’t planning on releasing a game that looked like this terrifying screenshot. Even the Next Generation image caption was hilariously skeptical.
Even so, perhaps there’s an alternate universe somewhere where the above game was what the final version of Zelda 64 for the 64DD looked like. Thankfully, that’s not the universe we live in.
Update: I managed to find an actual FuncoLand game ad, which lists Ocarina of Time‘s launch price at $59.95. I haven’t yet been able to verify that this is the actual MSRP, but it looks like I was probably mis-remembering the $80 launch price. The article has been amended to reflect the lower, verified price.