Development:The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past/Maps
This is a sub-page of Development:The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
March 1, 1989 marked the start of the game's development. From analysis of the rough dates of the extant prototype graphical data, the game graphically goes through roughly three major prototyping phases that possess some overlapping graphics and design elements before the game reaches its final release builds.
The first phase that is visible in the extant files contains the early 1990 era prototype overworld using many of the oldest overworld graphics files. During this time, the developers also create some indoor test areas and generally experiment creating tilesets, some of which remain similar up until the final game, like the Eastern Palace graphics and others that are abandoned entirely, such as the early 1990 Ship graphics and environment file.
Roughly half-way through 1990, the first era then tends to blend into a second era of later 1990 era assets where the overworld graphics are completely redrawn and more refined indoor prototype areas are assembled. During this era, smap1.scr, smap.scr, and map-1.scr are created to refine what the overworld map will look like, although they do not yet fully resemble the final game and contain elements not present in the final game. At that time there is still not yet evidence of the Dark World among the extant graphic data, although that does not mean that it was not already drafted as an idea by the game's planners. It is possible the implementation had just not yet begun.
Dark World graphical assets are present by the time in which the December 26, 1990 build of S-CG-CAD comes into use and the world map begins to more closely resemble the final game's map. This third phase of the prototyping begins transition into the 1991 era prototype overworld environments which far more closely resemble the final game environments.
By September 23, 1991 at the latest, the developers had both Mode 7 minimaps complete, indicating the general layout of the worlds was definitely finalized by this date and likely earlier. The Japanese version of the game was completed by October 11, 1991, while work on some resources for localization of the game - like English font data - continued on past that date.
- 1 Early World Maps
- 2 Notable Graphics Assets
- 3 Early 1990 Era Prototype Overworld
- 4 1991 Era Prototype Overworld Environments
- 4.1 Overworld Area 1 - Lost Woods
- 4.2 Overworld Areas 2 and 3 - East and West Death Mountain
- 4.3 Overworld Area 4 - Kakariko Village
- 4.4 Overworld Area 5 - Hyrule Castle
- 4.5 Overworld Area 6 - Eastern Palace
- 4.6 Overworld Area 7 - The Desert of Mystery
- 4.7 Overworld Area 8 - Lake Hylia
- 4.8 Other Overworld Areas
- 4.9 The Dark World
- 5 Notable Indoor Areas
- 6 Unused Palettes for Dungeons
- 7 August 1991 Prototype Dungeons
- 8 References
Early World Maps
|smap1.scr [S-CG-CADVer1.21 900611]||smap.scr [S-CG-CADVer1.21 900611]|
Smap1.scr is one of the earliest maps known to exist from A Link to the Past's development. It provides a general outline of the map from the mid- to late-1990 era, with few key locations.
Smap.scr is a slightly more developed version of smap1.scr from the same era. Now various notable locations, some not present in the final game, are represented.
A gold and pink iteration of Hyrule Castle can be seen in the center of the map, surrounded by a moat. The Eastern Palace can be seen in its final game location as well - that dungeon persisted across many of the prototype versions of the game from early on, as its Japanese name and its graphical data are found in some of the game's earliest files.
The Sanctuary and graveyard appear slightly to the east of where they appear in the final game to make room for what appears to be an entrance to Death Mountain which is not in that location in the final game.
Notable for its absence is the Desert of Mystery. In its place is a large, multi-tiered hill whose purpose is entirely unclear even with all the data that has been uncovered about the game's development so far.
As far as other locations which are not present in the final game, there is a golden tower in the east of the map which may or may not have been the origin for the Tower of Hera, a giant skull at the base of Death Mountain, and a clearing containing what associated files refer to as a taiboku ("large tree" in Japanese) which stands far above any of the other trees in the lost woods.
A strange island with a pool in it also exists in the northeastern corner of the map and no files yet uncovered point towards what this represents. It could be the genesis of an idea that did make it into the final game like the Mysterious Pond at the Waterfall of Wishing or Zora's River. But likewise it could also have been something entirely different.
|map-1.scr [S-CG-CADVer1.21 900611]|
This is a reconstruction of what map-1.scr from NEWS\テープリストア\NEWS_04\.\home\arimoto\DELDA\ could've looked similar to with a reasonable, yet somewhat conservative, attempt at reconstruction. The graphics (2D tile) data for that map file is not present and likely lost, so an attempt at reconstruction was required to get anything of value out of the map. The palette map-1s.col used was edited only to facilitate usage of tiles from the final game, and a custom graphics file was arranged from existing tiles in earlier maps and imported final game tiles. The actual placement data from the map-1.scr file was not edited at all, as that would have defeated the purpose of having the most fidelity possible to that original map data.
However, just because the original map-1.scr file was not altered, this does not mean that the tileset is even 90% accurate. It is a guideline to give the viewer an idea of what the map was like in broad strokes, not a 1:1 image of what the map certainly looked like. There are several flaws which were unavoidable because some of the tiles (or even a hint of what the tiles were) do not exist in any graphics file yet found. It attempts to be close - an approximation - with exceptions for the buildings/landmarks that were hypothesized based on past and future maps we do have, but more than that cannot be achieved without finding its lost graphics data file.
When final game graphics were imported or any pixel editing done, this was was not done to say for sure what the tiles at these locations looked like at this map's time in development. That is impossible. This was done to give an idea of where unique unknown tiles were used while doing it with more than just a black background with a number, as was done in cases where no existing graphic at all seemed appropriate. This would help to let the viewer know unequivocally, however, that these are all the places that single tile was used in the map. If you see an "8" in the swamp, an "8" on a grassy plain, and an "8" on Death Mountain, that means the same tile was used in all those locations. As another example, on the right side of Death Mountain there is a 2×2 location where Tower of Hera tiles are used. This does not mean that the Tower of Hera was certainly in this version of the game, but rather it is used in a representational manner to tell you there was something unique here.
|smap2.scr [S-CG-CADVer1.21 900611]||smap3.scr [S-CG-CADVer1.21 900611]|
With these two additional map screens, the developers also seemed to have been experimenting with a system that didn't make it into the final game whereby regions of the map would be grayed out and not show key locations yet. A similar idea would be used in BS Zelda no Densetsu: Inishie no Sekiban, where any areas outside of the current week's boundaries were covered with clouds on the map screen.
Notable Graphics Assets
A giant skull formation in front of a sheer mountainside. This formation is visible from the early overworld maps, and is accompanied by some preliminary sketches, which is somewhat common in the material in Arimoto's development workspace. The formation may be a dungeon or cave system entrance. It's worth mentioning that this formation is present on the earliest Light World maps of A Link to the Past and thus is not a Dark World formation alone. Since the prototype content does not have Dark World maps from this early in development, it is unclear whether the formation would be the same in the Dark World, be entirely different, or if the Dark World was even conceived at this point in development.
There is an earlier version of this formation with the filename hone.CGX.BAK with a metastamp of S-CG-CADVer1.21 900611 as well, indicating it was going through development much earlier, as expected by its inclusion in the early world map files.
|mo.CGX [NAK1989 S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226]||Skull Woods Dungeon Main Entrance (Final)|
Early versions of the Dark World Forest tiles are present in this tilesheet. Notable are the alternate Skull Woods dungeon entrances. The entrance to the last area of the Skull Woods dungeon is smaller in the prototype data and rather different, but still recognizable as an earlier form of the idea that became the final version of the entrance.
|osr.cgx [S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226]|
The correctness of the palette for this graphics file is not absolutely certain, but when viewed in SCAD the one used here does fit many of the ancillary items we know the colors for: the village house, the grass, the trees, and the colors we would expect for one of the prototype Sanctuary revisions in the bottom-left corner of the image. The Sanctuary is depicted as having a purple motif as far back as the time when the smap.scr files were being worked on. It is also a palette that is within the same area of the data - both are in sub-directories of the delda directory.
Two factors potentially against this palette as entirely correct are the fact that the door opening animation tiles turn the doors brown (which could also be a developer oversight meant to be corrected or something that would be addressed during the animation), and that the purple doors of the main building on display here don't seem to match with the gold and pink color scheme of the rest of it.
Turning to the main building featured in the graphics file, the gold and pink color scheme here is similar to the one used for the inside of prototype Hyrule Castle, raising questions about whether the first building we see here is a revision of the Sanctuary or whether it is in fact actually a revision of Hyrule Castle.
Some factors in favor of it being Hyrule Castle are: in the early world map palette NEWS_04\.\home\arimoto\zelda\smap.col.bak, the colors of the exterior of Hyrule Castle at that stage are also gold and pink, and the curtains visible in the windows of the building match the curtains inside Hyrule Castle. At some point in 1991, Hyrule Castle was revised to move it further away from its prototype look and closer to the look we see in the final game, and these colors were minimized to the throne room.
Finally, there is also a nearly identical duplicate version of the file named osr-1.cgx.bak at NEWS_04\.\home\arimoto\delda\soto\. In that same directory, with the similar filename osr.cgx.bak we have a different, earlier graphic:
|osr.cgx.bak [S-CG-CADVer1.13 900424]|
Unfinished in places but clearly a castle, this asset bears an iterative name on the file above, shares similar-style wall grooves, and appears to be an older asset. Its metastamp and the tree tile used in it date the file to roughly the era of the 1990 prototype overworld. It is potentially a redesign iteration on Hyrule Castle after the one in that early 1990 overworld, but before the trees in that era of the game's development were scrapped.
As far as its palette, this particular asset, as long as the palette used is from the correct era, is relatively static - with slightly different shades of green and brown being the typical result.
|taiboku.scr [S-CG-CADVer1.13 900424]|
A large tree (translated from the Japanese "taiboku") flanked by two smaller trees on either side with a pool of standing water before them. They stand within a forest clearing containing other, smaller trees. All have faces. This scr file is clearly in an unfinished state, but gives an idea of what the designer intended for this area of the early overworld. It appears in the early overworld maps in the upper-left corner, in the place near where the Master Sword is in the final game. What role this area would've played in that event at this stage in the game (if any at all) is so far not possible to discern. The concept of trees with faces would find its expression in the final game within the Dark World instead of this earlier, abandoned application of the concept.
|6-2.scr [S-CG-CADVer1.21 900611]|
Part of a liminal area in the design stages of the game between the early 1990-era overworld and the 1991 overworld, this screen shows a version of the Lost Woods we never saw in a still extremely rough form. It is beset by tiling errors, either because the graphics file in use is not exactly correct or because it was never finished completely and polished. Given the metastamp date of S-CG-CADVer1.21 900611, it fits with the era of the smap.scr overworlds.
Early forest sketches, likely some of the earliest assets in the existing prototype material, as all have the metastamp S-CG-CADVer1.13 900424. In some of the images here, one can see the small clumps of trees that are present in the early 1990 overworld being reimagined into more detailed tree clusters, which still unfortunately did not make it into the final game.
|h-6.scr [S-CG-CADVer1.13 900424]|
A rather unusual and extremely rough draft of a screen, which seemingly was never finished. May be a very early draft idea for the large tree but made with simpler assets. Its metastamp lends credence to it being a rather early asset.
|polter.cgx [S-CG-CADVer1.21 900611]|
An early graphics file whose name is suggestive of "poltergeist". That fact and the graphics themselves indicate the developers were at one point planning on having more than just dungeon floor tiles be thrown at the player by unseen forces. Many of the assets are items recognizable from the final game that are found in the houses of residents, like tables and benches, but with additional frames of animation indicating they would be thrown at the player and break. There are also some other dangerous items like axes and knives. The matching palette with its name gives the impression the lights would be out during these events, creating an eerie atmosphere.
|hsinden.CGX.BAK [S-CG-CADVer1.13 900424]|
An earlier version of the Eastern Palace entrance, fully assembled in its graphics file.
An extremely enigmatic version of the Death Mountain graphic sheet, containing:
- Sketches of large crystals.
- Variations on the Dark World warp tile's animation.
- A niche in a mountainside graphic that looks fit for being inlaid with a crystal or Rupee-shaped object, as well as a more circular niche.
- Most puzzling of all, statues bearing Link's likeness along with posts with the likeness of the Triforce.
What exactly the statues and the crystal-shaped niche were to be used for will likely never be known for certain unless more information comes to light.
An alternate Tower of Hera graphic which seems to go unused even in the 1991 prototype Death Mountain environment. Exists in the raw graphics data fully assembled.
|osr-tika.cgx.bak [S-CG-CADVer1.13 900424]|
A sewer and Hyrule Castle underground graphic set. The sideways-aligned chests, monstrous statue sketch, goblet sketch, and the unicorn head statue are all notable as previously-unseen assets. The unicorn head statue calls to mind Ocarina of Time, which also has its own similar scrapped content with the unicorn fountain. There is some experimentation with both empty and partially-full drainage pipes which never made it into the final game as well.
|osr-osr-1.CGX.BAK [NAK1989 S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226]|
Features of Hyrule Castle and sewer graphics can be seen, as well as early designs for the small chest, spiked floor, and locked doors.
|sinden.CGX.BAK [09/25/1991 6:19PM PST]||c.CGX.BAK [10/22/1991 5:58 PM PST]|
An early version of the Eastern Palace graphics. Notable are the early designs for the engraved snakes, and what appears to be lava resembling that of the final game's Turtle Rock dungeon. Some of these assets appear in another file, 'c.CGX.BAK' (note its file date may be residual from a tool or backup).
|osr-hsinden.CGX.BAK [NAK1989 S-CG-CADVer1.21 900611]|
An early CGX file which contains numerous early assets, including what appears to be an early sluice gate and its corresponding push switches. The CGX appears to contain banks of graphics for several different locations, including tiles fitting for Hyrule Castle. Some of these are even referenced in hsinden.SCR.BAK.
[NAK1989 S-CG-CADVer1.13 900424]
|hsinden.SCR.BAK with osr-osr.COL|
[NAK1989 S-CG-CADVer1.13 900424]
hsinden.SCR.BAK appears to be a grouping of tiles into recognizable structures not in the form of an area that can be explored, but rather for the designers to easily copy these structures elsewhere without rebuilding them from scratch.
|sin.cgx [S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226]||Graphic elements of sin.cgx inserted
into the final game environment
Sin.cgx is a prototype version of the tileset for the region outside of the Palace of Darkness. The tileset itself on the left does not look like much because it does not have any fully assembled, easily visible assets. However, if its unique elements are inserted into the final game's environment data to illustrate what its assets look like when assembled, the result is a striking and different atmosphere compared to the look of the area in the final game. The final game's look is also shown for comparison.
|s-1.obj [12-10-1990]||rift.obj.bak [12-06-1990]|
Here are two objects found in the graphics data with animations associated with them. On the left is a switch that can be pressed into the wall rather than being pulled outward from it. On the right is a lift that seems to be able to fall out from under the individual riding it. It bears some resemblance to the platforms Link can create with the Cane of Somaria and ride on.
Early 1990 Era Prototype Overworld
|OSR-ST - 1a-9d.scr.bak [S-CG-CADVer1.12 900404]|
Credit to the Delda group for assembling this extremely early prototype overworld from the OSR-ST folder. It's notable that the developers created "Work in progress" signs to point out where some assets have yet to be added. Even at this early stage, facets of the final map are noticeable: a lake in the lower-right corner, Hyrule Castle situated in the center with a river running past it creating a moat, and the upper-left corner of the map being more heavily forested. It is uncertain if the cave systems were planned to lead anywhere at this point, but several caves in the top-left are unreachable unless cave systems were to connect to them from the bottom-left of the map.
It seems likely this overworld was abandoned when the graphical style was later changed to move closer to what we know as the final art style of the game, but facets of its design persist into the final map.
Interestingly, the word "ruins" (遺跡 iseki) in Katakana can be seen spelled with trees at the top-middle of the map.
1991 Era Prototype Overworld Environments
The overworld design assets for key areas like the area around Eastern Palace, Death Mountain, or Hyrule Castle are divided into numbered areas, each made up of 4 smaller quadrants that when merged form a larger whole.
Overworld Area 1 - Lost Woods
|Tanabe Folder: Overworld Area 1 - Lost Woods|
The Lost Woods area as retrieved from the Tanabe folder. The upper two screens have modified dates of 08-18-1991. The lower two screens, which are noticeably further from the final and have more tiles that appear out of place, are older than 05-23-1991 but the date they were last modified is not older than 12-26-1990, the date of their S-CG-CAD metastamp of S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226. The thieves' dens found in the final are not in either portion of the map, but one can see they were at some point planned in the CGX graphics files used for the area.
It is likely that the out of place tiles correspond to pieces of the CGX tileset that were originally different but had not yet been updated in the actual environment file seen here to look correct.
There is also a different, older version of the upper-left corner of the woods in the Yamada folder seen here. It contains similar issues to the older lower screens in the Tanabe folder and has the same modified and metastamp dates as those quadrants:
Overworld Areas 2 and 3 - East and West Death Mountain
|Tanabe Folder: Overworld Areas 2 and 3 - East and West Death Mountain|
An extremely rough and early version of both the eastern and western areas of Death Mountain. The two screens on the upper right which bear a different palette are relatively newer - with a last modified date of 07-22-1991 - than the others. The rest of the files, western Death Mountain and the bottom of eastern Death Mountain, have metastamps of S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226, approximately placing their era at some time after that date but before 05-23-1991.
One thing these maps reveal that might not have been anticipated otherwise is that Death Mountain went through a phase of design early in 1991 - and likely before if the early world maps are any indication - where the mountain extended higher and the player never really got to the peak. The top-leftmost screens exemplify this phase of development, but we can see the contrast with the later phase of the mountain in the top-right screens. By this time, approximately around 07-22-1991, Death Mountain had moved to the "cloudy" Death Mountain phase of design which is seen in the final game, where instead of the mountain extending further upwards, we see cloud cover and what is below from the peak.
As for how Link would get to the Tower of Hera in the prototype Death Mountain setup, the world transition tile still serving that purpose can't be ruled out despite the different setup around Spectacle Rock, as it's possible some of the cliffs higher up at the top of the screen could be recessed in the other world instead of the final game's setup where Spectacle Rock is recessed. There are other possibilities of course. The cave system from Spectacle Rock could have simply led up to the cave on the upper level of the cliffs where Hera is, although that would minimize the need for the world transition tile being in its final game location.
As far as implications of these maps on the dark world, one has to wonder whether Ganon's Tower would simply be in the same position in the Dark World as Hera is here or if it would be somewhere else, if anywhere. There is data for Ganon's Tower - at least the entrance - elsewhere in the folder arimoto\zelda\d with files such as d8-1.scr and d8-h.scr. However, judging by their October 1991 last modified dates, Ganon's Tower development would've taken place much later than when Death Mountain was in this form, and it's possible it may not have been thought about yet.
It's also impossible to tell the implications on Turtle Rock from this data because both the Light and Dark World screens associated with it are missing, although the raw graphics data for the Turtle does exist.
The View of Death Mountain from The Pyramid of Power
It's also worth noting that the view of Death Mountain visible from the Pyramid of Power in both the final game and one version of it found in these files is incongruous to the pre-"cloudy" Death Mountain setup if the Dark World's Death Mountain is assumed to match up closely to its Light World counterpart. As one can see, there is nothing above the Tower in the view below, dating this view to later in development, as its last modified date of 09-26-1991 also attests:
|Pyramid.CGX [10-15-1991] with Sora.scr [09-26-1991]|
However, at locations NEWS\テープリストア\NEWS_04\.\home\arimoto\tanabe\y-1f.CGX.BAK and NEWS\テープリストア\NEWS_04\.\home\arimoto\tanabe\pir.CGX other older versions of this twilight scenery of the Dark World have been found in the data as well, lending credence to the idea that Ganon's Tower was not always going to be visible on the view of Death Mountain from here. Below are two other images of the same scene reconstructed from those files in the prototype data, but they also lack the obvious Ganon's Tower presence. The file y-1f.CGX.BAK has an accurate modified date of 09-09-1991 associated with it - slightly earlier than the versions of the sky in line with the final game: Sora.scr's 09-26-1991 and Pyramid.CGX's 10-15-1991. pir.CGX is an even earlier version that appears to have been created before 05-23-1991.
|Dark World Sky from y-1f.CGX.BAK [09-09-1991]||Dark World Sky from pir.CGX [S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226]|
Below is an in-game comparison with the backgrounds inserted into the final game:
| Dark World Sky from
| Dark World Sky from
pir.CGX [S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226]
Overworld Area 4 - Kakariko Village
|Tanabe Folder: Overworld Area 4 - Kakariko Village [09-04-1991]|
A version of Kakariko Village with a last modified date of 09-04-1991, with no known graphics or palette files that look exactly correct. Those used here are to give an idea of the layout of the environment. Some differences include the missing well and cave, as well as the requirement to use the Hammer to enter the house with the overgrown front yard. The skulls on the roofs of some of the houses are an artifact of the graphics file used which has the skulls from the fortune teller in the location where other formations could've been.
|Yamada Folder: Overworld Area 4 - Kakariko Village [06-20-1991]||Final|
Within the Yamada folder is an even earlier version of Kakariko Village with a last modified date of 06-20-1991. Like the previous one, the graphics file and palette file used are incorrect and there to give an idea of the layout, although the palette file does not have as many obvious flaws as the previous example. Compared to the later version of Kakariko, this one has more dirt roads and does not yet have the hedges surrounding each house, making it look less developed.
Here the idea of the well is present in the top-left, although it only has placeholder tiles when used with this graphics file and is not so close to a cliff that Link could jump into it as in the final game. The pools in the middle are more reminiscent of the Dark World's Village of Outcasts, and this idea was likely taken from here and applied there instead.
The pegs that block off the house with the overgrown front yard are still here at this earlier stage, and the left side of town has a somewhat conspicuous cabin that is out of the ordinary compared to the later versions of Kakariko.
At this stage, the weather vane did not exist at the center of town, and so this may narrow down the date when the duck that responds to the Flute was added to the game. It is, however, possible the duck merely came when you played the Flute without needing to first go through the step of playing it at the weather vane as in the final game. Judging by the earlier version of the Haunted Grove in the prototype data, where the Flute boy would normally reside, it is just as plausible the Flute boy had not yet been added to the game at this time.
Overworld Area 5 - Hyrule Castle
|Tanabe Folder: Overworld Area 5 - Hyrule Castle [08-30-1991]||Final|
A late, almost final Hyrule Castle from near the end of development. The main notable difference from the final game is the fence blocking the bottom-right path instead of a large rock.
Overworld Area 6 - Eastern Palace
|Tanabe Folder: Overworld Area 6 - Eastern Palace [05-28-1991]||Final|
Exemplifying how iterative the development process was, the image on the left above is area 6 of the overworld on 05-28-1991, with there being a later version of the upper-left screen which looks much more like the final game's Sahasrahla temple (with the building not yet added) around two hours later on the same day, with the Triforce symbol on the ground being the casualty:
The Yamada folder shows a different vision for the Eastern Palace overworld area with the Triforce symbol directly on the ground in front of the entrance to the Eastern Palace itself, but currently the correct graphics files seem to be lost and would take time to recreate, if that is even possible in that case.
Overworld Area 7 - The Desert of Mystery
|Tanabe Folder: Overworld Area 7 - The Desert of Mystery|
The upper parts of the desert here are relatively late in development, with a last modified date of 10-03-1991, while the bottom parts have a metastamp of S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226 and modified dates indicating they were last in use before 05-23-1991. The more rough nature of the bottom areas show in less visual flourishes, and the fact the medallion tablet and the world transition tile that would lead to Misery Mire are not yet there. This seems to indicate not much design incorporating Dark World transitioning was put into place yet at this time compared to what there would later be. There may have been some other plan in place for how to get to Misery Mire, or it may have not yet been developed at the time of the lower portions of the desert.
Overworld Area 8 - Lake Hylia
|Tanabe Folder: Overworld Area 8 - Lake Hylia [10-05-1991]|
Lake Hylia may call into question the expectation that late modified dates on the environment (SCR) files would necessarily mean little or no difference from the final game. Early October should be very late in development, yet there are still quite notable differences from the final game here. For those who don't recall Lake Hylia well it may be less obvious, but there are some interesting things missing. The hut with the skulls at its entrance that is in the final game is missing, and the cave at the upper shore is not present either.
Missing caves and entrances is a common theme with maps in the Tanabe folder, so it is perhaps possible these are outlines of the areas with a focus on important entrances and dungeons and a design process was in place to pass them over to another designer who would then add less critical caves and entrance points where appropriate afterwards.
As far as other differences, the grass near the wall that can be blown open with a Bomb in the bottom-left corner is tiled less obviously so that it does not give any hint there may be something there, although we can't be sure if the wall is still intended to be able to be broken down there at this point or not. There is also a landing for Link to come out of the water on the island with the browning grass and single bush instead of at the final game's more convenient location at the shore on the upper-right.
Other Overworld Areas
|The Witch's Hut - s11.scr|
The Witch's Hut is more of a basic cabin at this stage, and an earlier iteration of the world transition tile is nearby, blocked by Hammer pegs - very notable since there isn't a world transition tile here in the final game. At this stage in development, they seemed far more open about showing the player these tiles out in the open. In contrast, in the final game, most are hidden under rocks or in out-of-the-way areas.
| The Haunted Grove - s19.scr
At this stage there was no tree stump here for the Flute boy to play, and instead there was a world transition tile. Whether the Flute boy existed at this stage in development is questionable.
|Great Swamp Northwestern Limits - s26.scr|
This area is deceptively similar in shape to its final version, but there are major differences. The world transition tile is uncovered and relatively easily accessible except for a fence. There is still a chance it is blocked off on the area to the right of this one by pegs or other obstacles, but that part of the overworld data is missing from the data in Arimoto and Watanabe's workspaces. With all these uncovered world transition tiles, it is indeed possible that perhaps the designers even at this time intended to cover some of them with rocks but left them visible in these screens for clarity purposes as to their locations.
Regarding other differences, the water pond of the final is instead a deeper pool that isn't at ground level, the rock that would block easier access to the Great Swamp on the western side is not present, and there is a large hill on the lower-right corner which was later changed over to a smaller rock outcropping.
|Great Swamp Sluice Gate Ruins - s30.scr|
It looks that at one stage in the game the player might have had to do something to open the entrance to the ruins in the Great Swamp. When using this graphic set that differs from the final game's graphics slightly, in place of stairs there is a wall or gate.
|The Master Sword Grove - m-1.scr.bak|
|Unused Grove Component - m-2.scr|
The Master Sword Grove is present in the workspace data very close to how it appears in the final game - there are actually several copies of it in multiple folders with few variations (a tiling error instead of the flowers on the ground is the most common variation). The area underneath the bridge is also a component of this screen, most likely just because both are areas just off from the main world map and it saves space to merge them.
What is unusual, however, is the m-2.scr environment file which is found with the source. It contains no Master Sword pedestal and merely ends at its northern-most point. What it was a remnant of or what purpose it may have had is unclear.
The Dark World
|Swamp Palace Entrance - s30.scr with ho.cgx and ho.col [S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226]||Dark World Swamp CGX File (Ho.cgx) [S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226]|
In certain areas where the Dark World does not differ from the Light World in its environment layout, Dark World graphics overlay Light World screens exactly and leave no major graphical problems, indicating that a unique Dark World environment (.scr) file was not strictly necessary in these locations. One such case is in the Dark World Swamp Palace entrance. While the Palace itself has near-final graphics, the pillars outside it are closer to their Light World counterpart pillars, but subtly different.
There is also an unused, earlier version of the Swamp Palace entrance in the upper-right corner of the graphics (CGX) file. Unfortunately, in this case it is not pre-assembled by the developers as in the case of the prototype Skull Woods entrance earlier in this article, so it is more difficult to imagine what exactly it was intended to look like.
|Dark World Fortune Teller - us6.scr [09-05-1991]|
One of the few Dark World environments that has an extant environment file. Unfortunately, it is from late in development and only fits exactly with what are finalized or nearly-finalized Dark World graphics files.
|Ruined House - us15.scr [09-05-1991]|
This Dark World environment is in the middle of being reworked into the final game's graphic set. The tiling errors present near the path and the bushes correspond to the "dug up ground" formation in earlier Dark World tilesets, and a few of them become dug-up ground in the final game as well. The area palette had also not yet been reworked to accommodate the ruined house, and large stones had not yet been placed to block access to the area until the player has the Titan's Mitt.
|Dark World Area 4 - Village of Outcasts|
Another unique Dark World environment that was getting close to finalization. It has tiling errors, but works best with the late Dark World village graphics file in Watanabe's folder named "Ura" (a term closely associated with the Dark World in the developer workspaces).
Notable Indoor Areas
Prototype Castle Rooms
|OSR-TST - Early Throne Room [S-CG-CADVer1.12 900404]||1.cgx.bak [S-CG-CADVer1.13 900424]|
A very early version of Hyrule Castle's throne room from roughly the era when the developers were using a version of S-CG-CAD from 04-04-1990. Potentially part of a test area given it resides in the folder named OSR-TST. Most of the graphics are stored in arimoto\zelda\w\1.cgx.bak, which is from roughly the same era of development according to the metastamp and contains many early Hyrule Castle assets. The stairs to the throne platform may not be correct, as we see stairs in the graphics file that look more likely to be correct, but the screen file does not align with them in this case.
|OSR-TST - A curtained corridor [S-CG-CADVer1.13 900424]||OSR-TST - Two furnished internal rooms [S-CG-CADVer1.13 900424]|
Two indoor hallway areas. Given the tileset that is compatible with them, they appear to be in Hyrule Castle. The second area is especially notable for being highly furnished compared to Hyrule Castle in the final game.
|OSR-TST - Meeting Room [S-CG-CADVer1.13 900424]|
A well-furnished interior castle room with tables for meeting or dining. Note the experimentation with interesting light effects reflecting on the floor from the windows to the left of the room. Unlike many of the other environments in the developer workspace material, this one comes together perfectly when one uses the correct banks from the correct graphics files.
|OSR-TST - Large Castle Kitchen-like Room [S-CG-CADVer1.13 900424]|
Another room likely from the early castle that appears like it may have been a kitchen. Unfortunately, a graphics file that matches every tile has not yet been found, and so many of the tile formations are drawing from incorrect graphics. Tables, ovens, crates, and stoves, which still exist in other areas of the graphics file, seem to be likely items populating the room.
|Osr-Heya.scr [S-CG-CADVer1.12 900404]|
A somewhat rough series of rooms with tables, a bedroom in the upper-left corner and a room of statues in the upper-right corner. These rooms generally use castle tiles, but have a few areas where the rooms are either incomplete or the correct graphics file is no longer extant to provide the correct formations and thus only placeholder tiles display. It's worth noting that this environment file, although it uses castle graphics, is found in the Delda folder rather than with the OSR-TST castle files. It's thus able to be associated with them only through its look, and may or may not be part of the same intended castle grouping.
|roya.scr [S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226]|
A developer experiment with the tiles forming the castle's underground prison. Another environment (SCR) file found in the Delda folder rather than with the OSR-TST castle files.
Unidentified Potential Dungeon Area
|OSR-TST - A foyer with an upper level [S-CG-CADVer1.12 900404]|
A foyer room for what, given the folder it is in (OSR-TST), may have been a kind of dungeon test area. There are few clues to the correct palette other than the fact that other rooms in the same folder contain water which only certain palettes, including the one used here, will display correctly as blue. Unfortunately, the graphics file used may not be complete as one can note some "face tiles" as indicators that certain floor tiles are not finished or are not drawing from the proper graphics. Other graphics files, however, tend to have even larger parts of the room as error garbage, leading to this being potentially the closest to what the developers intended as we can get.
|OSR-TST - Flooded room [S-CG-CADVer1.12 900404]||OSR-TST - Dry room [S-CG-CADVer1.12 900404]|
One of the aforementioned watery rooms that may be testing the ability - or at least graphical look - of flooding and emptying water from a room, like what occurs in the swamp palace. Questionably, there's a portion of the wall in the upper-left of the flooded version of the room that looks like there is the top of some kind of sluice, door, or gate through which the water can drain that disappears completely in the dry version of the room.
Prototype Sewer Area
|OSR-TST2 - Sewers [S-CG-CADVer1.13 900424]|
An early sewer area, showing many different types of drains, waterfalls, and passages. Appears to have been used as a base for some alterations in NEWS_04\.\home\arimoto\osr-tst2\tika.scr and the screen is a copy of NEWS_04\.\home\arimoto\osr-tst2\tika.scr.bak. That, and its metastamp date, indicate a relatively early asset.
|Osr-fune.scr [S-CG-CADVer1.12 900404]|
This very early asset in the prototype data is something you would not expect to be in A Link to the Past as it is different in theme than any area found in the final game. To put it simply, it is a ship. In addition, the word fune from the file name means ship in Japanese, so the file name confirms what it appears to be visually as well.
The right side of the image appears to contain some test builds of two versions of a dungeon room that do not appear to be related to the ship on the left, although it is possible that if the room was polished up a bit and if it had a proper palette, it could have been part of a path through a dungeon that would eventually lead to the ship.
This is not the intended palette data for the environment seen here because the palette that is named in such a way that it matches up with the tile and environment data appears to be unfinished. The unfinished palette contains many blocks of solid pink which appear to be a placeholder for future palette changes. The palette that is used here is substituted in its place to give a feel for what the ship might have looked like if the palette had been finished.
|Osr-obake.scr [S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226] with osr-minka.cgx.bak and osr-obake.col [S-CG-CADVer1.21 900611]|
An unusually tinted room color for what in the upper left appears to be a somewhat normal room. (It's possible only the top-left room was intended to be used as this is sometimes the case in the Delda folder's A Link to the Past data.)
However, if one looks at the file name, "obake" in Japanese is often translated to something similar to "ghost" or "spiritual being", and it is thus possible this room set is tied in with the poltergeist assets that are found at arimoto\tanabe\polter.cgx. Lending credence to this hypothesis, the assets in that file match up with the specific furniture in this room - the portrait, the bed, the windows, the table and the chairs all match. Either way, the room file name alone suggests it was associated with a paranormal event. This would not be out of the ordinary, as A Link to the Past has enemies like Poes and Hyus in the final game.
Regarding its dating, the date of the S-CG-CADVer1.21 900611 metastamp of the osr-obake.col file may be closer to the genesis of this room's concept, as the environment file seems to have continued to be modified through to the 901226 build of S-CG-CAD.
|osr-minka-2.scr [S-CG-CADVer1.13 900424]|
A rather early environment for a house or houses - "minka" meaning as such in Japanese - with a tileset combination which largely fits to give an idea of the room structure but whose exact correct tileset may no longer be extant. The normal house tiles work for objects in the room, while a separate tileset is needed in SCAD for the walls and floors to not display error data.
|osr-minka.scr [S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226]||osr-minka.scr.bak [S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226]|
A few rough house rooms in two SCR files which appear to be iterations of each other that were potentially testing the tileset's look and feel. The upper left room of osr-minka.scr, which is the most complete in that file, also makes use of an alternate locked door tile.
These rooms found in the SPL folder do not appear like environments intended to be used in the final game. Rather, they seem to be environments that test the look and feel of different assets - including diagonal walls, pits, multiple levels, moving walls, doors, pillars, statues, stairs, and furniture - in a built form. The names of four of the files contain the word "kabe", which in Japanese means "wall", pointing out exactly what is being showcased in those rooms.
All have the metastamp S-CG-CADVer1.13 900424, pointing to them as early assets.
|Agahnim's Tower Summit Rooms [S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226]|
A complex set of rooms that it was a somewhat lengthy process to find the settings for. There are a few obvious indications that this was a sort of developer test-draw screen file for what they wanted to make the Agahnim rooms look like. There are three different variations of the sacrificial room and one of the balcony room. Each room possesses some tiling issues and asymmetries, indicating it was never truly finished.
The largest uncertainties that represent graphics which could be incorrect here include:
- The red carpet with the gold circle - this spot is the only thing loaded from one specific graphics bank and could be swapped out for something else, but no other CGX files tried yielded anything without obviously incorrect graphics for this spot, the closest being half a throne with the other half being error graphics and the other being half the dead king with a tiling error above him. Neither of these seemed to be likely as the developer intent given the level of graphical error present and the fact that Agahnim needs to stand exactly there to perform the sacrifice ritual as he can in the other two variations of the room.
- The balcony graphics - these look the most unfinished, and the discoloration on the floor suggests a possible intent to use some form of shadowing on the floor as the room in the final game does, but the CGX files closely associated with the location did not yield anything graphically correct. It's possible this concept was left in a half-formed state here and finished on a later screen file, as there are others with this balcony elsewhere.
A later Agahnim's Tower environment file modeling the balcony closer to how it appeared in the final game (minus the door's absence), and modeling the entrance with samples of different floor types. It seems likely to be present to give an idea of how these rooms should look, giving leeway for the details to later discretion.
Pyramid of Power
|piramit.SCR [09/01/1991 7:46 AM]||piramit.SCR.BAK [09/01/1991 7:14 AM]||piramit.CGX.BAK [09/03/1991 6:27 AM]|
Early versions of the Ganon battle and Triforce rooms, located in \other\NEWS\テープリストア\NEWS_04\home\arimoto\zelda\d\. While the Triforce room has gibberish tiles, the CGX does have curtain graphics available. Considering the CGX file is dated later than the SCR files, the graphics may have been rearranged after the rooms were created, causing the garbage tiles.
If one were to replace the garbage tiles with the curtain tiles, we would get this result:
|int-piramit.SCR [09/01/1991 11:48 PM] |
and int-piramit.SCR.BAK [09/01/1991 11:47 PM]
A second set of identical rooms can be found in \other\NEWS\テープリストア\NEWS_04\home\arimoto\zelda\khn\.
|Po.scr [07-24-1991] with po.col.bak [07-04-1991]
and po.cgx.bak [07-04-1991]
|Po.scr [07-24-1991] with 2.col
and po1.cgx.bak [08-18-1991]
|Po1.cgx.bak [08-18-1991] with |
Po.scr's bottom-right quadrant is an almost futuristic-looking room with what could be perhaps a portal or pedestal. It has no clear entrance or exit otherwise and is quite enigmatic. This is likely the earlier iteration of this room given its compatibility with older palettes and graphics from 07-04-1991.
In the second image in the row we look at the bottom-left quadrant with a random palette and the relatively newer iteration of the graphics file named po1.cgx.bak to expose some of the details in the bottom-left quadrant not visible with the older po.cgx.bak file.
In the third image in the row, if we look at the raw graphics data from po1.cgx.bak with po1.col.bak as the palette, we see the pedestal in its presumably correct color palette in the upper-left. While when combined with the front-on perspective it may look vaguely similar to the final game's Triforce pedestal, the blue crystal formation also in the same graphics file seems to indicate that this room could have been planned for when Link encounters the Maidens in their Crystals rather than as another possible early iteration on the Triforce room. That said, as with many things in the data of the early stages of development of the game, neither of these possibilities are certain.
|Po.scr.bak [07-04-1991] with a.col, po1.cgx.bak [8-18-1991], and po.cgx.bak [07-04-1991]|
Po.scr.bak (a different, older file from Po.scr) contains a strange pattern drawn from tiles within po.cgx and po1.cgx in the bottom-left, which appears to be preliminary and unfinished. The walls of the rooms exist only in po.cgx, while the pattern has gaps if only using po.cgx but shows the full pattern with po1.cgx. Both must be used in SCAD using the Screen Char function to view the image like this. The palette is for clarity and is likely not the palette that would have been used had this design been finished.
|iw-iw-2.scr [S-CG-CADVer1.21 900611]||iw-iw.cgx.bak [S-CG-CADVer1.21 900611]|
An unusual cave area with a fireplace and some miscellaneous items scattered about. Its graphics file appears to contain tiles from multiple older tilesets, such as the bookshelf, the curtains, brick walls, and a dungeon entrance graphic. It is difficult to tell if this is legitimately intended or if another graphics file was reused and redrawn to create this one, leaving some remnants of that other tileset behind.
|iw-iw.scr [S-CG-CADVer1.21 900611]||iw-iw.scr with osr-osr-1.cgx.bak to show |
dropdown ladder [S-CG-CADVer1.21 900611]
Another associated cave area with many unfinished elements. If a different tileset is used, such as the early osr Hyrule Castle tileset, the placeholder squares which just contain a dot in the upper-left room will instead be ladders similar to those found in the Swamp Palace that allow Link to climb up from a water submerged area. This indicates that if this tileset had been finished, these are quite possibly what would have been the tiles that would have been placed there.
Needless to say, however, given the filenames, the second image is for demonstration of the tiles in that position in typical tilesets of the era, and not an indication of what the room was likely intended to look like. The first image is a more likely representation given that the filenames match.
|kagiya.scr.bak with uminka-k.cgx.bak [S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226]||kagiya.scr.bak with 11.cgx [S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226]|
Two variations of kagiya.scr.bak, with very slightly different graphics sets.
The upper left room is obviously not what makes these rooms unknown as it is a variation on the Fortune Teller room but it is curious that it has a Big Key lock on the door, meaning that this may be a room that is part of a kind of graphical experiment by the developers rather than something intended for the final game. It is possible however that the Big Key door is an artifact of a slightly incorrect graphics file being used here, but if so the actual intended graphics file may no longer be extant.
The bottom right room looks closer to a test room with graphics formations used in a less than natural manner for a real dungeon. In fact, the bottom two rooms appear to be copied frequently in the prototype data and used as rooms that will give a general feel for what a tileset will look like in use. Slightly different copies of those two rooms also appear in the file arimoto\zelda\khn\a.scr which also contains other test rooms for showing off the look of varied tilesets.
The upper right room is a larger mystery as no graphics files seem to work to display it accurately, although it would not be surprising if it was a shop or blacksmith room given the tileset graphics that work best with this environment file tend to contain both Fortune Teller and Blacksmith graphics.
|atemon.scr.bak [S-CG-CADVer1.23 901226]|
The upper right room is the most complete here, and appears to look similar to one of the mini-games like the archery game, although it is unusual that it works with such a rough looking tileset. Some of the later versions of the uminka tileset do not work as well, at least with this environment file. They may have been altered for later iterations.
|kyokai1.SCR.BAK [08/26/1991 9:35 PM]|
An early version of the Sanctuary. Note that the solid white square is actually the same moveable setpiece as in the final game, only its palette is entirely white when viewed with 4-kyokai.COL.
|int-kyokai.SCR.BAK [07/04/1991 11:01 PM]|
Various Sanctuary assets arranged on a single screen.
|kyokai.SCR.BAK [08/26/1991 6:03 AM]||kyokai.CGX.BAK [09/02/1991 11:42 PM]|
A version of Sanctuary that is closer to final, with a unique entrance design that is present but unused in the final game. Other entrance designs can also be found in this CGX, in addition to several other early tiles such as the fairy statue.
|osr-kyokai-1.CGX.BAK [05/22/1991 10:28 PM]|
What appears to be an early Sanctuary tileset featuring some early glass window designs, a large religious podium, some tables, and other early assets. They are the best (but not perfect) fit found so far for osr-kyokai.SCR shown below:
|osr-kyokai.SCR [05/22/1991 10:28 PM]||osr-kyokai.SCR with tika2.cgx.bak at 8bpp||osr-kyokai.SCR.BAK [05/22/1991 10:28 PM]|
|osr-kyokai.SCR.BAK with osr-osr.CGX.BAK||Final|
The earlier prototype Sanctuary rooms exemplify some of the data's typical behaviors of being seemingly fragmentary, with no available combination of files being fully satisfactory.
The fact that there are many possible reconstructions for indoor assets when the tiles which fit are not entirely obvious is an unfortunate byproduct of the graphics system A Link to the Past uses to great effect to help save space and mirror Dark World and Light World environments, where swapping a graphics file can replace entire tile formations with others.
Unused Palettes for Dungeons
Prototype graphics and palette files corresponding to each Dark World dungeon are in sequential order at \arimoto\zelda\d\, with file names prefixed by "d" for dungeon and the number corresponding to that dungeon:
|d1||Palace of Darkness|
d9.cgx.bak seems to be from an unused dungeon graphics file, or a dungeon graphics file that was meant to be used in the Pyramid of Power but was not in the end. It has no palette with a filename corresponding to its name "d9".
There are also additional, unused palettes for the Ice Palace, Misery Mire, and four unused palettes for Ganon's Tower in this location.
Below, using an environment file meant to show off dungeon formations at arimoto\zelda\khn\a.scr, we can see examples of the alternate palettes. One of Ganon's Tower's unused palettes - one closest to the final palette - is used here for Dungeon 9 graphics for visibility purposes.
|Unused Ice Palace Palette||Unused Misery Mire Palette||Unknown Dungeon 9 Tiles with Unused Ganon's Tower Palette 1|
|Floors are a lighter shade of blue than in the final game in this prototypical Ice Palace palette named d5-1.col.bak. Other than that, it bears a close resemblance to the Ice Palace in the final game.||This palette, named as d6-1.col.bak, indicating it was originally intended for Misery Mire, is extremely different from the many hues of green the final Misery Mire uses and bears some resemblance to a Ganon's Tower palette with different floor colors.||This palette d8-1.col.bak is also similar to the final Ganon's Tower palette, but the real item of note here is the unused wall style of the Dungeon 9 graphic set. The graphics file also seems to be less finished than the others in this location - it's not as compatible with the a.scr environment file (or other environment files) and contains more missing and/or out of position elements.|
Below are the other three unused Ganon's Tower palettes, which differ more markedly from the final one. Instead of the previous environment file, these are used with three variations of the Ganon's Tower entrance found in the same location of the palette files and graphics files (arimoto\zelda\d\) - these may have been here for testing purposes so the palette creator could get a feel for what a key room in Ganon's Tower would look like with the palettes, as not every screen in every dungeon is represented in the developer workspaces by any means.
|Unused Ganon's Tower Palette 2 with d8-1.scr.bak||Unused Ganon's Tower Palette 3 with d8-h.scr.bak||Unused Ganon's Tower Palette 4 with d8-h.scr|
August 1991 Prototype Dungeons
|August 1991 Prototype Dungeon Underworld|
Found within the file SFC\ソースデータ\ゼルダの伝説神々のトライフォース\日本_Ver3\asm\zel.rmdt.asm1, this image showcases an unfinished, prototype layout of the dungeon "underworld" of A Link to the Past. The dungeons in the game operate within the same plane, and occupy spaces aligned on that plane side-by-side with other dungeons in the form seen here. This is a copy of an older, unfinished version of that data transposed in a graphical form. It was found within the source data with a notated date of 1991.08.21. Several dungeons, such as the Ice Palace and Ganon's Tower, have their boundaries mapped out here but are incomplete, or in the case of Ganon's Tower have not yet begun being assembled yet. Some dungeons present in the file, like Agahnim's Tower, bear little resemblance to their final game counterparts; however, others are very close to the configuration they take on in the final game.
- [File: SFC\ソースデータ\ゼルダの伝説神々のトライフォース\日本_Ver3\asm\li\zlabel.lst]
- [Folder: NEWS_04\.\home\arimoto\osr-st\]
- [Folder: NEWS_04\.\home\arimoto\osr-tst\]
- [File: NEWS_04\.\home\arimoto\DELDA\soto\hsinden.cgx.bak]
- [File: NEWS_04\.\home\arimoto\delda\osr-fune.scr]
- [File: NEWS_04\.\home\arimoto\zelda\smap1.scr]
- [File: NEWS_04\.\home\arimoto\zelda\smap.scr]
- [File: NEWS_04\.\home\arimoto\delda\map-1.scr]
- [File: NEWS_04\.\home\arimoto\tanabe\mo.cgx]
- [Files: \NEWS_05\.\home\watanabe\ZELDA\smap\smap.scr and \NEWS_05\.\home\watanabe\ZELDA\smap\umap.scr]
- [File: NEWS_04\.\home\arimoto\delda\m\5.cgx]