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Prerelease:The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

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This page details prerelease information and/or media for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

This article is a work in progress.
...Well, all the articles here are, in a way. But this one moreso, and the article may contain incomplete information and editor's notes.
To do:
Add the images from here and here, but there is so much more out there.
  • Compare early images to available development materials.

Development Timeline


  • March 1 - Development starts, according to the file 日本_Ver3\asm\li\zlabel.lst from the July 2020 Nintendo leak.


  • October 11 - Development of the Japanese version wraps, again according to the zlabel.lst file.
  • November 21 - The game is released in Japan.


  • April 13 - The game is released in America.
  • September 24 - The game is released in Europe.


There are many instances in game development where at first, things don’t turn out the way you speculate. When that happens, I try not to cling to that initial idea too much. For example, this is when I was working on The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. At first, we were thinking about structuring the game with numerous parallel worlds. However, in order to establish the gameplay in the end, we decided that it would be better to narrow it down to two worlds: Light and Dark. I think game development involves much work where you never know unless you actually test it out.

— Lead producer Kensuke Tanabe[1]

Famicom Magazine Screenshots

Given to the magazine by Nintendo at Shoshinkai 1991, which was held from April 24-May 6, about seven months before the game's release.


Pre-release Final
Screen01b.jpg Screen01-final-properaspect.jpg
  • Link is seen at the Sanctuary's entrance while raining. In the final, it's impossible to get here while raining. The fact the unused Letter item is present points to this being from a period in development where Link had to enter Hyrule Castle through the Sanctuary.
  • One bush is missing, and the fence to the right was moved a bit to the right in the final.
  • The rock on the left side of the shot has a different texture.

The HUD, as seen in all of these images, is very different from the final:

  • The Magic Meter looks like a bottle.
  • The rupee icon is red with a white outline instead of green with a black outline.
  • A key icon is present. The final only displays it inside dungeons.
  • Rupee/bomb/arrow/key counters are next to their respective icons. In the final, they're under the icons.
  • The "LIFE" graphic uses plus signs instead of dashes.

Hyrule Castle

Pre-release Final
Screen02.jpg Screen02-final.jpg

The main room is very different:

  • There is an additional "chasing" soldier.
  • Link's sword has a wider swinging range.
  • The pots are entirely different, and there are 6 of them. In the final, this number was reduced to 4.
  • Stairs and pillars are missing.
  • There are grey statues which were replaced by lanterns.
  • Brown statues are present, which don't appear in the final game at all. Their graphics were later found in the July 2020 Gigaleak.
  • Walls have different texture and are moved a bit to the top.
  • The carpet's borders have an entirely different texture.
  • The Lamp item is more of an old-fashioned lantern item.

A similar layout of the room was found in the July 2020 Gigaleak, but with the brown statues replaced with torches.

Pre-release Final
Screen03.jpg Screen03-final.jpg
  • The floor pattern of the throne room is different, having an additional circle.
  • The door is missing its arrow and stairs.
  • The pillars are missing.
  • The carpet is wider than the final.
  • The top of the walls don't have a texture yet, but it's the same with all other rooms in Hyrule Castle, since wall top textures are missing in screenshots of the castle.
Pre-release Final
Screen04.jpg Screen04-final.jpg
  • The floor texture of the castle basement is different.
Pre-release Final
Screen05final.jpg Screen05-final.jpg
  • The bottom-right wall is missing.
Pre-release Final
Screen06.jpg Screen06-final.jpg
  • Zelda isn't present in the castle dungeon yet, and a regular maiden is used instead.
  • Guard has his red mane missing, and his chainsaw range is bigger.
  • The treasure chest in the cell, pots, and some lights on the southern wall are missing.
Pre-release Final
  • Zelda doesn't follow you in the beta.

Sanctuary again

Pre-release Final
Screen08.jpg Screen08-final.jpg
  • Link's shield is yellow, which was changed to blue for final. Yellow color, however, is used for the Mirror Shield.
  • All of the Sanctuary differences explained above apply here too.

Bridge to the Witch's Hut

Pre-release Final
ALttP Prerelease-Screen10.jpg Screen10-final.jpg
  • There are 3 bow soldiers and 2 sword soldiers. This was toned down to 2 bow soldiers and 1 sword soldier in the final.
  • Bow soldiers are green instead of blue.
  • The tree isn't present yet, and in its place are a few bushes and rocks.
  • The sign and dirt paths aren't present yet.
  • There is an additional rock on the river which isn't present in the final.

Eastern Palace entrance

Pre-release Final
Screen11.jpg Screen11-final.jpg
  • The barriers aren't present yet.
  • There are 4 Armos rather than the final's 2.
  • Armos have a yellow shield, which is red in the final.

Master Sword

Pre-release Final
Screen15.jpg Screen15-final.jpg
  • The stairs are steeper and wavier.
  • The signboard that can be read with the Book of Mudora is not present yet.
  • The forest has a slightly different layout.
  • The fog effects were shifted a bit in the final.
  • The corners of the pedestal are wavier than the final.

Further Reading