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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:
Replace upscaled rips with native-size ones.

Internal Leaks

Development on the Japanese version of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past lasted approximately three years, from March 1, 1989 to October 11, 1991.[1] On July 24, 2020, development resources for a number of first- and third-party Nintendo games, including A Link to the Past, were leaked. Though fragmentary and seemingly spread out over what would be multiple iterations of the game during its development, the materials provide a great deal of insight into the changes the third game in the Zelda series went through during development.

The content can be divided into several types - overworld maps, graphics assets with no associated context, sprite assets that would make up animations for Link and NPCs, files containing environments in prototype versions of the game, animation instruction files capable of animating graphics assets, cutscene demos, and rough sketches by the developers of prototype assets.

The development resources that have come to light provide an incomplete picture of the game's graphical and structural development. Many assets appear to be missing. For example, large swaths of the Dark World overworld do not have prototype environments. Some notable Light World overworld spots are missing as well, such as the location in the Light World that mirrors Turtle Rock's entrance in the Dark World. Some existing environment and map files do not have corresponding graphics files or palette files associated with them, and so finding out exactly what they looked like is difficult.

Arimoto and Watanabe's workspaces[2] make up the source of the largest amount of the A Link to the Past graphical data. A smaller collection of graphics assets are in the folder named simply ゼルダの伝説神々のトライフォース (that is, The Legend of Zelda: Triforce of the Gods). That folder also contains the source data. Within that source folder, there are various files with data which was commented out and therefore not included in the final game, including a file[3] which contains prototype dungeon layouts from August 1991.

For more about the methods of dating of the files in the development data, see the Metadata page here.


ALTTP Pre metadata.png
Information on how the data is structured and the meaning of terms found within it.
ALTTP Smap1.png
Environmental assets.
ALTTP Armos.png
Character Data
Player- and NPC-related data.
Script Differences
Differences in the script of the game.


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[4]

Further Reading


  1. [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]
  2. [Folders: NEWS\テープリストア\NEWS_04\.\home\arimoto\ and NEWS\テープリストア\NEWS_05\.\home\watanabe\]
  3. [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]
  4. https://kotaku.com/luigis-mansion-3-developers-on-money-moral-choices-and-1841471669