Unreleased The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Beta Discovered on Development Flash Cartridge

Nintendo 64 with exprimental cartridge

The discovery of a partial beta for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has revealed the truth behind mythical pre-release screenshots for the game, while also revealing unreleased graphics and features.

This is why gaming preservation matters! It not only serves to ensure games can continue to exist, be understood and examined for years after their initial shelf-life, it also allows us to gleam further understanding into culture-defining pieces of popular media. A games preservation group, in the process of extracting beta content from an N64 flash cart with F-Zero content included, found the partial remains of a The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time beta that provides new understanding on the development of the classic game.

Content found on the cartridge is believed to date from around the time of the Spaceworld โ€˜97 showcase of the game. Within this, significant changes, and content only glimpsed at within magazine article screenshots, can now be fully understood.

Take a look at these two screenshots. These screenshots were shown off extensively prior to the gameโ€™s release and show the interior of a dungeon as well as an area near Hyrule Lake that never featured in the final game. In this beta, fans have been able to find and recreate these much-speculated upon Ocarina of Time screenshots in higher quality using the content found on the cart. There’re even areas representing other pre-release content like the graveyard and archery field.

And this isnโ€™t the only content found on the cart. Medallions, previously used as spells within the game, have had functionality revealed through unused text within the beta cart. The most interesting of these is the Soul Medallion, which would have allowed players to transform into Navi and fly around the environment (likely too much of a technical challenge for the final game), with others like Light and Dark Medallions also being uncovered.

This Ocarina of Time beta goes beyond simply recreating old screenshots and finding unused features. Other content suggests significant structural changes between pre-release versions of the game and the final release. Thereโ€™s text suggesting an extra section of story that required Zelda to research how to enter the Temple of Time through a library while Link collected the necessary stones to allow passage. Another piece of newly uncovered content in the Ocarina of Time Beta cart is an early version of the Hyrule World Atlus, looking far different to the one seen in the final game.

Much of the content on this cartridge is still being uncovered, and due to being a cart that had since been overwritten by F-Zero content, this is only a partial beta. There is the assumption that more content could be uncovered through the discovery of a full ROM. Still, the discovery of this content is an incredible find that allows us to learn more about the beta of Ocarina of Time and the significant amount of changes the game underwent between development and release, on top of what was discovered in the controversial Gigaleak.

Itโ€™s an invaluable resource in that respect, and a brilliant find.

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