This page details prerelease information and/or media for Zelda's Adventure.
- April/May - Zelda's Adventure begins development.
- January 22 - A work order for various location/enemy models is sent to modeler Jason Bakutis.
- February 15 - A milestone meeting relating to Zelda's Adventure happens.
- Spring - The game is completed. The first test build, v1.01, is sent off to Philips, kicking off a two-year testing phase that was itself split into two parts. Viridis would also lay off most of the Adventure crew.
- Spring - A full guide based off an early test build is written around this time. It would eventually be fully published in the 1999 issues of CD-interactief.
- Spring - North American CD-i catalogs begin to list Zelda's Adventure, despite the game's delays.
- November - The game's original intended release month, according to a Usenet post written by a former Viridis employee.
- December 2 - A segment in the third issue of the UK CD-i magazine talks about Zelda's Adventure, possibly the first one to do so.
- February - A "90% complete" build is shown off in Electronic Gaming Monthly #55.
- July - A "work-in-progress" build is previewed in Computer and Video Games #152, which lists a release date of August 1994.
- July 27 - v1.10 of Zelda's Adventure is built.
- August - An unspecified version (likely v1.09) is reviewed in the UK CD-i magazine, which lists a release date of October 1994.
- August 5 - v1.10 is burned onto discs and sent out to testers.
- March 27 - The final version of Zelda's Adventure, v1.12, is built. For whatever reason, the game's release is held off for nearly another year.
- February - Zelda's Adventure is released in the Netherlands.
- April 23 - Plans for a North American release are finally revealed, intended for the second quarter of 1996.
- May 10 - Zelda's Adventure is released in the United Kingdom.
- Unknown - The planned North American release is silently cancelled.
Zelda's Adventure began development sometime in April or May 1992, a year after Nintendo gave Philips permission to make several CD-i games featuring Mario and Zelda characters. Despite the CD-i's technical limitations and a RAM shortage caused by the decision to use photo-realistic backgrounds, the developers at Viridis had huge plans for the game.
The December 1993 issue of the UK CD-i magazine featured the first known public preview of Zelda's Adventure. It detailed how big the game was going to be, containing 600 screens and 160 NPCs, and taking up to 300 hours to complete (though this could possibly be a typo, as a single-player game taking 300 hours to complete is an absurd amount even today). This was cut down for the final game: a third of the screens and more than half of the NPCs were culled, and the game's playtime was shortened down to around 8-12 hours. (Another CD-i title by Viridis, Food Dude - under an earlier title, Skate Dude - was briefly mentioned in the preview as well. This game was never released, but this didn't stop its protagonist from showing up in an Easter egg.)
Zelda's Adventure was also meant to have more music than just the ambient noises heard in the final game. Initially, Viridis had planned to have the band Echo & the Bunnymen compose the soundtrack, but this plan fell through for unknown reasons, most likely a low development budget. The game's music would later be composed by Mark Andrade, though most of the tracks that were created by him wouldn't make it into the final game.
Two Years of Testing
All of these sudden cuts were attributed in developer interviews to the game's somewhat destructive testing period, which happened after Viridis laid off most of the game's staff. This phase took roughly two years to complete, longer than the time it took to develop the game, and was split into at least two separate phases. (While the exact dates are unknown, the first full version was sent to Philips around the second quarter of 1993, while the final version was built on March 27, 1995.)
This long testing time was caused by a multitude of factors; for starters, there were various bugs with the game, with flaws in the terrain collision being noted by former Viridis employees. Nintendo also took a long time to sign off on Zelda's Adventure, which involved (or was solved by) adding trademark symbols and copyright text to the game late in the test period. The various things that had to be removed or modified likely added fuel to the test period fire. To top it all off, Philips held on to Zelda's Adventure for another year after its test period had finished, likely to strengthen the CD-i's 1996 lineup.
The Scrapped NA Release
Philips had initially wanted to release Zelda's Adventure in both North America and Europe. Initially, it was going to be released in November 1993, only a month after The Faces of Evil and The Wand of Gamelon, and was listed on multiple American CD-i order catalogs with the number 310-690-229-2. (This number would also appear on various testing discs for Zelda's Adventure, including the August 5, 1994 prototype.) However, this release would never come to pass, and any updates about the North American release of Adventure wouldn't happen for a long while.
The July 1994 issue of Computer and Video Games included a preview of Zelda's Adventure, where it gave a release date of August of the same year. Likewise, the August 1994 issue of the UK CD-i magazine had a review of Zelda's Adventure, which gave an October release date. Neither of these release dates stuck, and the game would be pushed back to early 1996. Had any of the releases happened, it's likely that Zelda's Adventure would've been released in North America around the same time.
Finally, on April 23, 1996, a press release was issued by Philips detailing how Zelda's Adventure would be released in North America, with a date sometime in the second quarter and a $39.99 pricetag. Due to (most likely) the dead CD-i market there, this release was scrapped, and the game ended up becoming a Europe-exclusive title.
A semi-official full guide of Zelda's Adventure was written for the various CD-i magazines, but seems to have only been used for the Dutch CD-interactief magazine. Various tips and tricks using the guide as a reference appeared in the later issues, starting with the July/August 1996 issue. The entire guide would eventually be published across the last three issues of CD-interactief, now reduced to a segment in the Oog & Oor magazine.
This guide was based off of a prototype version of Zelda's Adventure earlier than v1.10, which wasn't corrected to match the final game. As such, it contains multiple changes and mentions of items not seen in the released game:
- Yvonne gives out both the Flute and Harp to Zelda. The Harp would be moved to the Andor-Seacoast shortcut cave and (possibly) had its effect changed.
- Lonlyn and Gwynla were standing outside at the same time, instead of Lonlyn appearing after Gwynla like in the final game.
- The doorways in the first Stalfos room in the Shrine of Illusion originally appeared and disappeared in a random pattern.
- Four Stalfos are listed in the Shrine of Illusion's dark room, which was reduced to three.
- A few unused items are mentioned in the guide as being obtainable, specifically the Vial of Acid, Alligator Shoes, and Brown Jar.
- Two of the cut items have different effects:
- The Alligator Shoes are listed as being required to enter the Swamp of Vendoss, instead of letting Zelda walk through it at a normal speed.
- The Brown Jar would've gotten rid of the Shrine of Air's falling crystal shards instead of the opening tornadoes.
- Thanks to the Brown Jar, the Bow and Arrow would've been found in the East Forest, southwest of the practicing rebels.
- Two of the cut items have different effects:
- An extra Dragonfly was added to the fallen crystal pillars room in the Shrine of Air.
- In the same Shrine, the Volta room before Aviana's arena is listed as being completely empty.
- The three Mobilins south of Ethera/Ghini were once accompanied by a Moby and a blue Tektite. Their sprites are still loaded when you enter the area.
- For whatever reason, there aren't any enemies listed in Z16 (three Lowders) or E9 (one Squibber).
- In addition, the fourth (stuck) Lowder near Nimonee isn't mentioned.
A 90% complete build of Zelda's Adventure was shown off in the February 1994 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly. The game appeared on two separate pages: first, as a special feature, and later on as a proper review. While most of the images shown were either cutscene, demo, or tutorial screens, two of them are rather noteworthy.
A screenshot of the opening areas of the Shrine of Earth, showcasing how the dungeon worked. Some Tektites can be seen here, which were removed for the final game. Interestingly, the Shrine of Water loads in some Zol sprites in its opening area, implying it underwent the same change. Was the same true for the rest of the Shrines?
A screenshot of Zelda's inventory. Three cut items can be seen here: the Opal Amulet that Shurmak was going to give to Zelda, a stone tablet spell that was completely removed from the game, and a similarly-cut scimitar spell. In addition, the Gold Necklace and Jade Ring spells are listed as treasures instead of weapons.
- CD-i designer Jason Bakutis shares more interesting CD-i relics, next to the clay sculptures he made for Zelda's Adventure on CD-i - Interactive Dreams, May 29th, 2021
- Pg. 4 - CD-i (UK) #3, Dec. 1993
- Zelda, Voyeur, and a man who worked on both CD-i projects... - Interactive Dreams, Mar. 8th, 2007
- Interview with Zelda’s Adventure (Philips CD-i) Model and Prosthetic Maker Jason Bakutis - Nintendo Player, Nov. 20th, 2012
- Zelda’s Adventure – My First Video Game Development Job - Sputnik Games, Sep. 3rd, 2014
- Zelda's Adventure - rec.games.video.cd-i, Apr. 13th, 1995
- Philips Media Press Release - rec.games.video.cd-i, Apr. 25th, 1996
- Pg. 37 - Computer and Video Games Issue 152, Jul. 1994
- Pg. 20-21 - CD-i (UK) #7, Aug. 1994
- Pg. 6 - CD-interactief Vol. 3, No. 1, Jan. 1996
- Pg. 12 - CD-i (UK) #17, Apr. 1996