The Zelda Game That Refused to Die: The Worst Title in the Series Gets a Second Chance on Game Boy

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The Zelda Game That Refused to Die: The Worst Title in the Series Gets a Second Chance on Game Boy
Randy Meeks

Randy Meeks

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There are three letters that make all video game fans sweat and laugh at the same time: CD-i. The strange Philips format that allowed 744 MB of data to be stored in 1990 promised to revolutionize everything years before PlayStation: games were now on disc, opening a door full of opportunities that Nintendo couldn’t say no to. Sadly: the titles that were programmed for CD-i are considered some of the worst in history. And yet, there are still people who try to resurrect them any way they can.

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Excuse me, princess

Most of the video games that came out for the hybrid between console and multimedia station from Philips did not go beyond mere curiosity: versions of ‘Sink the Fleet’ and ‘Connect 4’ were mixed in the catalog with children’s games or chess, licenses such as ‘Sesame Street’ or ‘Golgo 13’ and three very strange Nintendo adaptations: ‘Hotel Mario’, ‘Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon’ and ‘Link: The faces of evil’.

One of the supposed advantages of this new format was that it allowed the inclusion of animated scenes in a more or less natural way: the two Zelda games that were released became especially notable (and laughable) because of them, the histrionic voice actors and the strange style of their designs. Obviously, none of these ended up being canon and have become more of a point of no return for Nintendo, who understood that they couldn’t just give away their franchises to anyone.

Because of this catastrophic result, the release of the third game in the series for CD-i, ‘Zelda’s Adventure’, only took place in Europe, where critics shamelessly trashed it: not only was it unplayable because it could take up to ten seconds to change screens and its CGI characters were impossible to control. Moreover, during gameplay, the cutscenes were recorded by real people instead of using animation, and the plot was bizarre to say the least. In it, Link had been kidnapped by Ganon in the kingdom of Tolemac and Zelda had to gather the seven celestial symbols to rescue him.

Dusting off the Game Boy

And the thing is, despite the video cutscenes, the game had a lot more to do with ‘The legend of Zelda’ or ‘Link’s awakening’ than the other Philips console versions. There were dungeons, similar level design and even the characters looked more stylish. However, not many were able to try it: in 1996, when the game was released, CD-i was already being paid off and Philips had accepted the failure, so it had the few sales you can imagine.

But now it has a second life in the hands of John Lay, a game developer who has de-maked ‘Zelda’s Adventure’ as a Game Boy game… improving it dramatically in the process and making it surprisingly fluid: by going backwards, it has gone forwards. The game is available on and shares the style of ‘Link’s Awakening’.

Ah, you can also buy the cartridge in case you feel like dusting off your old Game Boy and discovering the true power of the CD-i, the one that nobody wanted to check out in the early 90’s (with good reason). What better way to prepare for ‘Tears of the kingdom’?

Randy Meeks

Randy Meeks

Editor specializing in pop culture who writes for websites, magazines, books, social networks, scripts, notebooks and napkins if there are no other places to write for you.

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