Ura Zelda was originally supposed to be an expansion for the The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time that would add new new dungeons to the base game. It was never completed though, so naturally there’s an entire community of fans based around trying to revive it.
Intended as disk for the 64DD peripheral that would add new content to the base game on the N64, Ura Zelda was the kind of quixotic project we’ve come to expect from Nintendo: ahead of its time and destined to fail. If you’ve never heard of the 64DD, you’re not alone. A disk drive add-on for the N64, the peripheral was an ultimately misguided attempt at augmenting and extending the life of Nintendo’s cartridge-based competitor to the PlayStation.
Expansions like Ura Zelda would have worked by plugging the cartridge for Ocarina of Time into the top of the console while a second disk was inserted into the base, with data from the two combining to create a version of the game with more features. But as Eurogamer reports, the promise of a lost successor to Ocarina of Time was too much for fans of the game to ignore.
As designer Benjamin Walton, one of the original members of a Ura revival project, told Eurogamer, the possibility of an alternate, shadow version of Ocarina of Time was due to things mentioned by Nintendo after the game’s release. “There’s a myth behind Ura Zelda, based on interviews with Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma back in the 90s, that it would have been an expansion to Ocarina of Time, adding new dungeons, new overworld areas, new bosses, new everything,” said Walton.
As the idea of the game grew in the imaginations of fans and modders over time, some of them eventually got together to try and complete Nintendo’s unfinished work. While the company later claimed that the Ura Zelda project turned into Master Quest, a GameCube version of Ocarina of Time with reverse dungeons and a much higher difficulty, some remained unconvinced, hopeful that the bones of a true successor to the game still existed out in the wild, ready to be excavated by tenacious modders.
But when you listen closely, some of the lore surrounding Ura Zelda can drift into the realm of late-night conspiracy talk. “It’s theorized that there would have been an ice dungeon, probably an ice temple, a wind dungeon, probably a wind temple, and who knows what else,” Walton said to Eurogamer. “But it really all falls into the realm of speculation, because there is no true confirmation. Now, the speculation also stems from some of the beta elements that were intended for Ocarina of Time, that were left over in the game. For instance, we ended up with the forest temple and the water temple, but in Ganon’s tower the forest corridor and the water corridor were wind and ice-themed.”
What would become Project Ura began with an environmental artist by the name of Zeth, who eventually brought together other like-minded individuals like Walton and a modder called CrookedPoe. But the project struggled under the weight of its own ambitions and after switching engines and continued feature creep, it was finally abandoned. While other users have taken up the torch, creating their own mods based on ideas about what Ura Zelda was supposed to be like AeroBlast43o9’s Project Beta: Triforce.
While modders have a vague sense of which parts of the original game Ura Zelda would have changed via the DD64, the death of helpful information from the Ocarina of Time cartridge, and the fact that no Ura Zelda disk is known to have ever leaked, means the imaginations and wishful thinking of fans and modders was left to fill the void. The result has been a number of interesting projects that, just like their source material, never managed to reach completion. But the dream lives on, and probably always will, with new modders, hackers, and designers inspired to pick up the torch that others, exhausted from carrying it, have relinquished.