Want to party like it’s 1997? Well, you’re in luck, as a dedicated group of Zelda fans recently wrapped on a project that’s all about recreating what it felt like to play Ocarina of Time at a Nintendo event in the late 90s before it was officially released.
Before the rise of its Direct presentations, the best place to learn about Nintendo games was Space World, a convention held by the Japanese developer almost every year from 1989 to 2001. Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo, for instance, was revealed at the inaugural Space World (known at the time as Shoshinkai) exhibition, while Space World ’97 debuted the first playable demo of Nintendo 64 classic The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
That long-lost Ocarina of Time demo is the focus of a new romhack that trims the full game down to the early build’s specs, along with all the pre-release assets you’d expect. This is all thanks to two massively important (and wildly unofficial) Nintendo data discovery events known as the “Overdump” and the “Gigaleak,” the latter of which which Kotaku covered extensively as it was happening last year.
“In early 2021, a 32 MB development cartridge of F-Zero X was discovered and dumped by Forest of Illusion, a well-known video game preservationist,” the project’s Github page reads. “F-Zero X is only a 16 MB game, so half of that 32 MB development cartridge should have went unused. As it would turn out, however, something was taking up the extra cartridge space at the end.”
“Upon further inspection, exactly half of a 32 MB Ocarina of Time prototype dating back to 1997 was discovered,” the explanation continues. “It is likely that this cartridge originally held the Ocarina of Time demo showcased at Space World 1997, but the first half was overwritten by F-Zero X afterward when the development cartridge was reused. This extra data, now dubbed the ‘overdump,’ provided the basis for this project’s conception.”
And while the folks behind this Zelda Space World ‘97 Experience, as the project is dubbed, admit that it’s not a 100 percent accurate, 1:1 representation of the Space World demo, it’s close enough to give players a first-hand idea of what Nintendo showed attendees almost 25 years ago. Their work is the next best thing to going back in time or finding a full dump of the actual build used at Space World ’97 (odds for both of which are astronomically bad).