Depending on how long you’ve been following Zelda news on the Internet, you may or may not remember a supposed game known as “Project Deluge,” or “Valley of the Flood.” Back in 2008, a secret interview between Eiji Aonuma and a mysterious person known only as “Kyle” was leaked on the IGN forums. In it, Aonuma revealed what he described as the next Zelda title, and, at the time, there was virtually no information present on what was then known as “Zelda Wii.” As such, this was massive news. He described a darker, more technologically advanced world in which a well-intentioned but delusional boy took on the persona of the Hero of Time in order to defeat Ganondorf and prevent the world from being flooded by the goddesses. Sound familiar?
“Valley of the Flood” was described as a prequel to The Wind Waker, revealing the details of what happened when, as stated in The Wind Waker’s introductory sequence, “the hero did not appear.” Taking place in an apocalyptic Hyrule, the game would have the player act as this would-be Link, only to know that, in the end, the deluge would claim Hyrule, and The Great Sea would drown out the world below.
Of course, this was later confirmed to be a completely false rumor—Eiji Aonuma never gave this interview, and Nintendo was never working on a secret project called “Valley of the Flood.” Besides, we now have Skyward Sword as our promised Zelda title for the Wii. However, looking back at the details of the proposed storyline and how fans reacted to it may let us know what direction that the Zelda series should take in the future.
“Someday… When this seal is broken… That is when I will exterminate your descendants!!” – Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time
The Great Flood
At the end of Ocarina of Time, Ganondorf is sealed in The Sacred Realm by the sages, and Link is sent back in time. However, Zelda still carries on in that time stream, now known as “The Adult Timeline.” According to Hyrule Historia, the following age of history is known as “The Era without a Hero.” Sometime during this era, Ganondorf is revived, and the Hero of Time—or even a new Link, for that matter—does not appear to stop his torrential rise to power. The goddesses flood Hyrule, and the world of The Wind Waker is created. It is during that dark time in which “Valley of the Flood” would supposedly take place.
“The people believed that the Hero of Time would again come to save them. …But the hero did not appear.” – in-game prologue of The Wind Waker
In the interview (which, keep in mind, was 100% fake), Aonuma describes the player as feeling a “greater sense of psychological peril,” perhaps even greater than the doomsday scenario seen in Majora’s Mask. Revealing that his desire to have a more detailed storyline feature in a Zelda game had finally triumphed over Miyamoto’s rule of “simplicity and straightforwardness,” Aonuma asserts that the hero would no longer be mute. “Because he isn’t Link, right?” Kyle asks. Aonuma then goes on to describe the story of the game’s playable character.
“…Because the hero is not Link this time, there is much more flexibility in terms of storytelling. I want to stress the craziness of the hero. Because this hero is not Link, but he thinks he is Link.” When the Hero of Time did not appear to slay the revived Ganondorf, this young boy, more physically mature than Link had ever been, convinces himself that he is, in fact, the new Link. With “black hair and more defined musculature,” the boy becomes obsessed, eventually getting his own green tunic, forging a Master Sword replica, and taking on other Link-like traits.
However, despite his not actually being Link, the boy begins to fight the minions of Ganondorf, and, of course, would have succeeded to some level—after all, what’s the point of playing a Zelda game if you can’t defeat bosses and complete dungeons? Additionally, his own faltering insanity was said to mirror that of Ganondorf’s. The banished Gerudo king’s long tenure of imprisonment in The Sacred Realm had apparently made him more erratic and dangerous: “He’s basically gone mad and the game’s cinematics will sometimes jump to him and show this madness overpower him over the course of the game.”
Another supposed change to the Zelda series would be to update the time period and general tone. As stated by the fake Aonuma, “many fans tell me that they’re interested in a steampunk-influenced Zelda, even though the series has always maintained a very medieval foundation.” However, in keeping with the series’ fantasy roots, a gun, for example, would not be a weapon in the real-world sense, but rather a sort of “deku musket that fires gunpowder-filled deku nuts.”
The large size of the world would also change the tone of the game, bringing about the need for new modes of transportation. In addition to the pseudo-Link’s horse—“a black one…with these ethereal white spots that illuminate in the dark”—the game would feature an expansive railway system, something that, according to the false Aonuma statement, the Zelda team had wanted to implement into a game since Majora’s Mask (perhaps by coincidence, Spirit Tracks achieved this only one year after this “interview,” in 2009). The massive overworld would feature dozens of side-quests, mini-dungeons, and would graphically showcase a sense of “realism and consistency… such as believable rivers and brooks and water effects.”
Finally, the main focus of the game, aside from defeating Ganondorf, that is, was to rescue the various peoples of Hyrule and influence them to migrate to the mountains in order to survive the impending flood. If this were true, it would finally explain the full backstory of how and why some Hyruleans were chosen to be saved and left to form the small island villages seen in The Wind Waker.
Aonuma and Kyle’s discussion concluded with the promise that the interview would not be released until after E3 2008, one month later. This was a lie, of course, but one of little consequence, since the entire interview itself was a lie.
“This is but one of the legends of which the people speak…” – in-game prologue of The Wind Waker
Four Years Later
It’s been nearly half a decade since that fake interview was released back in the summer of 2008, and, looking back, some people may ask how anyone could have possibly believed that such an outlandish scenario could have ever been in a Zelda game. As the saying goes, though, hindsight is 20/20, and many fans did actually believe that this was a true representation of what was to come for Zelda Wii—or, at least, they hoped that it might be in a real Zelda game. Others claimed that this was a clear sham, asserting that Aonuma would never reveal such detailed information about a future game before its E3 reveal, in addition to the fact that the proposed storyline was far too dark for a Zelda title.
Still, despite “Valley of the Flood’s” radical premise, its inclusion of steampunk elements was praised by optimistic fans, and the idea of an expansive world with units of transportation previously unseen in the Zelda franchise was lauded by many gamers. Except in minute ways, neither of these elements has since been fully integrated into any new Zelda game.
What Do You Think?
Were you around when “Valley of the Flood” was first proposed as Zelda Wii? If so, what was your opinion of it then, and has it changed at all over the past four years?
If this is the first time you’ve heard of “Project Deluge,” which of its elements would you be interested in seeing implemented into a future Zelda game, if any at all?
View the original “interview” at IGN here.
View one of ZU’s original 2008 posts on this topic (written by Power Shot) here, where you can also examine readers’ comments to see how immensely varied the reactions were.