What? There was actual design involved? That’s right, kids!
Whether you love to hate them (or just plain hate them) it turns out the two Zelda CD-i games developed in tandem (Link: Faces of Evil and Zelda: Wand of Gamelon) did actually involve developing like any other game.
And also just like any other game, this development involved concept art, which was only recently made available!
Our friends over at Hardcore Gaming 101 interviewed Dale DeSharone (the man behind these games) and were provided with some of the early concept art for Link: Faces of Evil and Zelda: Wand of Gamelon.
The interview in and of itself reveals some interesting tidbits about these two infamous games.
Many of us have wondered why sidescrolling was chosen rather than the overhead perspective. It turns out that this is directly related to Philips’ preference for revolutionary (at the time) graphics over gameplay. Philips wanted the CD-i games to show off their graphical capabilities versus the competition and felt an overhead style would not showcase that as effectively. Also, one must remember that at the time only The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link had been released, so there had been no “Zelda overhead style” yet established.
We’ve also wondered how the awful animation came about, and here we get our answer: a very limited budget caused the animation to be outsourced to a team of Russian computer animation amateurs (many of them were untrained in computer animation) with very limited time.
And the oft-criticized voice acting? That is explained by way of having to audition AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) actors from their local area.
But the real gems, I think, are these pieces of concept art.
From the concept art we can see that just like any other Zelda game, the best intentions existed for a truly unique Zelda experience, especially when you take into consideration that only The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link had been released before development began on the CD-i games. Alas, A Link to the Past had been released just before these, however, setting the bar impossibly high and setting these games up for failure.
Regardless, it is still interesting to look at the concept art and see what a step up (if only visually) these CD-i games were from the first two entries in the Zelda series, and to wonder what could have been.