The oft-maligned (with good reason) Phillips CD-i Zelda games are a bad dream Nintendo would like to forget. What was originally meant to be an agreement between Nintendo and Phillips to co-develop a CD-ROM enhancement for the Super Nintendo morphed instead into an agreement to license out some specific Nintendo characters, Link and Zelda being two. The games were not only not developed by Nintendo, but by teams without much experience in game development at all. The result, as you’ve surely heard, was abysmal. Having played (or attempting to) two of the three resulting games, I can attest to their horrendous design.
However, Hyrule Historia, that treasure trove of Zelda facts, indirectly reveals that one of the CD-i Zelda games got one thing right.
Hyrule Historia shows an early character design for Princess Zelda that had gone unused by Nintendo–or so we thought. It turns out that Phillips used that same design for the cover of their Wand of Gamelon. Unfortunately, only the cover, and the game itself featured a character design for the princess much closer to the 80s cartoon.
Truth be told, I noticed back then how the art on the cover looked so close to A Link to the Past and thought that it was indicative of the game’s quality. How wrong I was. How wrong we all were.
Have you given the Phillips Zelda games a shot? What did you think? Are you surprised they managed to get at least the cover art right? Let us know in the comments below.