UPDATE: I've updated and re-reviewed these games which are now closer to their original broadcast, complete with voice over and CD-quality audio. Check them out here!
Did you know that there was more than one official Zelda game on the Super Nintendo? BS I hear you cry! And you'd be right...
On April 23rd, 1995 Nintendo released the Broadcast Satellite to the Japanese market. It was a way to download games and play them at specific times in a similar fashion to a television program. The game data would be downloaded to a custom cartridge, with audio and speech broadcast live throughout the hour. Basically, at specific times during the game, a voice actor would give clues where to go. Also like a television program, they were limited to a set amount of time, often being an hour or two at the same time over a week.
There were four Zelda games broadcast through this service, the first and second being remixed versions of the original game with updated graphics. This would be the only time Nintendo choose to improve the visuals for this game, choosing to emulate the NES game for future releases.
While there are familiar screens and dungeons, their layout is somewhat different. So different in fact, that fans have dubbed them the Third and Fourth Quests (the first two would've been the original game and its bonus Second Quest that was unlocked once completed). This was not the only change. The Broadcast Satellite allowed you to create an avatar of yourself. Although extremely limited (read: Male or Female) compared to the modern Miis, the avatar would become the player in several streaming games, including the Zeldas.
At specific times during your play-hour, your items would temporarily be upgraded or become unlimited allowing for greater ease if you were at a particularly tough spot. It would also pause the game with the word 'Listen' on the screen. A voice actor would then read clues to their audience - something that has unfortunately been lost in the annals of Nintendo HQ.
Fans would later hack these two games to provide English translations as well as bringing the Link sprite back into the game. They would also remove the timer, allowing players to fully explore the world for the first time. There were three different versions of both maps, each one included in the download. If you'd prefer authenticity and difficulty, use the Restoration Maps. If you'd prefer Link as your protagonist, use the Link Maps. This keeps everything the same as the Restoration maps but replaces your avatar with Link. The game will also continue once the time ends. For the easiest choice, you can choose the Quest Maps. Here the timer is completely removed and it gives you the option of which avatar you'd like to play as.
The second game, broadcast in 1997, would be dubbed Ancient Stone Tablets and gave us a completely new adventure set in the realm of Hyrule. It would use the same assets at A Link to the Past but mixed things up by changing the dungeon layout and other content. Like each of the previous quests, this game lasted four weeks with a different chapter broadcast each week.
The timed events worked differently to The Legend of Zelda remake. In a similar way to Shenmue on the SEGA Dreamcast, certain characters and storylines would only appear at certain times. Though the full game would be completable without them, they often lead to heart pieces and other useful items.
The third game would simply be the entire SNES game, A Link to the Past, here called Triforce of the Gods (the original Japanese name of the game). This would be the only BS Zelda game to have no timer or broadcast audio. It was played directly from the data downloaded to the cartridge albeit in four weekly chunks. In case you don't know, this one is a must-play - one of the greatest games to have ever existed and one that has so much written about it already. You can still play this on many modern Nintendo platforms so it isn't included in the download, but it's well worth tracking down.
Each of these games plays a lot like the SNES version, except easier and shorter to accommodate the hour-long play style. If you've ever played a Zelda game you'll know how excellent the gameplay is.
There are not many Nintendo-made games in the Collection Chamber, so it comes as a surprise that an entry to one of their biggest franchises has been locked away. Well no more! Give these gems a go for yourself and tell us what you think. If you want to read more about the Broadcast Satellite and it's Zelda games take a look here.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses Retroarch with the SNES9x_Next core v1.52.4 to emulate these games on PCs. Xbox 360 controllers also supported. Tested on Windows 7.
01.07.2015 - Version 2 - Improved installer.
File Size: 30 Mb. Install Size: 59 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
The Legend of Zelda is © Nintendo
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me