Retro’s Mysterious Zelda Spin-off ‘Project X’ Seems to Have a Playable Prototype

Image: Nintendo

Today, new details about the mysterious Legend of Zelda title from Retro Studios have surfaced online.Project X‘. Although this spin-off never saw the light of day, it looks like it actually had a working prototype.

At the same “Do you know what games are?” YouTube video, discussed the gameplay in this title. According to former Retro Studios developer and programmer Paul Tozur, it was “a failed experiment set in the Zelda universe”.

Although the prototype was up and running, it was described as a simplified version of the “Whack-A-Mole” and was considered seriously underdeveloped. Players will control the Sheik, fixed in one place, and will hit different types of wolves using the Wii Remote.

“There were four or five wolves, maybe six, and they were just idle, waiting to pounce on you, then they jumped one after the other and you went “Whack”. So that’s literally everything. it was easy to detect when the player swung the Wii remote. If that’s the case, the wolf will die, and if you don’t do it right, you’ll take damage.” – Paul Tozur, former developer of Retro

There was also a journey through the world – separate from the game combat, when players fell into random battles similar to JRPGs. Tozur went on to describe it as a “mess”, and while the art might have made it look like the team was working on something special, there was simply no “gameplay”.

Concerns about the direction of Project X were raised repeatedly, but management ignored the warnings and allegedly refused to change direction. Tozur adds that he heard Nintendo didn’t like the prototype:

“[Nintendo] couldn’t really make the heads or tails of it. Their reaction was basically that you are seriously suggesting? Really?…[It was] rejected immediately [that’s what I was told,] but I wasn’t there when it happened and I guess it never really happened and they decided not to show it to Nintendo.”

A separate anonymous source from Retro suggested that the project may also have been scrapped due to the departure of Retro’s lead developers around the same time. Overall, at least seven people were believed to have worked on “Project X” at Retro Studios before it was eventually canceled in 2008.

There are claims that Nintendo is still interested in the Sheik project. You can learn more in the video below, and also learn more about Paul Tozur’s experience with Project X in his previous chat with the KiwiTalkz podcast:

Turns out Retro was also working on another Zelda spin-off called Heroes of Hyrule. You can read more in our previous story.

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