On Romhack Thursdays, we bring you interesting finds from the world of game modifications.
Last month we brought you Metroid + Saving, a passable attempt to make a classic game, that has a number of quirks related to it being a fairly early NES game, less frustrating to newer (younger) players. This week’s hack is another with that theme, snarfblam’s hack of NES The Legend of Zelda that adds a working automap to the game.
Like Metroid, finding your way around 128 screens of Hyrule is challenging, even if the game isn’t as large as, say, the Gameboy Link’s Awakening, which had 256 screens. But the limited number of tiles also decreases each screen’s visual distinctiveness, especially up in the mountainous regions.
The map appears in the upper-left corner of the overworld screens, which you can see in these screenshots. A special touch is that the map isn’t revealed all at the start but fills in as the player explores, and doesn’t consist of blank squares to show explored areas but even shows some detail. Places where screens are blocked internally are shown on the map, which is a great aid to both navigation and memory.
It immediately becomes evident that, like with Metroid + Saving’s mapping feature, it’s how the game should have been written originally, and probably would have been if design trends had evolved just a bit further at the time.
There are a couple of other graphical niceties in the hack, like health being shown in the life meter in 1/8th-heart increments. But overall the map is the main attraction here. It’s such a fundamental change to the game that the much more involved hack Zelda Redux uses it too. It is also worth trying out, if you still find the original Legend of Zelda to be a bit too hardcore for you.
Zelda Automap Plus, by snarfblam (romhacking.net)