It’s hard to believe that Legend of Zelda fangame construction system Zelda Classic and ZQuest is 23 years old. Many such systems have fallen by the wayside during that time, but Zelda Classic continues on. Its first versions were made for DOS, but it continues to see improvements to this day.
Zelda Classic and ZQuest are made specifically to make overhead view action-adventures in the Legend of Zelda style, to the extent that it has graphic sets taken directly from the games and many items that work like their console counterparts.
It even simulates many of the quirks from the various Zelda series titles. And yet, it doesn’t require you to abide by them. Pretty much every technical or creative limitation of the 2D Zelda series has an option to disable it if you like, but if for some reason you consider it intrinsic to the experience you can keep it too.
The graphics can be completely changed out. With it, you can make a game that doesn’t look anything like a Zelda title, which I suspect is why it’s been able to survive 23 years in a legal landscape overseen by a Nintendo increasingly draconian in its approach to guarding its intellectual property. Still, it’s pretty heavily aimed at making Zelda fangames, right down to having pages and pages of checkboxes for every known quirk of Zelda engine behavior.
While it does offer a scripting facility (which it’s difficult to find documentation for), ZQuest is mostly a construction set type of program. You place tiles and enemies, lay out overworlds and dungeons, decide what items to include, and go. The program itself has little in the way of documentation but the site has a tutorial that should help one get started. I strongly suggest, if you are interested in creating for this system, that you read it.
Fan projects going on for this long suggests a kind of mania, but the ZQuest people are serious. They even forked Allegro to fix bugs and adapt it for their purposes. May they keep it going for another 23 years and beyond.