Retro’s Mysterious Zelda Spin-Off ‘Project X’ Apparently Had A Playable Prototype

Sheik, as seen in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Image: Nintendo

New details have emerged online today about Retro Studios’ mysterious Legend of Zelda title ‘Project X‘. Although this spin-off never saw the light of day, it seems there was actually a working prototype.

In the same ‘DidYouKnowGaming?’ YouTube video, the gameplay within this title was discussed. According to ex-Retro Studios developer and programmer Paul Tozour, it was an “experiment gone wrong that happened to be set in the Zelda universe”.

While a prototype was up and running, it was described as a simplified version of ‘Whack-A-Mole’ and was believed to be seriously undercooked. Players would control Sheik, fixed in one place, and would hit different types of wolves with the Wii Remote.

“There were four or five wolves, maybe six, and they would just be in their idle state waiting to pounce at you, then they’d jump one-by-one and you’d go ‘Whack’. So that’s literally all it was, just detecting when the player swung the Wii Remote. If so, the wolf dies, and if you don’t do it correctly, you take damage.” – Paul Tozour, ex Retro dev

There was also overworld traversal – separate from the game’s combat, where players would be thrown into random battles, similar to JRPGs. Tozour further described it as a “hot mess” and even though the art might make it seem like the team was working on something special, there was just “no gameplay” present.

Concerns were raised about the direction of ‘Project X’ on multiple occasions, but leadership ignored warnings and supposedly refused to change direction. Tozour adds how he heard the prototype didn’t go down well with Nintendo:

“[Nintendo] couldn’t really make heads or tails of it. Their reaction was basically boils down to ‘this is seriously what you’re proposing? Really?…[It was] immediately rejected [that’s what I was told,] but I wasn’t there when it happened, and I suppose there’s a possibility it never actually happened and they decided not to show it to Nintendo.”

A separate anonymous source from Retro suggested the project also may have been axed due to the departure of Retro’s top developers around the same time. All up, there was believed to be at least seven people working on ‘Project X’ at Retro Studios before it was eventually cancelled in 2008.

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

It 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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