Legend Maker may have started out as a fan-made Zelda game that was smacked down by Nintendo, but it’s now on Kickstarter aiming for a 2017 release on PC.
“If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” That’s what most people will conclude when comparing indie developer Dream Mix’s new Kickstarter project, Legend Maker, to Nintendo’s critically acclaimed The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, a game released nearly 25 years ago on the SNES.
But there’s a good reason why Legend Maker looks so similar to the 16-bit 1991 cult classic.
A Legend Maker in the Making
Original development for the game, headed by its creator Justin Sink, took shape in October 2015 under the title “The Legend of Zelda Maker” — but with a Super Mario Maker type of make-your-own-level gameplay element. There was one problem: the game used graphic assets and sounds from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Nintendo’s protected intellectual property.
Sink went on to release a downloadable PC demo later in October; players worldwide were raving about how cool it was, “Let’s Play” videos flourished across YouTube, and fans were asking Nintendo for another “Maker” game based on the Zelda series. It was a hit.
But that’s when Nintendo’s legal department caught wind of Sink’s fan-made project. Shortly after the dust settled, he published a video on his YouTube channel explaining what went down:
“You’ve probably seen that all of my videos got taken down by Nintendo. The download for Zelda Maker was taken down by Nintendo as well, and their attorney sent me an email telling me that it has been taken down. So, basically what’s happening with this channel now … I’m going to be posting new videos of the game Legend Maker. It’s not going to be called Zelda Maker anymore; it’s going to establish its own new IP, it’s going to have its own graphics, its own sounds, and its own name. Anything that could have been copyrighted I am taking out and replacing with my own material. So I’ve got a lot ahead of me, basically. I have to remake all the sounds … I’ve already got all the sprites changed to my own original style and [have added] my own original non-copyrighted material.”
Legend Maker Today
After a few months of regrouping and taking a break from his project, Sink recruited some help and decided to go full steam ahead with development, attempting to bring Legend Maker to life on popular crowdfunding website Kickstarter.
Nintendo News caught up with Sink yesterday to ask him about the possibility of his project making its way to current or future Nintendo platforms. Sink also gave us his thoughts on how Legend Maker differs from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past:
“Unfortunately, there is no [stretch goal] for Wii U or Nintendo 3DS. I’m not sure if the lack of programming support is coming from GameMaker’s end or Nintendo’s. So far, no Nintendo consoles support games developed in GameMaker Studio — hopefully that will change with the NX. If we can make enough money from Legend Maker when it releases, I think it’s safe to say we will port it to NX since there is such a high demand; however, I can’t see it being there on day one if we do not have the funding to spend the extra time developing it.
“Our game differs mechanically in the way that it controls and what we will offer. Our male mascot character, Kenji, has momentum — something most 2D Zelda games don’t have. I feel it is a lost opportunity, but I understand that it may be a preference to the people who develop Zelda games, and possibly to many fans of Zelda games. I suggest playing Legend Maker and A Link to the Past back to back to feel the difference for yourself.
“We will introduce many unique items in Legend Maker; the ones that are in the game just took less development time, so they came first! We will also introduce a lot of completely unique enemies, and we’ve shown a few of them off in the demo. I think of new ideas for content and send them to our concept artist who visualizes those ideas. And I love the fact that he can come up with multiple different designs for an enemy and all of them are usable.
“In terms of graphics, we are going for a different style than Zelda. We want to have more color depth than games like A Link to the Past. This is not a diss to Nintendo, it’s just that we have a different preference in terms of style for Legend Maker. I [thank] Genesis games like Crusader of Centy and Sonic the Hedgehog for this. Our style may not be immediately apparent to someone who isn’t a game designer, or a spriter, so a good comparison would be putting Link and Kenji side by side. Regardless, chances are if give a boy a sword and put him in a top-down adventure game, people are going to be talking about ‘Nintendo ninjas.’ This is OK because this kind of criticism is what will help us to define our game more and more [away] from Zelda. We welcome criticism, as it betters our game.
“As a side note, I want to point out that there are other games even more visually similar to Zelda, like Ittle Dew and 3D Dot Game Heroes. That being said, we are not going to deny that we are inspired by The Legend of Zelda. We love Zelda games. We’re all fans. Hell, Legend Maker was originally a Zelda fan game, but so was Freedom Planet — and I’d say the end result was pretty amazing. We want to create something amazing with Legend Maker.”
In the event Legend Maker‘s Kickstarter campaign does not meet its minimum funding goal of $40,000, Sink said he will still continue to develop the game. However, he won’t be able to pay the people currently working on it, so development will be much slower and, as a result, the project won’t be as ambitious.
Here’s a short video preview showing off current Legend Maker gameplay: