Here's the situation - I'm an absolute newcomer to hacking with a mid-life crisis, and I have forces at work in my brain telling me to Hack the Legend of Zelda for the NES. The result is a 30-page creative barf of ideas that's been keeping me up at night, but I'm not sure which route is the most feasible to take... I know that a quality hack takes a whole lot of time and effort, often with community help, but I acknowledge this will my my opus magnus if I can complete it (perhaps just in time for my social security to kick in for retirement).
When I see other examples of Zelda hacks, they're all quite impressive to be sure, but I feel as though they're mainly cosmetic: switching out tiles, and rearranging map layouts. The kinds of features I thinking of are more oriented to gameplay fundamentals: i.e. walking diagonally, a friendlier means of displaying dialogue, and setting up quest-driven events & cut-scenes... In my head, it's a "what if" scenario, where the Legend of Zelda went through the same evolution that Super Mario Bros. and Castlevania did: Part 1 is a huge success, Part 2 is a weird experimental variation to keep the franchise from getting stale, and Part 3 is a glorious return to the original, where everything that was successful is celebrated and expanded upon (yes, I know Mario Bros. 2 wasn't really the direct sequel...). Sure, they did this with Link to the Past on the SNES, but I want to take my own crack at it.
I ask the experienced community which is the best route to take? If I put in enough effort and tweak enough lines of code, can I achieve what I'm after via hacking an NES rom? Or does it make sense to try to build something from scratch in a homebrew, possible even with a different platform altogether (i.e. a modern game maker with C#)? Or maybe try hacking a rom of Oracle of Seasons for the Game Boy Color as an option?
Regardless, I'll be starting from nothing: I only know some basic Ruby script and VB, so I would have to educate myself in programming no matter which route I take...
Any ideas? My sanity depends on it... Thanks!