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Hellwalker

Hack of The Legend of Zelda

Description:

HELLWALKER By MetalMachine


This is a complete “full game” hack of the Legend of Zelda, including:

  • Title/Intro/Outro/Credits
  • Overworld
  • Dungeons (every dungeon even has a unique theme)
  • All graphics
  • All music
  • Many sound effects

Some things to know:

  • The story is not Zelda universe-related at all.
  • This should work on any hardware or emulator that runs vanilla LoZ.
  • This is intended to be difficult. Not crazy hard, but challenging.
  • There are a handful of in-game mechanics new/different from vanilla LoZ.
  • The up+a sequence, saving, retrying, continuing work as normal.
  • Block-clipping and screen-wrapping have been patched out.

This hack is very large and is not intended to be a quick play. It drastically transforms LoZ into what amounts to be a completely new game, using an enhanced version of the LoZ engine.

Enjoy!

ROM / ISO Information:

  • Database match: Legend of Zelda, The (USA)
  • Database: No-Intro: Nintendo Entertainment System (v. 20210216-231042)
  • File SHA-1: DAB79C84934F9AA5DB4E7DAD390E5D0C12443FA2
  • File CRC32: D7AE93DF
  • ROM SHA-1: A12D74C73A0481599A5D832361D168F4737BBCF6
  • ROM CRC32: 3FE272FB

Links:

Screenshots:


Credits:

Credits
ContributorType of contributionListed credit
MetalMachineHackingDesign, music, graphics, sound effects, coding
FiskbitHackingOverworld engine

User Review Information

An Inventive Hack With A Few Stumbles

Reviewed By: Z9Lurker on 19 Sep 2021

I’ll be real with ya, I hate the original Legend of Zelda with a passion. I like it less and less each time I finish it, and I’ve done so more than 10 times. I’ve even done Swordless runs, and… (shudder) a single run of the second quest.

This feeling extends to most of the romhacks of it I’ve played as well. Every time I try one, I am let down somehow. The only ones I’ve played that I’ve gotten substantial enjoyment out of are Legend of Iowa, which is no longer hosted on this site, and Hellwalker, the subject of this review. THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR MOST OF THE GAME. BE PREPARED.

I tried out Hellwalker just to experience the new music and visuals, and found myself quickly enraptured with its impressive opening act. Instead of opening up the entire map at once and letting you get lost with no sense of direction like the original, Hellwalker confines you to a small corner of the map until you have the means to progress, and open up the map bit by bit. While this means the open-ended aspect of the original game is absent, Hellwalker benefits from being a more linear affair with a defined path of progression.

Hellwalker is designed to be a challenge for players who have mastered the original game, and as such it presents numerous scenarios that require you have substantial knowledge of said original. For example, at the very beginning, you are only given a boomerang to start off with. The path to the first dungeon is blocked off by two orbs that come to life when you touch them. The solution is to use the boomerang on the orbs to stun them, and while they are stunned, you can walk through them unscathed. The first dungeon itself, Limbo, is straightforward and fun. The first thing that caught my eye was the tileset. Every dungeon in the game has it’s own unique aesthetic, which really helps set them all apart. Each room in Limbo showcases a different method of progression. You push a block in one room, bomb a wall in another, and use a key on a locked door.

The great aesthetics, music, and level design help Hellwalker get its hooks in you early on, but there are stumbles.

For example, I got so stuck in the second dungeon, Lechery, that I was genuniely considering cheating or using outside sources in order to finish it. MetalMachine seems to have made his game completely foolproof without even knowing it, as most game genie codes from the original don’t work here, and various map editor/viewer programs are incompatible with this game. Keep in mind throughout this review that, I eventually figured out everything on my own one way or another (with one exception will get to later), sometimes progression got really obtuse and frustrating. There was a block to push that revealed a staircase in the Lechery dungeon that I had completely missed, even though I recall pushing every block in every room at least three times. For a game who’s readme encourages “Outside the box thinking”, I am not a fan of the overreliance on block puzzles throughout. It more or less amounts to just pushing every block you find, to see if it’ll reveal something. I’m not sure if other people find it as irritating as I do, but its worth noting.

For a better example of so called outside the box thinking, look to dungeon 3, Gluttony. A third of the way into the dungeon, you are blocked by a ghoul who demands a sacrifice, which is more or less a reskin of the “hungry Goriya” puzzle from the original game. What sets the two apart is the inventive twist Hellwalker puts on it, by having you go out into the overworld to find the lost soul item. The game makes it clear that in order to progress, you need to go searching for it, and by doing so, you get to explore parts of the overworld you haven’t before, since you get the ladder item just before this roadblock.

Unfortunately, the fourth dungeon, Greed, is substantially less clever, bordering on obtuse, like all those darn block and candle puzzles. This time, after grabbing the dungeon’s item, the candle, and heading to the northern rooms, your progress seems to screech to a halt with no clear way forward. The NPC in the room right next to it hints that you’ll need an item to progress, but the problem is that its the exact same setup and payoff as the third dungeon fetchquest. You must leave the dungeon, find an item hidden under a tree by burning it, then return and walk through the northern wall that once halted your progress. This wouldn’t be so bad if there was a way to get the required item without necessary backtracking, but from what I’ve played, there isn’t one. Minor hiccup aside, its an alright dungeon.

The game starts to really go downhill after dungeon four. Remember how I said I made it through every part of this game without cheating or outside help, with one exception, three paragraphs ago? Here it is, ladies and gentleman, the absolute lowest point of this adventure, the lost woods puzzle. It is claustrophobic, and packed with enemies when it really shouldn’t. Leevers are super obnoxious in this game, and if MetalMachine really wanted to put enemies here, he should’ve just put in a few of those eyeball guys that substitute for Moblins. The navigation is easily the worst part, even when I figured out the right order of directions (it was something like UP, Left, UP, Right), I would keep going and just end up back at the start somehow. It was so awful, I just used a walk through walls cheat to pass it and reach dungeon 5, ironically titled, Anger. It is not much better.

Anger is an exact layout duplicate of dungeon 2, the crescent, from the original game, only this time, you start at the top, and there is a confusing mechanic in which rooms wrap around when you enter one from a horizontal room exit. I got stuck here for hours. I purchased the bomb upgrade, made it to the room with the spike traps, and couldn’t find a way through. At this point, I had lost all hope. I threw every game genie code I had at the wall, to see if any of them would get me out of this awful dungeon. Well, one code did help me out, and it was one that automatically pushes blocks when you enter a room (YZEETXIE). Turns out there was a block that reveals a staircase in the spike trap room, positioned DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF one of said spikes. This made me so livid, I used the block pushing code for the rest of the run, fearing later dungeons would have even more obtuse block puzzles. Thankfully, none of them did, but I was very close to giving up here. To top it all off, the boss is hidden behind another wall you gotta walk south through. Wonderful.

Things were looking up when I entered dungeon six, Heresy. That didn’t last long. This is the dungeon that spams wizzrobes, a dungeon archetype that seems like a mandatory inclusion in all of the zelda hacks I’ve played. I hate wizzrobes so much. They are a substantial part of why I hate the original game as much as I do, and this dungeon does them no favors. Every room has at least 6 or more of them, and they all take several hits of the sword before going down. I’m all for challenging combat, this is… too much. It’s abominable. While the lost woods and Anger were the lowest point of the run, Heresy was a definite close second. Anger has the benefit of being a puzzle I now know the answer to, even if it was a nightmare to figure out. In the case of Heresy, I am going to have to live with the godawful wizzrobe spam on any future runs of it I might do.

After this recent strikeout, I was beginning to lose any and all hope for Hellwalker. I thought it’d be just an interesting memory, a game with a good first impression, that goes downhill about halfway through, and doesn’t stop. Then Fraud changed everything.

Dungeon 7 starts off with some tight corners and spike traps, before you get a map of the place. It is small… deceptively so. Just one block puzzle and a couple rooms later, I had already beaten the boss of the dungeon, and was just about to leave. Then it hit me, to try walking through a suspicious wall in one of the previous rooms. It worked. Suffice it to say, I was elated. The map contains only a small fraction of the dungeon’s total size. There was tons left to do, and your reward for putting yourself at risk, and spending more time here, was the gilded crossbow bolt. This was such a satisfying find, after having spent most of the game with an empty crossbow (I never found the standard bolts and I doubt I ever will). Once you have the item, head north, and you’ll be right back at the triforce room. What a fantastic dungeon. The best part? There aren’t any wizzrobes in it!

Dungeon 8, Violence, is just a linear series of combat encounters, so there’s nothing to really comment on. I guess one thing I’ll say is I don’t like how you’re supposed to find it. The dungeon is hidden behind a solid wall in the overworld that you just have to know to walk up through.

I won’t spoil the final dungeon (except the doors that take you back to sections you’ve already been through, those suck), so that covers just about everything. Overall, I think this might be my definitive way of playing Zelda 1 from now on. In short, it’s Zelda’s Second Quest, done right.

Version 1.01 Recommended - Yes

User Reviews
HeadlineAuthorDateVersionRecommended
An Inventive Hack With A Few StumblesZ9Lurker19 Sep 20211.01Yes