The Legend of Zelda series was almost called The Hyrule Fantasy series, but issues cropped up that led to the name being dropped after one game.
Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda series is one of the most iconic franchises in video game history, yet it came very close to having a different name. This is due to the early Legend of Zelda titles having inconsistent names, both internationally and within Nintendo itself.
A lot of the games in The Legend of Zelda series have different names in different regions. The second game in the series was Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, which had The Legend of Zelda 2 written on its Japanese box art. The third game in the series was localized as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, while the original Japanese name translated to The Legend of Zelda: Triforce of the Gods. Link’s Awakening was Dreaming Island, Minish Cap was Mysterious Cap, Tri Force Heroes was The Three Tri Force Musketeers, Wind Waker was Baton of Winds, Phantom Hourglass was Hourglass of Dreams, Oracle of Seasons was The Mysterious Seeds – Chapter of Earth, and Oracle of Ages was The Mysterious Seeds – Chapter of Space-Time.
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The most curious original name in the series belongs to the first Legend of Zelda game. In Japan, the game was called The Hyrule Fantasy: The Legend of Zelda. As a matter of fact, it turns out that The Hyrule Fantasy was almost the name of the entire franchise.
The Legend of Zelda & Hyrule Fantasy
The developers of the original Legend of Zelda game (Shigeru Miyamoto, Takeshi Tezuka, and Koji Kondo) were interviewed for the official Nintendo website, and asked about why The Hyrule Fantasy name was used. Miyamoto said that the Hyrule name came up when discussing the name for a high-fantasy region. The original intention was to call the entire series The Hyrule Fantasy, but it was dropped after the first game. They weren’t sure why this was the case, but one theory was that A Link to the Past/Triforce of the Gods already had a subtitle, so adding another would make the name too long. The original Final Fantasy game was also released after the first Legend of Zelda game, and The Hyrule Fantasy name sounds similar. The game was localized as The Legend of Zelda, so it made sense to keep that name going forward.
It’s interesting to think of a world where The Hyrule Fantasy might have been the name of The Legend of Zelda series, and it’s likely fans would have spent years complaining about how it sounds too similar to Final Fantasy. If The Hyrule Fantasy name was chosen, then it would have made it more possible for the developers to put aside including Princess Zelda in every game and focus on other characters, as she would have lost top billing early on. The entire concept of the Triforce being linked to three characters (Ganondorf, Link, and Zelda) could have been dropped altogether, and the The Legend of Zelda series might have been unrecognizable.
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