Ocarina of Time’s Source Code Has Been Reverse Engineered

by in General | Nov, 30th 2021

The Nintendo 64 is home to so many important 3D games, and with Nintendo being at the forefront of the earlier console generations, despite their choices in hardware, some games have stepped over the wonky controllers of the Nintendo 64 and have become bonafide classics that have been referenced and used by many to influence the way that games have been made in both the Independent and AAA Markets. One such example is Ocarina of Time, with the first foray into 3D for the Zelda series, two of the most popular games in the series came from this generation of Zelda titles. Majora’s Mask, and Ocarina of Time. While one is a massive, epic quest for the Nintendo 64, sending the player all around Hyrule. The second game is a mind-bending and dark tale, where the player has to repeat the same 3 days over and over to stop the end of the world. These two titles have fundamentally changed the series, with games like The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword, all taking inspiration from the Nintendo 64 games. Now, with Ocarina of Time just passing its 23rd anniversary, some dedicated players have done what seems like the impossible, reverse engineered the source code.

What Reverse Engineering The Source Code can do for Ocarina of Time

While it doesn’t sound like a massive deal, the fact that the game’s source code has been reverse engineered is something that can open the doors for all manner of content for Ocarina of Time. Originally caught by VGC, the small team working on the game, known as Zelda Reverse Engineering Team or ZRET for short, have spent the past two years remaking the code of the game into parsable C code. When it’s read by modern computers, this will reproduce the entirety of the original game.

While this sounds like a wild version of emulation for the game, this isn’t the case at all. This has been done completely legally. Everything in the game has been painstakingly recreated by the team. The version they’ve reverse engineered is the Master Quest version on the Gamecube, which came with debug options for people working on the title. 

However, what this could mean for the game’s future, and its prospects in modifications, is something a lot of casual PC players should be interested in, as the last game to have this done was the Mario 64 PC Port. However, the files for the PC Port of Mario 64 have been able to avoid the takedown notices from Nintendo since the code in the Mario 64 PC Port isn’t actually the game itself. It’s the reverse-engineered source code, which has nothing to do with Nintendo. Turning the code into a working PC Port of Mario 64 is due to the fact that the player has to have a ROM of the game on their computer, preferably through legal means. 

The PC Port of Mario 64 was created within 9 months of the reverse-engineered code for the game going live. The same fate will likely befall the reverse-engineered version of Ocarina of Time, however, ZRET has mentioned that they’re not going to aid anyone in remaking the game for any new platforms. ZRET’s goal is to focus on the preservation of the original game. However, with the source code now being readily readable, the doors for modifications, like new level packs or special adventures, can now become even more prevalent for the title. On top of this, the source code made by ZRET could also be used to find new ways to break the game in the speedrunning community, which has seen players take to the Wii to beat the game within the 5-minute time limit in Super Smash Brothers Brawl’s masterpieces mode. Now, with the completion, ZRET is waiting for the final confirmation that the project is done to change their website to clear their first save file, Ocarina of Time. On their site, they’re also working on two other projects as well. They’re aiming to reverse engineer Majora’s Mask, the second Zelda game on the Nintendo 64, and The Minish Cap, which is a Gameboy Advance Zelda title that has Link shrinking down to the size of an ant. 

However, with all this in mind, this is certainly an exciting time for Nintendo 64 Titles. With Nintendo’s second-biggest game on the console getting the reverse engineer treatment, players are going to be able to keep the game alive for much longer than if the game was relegated to an online service or kept inside of the cartridges they were originally created on all those years ago. It’s a winning situation for all parties involved.


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