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It’s far from Breath of the Wild 2 — heck, it’s not even an official Legend of Zelda sequel that Nintendo is likely to come anywhere close to recognizing. But a longtime Mario modder’s newest fan-made adventure is taking players all the way back to the late 1990s, telling a new story inside a bite-sized homemade Zelda game that theorizes what became of Link between the events of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask.
Using the Nintendo 64 engine and combining assets from the N64’s pair of classic Zelda adventures with new dungeons and boss fights, new weapons, a new story, and new music, modder Kaze Emanuar and a small team of enthusiasts have released the aptly-named The Missing Link, a brief but impressive Zelda-inspired episode that follows Link back to Kokiri Forest after defeating Ganon in Ocarina of Time.
We don’t want to spoil the story too much, but the setup finds all the fairies (including Navi!) missing from Kokiri Forest, a mystery surrounding the Great Deku Tree, and everything in the game world looking a little sadder; a little darker, and a little less lively without Navi’s chirpy, ever-present banter.
Figuring out what happened to the fairies is Link’s new goal, explored below in the developer’s hour-long playthrough (which takes things about 80 percent of the way through the full game mod):
Free to play (of course) as a downloadable ROM add-on, The Missing Link is as far from an officially-recognized Zelda title as you can get. But as fan-made games go, it does an amazing job preserving the spirit and feel of Ocarina of Time and its time-looping lunar sequel on the N64. That’s not too surprising for anyone who’s seen Kaze’s previous mods, including ambitious add-ons to Super Mario Odyssey 64 and Super Mario 64 Land using the old-school console’s Mario 64 engine.
It’s hard to predict whether Nintendo, a company known for protecting its brands, will have anything to say about The Missing Link. For now, anyone with a version of the Ocarina of Time ROM can download and install the new mod, though it could all come crashing down if Nintendo pulls the plug.
Think of it as a love letter to the Zelda series from a group of fans who seem to truly grasp what made OoT and Majora’s Mask two of the best-loved games of all time. If you’re interested in checking it out for yourself, head to Kaze Emanuar’s YouTube playthrough page and follow the included (ahem) links.