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Zelda 3 Challenge: Quest for Calatia


GameMakr24Imagine playing a new Zelda 3.  Everything you know about the game -- the dungeons, the graphics, the story, the great outdoors – will all be created anew. Of course the underlying game will remain, but presenting a world you've never visited, a quest you haven't experienced, perplexing dungeons you've never faced. Every aspect of the game will be challenging than ever. Such a phenomenon has happened before, in the consummate rewrite of Zelda 1 as Zelda Challenge: Outlands. A new link to the past will be forged, with the same level of redesign and equal aura of reminiscence, in the upcoming new adventure, Zelda 3 Challenge: Quest for Calatia!

Welcome to!

Once upon a time, there was a great website known as Challenge Games. It was devoted to creating challenging new versions of classic games, releasing such treasures as Super Mario 3 Challenge and Zelda Challenge. It held the promise of many other adventures, but sadly, most of the group's members moved on to other things. The message board grew quiet and the site's hosting was not renewed; the CG community vanished, its visitors gathering elsewhere.

While this location is not Challenge Games, it represents the spirit that made it great. This is the home of ZeldaC and my ongoing project, Zelda3C. This site will never aspire to replacing the original website's content; my only focus remains on developing the world of Calatia.

Special thanks goes to Ryan for providing hosting for this project.

Zelda3C Diary

Every few weeks (or months, or longer), I post my latest progress in an online diary. Sometimes its purpose is to get feedback from future players, while other times it is written for my own benefit, to look back on later. Here you can see which part of the game I'm currently working on, read about what problems I'm tackling, and respond to the game's direction. You may pick up some hints about the game's content, but I'm careful about not releasing spoilers.

Zelda3C Diary ~ Quest for Calatia is alive once more!  I’m back at last!


2010-12 Archive ~ Moving beyond Truce Dam, and the project’s hiatus.

2008-09 Archive ~ The heart of Calatia and the laptop's destruction.

2007 Archive ~ Saria River, Harmony Forest, new sprites.

2006 Archive (Part 2) ~ Monsters, castle graphics, initial forest.

2006 Archive (Part 1) ~ More trees, hookshot-compatible houses.

2005 Archive ~ Conflicts, new trees, upcoming houses.

2004 Archive (Part 2) ~ Calatia Castle, town improvement.

2004 Archive (Part 1) ~ 8x8 tile mastery, Epoch Tower, State of the Challenge Address

2003 Archive ~ Programming, Bug Zapping, Moving to CA.

2002 Archive ~ Ancient News ~ Overworld preparations, graphics contest.


Here are the screenshot albums:

Batch 5 - Calatia Castle and Lellow Farm

Batch 4 - Welcome to Calatia

Batch 3 - A dark maze of bushes

Batch 2 - Getting good at Hyrule Magic

Batch 1 - Created by my discontinued editor

Requests for Help

Although I'm the sole designer of this new adventure, there are certain areas of this game which are completed faster, and often better, when certain talented people lend a hand. To expedite and improve this rewrite, I have posted two categories which you, or someone you know, may be able to help out with. 


There used to be pages for graphics and music, but I have since assembled a crack team of experts to carry out these developments.  :)  [New music developments are postponed, since I don’t have time to manage them, but I know who to call when I’m ready.]

ROM Editing - For hackers familiar with data stored in the Zelda 3 ROM.

ASM Hacking - For programmers familiar with ASM and the Zelda 3 ROM.

Story of Calatia

Three years after leaving home, Link's quests have taken him to all parts of Hyrule, from the depths of the Lost Woods to the peaks of Death Mountain, and from North Castle's territory to the cursed valley of the Great Palace. He has journeyed to distant kingdoms, even to the eastern realm of the Outlands, all to keep peace in the world and protect the omnipotent Triforce.

In all this time, he has not returned to his homeland, Calatia, where he was born and raised. Convinced that this kingdom held nothing of the splendor of Hyrule and other foreign lands, he had hurried away as a youth, unaware of the wonders he would someday uncover. He would never have guessed that the town's dysfunctional clock tower holds overwhelming powers of time travel. Nor could he suspect there were cryptic labyrinths entombed beneath this peaceful kingdom, with an ancient evil destined to grant them life.

The beautiful land of Calatia has a long history of peace and prosperity, lasting even through Hyrule's darkest ages. A day soon approaches, however, when Calatia will experience a series of disasters that will rip the kingdom apart. Time itself will bend to the will of a mysterious, avenging sorceress. Link will learn the truth about the lands he overlooked, but during a time when only the forgotten past can change the desolate future.

(The name 'Calatia' is taken from old Zelda comic books, published by Valiant & endorsed by Nintendo. This new version of Zelda 3 is, of course, NOT endorsed by Nintendo in any way.)

Zelda3C's opening story is available for additional reading. It begins with an account of the Legend of Zelda, but for good reason. Although it contains spoilers about the game's beginning, not everything is revealed. It has been updated as of November 2013 to match Nintendo’s Zelda series timeline. Events leading up to Link's quest for Calatia are described in detail.

Overworld & Underworld

Calatia rests high in the mountains, split into various sections by cliffs and jagged terrain. The largest town, Meridia, is bordered by Harmony Forest to the north, Death Mountain to the south, Calatia Castle on its western side and Kingdom Caverns to the east. A large river passes through this beautiful settlement, forming a great waterfall that is said to spill over the edge of the world. Little else is known of Calatia, for the wild country beyond civilization is guarded by natural pitfalls and malicious forces.

Beneath the kingdom's awe-inspiring landscape lie the unexplored chambers of Calatia's dungeons. Enigmatic and cryptic, these secret labyrinths are inactive systems of death traps and fortresses. It is said that Ganon himself designed and created each stronghold, then mysteriously sealed them away without granting them any purpose. Popular lore places one in the forest, though it hasn’t been proven. Another is believed to be within the mines, but this entrance may only be a gateway to Death Mountain.

Plans & Progress

The overworld is currently being designed from scratch at the tile level, using both new and existing combinations. Specific blocks will be altered to build major structures and unique locations. For example, Sanctuary and the Witch's Hut were spent in the creation of Epoch Tower. Not counting repeated screens, there are 70 Light World areas and 64 Dark World areas. With my own search engine based on each of thousands of blocks I've carefully documented, this task isn't nearly as difficult, although it's still very time consuming.

Every dungeon will be a new creation, with original mazes and puzzles, new colors and graphics, and assortments of terror you've never faced before.  There is plenty of room for exploration, as there are 296 rooms to set up. (12 dungeons, plus houses and caverns.) With full control over the indoor objects and room structures, I can be far more creative than with ZeldaC.

The text will be completely rewritten. Every word of it. Intro storyboard, signs, people, and events. 297 messages, formatted carefully to present essential clues, story and information. As it stands now, 75% of Zelda3C's text is already written. My writing style is different from Zelda 3 -- every other person won't be calling you 'brother' -- but it fits the new quest well.

While the frame of the original story (pendant & crystals in light and dark worlds) cannot bend much, I've been creative to ensure that the new story is original and unique. Using time tiles and a legendary ocarina, Link must traverse the past and undo a terrible future. The story's volume is similar to the original game, limited only by text space and the number of events. The story itself is justly inspired by Zelda comics from NES days, which weren't very old when Zelda 3 was released. Characters, events, and settings remain true to both the comics and to the Zelda lore of that era, yet joined by references to newer titles.

Most of the music will be new or significantly altered. (27 songs total)  I’ve been in touch with four different musicians who would like to compose for the game, two of whom are familiar with Hyrule Magic’s music editor.  In the past, I’ve stated I would like to include some tracks from non-Zelda games, but I have since thought better of it; all will either be remixes of existing Zelda songs, or entirely new pieces.


A few of the songs are already written, by a musician whose name I cannot yet disclose. Which songs, so far? Overworld, Village, Cavern, Sanctuary, Castle, Palace. They each sound amazingly beautiful – I’m always tempted to spoil them by posting them as mp3s.  Sorry, no Ocarina of Time “Lost Woods” theme... aren't you guys tired of that one yet?

The graphics are getting an overhaul, not just for a new look, but to represent new buildings and locations. Items, monsters, people, places, things -- almost everything is changing in appearance. Some graphics will be original art, while more common things may be taken from other games.  No man is an island, especially in a project this big, so I have enlisted the help of Josh N. and DarkPrince909 to create much of these graphics.

The palettes won't be changed very much, except where major graphics editing requires it. Calatia Castle, for example, has grey stone colors instead of Hyrule Castle's white, green and blue. Link is definitely wearing a better shade of green, with NO pink hair! The future world won't have ugly green water and yellowed earth, as that would be too similar to the Dark World.

The title screen will display a panoramic view of much of the kingdom, possibly with Epoch Tower (aka The Tower of Time) standing tall on one side. There will be no Master Sword sliding into the ‘Z’… something else appears instead.  ;)  New storyboards will chronicle Calatia's past and preface the new opening story.

New 3D shapes! The golden Triforce has taken a pyramid shape, while the seven crystals become shards of the Triforce of Wisdom.

Two overworld maps (viewed by pushing X) will reveal Calatia as it appeared in the past and how it looks in the bleak future. Each of the 14 new dungeons will have new maps as well.

The game's ending will be different, simply because the sprites and locations themselves are different. The basic format, however, will likely be the same. The ending credits will list everyone who contributed ideas used in the game, as well as programmers and artists whom I depend on to make this game a reality.

Many more changes are in place, some of which required ASM hacking. These surprises won't be listed here, even after release. It will be up to you to discover them as you play the game... If you would like to help with ASM hacking, see the ASM Request page.

Extras (outside the ROM patch) will likely be the same as with ZeldaC -- HTML instruction manual, colorful world map, punching puppet Ganon, bonus soundtrack CD... (hey, nevermind the last two!)

Quest design tactics will often be similar to ZeldaC. (Let's go back to Level 1 for that important item...) (Where in blazes is Level 6?) Each item will become more important, especially the boots, hookshot, the staff of Byrna, and the hammer. There will be many more monsters, placed in dire locations. You will get very lost, put forth real effort to uncover dungeon entrances, and get slammed by most every boss you meet. The clues you read will be essential. I still enjoy implementing one-way doors, HIDDEN cave entrances, "lost" or "unreachable" items, false walls, mandatory shortcuts, and surprise enemies. Beware.

The Wait

It's been as difficult for me as it has for most of you. Every day I'm anxious to work on Zelda3C, yet every day I have to battle real life to get some free time. Progress continues, yet it's still impossible to estimate how long it will take to be finalized. One positive thing about this wait is that it's finite. I'm just as psyched about this game as I was years ago, moreso because of the progress I've made and the awesome concepts I've already set in motion. I have several years invested into this project, and I know I'll never lose interest.

There's a LOT involved in completely rewriting this game. I'm not just orchestrating a new adventure, but re-commanding elements of the game that have never mixed this way before. There's so much to *know*, about both Hyrule Magic and the way the game operates. Much of my time has been spent simply studying things in the game as they interact, writing programs to work concurrently with Hyrule Magic, and struggling over the fine details of the overworld.

I walk around with my head in the clouds most days, when not actually working on the game, thinking of what I'll do next or how certain situations might play out. You wouldn't believe how many post-it notes, napkins and receipts I've had to write on while away from home, only to transcribe them later! I long to work on the game all week long, yet real life prevents solid progress outside of weekends.

I'm much more likely to release screen shots and progress reports than any kind of beta. This is because I don't like people playing half-created masterpieces -- it's so much better to present everything 'fresh' at the same time. You don't really want to get deep into the adventure, only to stop after a few dungeons, do you? Of everything you see, you might ask yourself, "Is that final?" or "Is this going to be better?"

I know it's a long time to wait, but I insist on keeping the "start-to-finish" experience intact. This is exactly how I handled Zelda Challenge: Outlands. I made sure the wait was worth it, and people were thrilled to be presented with one complete game.

This page continues to change and improve along with this project.
Regular updates can be found in the Zelda3C Diary.

Questions? Ideas? Suggestions?
Write to me!

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