The biggest discovery of electronic games in 2022

16.01.2023 0 By admin

2022 was a huge year for us. We leaned hard into making our own discoveries through a combination  of game developer interviews, translating foreign interviews into English for the first time,  and working with data miners and archivists to dig up new info on lost and forgotten games.

And because it was such a big year for us unearthing tons of new facts, we wanted to highlight some of  our favorites in a more concise video.

After all, not everyone has the time to watch all these videos, and some folks might miss the occasional episode.

So without further delay,  and in no particular order, let’s jump into our best discoveries of 2022.

Let’s kick things off with how GameFreak
originally planned for every copy of Pokemon to

be personalized, aiming for 65,535 unique versions
instead of just the initial Red and Green. If you

boot up the original Pokemon games, you’ll be
assigned a unique Trainer ID number between 1

and 65,535. This ID system is a leftover from the
idea to have 65,535 versions. This info comes from

an interview in the 1996 book “Pokedex”, which we
translated into English for the very first time.

The interview features a quote from programmer
Takenori Oota, who said: “We also considered

having each game generate a random ID number the
first time it was booted up, and that number would

determine which Pokemon appeared in the game.”
This curious statement started our search for more

info, and led to us digging up tons of Japanese
interviews. Eventually we found the November

1997 issue of Famimaga 64, where Pokemon’s Satoshi
Tajiri said: “The shape of a forest, the Pokemon

that appear – I wanted to make a game that would
be different for everyone, but it was difficult.

So I went to consult with Shigeru Miyamoto from
Nintendo, and we ended up deciding to make it so

depending on the color – whether Red or Green
– the worlds would be parallel but different.”

So not only were the Pokemon gonna be all
different, but Kanto itself would change based

on your Trainer ID. Eventually we translated
a huge Satoshi Tajiri interview from the book

Pokemon Story. Here he said: “I talked to Miyamoto
about how we’d make players understand that every

cartridge is different when they buy one, and he
told me the system sounded interesting, but it was

a bit difficult to grasp. He said if players can’t
tell just by looking at it, then it won’t work

out, and it would be better if the games’ color
or appearance were different. I was shocked I was

even allowed to do that. I told him it would
really help me out if I could. So it was from

trying to differentiate ID numbers that the idea
to symbolically change the colors came about. I

thought we should do it, but alter the colors for
real. We needed to do more to make the different

color games have all kinds of details in them
that were a bit different.” The exact number of

versions was 65,535, which is the highest number
countable using an unsigned 16-bit binary number.

With only 9 developers working on Pokemon, Game
Freak probably would’ve had to use randomly

generated landscapes. These were possible on the
original Game Boy, and can be found in games like

Dragon Quest Monsters, Shiren the Wanderer, and
even the 1991 game Cave Noir, but these random

worlds were all relatively simple by comparison.
Pokemon broke new ground in many ways, but making

65,000 Kantos would’ve been significantly more
complicated then the other features they ended

up including. In that 34 page interview, Tajiri
went on to say that after Miyamoto convinced

him to give up on the idea for 65,000 different
versions, he still wanted to make between 5 and

7 different color versions. But he realized even
7 iterations of the same game might be tricky to

develop, and factories might not want to produce
multiple cartridges and packaging for what they

viewed as an identical product. So eventually
he had no choice but to settle for less. And

so over the course of a few months, 65,000
variations were whittled down to just two,

featuring different version exclusive
Pokemon, different encounter rates,

and various other small changes like which
Pokemon you can buy at the Game Corner.

Our next big discovery was that Retro’s scrapped
Zelda project actually went beyond just concept

art and had a playable prototype that was nothing
like what we thought. If you don’t recall, in

2020, Metroid fan site Shinesparkers noticed that
former Retro artist, Sammy Hall, had posted over

100 pieces of Zelda art on his ArtStation account.
The story quickly went viral, and Sammy deleted

all his social media, and basically went into
hiding. Sammy said the art was for a Cancelled

Zelda project from 2005-2008. That it was a
fun pre-pre-pre production origin story of the

Master Sword within the bad ending of Ocarina of
Time, following the “last male Sheik’s” genocidal

journey transforming into the Master Sword. Before
disappearing, Sammy gave a brief statement to IGN,

saying: “I doubt many at Nintendo proper saw much
of any of this stuff. I was mostly put into a

room like Milton from Office Space and tasked to
brainstorm between other projects.” We weren’t

convinced it was a one-man job, so we contacted
everyone who worked at Retro during this time.

Almost no one was willing to talk, but one
developer agreed to talk as an anonymous source.

We discovered there was a lot more of this game
that never went public — much more than Sammy’s

art. Around the same time we were talking to our
source, an internal Nintendo spreadsheet leaked,

showing a list of in-development games circa late
2005. One of those games was called Project X by

Retro Studios. It was an action title featuring
Sheik from Zelda: Ocarina of Time. A lot of

news sites reported that the game’s playable
character was a male Sheikah — but actually,

the story focused on the last male Sheikah’s
transformation into the Master Sword,

and the playable character… was Sheik. The game
was shaping up to be very unique. Our anonymous

source told us “We never worked on anything —
even pitched anything — that would be similar

to Breath of the Wild, Ocarina of Time,
or Wind Waker. We never worked on a game

of THAT format. ” Essentially, nothing like a
traditional Zelda. But our source refused to say

what made Project X so “non-traditional.” So we
redoubled our efforts to find more team members.

We finally got in touch with one of Project X’s
programmers who was willing to go on record,

Paul Tozour, who was also a programmer on Metroid
Prime 2 and 3. He answered every question our

anonymous source wouldn’t. Paul described
the project as an experiment gone wrong,

with badly undercooked gameplay, like a simplified
version of whack-a-mole. Paul was in charge of

coding the combat, which he describes as
Sheik standing in one place unable to move,

surrounded by a group of enemy wolves, and
they jump at you one at a time. And you just

flick the Wiimote to kill them. To be clear,
Paul was just programming what he was told to,

he didn’t get to decide how the combat
actually worked. That was dictated by

Sheik’s designers. But when Paul voiced
his concerns, the designer said this sort

of super simplified gameplay was the future,
and compared it to Link’s Crossbow Training.

The other programmer, Rhys Lewis, was in charge
of overworld traversal. Sheik moved around the

overworld, then when she got to a point of
interest she’d get sucked into a fight like in

a JRPG. As for the overworld traversal itself,
Paul says it was even messier than the combat.

We were kind of in disbelief — the artwork
is awesome, how could the gameplay be so…

basic? Paul told us the art was great — it was
the gameplay that was badly under- developed,

and wasn’t reviewed by Retro’s other designers,
like the ones working on the Prime trilogy

collection. Paul eventually asked one of
his bosses why they were making the game,

and not something more interesting like a Zelda
Shadow of the Colossus, but they refused to budge.

Whenever anyone raised concerns about Project X,
they were ignored. It seemed leadership thought

they weren’t being team players, but Paul points
out that part of being a team player is being

willing to voice concerns and not just blindly
follow orders… Unfortunately, those warnings fell

on deaf ears. Nintendo greenlit the project in
mid-2007, and pre-production lasted nine months,

up until the prototype was pitched
to Nintendo. So how did the pitch go?

Paul told us “Their reaction basically
boils down to ‘this is seriously what

you’re proposing? Really?’… [It was] immediately
rejected. [That’s what I was told,] but I wasn’t

there when it happened, and I suppose there’s a
possibility it never actually happened and they

decided not to show it to Nintendo. Nintendo
gave us the greenlight to make the prototype…

but they had ZERO input or visibility
[during] the 9 months of pre-production,

which is one of the reasons it failed.” Two
weeks later, Paul resigned from his position

at Retro Studios. Our anonymous source suggested
the cancellation might’ve also been influenced by

Retro’s top three developers — Mark Pacini,
Todd Keller, and Jack Matthews — leaving

Retro to start their own company, Armature
Studio. They left the same week as the pitch,

although we heard conflicting reports whether
their departure or the failed pitch happened

first. After 3 years of work, the project was
cancelled in April 2008. Paul said: “Rhys and

I tried to point out that we were headed toward an
iceberg, but we were met with a lot of resistance

and eventually found ourselves sliding down
the deck into the icy waters of the Atlantic.”

Maybe this whole messy story’s why everyone we
talked to was so hush-hush about the project.

Our next set of discoveries are all about the
Metroid Prime games. Like how Metroid Prime 3

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was almost an open-world game where Samus was
an actual bounty hunter, but it didn’t happen

because Nintendo didn’t know what a bounty
hunter is. When Retro were tasked with making

a third Prime game for Wii, they brainstormed
what Samus’ jump to next-gen would look like,

and came up with open-world bounty hunting. We
spoke with Prime 2 and 3 producer Bryan Walker,

who told us they wanted to shake up
the linearity of the Prime games and

give Samus the ability to step outside of
that and do more things on the side. Not

exactly Skyrim levels of open-world,
but more open-world than before.

The team had always imagined Samus as someone
like Boba Fett, but with a sense of honor. So

most of the optional side quests in
Metroid Prime 3 would’ve been bounty

hunting missions. Samus’ reward for bounties
would’ve been gaining additional capabilities

for herself and her ship. Rather than
the player flying the ship directly,

it would’ve served as an extension of Samus’
abilities in the overworld. Retro prototyped

several abilities, like calling in
the ship to serve as a distraction,

drawing enemy fire away from Samus so she’d have
an easier time clearing them out. But only two

of these abilities made it into the final game:
Ship Missiles that let you call in a bombing run,

and the Grapple Beam for moving large objects.
Overall, the ship was just meant to play a larger

role and be a more applicable tool in Samus’
repertoire. Bryan’s immensely proud of how

the game turned out, but laments the limited
ship functionality in the game’s final build.

So why didn’t open-world bounty hunting
pan out? Retro took their designs and

pitched them to Nintendo in a high-level
presentation. It turned out Nintendo had

a completely different view of Samus, and saw
her as altruistic and ‘motherly’ — about as

far away from Boba Fett as you can get.
Retro was genuinely confused why Nintendo

was so resistant to the bounty hunting
they were proposing, until after several

days of discussion they realized Nintendo didn’t
actually know what a bounty hunter really was.

They’d been calling Samus a bounty hunter since
1986, but apparently they thought of her more

like a space adventurer with a heart of gold. And
ultimately, that contradiction between Retro and

Nintendo’s understanding of Samus’ character
was why the open world concept got killed off.

Some other Retro developers told us
interesting secrets about the Prime games

too. Before coming to Retro, Artist James H Dargie
worked on ships in the Matrix and Final Fantasy:

Spirits Within. For Metroid, ended up making
a vessel with lots of sci-fi inspirations. He

told us there’s even a direct reference to the
Millenium Falcon — these guns to the bottom,

which you never actually see in-game. Samus’ ship
in Metroid Prime isn’t the same ship from the

mainline series — it was designed and modeled
entirely by James, and he named it the “Thrush

Eterna,” inspired by a fast-flying bird
called a thrush. And the Eterna part

aimed to imply it was almost ‘eternal’, and
had existed long before Samus ever got it.

The ship’s name never actually appears in
the game’s script, but now we all know it.

We also spoke with Metroid
Prime’s audio lead Clark Wen,

who told us about one Easter egg
that he never told anyone about,

until now. This tone will play after
saving or when you load your save file.

Clark told us this is a nod to the 1971 film
Walkabout, which he watched over and over

during Prime’s development. The movie’s about a
dad who drives his two kids into the Australian

wilderness, then has a mental breakdown and
sets the car on fire, then shoots himself. So

the kids are left to wander the outback trying
to find their way to civilization. The movie has

heavy themes of survival and isolation, along
with some otherworldly soundscapes. Prime’s

entire game’s audio vibe is inspired by the
film, but the save room fanfare is a direct

reference to the scene in Walkabout where the
kids survive their first nightfall. Here it is:

That’s the Easter egg in Prime’s save room
fanfare. Here’s them side-by-side for comparison:

According to Clark, Metroid Prime’s space
pirates actually speak a real human language.

He wanted the Pirates to sound semi-intelligent.
So he took Russian words and flipped around the

syllables and assigned them to different
actions. When they attacked the player,

they were saying the Russian word for ‘attack’,
but minced. They tried it out, but it sounded like

Russian mafia yelling in Slavic.” Clark wasn’t
satisfied, so he scrapped the audio and replaced

it with pitbull noises — but in playtesting,
the staff thought it sounded cartoony and dumb,

so he threw that out as well. Clark’s third
attempt is what made it into the final game — one

of Retro’s programmers was Nigerian and spoke a
language called Yoruba. So Clark had him take the

Yoruba for words like “attack” and mixed up the
syllables, recorded his voice, and distorted it.

And that’s the language the Space Pirates speak in
the final game. Prime’s original lead developer,

John Whitmore, also told us that Metroid Fusion
only exists because of Prime. Previous Metroid

games sold pretty poorly, especially in Japan,
but Prime took the world by storm when it was

revealed at Space World 2000. John says Nintendo
was really surprised when those early trailers

generated massive hype. And it was the hype for
Prime that directly led to Nintendo starting

development on Fusion, a companion game for
GBA that launched the exact same day as Prime.

Our next string of discoveries came from
a 2003 issue of Nintendo Dream magazine,

which featured a 9 page interview we translated
into English for the first time. Inside these

exclusive translations, we found lots more info
not previously known to Western fans – like how

Blaziken was intentionally made to look butt-ugly.
Just like Charizard in Gen 1, Blaziken was created

first, then its pre-evolutions were designed
by working backwards. Gen 3 art director Ken

Sugimori said that Torchic is based on
painted chicks. Back when he was a kid,

it was common to see them for sale at fairs and
festivals. Parents bought them in the same way

they might buy a goldfish — like a toy they don’t
actually have plans to care for long-term. When a

painted chick grew up and wasn’t cute anymore,
a lot of kids would just throw them out like a

broken toy. Sugimori said: “I think people from
our generation have certainly experienced buying

painted chicks. So this one’s orange, and just
like a real painted chick, it starts out cute

then grows into something fierce and hard to
look at. We wanted to recreate that experience,

which led to Torchic, Combusken, and
Blaziken… we wanted people raising

them to feel that sense of disappointment,
while also acquiring something more powerful.”

Ruby & Sapphire also weren’t originally
planned to include any Pokemon from past

generations. Game Freak eventually used this
strategy to make Gen 5 feel like a soft reboot,

but the idea initially started with Gen
3. Sugimori said: “The goal was to make

something that felt new… A lot of people said
that ‘not much had really changed’ [in Gen 2],

and we kept wondering why that was. And I think
it’s because there were too many familiar Pokemon

appearing in Gold & Silver… the first
Pokemon you encountered was a Pidgey,

and while nostalgia’s fine and all, I wanted to
draw lots of new Pokemon.” The games’ director

Junichi Masuda was also present in that interview,
and said: “From the early stages of development

until past the halfway point, we planned on Ruby &
Sapphire featuring nothing but brand new Pokemon.”

Since Ruby & Sapphire weren’t compatible with the
earlier Game Boy games, there would have been no

way to trade Kanto and Johto Pokemon up to Gen
3. Well, at least not until FireRed, LeafGreen,

and Pokemon Colosseum released a year later.
This would’ve made Gen 3 a pretty hard reboot,

even more than Gen 5 where old Pokemon could
still be found in the post-game. But the Hoenn

reboot idea was scrapped due to balancing issues.
Basically, there just weren’t enough Pokemon of

certain elemental types, so they peppered
in older Pokemon to quote, “fill the gaps.”

But because the change was made fairly late
in development, the games’ origins as a reboot

still left an impact on Ruby & Sapphires. It
explains why there’s so many new Pokemon in Gen 3,

and also why older Pokemon make up such a small
percentage of the Hoenndex. And according to

Sugimori and Masuda, it’s also why you see
nothing but brand new Pokemon until after

you’ve made it past the third town — because
originally, it was all supposed to be a Pokemon

reboot. The scrapped reboot idea is also the
reason some of the new Pokemon exist in the

first place. As Sugimori explains it: “…When we
decided to have only new Pokemon in these games,

it became necessary to make Pokemon that fill the
same role as Pidgey, and make a weak caterpillar

Pokemon like Caterpie… For some people, Ruby
& Sapphire will be their first Pokemon game,

and showing them a caterpillar turning into
a cocoon then a butterfly is the easiest way

to introduce the concept of evolution. So we
intentionally made Wurmple to be like Caterpie,

but a little different.” In other words,
Pokemon like Wurmple and Taillow would’ve

never existed if Gen 3 hadn’t spent a
chunk of its development as a reboot.

Other Pokemon came into existence by working
backwards from their names. Game Freak came up

with the names Zigzagoon and Slakoth, and thought
they were so hilarious they just had to design

Pokemon around them. Their names are essentially
the same in both Japanese and English by the way,

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with Zigzagoon coming from “zigzag raccoon” and
Slakoth derived from “slack off” and “sloth.”

Then the design team gave them families based on
themes. Sugimori said: “Slakoth goes from a sloth

to being motivated, then deciding it wasn’t
worth it after all.” Then the raccoon goes

from being a zigzag to a straight line, which
is how they got Linoone. Fifteen years later,

Sword & Shield’s art director James Turner
continued that theme with an obstacle-based

Pokemon using the same sort of wordplay. Just as
their idea to exclude old Pokemon was a reaction

to fans’ criticism of Gold & Silver being too
been-there-done-that, the designs of Hoenn’s

Pokemon were a response to criticisms of Gen 2
as well. According to Sugimori: “[Gold & Silver

had] a lot of kiddy designs, and some fans were
starting to say Pokemon had become too babyish,

so one theme for Ruby & Sapphire was returning to
the coolness of monsters. We added more and more

cool, tough-looking, monstrous Pokemon, which
is exemplified by Groudon.” Sugimori also says

his team discarded limitations hoisted upon them
by the anime and merchandise. They kept Gen 2’s

designs simple so they’d be easy to animate in
the cartoon, and also cheaper to make toys out

of. But for Gen 3, Sugimori said — quote —
“screw it.” As an example, he points to the

complex lines covering Groudon, and explains that
his new attitude definitely resulted in Groudon

and lots more Pokemon looking cooler than if he
was still restrained by the anime and merchandise.

Sugimori also says they sent early builds of Ruby
& Sapphire to Nintendo for testing purposes. This

included unfinished designs for lots of
Pokemon. There’s been quite a few leaks of

Pokemon beta sprites in recent years, including a
text-only Pokedex that described an early version

of Rayquaza as the “White Dragon Pokemon.”
But so far there hasn’t been a leak of the

actual beta sprites. It seems there’s at least
two sets of beta sprites — the batch sent to

Nintendo for testing, and a later batch used
in a Japanese demo. About four months before

Ruby & Sapphire released in Japan, Nintendo
toured an event called Pokemon Festa around

a few Japanese cities. Several screenshots were
published showing slightly different designs for

Pokemon like Sharpedo, but to this day what else
could be hiding inside those Festa demos remains a

mystery. Maybe someday these two beta sprite sets
will leak and we’ll finally get a chance to see

White Rayquaza, the Grass-type sprinkler-mon,
and countless more scrapped monster designs.

Moving on to possibly our biggest discovery of
the year: that in 2004, Retro Studios wanted to

make a Final Fantasy Tactics style Zelda game for
the Nintendo DS called “Heroes of Hyrule” — but

Nintendo passed on the project, so the game got
scrapped. But don’t despair, we managed to get

ahold of the full 22 page pitch document from
former Retro employees. There’s 16 pieces of

art in the pitch, but we added some of our own to
help visualize the pitch. There’s a note on-screen

so you know which ones we commissioned and which
ones were made by Retro. The game’s story is as

follows. One hundred years ago, Ganon captured
Princess Zelda, and Link went off to save her,

but after an ambush Link fell into the hands
of Ganon’s minions. Three of Link’s friends,

the game’s titular “heroes”, set out to rescue
him. The heroes were Dunar the Goron, Seriph the

Rito, and Krel the Zora. Dunar’s a tough fighter
who embodies the Triforce of Power. He’s the

strong silent type, but with few words he reveals
a surprisingly keen intellect. Seriph embodies the

Triforce of Courage, and she’s patient, helpful,
and warm-hearted, brave, and fiercely loyal to her

friends. She was the first to discover Link
got kidnapped, and was the one who got the

Heroes together to rescue him. And Krel embodies
the Triforce of Wisdom. He’s sort of a smart,

arrogant and cynical wisecracker, but that’s just
an outer shell he uses to hide his soft insides.

After many adventures, the Heroes defeat Ganon and
rescue Link. Then Ganon retreats into a magical

spell book called the “Book of Ganon,” which he
previously made as a tool to enhance his evil

power. After his defeat, Ganon’s spirit got stuck
inside the book in a weakened state. The Heroes

tried to burn the book but it wouldn’t catch fire,
so they ripped out the pages and scattered them

all over Hyrule to make sure Ganon could never
escape. Link took what was left of the book and

hid it away for safekeeping… Then a hundred
years passed. And that brings us to the present,

where the game actually begins. The player
takes control of a boy named Kori who gets

to know an old antiquities shop owner. One
day the old man has to leave town in a hurry,

so he asks Kori to watch the shop while he’s
away. Kori eventually discovers a secret room

in the shop where the Book of Ganon is hidden. He
starts reading the book, which tells the events

of a hundred years ago – the past – and that’s
where the tactical RPG part comes into play.

Heroes of Hyrule is divided into two worlds —
two-thirds of the game is in the past as tactics,

and one-third is in the present, where you
play as Kori with real-time exploration.

Sort of a traditional Zelda experience, but
without dungeons or combat – just exploring

the town and talking to townsfolk. Kori
would do tasks and favors for the townsfolk,

like delivering items, searching
for objects, digging for treasure,

etc. There’s also events and minigames around
town, like a fishing contest, kite-flying contest,

a scavenger hunt, and a music contest at the
music hall. Kori does all this to earn or find

lost pages of the Book of Ganon – which he doesn’t
know is evil. He just wants to read more of the

book’s legends. After Kori gets a new page, he
returns to the book, inserts the missing page,

which unlocks a new adventure in the past. Now
the game switches to the three Heroes a hundred

years ago, and plays less like Zelda and more like
Final Fantasy Tactics, but more puzzle-focused.

Dunar can lift heavy objects — he’s got a hammer
for melee attacks, a Deku Medallion for summoning

a fire spirit, a Fire Charm that makes all fire
on the map explode, and a Fire Shield that makes

him invulnerable to fire. Seriph can change the
wind’s direction — her main weapon’s a boomerang

that can hit multiple enemies or switches from
a distance, she has an Invisibility Mask for

sneaking past enemies, and Fire and Ice Arrows for
freezing and burning enemies and objects. And Krel

can swim and use healing magic, protective magic,
boost the party’s stats, create tsunamis on water,

freeze or thaw water, and he’s got the Lens of
Truth for seeing invisible enemies and hidden

doors. The Heroes don’t start with all these
abilities though — they acquire them over

the course of the game. They can also obtain
more common items that any of them can use,

like bombs, Deku Seeds, and fairy jars. The Heroes
are occasionally joined by “cameo characters” from

past Zelda games. Some of the Heroes’ items
also allow them to summon new creatures,

such as elementals of fire, water, earth,
and air. Unlike other strategy RPGs,

Heroes of Hyrule doesn’t have experience points
or a leveling up system — just item collection

like a normal Zelda. Although most of these
encounters involve combat, the gameplay is

oriented toward solving environmental puzzles in
traditional Zelda fashion. Most of the Heroes’

items have both puzzle-solving and combat
functions. Each adventure isn’t just a

battle though. Each page is more like an
area of Hyrule you can return to later.

Page 13 of the doc says: “Each area is divided
into several distinct sections, or phases,

which are separated by environmental puzzles
and obstacles. […] This design encourages

the player to revisit areas he has already
explored in order to advance the Heroes’

quest.” This would play out in three phases.
For comparison, let’s say Kakariko Village and

Death Mountain together are one area. You
can enter Kakariko Village unrestricted,

but there’s more areas you can’t access
right away. This is phase one. Later on

you get a letter from Zelda, which lets you into
Death Mountain. Death Mountain is phase two. In

order to progress further, you have to go to a
different area of Hyrule to learn Saria’s Song,

then come back to Death Mountain and play it
for Darunia to get the Goron’s Bracelet. Now

you can destroy the boulder to enter Dodongo’s
Cavern, which is phase three. You’ve gradually

gained access to all three phases of one big
area, each with its own environmental puzzles,

enemies, Heart Pieces, etc. In this game,
that’s one page in the Book of Ganon.

So here’s how it works in Heroes of Hyrule.
The pitch doc shows areas with step-by-step

descriptions for how one adventure plays out.
The areas on the map marked 1, 2, 3 are all

Phase 1. Dunar uses the Goron Gauntlets to move a
boulder, which reveals a hidden tunnel underneath.

The Heroes go through the tunnel and into a
nearby tower where they pull a lever to lower

the drawbridge. They cross the drawbridge and into
the courtyard and fight some enemies. That’s Phase

1. There’s certain items you need to access
Phase 2 — the areas on the map marked 4, 5,

6. Seriph must use the Wind Charm to make the wind
blow north, then she flies over the moat while the

others use Deku Leaves. Across the moat there’re
more enemies to fight, then Dunar throws a boulder

to break a wall, making the castle accessible.
Inside they fight a wizard, then Krel uses his

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Ocarina to bring a statue to life — it gives them
the Invisibility Mask to sneak past some enemies

in a different adventure to obtain the Fire
Shield. Then they come back with the Fire Shield

for Phase 3, which is a boss battle against a
Fire Giant. After the boss, the quest is complete.

Kori collecting pages in the present unlocks
news adventures for the Heroes in the past,

and the reverse is true as well. The pitch says:
“completing adventures and battles in the Heroes’

world rewards Kori with new knowledge that he
can use to unlock new parts of his own world.

For example: the Heroes speak to a great Deku
tree. Kori later recognizes it as the tree in the

center of his own town’s commons,” and he can now
speak to it, although it’s 100 years older. There

are other items to collect besides just the pages
— many of the pages have item-shaped outlines,

and by finding items that fit into them,
Kori can give the Heroes extra health, magic,

and so on. The Heroes can also find special items
— like Heart Pieces — to permanently boost their

max health and magic. There’s also equipment and
weapons to find that raise their other stats. The

document says: “Heroes of Hyrule is a story-driven
game of exploration, puzzle-solving, and strategic

combat in the Zelda universe. Designed for the
Nintendo DS, HoH will appeal to fans of games

such as previous Zelda titles and Final Fantasy
Tactics. Why do this? HoH expands the rich Zelda

universe with new characters, storylines, and play
mechanics.” Final Fantasy Tactics Advance released

on GBA a year earlier, garnering great reviews,
and became the 22nd best-selling GBA game,

right up there with Minish Cap and Metroid Fusion.
And it seems Retro wanted a piece of the pie.

We spoke to one developer who was willing to go
on record — Paul Tozour. Paul has some experience

designing strategy games. So he came up with
an idea called “RPG Tactics” and pitched it to

Retro’s higher ups… but it didn’t gain traction.
However, director of Prime 2 and 3 Mark Pacini

took the opportunity to pitch a new concept. By
working with Mark, Paul’s idea of RPG Tactics

evolved into something more of a puzzle, RPG,
adventure game. Mark and Paul worked on the

project, along with Retro’s in-house translator,
and another artist. We reached out to Mark on

several occasions, but he wasn’t interested in
talking about old projects. We also reached out to

all Retro’s artists, but the ones who would talk
couldn’t remember which artist worked on Heroes of

Hyrule. Despite the game’s potential, Nintendo
passed on the project. Paul said: “We sent it

over to [Nintendo] SPD and got an immediate ‘no,
you’re not doing that.’ To this day I do not know

why. They just didn’t seem to have any interest
in that gameplay concept, which is too bad.”

A playable prototype was never developed for
Heroes of Hyrule. That would’ve required the

greenlight from Nintendo. So all that’s left of
the game is this pitch document. According to

the document, over the course of the game Kori
gradually collects the missing pages scattered

around town, not realizing the consequences
of doing so. When he inserts the final page,

Ganon comes back to life. Ganon’s about
to kill Kori, but at the last second,

the three Heroes come out of the book as
well, and the four of them fight against

Ganon in an epic final battle. After the dust
settles, the old man who owns the antiquities

shop returns from his trip, accompanied by
three elderly friends — a Goron, a Rito,

and Zora. Kori immediately recognizes them as
the three Heroes from the book, and if you hadn’t

figured it out yet, surprise! It’s revealed
that the old man was actually Link all along.

Our next 2022 discovery was pretty controversial.
Over the years, many people have said that Pokemon

creator Satoshi Taijiri is Autistic. However,
these claims were all based on bad research

which we exposed. You can find the claim that
Taijiri is Autistic made frequently on YouTube,

Twitter, the autism wiki, and even the
UK’s BBC say he’s autistic — but what’s

the actual source? Most of them either don’t cite
a source at all, or in the BBC’s case, they cite

this article from — which
cites nothing, backing up its claim by saying:

“Is Satoshi Tajiri autistic? Satoshi has gone on
record saying that he wanted the games to give

children the same joy as he had during his bug
collecting. People with autism tend to take up

collecting as a hobby, so Satoshi gave them and
everyone else a gift that only he could create:

a whole new thing to collect.” And… that’s
it. From what we could find, there’s no record

of Satoshi Tajiri ever saying he’s autistic,
or that any of his friends or co-workers at

Game Freak said it either. In fact, one website
which repeated the rumor was sent an email by Game

Freak’s information coordinator Yuri Sakurai, who
told them Tajiri doesn’t have autism or aspergers,

and asked them to delete the claim from their
website. At the time, Tajiri’s Wikipedia page

said he was autistic, and used this site as
its source. The site in turn said the British

outlet The Independent was their source. In fact,
tons of websites say Tajiri’s autistic. But where

did the rumor actually begin? It seems many of
them read it in the 2009 book Satoshi Tajiri:

Pokemon Creator, which we bought on Amazon and
read cover to cover. The whole book’s riddled

with errors, like listing Diamond & Pearl’s
release as 2004 instead of 2006 on page 1.

The book makes two references to Tajiri’s
alleged autism, which we’ll show on-screen.

We reached out to the book’s author Lori
Mortensen and asked a few questions. Apparently

she’s written over 100 books, and only decided to
write about Tajiri because her kids are Pokemon

fans. Ms Mortensen also told us her source for the
autism claims. Here’s her full response via email,

unedited. She said: “When I researched this
book in 2008, I discovered Satoshi Tajiri’s

MySpace page that clearly showed a connection with
the ‘Aspie’ community. I mentioned the MySpace

source in my original text, however KidHaven Press
chose not to include it in the book because this

book was written for young readers and they
felt that MySpace was an inappropriate site

for that age group. MySpace was just the beginning
of what would explode into the social media world

we’re familiar with today. A few years after the
book was released, I checked Satoshi Tajiri’s

MySpace page again, and discovered it had changed
a lot and no longer mentioned Asperger’s. (I wish

I would have had the print screen option on my
keyboard back then.) Since the age of online

innocence has passed, looking back, it could
also be argued that someone else created the

Satoshi Tajiri page pretending to be him. At
the time, the MySpace page felt authentic. If

I was writing the book today, I would handle
the research and documentation differently.”

That MySpace page doesn’t exist anymore, but bits
and pieces of it are still archived. Just the idea

that Satoshi Tajiri had an English language
MySpace page in 2008 is pretty laughable,

and what’s left of it pretty ridiculous as well.
For example, Tajiri’s bio said: “I love movies but

my favorite kind are of course the Pokemon one’s
my own creation because i’m cool like that.,” and

for favorite TV shows it said: “Pokemon, Pokemon,
Pokemon, Pokemon, Pokemon! Gotta Catch them

all!!!” So yeah, we’re confident in saying this
MySpace page didn’t belong to the real Satoshi

Tajiri. Some of the other websites saying Tajiri’s
autistic cite Wikipedia as their source. Tajiri’s

Wikipedia page first had the autism claim added
in 2005 by wiki editor NP Chilla without a source,

and 15 years later when other wiki editors
eventually asked where he got that info, he never

responded. Long story short, this branch of the
rumor tree appears to be a case of citogenesis,

a sort of information laundering where claims
are added to Wikipedia without citation, then

news sites use Wikipedia as a source to repeat the
claim in their own articles, then those articles

are pointed to as reputable sources for citation
in future articles. Lots of people who ended up

spreading the misinformation appear to have a
credible source, like the BBC, but when you go

digging to see where it all began, you just find
some rando who wrote it on Wikipedia. As far as

we can tell, this 2005 Wikipedia edit and Tajiri’s
fake MySpace page spread the rumor far and wide,

and the fact it eventually got printed in an
actual book gave it an air of legitimacy. We

also checked the Japanese side of the internet,
and they didn’t have an actual source either,

which might be disappointing to hear for
some… Just to be clear, we aren’t saying

there’s no chance that Tajiri is autistic,
we’re just pointing out that there’s never

been any confirmation, and that every statement
about Satoshi’s alleged autism goes back to the

same dubious sources. There’s no direct
evidence to support any of those claims.

In 2022 we also discovered that Retro studios
almost made a Metroid tactics game for Wii,

and found out everything there is to know about
the elusive Project Valkyrie. To check that out,

click or tap the video on screen. Thanks for
watching, and here’s to an even better 2023.