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This Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom Ability Was Originally A Cheat

"The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" has given Link a ton of new powers to play with as he battles to save Hyrule once again. In addition to his trusty Master Sword, Link can also bend time and physics to his will. Ultrahand can lift impossibly large objects, Fuse can join objects together into stronger weapons and rides (and apparently NSFW mechs), and Ascend allows Link to pass through solid matter to quickly escape dungeons and move upward through Hyrule's new floating structures.


This last ability has proven to be extremely useful, even for players who have only explored a fraction of what the lengthy game has to offer. It's been integrated so seamlessly into the game's traversal mechanics that it's hard to believe it wasn't originally intended to be in the game at all. In fact, according to "Tears of the Kingdom" director Hidemaro Fujibayashi, Ascend began as basically a cheat code that the developers used when building the game.

While chatting with Polygon, Fujibayashi shared an exclusive insight regarding the creation of Link's Ascend ability (and others). He explained, "the Ascend ability was actually the result of a debug feature that we have in the game."

The origin of Link's new Ascend ability

As explained by Hidemaro Fujibayashi, Ascend went from being a development necessity to a full-fledged ability after a few people realized that the game's dungeons could get a bit tedious. "When I was exploring the caves, I would get to the destination where I was trying to get to, and once I checked it out, I would just use the debug code to get to the top," said Fujibayashi. "And I thought, 'Well, maybe this is something that can be usable in the game.'" According to Fujibayashi, he knew his hunch was correct when "Zelda" series producer Eiji Aonuma remarked that backtracking through dungeons was significantly less enjoyable than entering them in the first place. It was at this point that they decided to officially make this debug tool into a part of Link's updated skill set.


The addition of Ascend completely changed the game (no pun intended), allowing Link to make a swift retreat when necessary. Fujibayashi jokingly added, "And to be blunt and honest, cheating can be fun. So that's why we decided to drop it in there."

But even though Ascend is extremely fun to use in the final game, the decision to implement it quickly presented some new challengers for the developers.

Adding Ascend presented new design problems for the devs

"[I]f you give someone the ability to just pass through a ceiling anywhere, there are all sorts of possibilities to account for," Aonuma explained. "We need to make sure that people can continue to play the game properly. We need to make sure there aren't locations where you'll pass through the roof and find nothing there because of some data-loading issue or something like that."  Still, it made way for a style of gameplay that Fujibayashi personally found to be enjoyable, so he ultimately believed it was worth adding in the end.


And so, the team had to go back through the dungeons and make sure the rest of the game's design elements could accommodate the new power. The work appears to have been worth it, though, because reviewers and gamers alike have greatly enjoyed applying the ability in the new game's dungeons.

Polygon also asked Fujibayashi and Aonuma if there were any other mechanics they'd considered adding to the game that got left on the cutting room floor, but the two played coy with the outlet. They said they couldn't get into any specifics, but hinted that players could see some of their unrealized ideas in the next "Zelda" sequel. Here's hoping Nintendo continues the trend of using debug options as genuine mechanics in the future — then maybe we can get Link going full "God Mode" in a future game!