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The Best Secrets In Every Zelda Game

"It's a secret to everybody." These famous words go all the way back to the very first Legend of Zelda game. And it began a legacy of secrets, hidden paths, and Easter eggs that have kept fans eagerly on the hunt since the '80s. Whether it's a maze-like route, a special item, a quick cameo, or even a mysterious artifact, gamers are given a whole new treasure hunt every time a Zelda game is released.


The Zelda series has always been about adventure and exploration. Discovering those deep secrets hidden away by developers is an essential part of that experience. The excitement and the mysteries that linger in areas unknown are what fans have come to expect. This franchise is packed with so many secrets that it can be an overwhelming task to uncover every one of them. Die-hard fans may know most, maybe even all, hidden details and treasures. If you want to dive deeper into the unknown regions of the series but don't know where to start, these are some of the best secrets in every Zelda game.

The Legend of Zelda: the Minus World

Many are already familiar with the famous "Minus World" found in Super Mario Bros. But for over 30 years, a secret Minus World has been hiding in The Legend of Zelda, and nobody knew about it until a very determined YouTuber was able to crack the code. According to YouTuber SKELUX, minus worlds were quite common in older NES games. As he explained, the developers implemented codes to lock gamers out from reaching these glitched sections.


In The Legend of Zelda, there's a way to break Link out of the traversable field, though when he exits the screen, he is brought back to the beginning. Through some clever detective work, SKELUX was able to figure out that while the world map is 16X8, Link's position could reach a maximum of 16 horizontally and 16 vertically. In order to achieve the 16X8 dimensions and prevent Link from crossing outside the map's border, a negative map (aka the Minus World) was created.

Using this logic, SKELUX found a way beyond the limits of the visible map, bringing him into a world that was never meant to be seen. In his exploration of this area, SKELUX encountered many glitched enemies, NPCs, and other strange graphical effects.


The Adventure of Link: a grave encounter

Now here's a secret for which gamers outside of Japan were kept out of the loop. For the Famicom Disk System release of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, when Link arrives in the village of Saria, he passes a headstone marked by an engraving that says "The hero Loto rests here." The "Loto" mentioned in this cemetery is a reference to the hero in the Japanese version of Dragon Quest. When Zelda II was ported to the States, this little Easter egg was removed entirely, as US gamers had not yet seen a release for Dragon Quest.


The region-exclusive fun did not stop with Zelda II. Square wanted to poke back, so a headstone that read "Here lies Link" was included in Final Fantasy for the Famicom. After the game was ported to the states, the engraving changed to "Here lies Erdrick," referencing the localized name for Loto. 

Kurt Kalata of Hardcore Gaming 101 suggested that the change could have been a result of Square playing it a little safer with the Zelda property upon the game's overseas launch. Whatever the case may be, later ports restored the original Link headstone.

A Link to the Past: the Chris Houlihan room

When hearing the name "Chris Houlihan" in the context of Zelda, something may sound off. What kind of Hylian would be named Chris Houlihan? Well, Chris is not, in fact, Hylian. He is a real person. And he was the winner of a 1990 Nintendo Power contest where the prize was to be immortalized in the then-upcoming A Link to the Past. And thus, the legend of Chris Houlihan was born.


This prize came in the form of a very secret room called the "Chris Houlihan room," in which any lucky explorer is rewarded with 42 blue rupees. Upon entering, Link is greeted by a friendly sign that proudly states, "My name is Chris Houlihan. This is my top secret room. Keep it between us, OK?" Unfortunately for Chris, the secret got out, and now the trick can be performed by anyone who travels the world of Hyrule in A Link to the Past. According to Engadget, the Chris Houlihan room is essentially a glorified error message that populates on the screen whenever the player reaches an area faster than the game is able to load said location.

Forget "I am Error." The Chris Houlihan room is the true error!


Link's Awakening: a cameo from ... Madonna?

In the '80s and '90s, few pop stars reached a level of stardom matching that of Madonna. As Link himself was on his way to the top in the early '90s, one could say he was able to pull in some impressive star power. And not the kind Mario used to defeat Koopas.


In what could be classified as one of the most bizarre cameos in video game history, Madonna played a very obscure role in Link's Awakening – so obscure that you would only encounter this crossover if you played a French-Canadian copy of the game. Early on in Link's Awakening, Link has the opportunity to use Grandpa Ulrira's phone. If he picks it up, he has a very brief exchange with a character called the Bucket Mouse in which Link will abruptly end the call with an explanation that he dialed the wrong number.

For whatever reason, this character is replaced by Madonna in the French-Canadian port of the game. She is never seen or even referenced again beyond this scene. And Link, the rising star that he is, has the nerve to immediately end the call and say it was a wrong number, even with Madonna on the line!


Ocarina of Time: hidden Arwing

Star Fox once had a title that was a Zelda-like adventure on the GameCube. Perhaps the developers were returning the favor for letting Fox McCloud cruise through Hyrule. First discovered sometime around 2001, fully functional Arwing models actually exist in the code for Ocarina of Time. What on Earth are they doing there, you may wonder?


In a video demonstrating the misplaced Arwings in action, TetraBitGaming discussed some speculation over the reasoning behind this strange artifact. Some fans thought it was an Easter egg, while others believed it was used to test gameplay mechanics. But the true explanation was finally revealed in 2011. 

According to Satoru Takizawa in an interview with Satoru Iwata, the Arwing asset was imported directly into Ocarina of Time during its development to help create the animation for Volvagia, the Fire Temple boss. The programmer working on the creature felt its movements would resemble that of a scene in Star Fox 64 where an Arwing was being tailed. Naturally, the model remained hidden in the game's code and can be summoned via cheats. If you ever wondered who would win in a fight between Link and an Arwing, you can finally find out!


Majora's Mask: the mysterious paper airplane

The Kingdom of Ikana is a dark, morose area found in Majora's Mask. It is not a section one enters with a light heart. With its fall-from-grace backstory and themes of death, this seems like one of the last places you'd find a playful Easter egg. Regardless, there is, in fact, a strange artifact that appears to have no real explanation. A lone paper airplane, which sits upon an unassuming pillar, has been boggling the brains of fans for years. Something so specific, so intentional, must have had a purpose, right?


YouTuber Newbornkilik dove into this mysterious paper airplane and tried to rationalize its placement. In his analysis, he estimated that this object may have rested atop the lonely pillar for decades, or perhaps even centuries. From there, he came up with possible explanations for who originally crafted and tossed the paper airplane in question. He concluded that it may have been a child's desperate and futile attempt to call for help.

In all likelihood, this little Easter egg is nothing more than a random afterthought from a programmer who wanted to have a little fun. But it's easy to see how such a small detail can really spark the imagination.

Wind Waker: look to the stars

For many, video games represent an escape from reality. They offer gamers places to go for relaxation and — in some cases — a retreat when the weight of the real world is too heavy.

The Legend of Zelda has always been a great franchise for fantasy fans looking to get lost in exciting adventures. Featuring a silent hero, wide-open worlds to explore, imaginative creatures, and deep lore, it's the perfect series for a grand escape. And sometimes it can be extra comforting to see elements of reality in beloved fictional properties.


In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, players who look up to the stars will notice something familiar. There are real-world constellations like Orion and the Big Dipper piercing through the darkness of the night. When settling in to play Wind Waker, one can find comfort in the whimsical thought that perhaps this fantasy world and the real world are all surrounded by the same night sky.

A Link Between Worlds: the tilted angle

Have you ever played A Link Between Worlds and thought something was slightly askew? Probably not. But that's because something quite literally is askew in order to make what you see on the screen look more natural.


During an Iwata Asks interview with the dev team, a little secret was revealed for how they achieved the game's 3-D look. Throughout development, they struggled to figure out the best way to approach a top-down view as seen in A Link to the Past and other 2-D games in the series. Because it didn't look right with a straightforward approach, they had to angle Link, the rupees, and other in-game assets as if everything was leaning back. It appeared quite odd from the side, but the final product looked great. And fortunately, no one who plays the game will see it from any other angle.

...Unless you boundary break it, of course.

YouTuber Shesez did just that in a video exploration of the game from another perspective. So fascinated was he by Nintendo's reveal of this trick that he had to see it in action. In his video, he also demonstrated how it would have looked had it been a true top-down view.


Tri Force Heroes: the missing Fairy Costume

A regular fashionista, Link has quite the wardrobe in Tri Force Heroes. And his passion for fashion serves a greater purpose than pure aesthetics. Costumes give him different abilities, such as increased speed, improved traction, or lava resistance, depending on what he wears. As such, one must wonder what special powers Link would have gained from the Great Fairy costume had it been included in the finished product.


The YouTube channel PPLToast posted a video showcasing an unused outfit found in Tri Force Heroes. While the user who posted the video speculated that it was likely a Great Fairy costume, it's labeled with the placeholder name "Hero's Tunic." What's even more interesting is that Link's character model changes when donning this secret garb. As the video's description explained, this is likely evidence of an in-progress design during the development of Tri Force Heroes as the team retooled A Link Between Worlds to have the cel-shaded look of Wind Waker

While Zelda fans did miss out on at least one more costume, this discovery offered a little insight into the making of Tri Force Heroes. And sometimes behind-the-scenes secrets are the most fascinating!


Skyward Sword: secret kittens

Who doesn't love kittens? The team behind The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword understood the lovability of kitty cats and knew a hidden kitten patch would be a real treat for anyone daring enough to search for whatever lies beyond the beaten path.


IGN put out a video that revealed the key to unlocking this treasure trove of cuteness. First, you must find the Goddess Statue located in the Skyloft during the day, as it won't work at night. Equip your Clawshot and use it to take you over the wall and onto a field. Next to a tree, you'll find a patch of pink flowers. As you approach, you'll discover a bunch of these precious creatures called Remlits snoozing away. No, they're not literal kittens, but they are cat-like, they meow, and they're downright adorable. Once you stir them from their rest, they will squeak their cute little meows and follow you around.

You can pick them up if you want, but don't you dare throw them off the cliff! Sure, they will flap their ears back to safety if you do, but how could you commit such a cruel act against such cute animals?


Twilight Princess HD: preview of Breath of the Wild

In 2016, Zelda fans had a lot to be excited about. Not only did Nintendo launch its HD remaster of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, but a trailer for Breath of the Wild (at the time known as Zelda Wii U) had recently been shown, and gamers were hotly anticipating this thrilling new title. With all this excitement buzzing about, Nintendo decided to sneak something special into Twilight Princess HD.


HMK put out a video where he discovered this Easter egg. While inside Chudley's Fine Goods and Trinkets Emporium located within the Castle Town of Hyrule, he instantly recognized screenshots from the Zelda Wii U trailer framed and hanging on the shop's walls. His reaction to these images was nothing short of ecstatic. 

Nintendo Life also covered this discovery, in which the original screenshots were compared to the in-game images. In the video, the comparison showed that these "paintings" were squeezed to fit a more square frame. Further, the video pointed out that smaller versions of these screengrabs are framed on the counters as well. One other note from Nintendo Life is that these Easter eggs disappear later in the game when the emporium is converted to a Malo Mart.


Breath of the Wild: Wind Waker throwback

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a major success for Nintendo. The game put Link in a massive world to explore, and the bigger the world, the more room for secrets. Indeed, Breath of the Wild is chock-full of secrets, and a big one was hiding in plain sight for two years before it was discovered.


It happened as Jon Cartwright of GameXplain was recording a separate video for said channel. While roaming about Lurelin Village, he couldn't help but feel his surroundings looked rather familiar. He then found a hut he also thought he recognized. It was at that point that he made the connection. 

In the video, he brought in footage of Outset Island from Wind Waker and took a 360-degree scan of both locations. The more he explored Lurelin Village and compared it to Outset Island, the more it became clear that the developers put in a callback to Wind Waker.

If such a subtle detail can hide away for so long, then who knows what other secrets and Easter eggs have yet to be uncovered in Breath of the Wild, or any other Zelda title, for that matter?


A secret project that was to come before Twilight Princess

What could be better than a secret hiding within a Zelda game? How about a secret project that was in the works prior to The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess?

Information on this lost Zelda title broke in an official post on Nintendo's Breath of the Wild news section. The announcement actually came from an update regarding the Master Trials DLC pack for Breath of the Wild. Satoru Takizawa, the art director for the game, talked about the character Midna and her importance in the series. She joined Link in Twilight Princess and, according to Takizawa, was the first of the Hylian hero's companions who was constantly at his side and fighting with him. And she was going to be included in this abandoned project.


Not much else is said about this secret game, adding even more mystery to the title. Why did Takizawa refer to it as a "secret project?" It causes the imagination to run wild with possibilities. Regardless, Midna may be all that remains of this lost Zelda title.