In May 2020 Shinesparkers published a series of links to the online portfolio of Sammy Hall, former Retro Studios contract artist who worked on concept art for a cancelled Zelda game based on the Sheika tribe. This unreleased, darker view on the Zelda timeline would possibly explore what happened to the last male Sheik after Ocarina of Time’s “Bad Ending” in which Link does not succeed.
These drawings were noted as being used for pre-production of Retro Studios’ Sheik Zelda project between 2005 and 2008 (the same artist also worked on Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Donkey Kong Country Returns), so we can assume it could have been planned to be released on Nintendo Wii or WiiU. As we can read on their original page:
“Old storage hard-drive diving! (2005 – 2008) More stuff from a long lost cancelled Zelda (Sheik) action/jrpg that never went beyond pre-production. Really want to return to these some day to finish a few. Zelda games have wacky weird stuff, and this game was setting out to be ten times weirder.”
“Fun pre-pre-pre-production origin story of the Master Sword. Within the bad ending of “Ocarina of Time” exploring the last male Sheik’s (after a genocidal ethnic-cleansing) journey transforming into the Master Sword. All while the Dark Gerudo are giving their 100 year birth to Gannon.”
After these images were found by fans and gaming journalists, the artist just deleted his whole ArtStation account. IGN was able to get in contact with him, asking about this Zelda project and another canned Nintendo DS Boo game:
“Speaking to IGN, ex-Retro Studios concept artist Sammy Hall explained that both games were in pre-production when cancelled, and “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.”
According to Hall, the ideas for both games came from ex-Retro leads Mark Pacini, Todd Keller and Kynan Pearson, but were “cancelled the week they went to create their other studios.”
Around 2008 – 2009 many video game websites published rumors about a Retro Studios Zelda game featuring Sheik, so it seems those rumors were true but the project was already cancelled at the time.
Unfortunately today some of these fascinating Zelda artworks seem to have been lost, as other websites did not save them all. We’d like to preserve them in the gallery below, to remember the existence of this lost video game. If you saved concept art from Retro Studios’ Zelda that are missing from this page, please let us know in the comments below or by email!
Thanks to AvenPlainstrider for the contribution!
Nintendo gives such little shit about so many studios like this. There are so many studios about them dictating stupid decisions (like forcing motion tablet controls into Star Fox Zero; tanking a potential hit for Platinum Games), micro-managing and then crushing other people’s games (NST’s Project HAMMER), and just plain being stupid and ignorant (blocking Wii exclusive characters in Vicarious Visions’ Marvel Ultimate Alliance because they implemented them in the PS2 build for the demo shown to execs at Nintendo – since Nintendo failed to get them Wii dev kits in time – and they thought that they were going to put Link & Samus in the PS2 build. Idiots.). How about killing off Next Level’s Mario Spikers and forcing them to make Federation Force, an overt attempt at just trying to “get Metroid over” in Japan by making it into a co-op focused type thing a la Monster Hunter and making it SD a la so many other cute, successful things in that country. Even for hit games, like Splatoon, you’ll hear the team talk about how they fight and fight and fight to get the oldsters up top to let them make it. Ugh.
They honestly should not be successful… like, at all. At least after the N64. Outside of Mario, the Mario adjacent stuff like Mario Kart and Smash Bros., and Zelda, they f–k up… just so many games. Star Fox, F-Zero, Metroid; their OWN secondary franchises are treated like garbage. And somehow they’re the gatekeepers for stuff they literally don’t care about, like Cruis’n (why can’t Raw Thrills just make those on their own?) and Fatal Frame (why can’t Koei-Tecmo make those on their own).
I should be mad at hearing about this, but it’s just expected from the Big N at this point, honestly. There are SO MANY stories about Nintendo tanking up so many potentially amazing games and by now, it’s like… big whoopty-doo, right? It’s a shame that Armature Studios sucks (ReCore is so frustrating). It would be GREAT if there was a proper “sister” studio to Retro Prime for all these employees to leave to. Stay there for the “prestige” of working on Metroid, then bail to make literally every other game because Nintendo won’t let you do sh– otherwise.
At least they did well with Donkey Kong, which Retro presumably wouldn’t have ever made if they had been working on this Zelda. Also, I hate bellyachers who never have enough nuanced information to make these kind of blanket statements and I want to fuck you right in the eye socket