Seedling, a Flash-based video game that you can play on an Internet browser, is just about as close as you’ll get to The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past without firing up your Super Nintendo. And it’s totally free.
Created by 19-year-old Connor Ullmann, Seedling is an action-adventure with rudimentary graphics and sounds, the type of game you might have seen on your NES decades ago. You play as a very little boy in a very large open world, hacking and slashing your way through maps and dungeons as you collect items and weapons, Zelda-style. Ullmann says it was a 4-6-month project that he made to prove a point: that he could use Flash for more than just small projects.
“I’d just started college, and I’d made a lot of really smart and talented friends, so I wanted to make a game while I was there to show them what I meant when I said ‘I make video games,’” Ullman told me in an e-mail. “They thought that since most Flash games are pretty small in scope and most of my games had been small that it meant I wasn’t really capable of taking on a big project. This unspoken challenge, combined with winter break boredom and relatively easy second-semester entry-level programming classes, led to the stirrings of a large project.”
Ullmann, who is entering his sophomore year at the University of Michigan this fall, says he wants to make games for Steam or Xbox Live in the near future. But for now, he’s content creating games you can play for free on your Internet browser.
“I wanted to legitimise the platform a bit for my friends,” Ullmann said. “They viewed it as one that could only play small, basic games, and I wanted to show them that that isn’t true — Flash is a platform that can definitely house a full-fledged adventure game, but most people just don’t put that kind of time in for a browser-based title.”
And Seedling is pretty damn good (even if the music can get a little grating). It’s clearly inspired by Link to the Past, which Ullmann admits he’s never finished — one of his childhood friends had the game, so Ullmann spent time playing it, but that time was very limited. This constraint just made it even more fun. “The restricted amount of time I could play it, combined with some jealousy-induced inflation of how much I enjoyed it led to it being a favourite game of mine,” he said.
“What I really wanted to reflect in Seedling from [Link to the Past] was that feeling of openness and possibility,” Ullman said. “The world was huge, the obstacles endless, and the dungeons dark and interesting. Not to mention the weapons and items that opened up new parts of the world and changed how you played the game. These influences were very important in sculpting Seedling into what it is today.”
You can play Seedling here. If your boss walks by, just say it’s PowerPoint.