Nintendo is still dealing with the ramifications of last year’s major hack, with new documents revealing internal communications on a near-weekly basis. The latest leak, shared by Twitter user and archivist @MrTalida, appears to detail an “action game featuring Sheik from Zelda: Ocarina of Time”.
News of a cancelled Sheik spin-off first hit the internet in early 2020 when Metroid fan community Shinesparkers posted links to concept art from former Retro Studios pre-production artist, Sammy Hall.
According to the artwork and descriptions, Retro Studios worked on the Wii U game between 2005 and 2008. It would’ve featured a male Sheik (who appears to be an original character, not Zelda), and also featured the origin story of the Master Sword.
It was reportedly meant to spin out from the ‘bad ending’ of Ocarina of Time and explore the aftermath of an ‘ethnic cleansing’, as well as the birth of Gannon.
While Hall deleted his concept art account after his work was discovered, he later spoke to IGN and was a loose concept “cancelled the week [ex Retro leads Mark Pacini, Todd Keller and Kynan Pearson] went to create their other studios.” It’s currently unknown how long the game was actually in development for — but the newly leaked documents from Nintendo confirm it was on the development agenda in 2oo6.
The Sheik spin-off had been rumoured to exist long before the concept art made it onto Shinesparkers, but it appears this is the final confirmation of the title’s status.
It’s fascinating to think of what could have been. Zelda’s Sheik persona remains one of the franchise’s boldest choices to date, but also one that’s rarely explored. While it does appear the cancelled title would’ve recast Sheik as a male, it could also have revealed key details about this tribe of warriors and how Zelda adopted her Sheik identity.
For now, the project remains the stuff of dreams.