Zelda Classic / ZQuest Engine

Software entity

Began as pixel perfect recreation of original Legend of Zelda for DOS. But advanced to cross-platform (DWOL) & for other 2D Zelda-likes or platformers


The first video game about Zelda Classic / ZQuest Engine was released in 1999.

Armageddon Games has published all these games

Scrolling, diagonal movement, animated arrows, super bombs, separate rupee/arrow count, different key types.

Boss rush, screenshake, and lots of surprises.

Deathpits and Darknut as a boss!


ZQuest is the part of Zelda Classic that is used to create games (its the editor). 'Zelda Classic' plays these creations. While highly optimized for games in the style of the original NES Legend of Zelda, it also includes features seen in Link's Awakening, Link to the Past, and the BS Zelda games. But it is by no means limited to Zelda clones. Games as diverse as side-scrolling platformers, traditional RPGs, overhead shooters, and even first-person perspective games are possible using the 'ZQuest editor' and 'ZC player'. Even fully 3D and entirely different game types are possible.
Various releases of Zelda Classic were made and user related quests were designed with one of the releases available when the quest was made. Not all versions were available for all systems and quests made for a certain version are not always compatible with later versions of ZC. Some quests were updated to new versions so there are multiple versions of these quests out in the world. 1.90 and earlier versions of quest (as in the first released version) are increasing difficult to find as authors upgrade to 2.10 or more likely 2.50 and remove the older version from the web.
DOS 1.00, 1.84, 1.90, 2.10
W32 1.00, 1.84, 1.90, 1.92b152, 1.92b163, 1.92b182, 1.92b183, v1.92b184, 2.10, 2.11, 2.50, 2.50.1
Linux 2.10, 2.10.2, 2.10b784, 2.11, 2.10 lost isle, 2.11 lost isle, 2.50, 2.50.1
OSX 2.10, 2.50, 2.50.1

Quests are known for 1.87, 1.88, 1.89, 1.90, 1.92b163, 1.92b182, 1.92b183, 1.92b184, 2.10, 2.10 lost isle build, 2.11, 2.11 lost isle build, 2.50rc4, 2.50

Eventually, the vast majority of quests were updated to, 1.90, 2.10, and 2.50. 1.90 is rare now.

Players for every version are archived on the site for Windows only. Linux, DOS, and Mac uses must find rare players elsewhere.
DOS version of the 1.90 player can run on FreeBSD, OS/2, eComStation, RISC OS, Solaris 10/sparc, BeOS/Haiku/x86, Wii, Android, iOS, Unix, AROS, AmigaOS 4, Amiga OCS, MorphOS, KolibriOS, Xbox, Palm OS, PlayStation Portable, Symbian, Maemo, BlackBerry PlayBook, Java, JavaScript, Google Native Client, and GP2X. CPUs include x86, PowerPC, SPARC, MIPS and ARM. However, actually playing it on some of these system many involve a significant CPU upgrade (hack). And, a very small subset of quests are 1.90 or earlier. But its still good for the default Zelda clone quest. 2.10 for DOS is not as widely compatible but is a DOSBox option as well (1.90 and 2.10 runs on Wii).

Zelda Classic is not an emulator. An emulator runs binary code (the original game) on hardware that is unrelated to the intended hardware. While some reverse engineering of the original may have been done, the code for ZC is an original creation that contains no binary code of the original. Furthermore, the 'pixel perfect recreation' has not been 100% achieved. There are minor but game altering quirks and bugs in the first and second quests that show positively that ZC is not an emulation nor based on code from the original. These quirks include enemies that behave differently from the original and bugs associated with the recorder (warp whistle) that allow a player to solidify water on screens where it cannot be solidified in the original. The ZC first and second quests also fail to demonstrate several minor bugs of the original NES game that all emulators do demonstrate (unless hacked to fix these bugs).
Additionally, the Zelda Classic game engine, with v2.5, would eventually be used to create games vastly different from the original Zelda game. This includes scrolling shooters and 1st-person 3D games.

There could be a case made that Zelda Classic is an unofficial port. In that much of the graphics are ripped from actual Zelda games. But this is not entirely accurate to say either.

The main Zelda Classic software and ZQuest editor have always been available for no cost. The source code is apparently closed. A Google Code site was created that released the source code under a GPLv3 license. However, this was called a "leaked version" by a member of the ZC team. This would make the code from the Google Code release, illegal. Another claimed illegal leak occurred on github. Despite the claimed illegality of the "leaked versions", no action was taken to remove the posted code (in legal terms, the team gave the OK to the leak by not taking legal action to stop it, or so a lawyer would claim and could make it legally true if there were ever a court case involved). This lack of action may also be due to the section 7 clause of the GPLv3 which allows mixing of proprietary and GPLv3 code. The ZC team may not be able to precisely prove which code belongs to the member in question (GPLv3) and which code belongs to which other members (proprietary). And no other members may not care to spend money on a lawyer to settle it.

Later, 2012-10-12, it was announced "Zelda Classic is going into wild new territory, Open Source. We are also looking for Web Developers to help get modernized and revamped. If you would like to help contact a member of staff. See DarkDragon's post here." on the ZC homepage. The announcement was not 100% clear but on 2012-12-21 this was said in the forums along with the final release of v2.5 "As announced earlier this year, the 2.50 source code (minus a few bits related to quest encryption) will be publicly released under the GPL. The timeline for this release has yet to be announced."
So it seems that in the end (at armageddon maybe), ZC/ZQ will be GPL.
Yet, here it is 2015 and no official code releases
2015-04-23 08:57 PM PMT
It hasn't actually happened yet. It should have, I'm just lazy. :P
We're pretty close; the main thing we need to do at this point is get the license written up. That's been true for a while, though...
So, not GPL it would seem. Neither will it be "Open Source", unless this custom license they are working on is approved by OSI

Latest license is GPLv3. So, nothing much has changed except the latest source code is available on github. Due to certain GPLv3 clauses, team members can still make legitimate claims of restrictions. For example, the code regarding quest encryption is still proprietary. Bottom line for gamers is, compile it on your favorite platform and enjoy.