For the past few weeks we’ve been talking about Zelda clones that defy the label and are actually quite good. Well, the time has come to talk about probably the worst Zelda clone ever released. And the fact that it was never supposed to have been. It has a strange and complicated history, but if you ever searched for “Zelda” in the iPhone App Store–hoping against hope that there would somehow be an actual Zelda game in there–you’ve probably come across this infamous (and awful) title: Zenda: The Linked Swords.
Jump inside to learn about this terrible, terrible game.
With hearts to represent life, the blond sword-wielding main character wearing a tunic and an unusually long and floppy pointed hat, a princess named Zelda- er, Zanda… This game was clearly meant to rip off Zelda as much as possible without getting sued. But there the similarities end. Because this isn’t a game so much as an example of how to build a game. It was never meant to be released. Which explains why there is a grand total of two monsters in the entire game, huge mushrooms which stand perfectly still and pose no threat whatsoever. The entire point of the “game” is to get a sword, collect ten gold coins, give them to the gate guard, and then… there’s no indication on what to do next for the very good reason that there is nothing to do next. That’s the entire game. Which is amusing because the description of the game in the iPhone App Store clearly states that after collecting the coins you advance to the “next level”. Where the heck is this “next level”? There is no way to exit the very first screen. The entire “game” can be played from beginning to end in less than 30 seconds.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the controls are terribly clunky. At times the main character would just randomly get stuck on swinging his sword despite the fact that I hadn’t touched the “sword” button. At other times I would clearly touch the “up” arrow on the touch-screen directional pad… and he would instead keep going left.
This thing should never have been released. And that’s the truly interesting part: the people who made it never intended for it to be released. You’d think that the seller on the App Store for this game–BizTechies, Inc.–was the developer, right? Not so, it turns out. The actual developers behind this thing is a company called Deep Blue Apps. They developed this simply as a template for those who use GameSalad–an app building program. The point was to provide the skim basics in terms of programming and artwork for someone to learn how to build a Zelda-type game. It was never meant to be released as an actual game because it was just simply a template. Due to the licencing rules, that App Store seller is entirely allowed to use the template as they see fit… even if that means changing absolutely nothing about it and selling it as-is as an unfinished “game”.
Hilariously, the seller used to sell Zenda for actual money, as Zanda, but now they’e simply dumped some constant ads into it and offer it for free (which probably makes them more money in the long run) only bothering to change the “a” to an “e”. The game is so awful and notorious that it currently has a rating of 1.5/5 stars. Who the heck were these people who actually gave it two stars? It’s unfortunate that the App Store doesn’t allow giving something zero stars, which is what this thing actually deserves. But I guess now that they’re not actually charging for it, it isn’t really hurting anyone any longer.
The sad thing is that the art is actually pretty decent. It could have been used to make a pretty decent Zelda clone, which the iPhone is sorely lacking. Alas, that isn’t what ended up happening. Have you had the misfortune of downloading and playing the Zanda app? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!