There have always been video games released in Japan that never made it stateside, but none as peculiar as Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets. After all, the Legend of Zelda franchise is one of Nintendo's largest and most popular, so the idea that an entry wouldn't be released in the west is a strange one.
That is nonetheless what happened. In 1997 Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets released for the Super Famicom Satellaview, a Japanese-only peripheral for the Japanese Super Nintendo that allows users to play games over a satellite connection.
One of those games was the aforementioned Ancient Stone Tablets. The game could only be played during certain times when it was being broadcasted, one hour a week for four weeks. Only certain parts of the game were accessible during any given broadcast, and an audio broadcast was played alongside the game with orchestrated music and voice acting.
But fret not! Thanks to fans, the game is at long last playable in its entirety for a much wider audience. ROMs have existed for the various portions of the title for a while now, but it was only recently that a more complete version of the game, including the proper audio, has been released. There are currently translations in English, French and German. You can learn more about the game, and download it, here.
To think, all this time there was a Legend of Zelda game so obscure that even many of the franchise's most hardcore fans knew nothing of its existence. It's important to note that Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets, however, isn't an entirely new entry in the series. It's instead a remix of Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, perhaps most comparable to the Master Quest version of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, though Ancient Stone Tablets does feature an original story.
The events of the game take place six years after A Link to the Past, with players stepping into the shoes of a new character rather than franchise hero Link. Ancient Stone Tablets is actually the third Zelda game broadcasted for the Satellaview, with previous games including a reimagining of the original Legend of Zelda.
You can learn more about the Satellaview and the various Zelda games for it in the video below from YouTuber ClanOfTheGrayWolf.
Fans of the obscure Satellaview Zelda games have long wondered how each entry fits into the overall Zelda timeline, and there are a number of great theories worth reading over on the fansite dedicated to the games. While Nintendo seems to have largely forgotten about these long-lost titles, it's clear fans haven't. Now more players than ever before will be able to appreciate what many considered to be a forgotten piece of Zelda history.