A group of Zelda fans and modders called Harbour Masters has nearly finished a full-fat PC port of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
As VGC (opens in new tab) first reported, the PC port, code-named the Ship of Harkinian, is "approximately 90%" done according to one of its lead developers, who goes by Kenix. The group hopes to have its first public build out in February, with a polished build expected to arrive closer to April.
An FAQ on the group's Discord (opens in new tab) sheds more light on how the port is shaping up. Harbour Masters' ambitions include 60+ FPS with native widescreen support, as well as mod support "including a scripting system for new content." This would leave the door open for modders to run wild with the game and add everything from texture packs to new dungeons.
Harbour Masters began the process of porting Ocarina of Time to PC shortly after the game's source code was successfully reverse-engineered by the aptly named Zelda Reverse Engineering Team. Harbour Masters and ZRET didn't collaborate directly, but this PC port was built using the decompiled code – not the raw source code which was reportedly leaked back in July 2020.
This seems to be Harbour Masters' defense against a potential takedown notice from Nintendo. The house of Mario is notoriously protective of its properties when it comes to fan projects, but Harbour Masters claims that it's all perfectly legal because "no assets are linked into the [executable file]." This notably wasn't the case with some Super Mario 64 PC ports and related projects that were slapped with DMCA notices.
We reached out to Kenix for clarification. They explained that "this project takes the code that was created by ZRET (the original decomp, which I must stress is separate from the port), and makes some modifications to it such that it can run on Windows machines.
"The assets will be ripped from a user's own ROM that they must provide and then be exported into an archive compatible with the Ship of Harkinian. None of Nintendo's own property is involved in the process."
In other words, the Ship of Harkinian is a Windows-compatible version of the fully decompiled bones of Ocarina of Time, meaning it doesn't include any assets or code from the original game. Consequently, you'll need to get your own ROM to get it up and running.
"They will need to source their own ROM," Kenix affirmed. "I should hope they all do it legally either via ripping from a Gamecube disk or an N64 cartridge dumper. Then, they download our exporter tool and run it against that ROM. That generates an archive that contains all the assets. They then put it in the same directory as the PC port executable and run it. The game will then read from that archive."
This is a bit of a gray area, but the theory checks out on paper. Not to get too morbid, but putting some legally sourced skin on freshly decompiled bones should shield at least this PC port from the legal arguments that target straight-up emulation. Here's hoping it's playable soon.
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