- Getting Started
- Downloads and Version Information
- How to Load a Custom Quest
- Frequently Asked Questions
"This is where the magic begins". Zelda Classic was originally conceived as a PC clone of The Legend of Zelda and nothing more, but has evolved over time to the point where it's essentially a 2D action-adventure game engine in its own right. You'll need to download a package containing both programs, below, if you want to play or make quests. These programs are:
- The main program, Zelda Classic (zelda.exe), which plays the first two, original NES quests from The Legend of Zelda. It also comes with three additional quests in the style of The Legend of Zelda's originals, and can be used to load .qst files, or custom quests, which are entirely new games.
- ZQuest (zquest.exe), which can be used to create .qst files. Its use varies from being a simple mapmaker for The Legend of Zelda all the way up to being an entire game design engine complete with a powerful scripting language, a tile editor, and much more.
DOWNLOADS AND VERSION INFORMATION # ↑
Here's a run-down of all of the versions of Zelda Classic that are out there. You can always find the latest release, and previous releases, in the downloads section of ZeldaClassic.com.
Current stable releases
2.53 release 2
The currently actively-supported version of Zelda Classic. It mostly contains quality-of-life updates for the editor, ZQuest, although it has a few new features of its own as well. Only exists for Windows at the moment; Linux and Mac users will want to use 2.50.2 instead.
Release date: April 17, 2019
A slightly older version of Zelda Classic. For Linux and macOS users, it's the most current version of Zelda Classic. It's forwards-compatible with 2.53, meaning that quests made in that version will also play in 2.50.2. You do not need 2.53 to play 2.53 quests. (The Windows download link here is provided for the sake of completion, and isn't actively supported by the developers; if you're using Windows, you'll probably want 2.53 instead.)
Download: Linux, macOS, Windows
Release date: October 22, 2015
Current alpha release
2.55 alpha 118
There may be new features, but there also may be bugs, features may be incomplete, and everything here is subject to change. There may be bugs. Use caution if you use this version! If you make quests in this version, back them up frequently! There may be bugs. This is also likely to become out-of-date, as alphas are released more frequently than stable versions; check the ZC Development forum for any updated versions.
Release date: March 19, 2021
Nightly 2.55 builds
For the absolute newest releases of Zelda Classic, you may be interested in checking out the nightly builds on the Official ZC Development Discord server. You can also find the nightlies on GitHub. As usual, there may be bugs, and backing up your quests frequently is recommended.
There is also a browser version of Zelda Classic. This version is updated to the newest 2.55 nightly build. You can check it out here. Treat this version like you would the nightlies - it may be buggy and backing up your quests is still recommended.
These releases are deprecated, potentially buggy, and there's no guarantees that they will even work on modern versions of Windows. Unless you have a historical interest in these versions or are extremely curious, you shouldn't need these at all. See the FAQ for notes on backwards compatibility. This list only includes builds of Zelda Classic that were released publicly before 2006; for a full changelog including information on many private betas, check the Development History section of ZC.com. Also see the Download Archive section of ZC.com for links to these versions and many more minor versions.
- 2.10 -- released January 5, 2005. This was the last release with a working DOS build.
- 1.92 beta 184 -- released April 22, 2003. Zelda Classic only, no ZQuest; meant to be paired with the previous build, 183.
- 1.92 beta 183 -- released January 23, 2003. This was the most frequently-used release for many years, even well after the release of 2.10. (DOS build)
- 1.90 -- released April 3, 2001. First release headed by a developer other than Phantom Menace. This is a DOS executable, so you'll need a DOS emulator like DOSBox to run it.
- 1.84 -- released July 21, 2000. Like 1.90, the only build that exists is for DOS; it won't run on Windows without emulation.
- 1.00 -- released December 29, 1999. The linked build is for DOS; a Windows build was released much later for historical curiosity.
Now that you have a copy of Zelda Classic, you'll probably want to know how to load a custom quest. Loading a quest isn't the most intuitive thing in the world, given that it's still based around the concept of custom quests being add-ons to Zelda Classic, but once you understand how, it's easy to do. A lot of this tutorial was based off of Sephiroth's old one, but the images in that one broke a long time ago. Still, kudos to him.
Upon opening ZC, you'll be greeted by the Armageddon Games intro followed by The Legend of Zelda title screen. After getting through all that, you'll be greeted by this screen:
Anyway, from here, you'll probably want to go set your quest directory. Don't worry; you'll only need to do this once.
Access the menu by clicking anywhere within the program or hitting ESC; go to Misc -> Quest Directory in the menu.
Zelda Classic will bring up a dialogue box asking for your quest file directory. It doesn't matter where this folder is on your computer -- it can be the same as your Zelda Classic directory (the default), a subdirectory, or anywhere else you might want it to be -- but you should consistently be storing any playable quests here.
When loading a custom quest later, paths to the quest will be stored relative to this directory, so it's recommended any additional folders you might want for organization be subdirectories of this folder so ZC doesn't get confused if you end up moving your quest directory.
Anyway, navigate to the folder you want to designate as your quest directory, click OK, and then click anywhere outside the menu or hit ESC
to close the menu and go back to the previous screen.
You might have noticed that this screen is very similar to the save screen from The Legend of Zelda. Various keys on your keyboard are mapped to buttons on an NES controller: The arrow keys for the D-pad, LEFT ALT for A, LEFT CTRL for B, and ENTER for Start. You can remap these controls (or even use a joypad) from the program menu (Settings -> Controls...).
Now that that's out of the way, we can get to actually loading a custom quest. Make sure your cursor (the little heart) is on REGISTER YOUR NAME and hit ENTER.
You'll get a blinking cursor next to Link. Type whatever you want here -- your name, the name of the quest, anything else you might want, then press enter again. A little Link icon will pop up next to the name you entered, along with the number 0 (this is your death counter).
Next, press LEFT ALT (A) to bring up the quest options. This menu will appear:
(If you are using 2.55 without needing to press (A)).
You might have guessed this already, but you can press LEFT ALT (A) again to set the custom quest. It should open up a dialogue box pointing to your quest directory. (You can remap these keys later if you want.)
Select whatever quest file it is you want to play and click OK. You'll get another dialogue box, telling you the quest's title and the name of the author:
From here, you can click Browse to select a different quest file, or OK to choose this as your custom quest. If you hit OK here, the icon next to the quest should change indicating a different custom quest (given that it's not using the default quest icon):
And that's it! You can press ENTER to load this custom quest, start a new save file by selecting REGISTER YOUR NAME, or reselect the quest by pressing LEFT ALT twice again (unless you've already loaded the quest).
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS # ↑
- Who made Zelda Classic?
- How do you make ZC or ZQ open in a window?
- How do I play the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. quests?
- I've discovered a bug in the program! Can you guys help in any way?
- I really want to play a custom quest, but it's for 1.92. I should be able to play it in 2.53 because it's a newer version, right?
- I'm using 2.53 or higher. Why aren't cheat hotkeys working?
- I'm using the same password for my custom quest that I use on the forums. That's fine, right?
- Help! I want to play a quest, but I keep getting the error "1st.qst not found"!
- The program is going so fast that I can't do anything! What do I do!?
- It says 'Paused' in the lower-left, and everything is frozen. How do I unpause?
- Help! On Windows 10, none of my progress or settings are getting saved! What gives!?
- How do I install multiple versions of Zelda Classic on my computer?
- In versions 2.10 and above, what are quest keys and how do I use them?
Zelda Classic was created by the people over at Armageddon Games (AGN). Specifically, the project was started by Phantom Menace and War Lord. Its lead developers have been Phantom Menace, Dark Nation, DarkDragon, Gleeok, ZoriaRPG, and currently, Emily. Many, many other people have contributed to Zelda Classic over the years -- you can find a complete list over at ZC.com.
How do you make ZC or ZQ open in a window? # ↑
You can use the bundled ZC Launcher to open a windowed version of the program. Just set the Screen Mode to Window. You'll also probably benefit from setting the Screen Resolution to 640x480 or higher.
How do I play the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. quests? # ↑
The first quest is the default quest. To play the first quest, simply don't select a custom quest and just hit ENTER upon creating a new file. For the other quests, you can either beat each successive quest or enter the following names on the name entry prompt:
I've discovered a bug in the program! Can you guys help in any way? # ↑
Yes, actually. Your best bet is to post a thread on the Official ZC Development Discord server. You may also post feature requests there. In either case, be sure to specify the version you're using, and make sure you're using an actively supported version -- you should only be reporting bugs in 2.53 or 2.55.
You're also free to go on and post about it in ZC Bug Reports. There's also an equivalent ZC Feature Requests forum. Presently, a prompt response cannot be guaranteed on the forum side of things.
I really want to play a custom quest, but it's for 1.92. I should be able to play it in 2.53 because it's a newer version, right? # ↑
These days, the answer is almost always yes. Although there may be some odd cases here and there, in general compatibility with older quests is better in 2.53 than it ever has been. If you do run into a problem, that's a bug -- you can post about it on the Official ZC Development Discord.
I'm using 2.53 or higher. Why aren't cheat hotkeys working? # ↑
2.53 introduced the concept of cheat modifier keys. By default, walk through walls is now LCTRL+LSHIFT+F11 instead of just F11, LSHIFT+LCTRL+* to replenish health instead of just *, etc.
If you want to change this, open the menu and go to Settings -> Controls -> Cheat Modifier Keys.... If you'd rather not use this feature at all, just hit the Clear button on each key. Now you can use cheats by simply hitting the corresponding keys.
I'm using the same password for my custom quest that I use on the forums. That's fine, right? # ↑
No, no, no, no, no, no, no. A million times no. Zelda Classic's password algorithm is not secure, particularly in older versions, and now that the program is open source the algorithms for password decryption are public, anyway. People can be and have been hacked by using the same password for their quest that they use for the forums. If your forums password is the same as one of your quests, change your forums password now. Besides, you generally shouldn't be re-using passwords if you can help it, anyway.
Help! I want to play a quest, but I keep getting the error "1st.qst not found"! # ↑
You need to press Escape, go into the Misc. menu and select Quest Directory. Then find the folder where all of your quests are. When you have, click OK and try playing again. (See the notes about the Quest Directory as part of the custom quest loading tutorial above.)
The program is going so fast that I can't do anything! What do I do!? # ↑
Press F1 or go into the menu and toggle Settings -> Cap FPS.
It says 'Paused' in the lower-left, and everything is frozen. How do I unpause? # ↑
F3 and F4 both pause the game; F3 will unpause the game, while F4 will advance a single frame when pressed.
Help! On Windows 10, none of my progress or settings are getting saved! What gives!? # ↑
Make sure Zelda Classic is in a folder writable by non-Administrator accounts. This means that you shouldn't be using Program Files to house ZC. Something like C:\Zelda Classic\ might do. If all else fails, move it to somewhere in your Users folder, i.e. C:\Users\CoolDude\ZC\. Alternatively, you can try running Zelda Classic as administrator -- right-click it and select Run as administrator.
How do I install multiple versions of Zelda Classic on my computer? # ↑
It's actually surprisingly simple. Simply give each version you would like a separate folder. As long as no two versions exist in the same directory, they should remain separate and both completely usable.
What are quest keys and how do I use them? # ↑
Quest keys are small text files that allow you to open a quest without a password in ZQuest or activate all cheats of a quest by default in Zelda Classic (regardless of whether a cheat code has been entered). To generate this file when saving, go to Quest -> Header and check "Save Key File." Don't give away your key file if you wouldn't give away your quest's password - it contains your quest's password in plaintext.
CREDITS # ↑
This document is essentially a compendium of the efforts of many, many other people over the years. It was based off of an older thread by Mitchfork, who wrote and compiled a fair amount of what you see here. Portions of the writing you see here were also written by HappyPuppet and ShadowTiger. It's very probable that there's information here that was provided by people who are right now uncredited -- apologies if I forgot about anybody.
Edited by Rambly, 10 September 2023 - 06:22 AM.