Zelda: Accept no substitutions

neutopia 2

With exception to Zelda II, I’ve played and adored every major Zelda game. Last summer, I had the brilliant idea of trying something new that plays like Zelda. You know, sorta like Amazon’s “You might also like this” recommendation.

Well someone on the internet recommended Neutopia, an old TurboGrafx 16 game (now on Virtual Console) that shamelessly ripped off Zelda. “It’s a really fun and solid knock-off,” I was told, so I downloaded the sequel, since the first game doesn’t support diagonal movement (and who doesn’t want diagonal movement where available).

Yes, Neutopia looks like Zelda. Its gameplay feels similar. But it’s completely devoid of any charm. It has no soul. Worse still, the controls are sloppy. As I later recalled, it really is a stinker.

Moral of the story: If you want to play Zelda, play Zelda. With more than 15 versions to choose from, replaying one is better than any substitute I’ve come across.


  1. Oh no, don’t tell Nintendo fans, Wii owners and DS owners not to buy cheap knockoffs of Nintendo games! What will third parties make for the Wii and DS now?!

    Don’t tell Nintendo fans to raise their standards! Keep the bar low for third parties! Somebody has to make an inferior version of a game Nintendo includes for free with every Wii! If you demand third parties make better games, next you’ll be wanting them not to insult you over and over with demographics and recombinant market dynamic ecosystems! The NERVE!

  2. Yes, Neutopia looks like Zelda. Its gameplay feels similar. But it’s completely devoid of any charm. It has no soul

    You mean it’s a knock-off of Twilight Princess then?

  3. Every turbo grafix game i downloaded on vc controls either wierd or bad. Almost seemed like the system wasnt made to play games well. One exception though! Street fighter 2: champion edition is amazing! Downloaded it because i was curious and it controls perfectly! Amazed at the great job capcom did on that verison 😀

  4. I just can’t agree with that statement. Okami is a damn good game, and a total Zelda rip off, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about 3d Dot Game Hero.

  5. That’s exactly how I feel about Okomi. I bought it cuz everyone said that it was like Zelda and while it was, it wasn’t anywhere near as fun. I think it’s missing the Miyamoto factor. Cut scenes were way to long and very boring and the controls were far from funtional.

  6. I LOVE Zelda II, as I love side-scrolling RPGs, but I totally see your point about Neutopia. I bought it when it came out on Virtual Console. It seemed like it should be great.. but you are right. It is soulless. There seemed to be no love put into its design.

  7. On the subject of Zelda knockoffs, let’s not forget that even Nintendo itself is guilty of plagiarizing the franchise. Crappy Arwing flight sequences aside, Starfox Adventures was a well-polished, albeit ultimately shallow, copycat of Ocarina of Time. True, the game was developed by Rare whilst knowing full well it’d be their last first-party title with Nintendo, but Nintendo being the owner and publisher could have (and probably should have) reined in a lot of the cut-n-pasted elements of the game to help it stand up on its own merits.

  8. Starfox Adventures is STILL a very beautiful game. It’s flawed, but still quite enjoyable in my opinion.

  9. One word….Zenonia…..

    If you have an iphone or ipod touch, please download this and let me know what you think.

  10. 3D Dot Game Heroes is a blatant rip off of Zelda (even in one of the most recent trailers, you can count at least four different odes to the original Zelda). However just because it looks like a Zelda clone doesn’t make it a bad game. In fact, I think 3D Dot Game Heroes looks like a great throwback to the olden days of Zelda.

  11. Have you tried Startropics on the NES? Sure it’s not a 100% knock-off, but its dungeon-like levels feels a lot like zelda games. I liked it a lot.

  12. I was a hardcore TG-16 guy back in the day and Neutopia as well as Neutopia II gave me hours of great Zelda-like game play after I had beaten all the Zelda games that were currently out.

    I specifically remember being about 12 years old and beating Neutopia II on my Turbo Express… **spoiler warning, should anyone care** the bad guy, Dirth, after being defeated is seen reaching his hand up from a pile of rubble (ala Shredder in the second original live action TMNT film) with the text appearing beneath it saying “Neutopia 3, coming in 199X…” That got me incredibly excited – of course the game never came out, echoing my Shenmue heartache.

    There is a Neutopia 3 fan project, but it seems to have been abandoned. Sad, I enjoyed the storyline and it appears that 3D Dot Heroes is poking fun at Neutopia a bit as well – although, hardly anyone will catch those references.

    Neutopia deserves respect, not as much as Zelda, but respect none the less. Quest 64 on the other hand… ^__^.

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