Japanese Switch Online players just got an important piece of Zelda history

Japanese Switch Online players just got an important piece of Zelda history

While here in the US the Nintendo Switch Online service got three new Mario games this week (yes, Alleyway is a Mario game), the update for Japan included a bonus classic you may not have heard of. Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru (officially translated as The Frog For Whom the Bell Tolls) was a Japanese Game Boy release, co-developed by the familiar tag-team of Nintendo R&D1 and Intelligent Systems, responsible for much of the Game Boy’s lineup. And while The Frog For Whom the Bell Tolls may not be a household name, if you’re a fan of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (and who isn’t?) you should take the time to play it.

Link’s Awakening’s development story is retold time and time again, but what’s almost always left out is that it’s built directly on top of […] Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru,” Nintendo Life’s Jon Cartwright details in this excellent video. That is really apparent when you see the game in motion. From the engine to the font to the transition from top-down to side-scrolling, The Frog For Whom the Bell Tolls should look familiar.

Something else should look familiar to those of you who have played Link’s Awakening. Prince Richard, the weird guy with the frogs living in Pothole Field, who asks you to help him find his five Golden Leaves? That character is actually from The Frog For Whom the Bell Tolls, and even the music that plays in his villa is a variation on that game’s theme. Here’s a description from Marc Normandin’s fun RetroXP newsletter:

Prince Richard is actually not the protagonist of For the Frog the Bell Tolls, but is instead the best friend of him. The protagonist is the Prince of Sable, named and controlled by you. The adventure begins with the two princes (oh no) finding out that a princess is in trouble and must be saved, leading to the two trying to race the other to the finish line.

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Prince Richard in Link’s Awakening, then and now

Another familiar face for the Smash Bros. fans out there is the aforementioned Prince Sable, who shows up as an Assist Trophy, using his frog and snake powers. Oh right, about those, again from Normandin:

Prince Sable can transform into a frog or a snake, and eventually, can do so basically at will. A witch turns Prince Richard and his men — who arrived to save Princess Tiramisu from Delarin first — into frogs, and then later on, turns the Prince of Sable into a frog as well.

If you don’t live in Japan or don’t read Japanese, don’t worry! An English fan translation was created in 2011, which can be applied to a copy of the ROM . (Or, if you prefer, here is an updated version that changes the title from For the Frog the Bell Tolls to Nintendo’s now “official” translation The Frog for Whom the Bell Tolls.) As far as how to apply patches to ROM files, or how to dump a cartridge to obtain a ROM file, I will leave that up to you and your ability to search the internet. From there, you just need to find a suitable emulator — and these days even iPhones are in on the game.