The Unused Dungeons Hidden in Tears of the Kingdom!

The Unused Dungeons Hidden in Tears of the Kingdom!

When it comes to unused content games in games, it’s usually on the minor side. Cut items and powerups, some texture changes here and there, the odd test level.

That sort of thing.

And for the most part, that’s true of the Zelda series too. Oh sure you’ve got various rooms and geometry you can’t see in Breath of the Wild, and Ocarina of Time had that Arwing you could fight…

YouTube player

But for the most part, the actual interesting stuff got cut before it reached the final disc. Things like the cut temples in the Wind Waker are nowhere to be found, and probably won’t ever be seen unless the prototype leaks online.

However, that’s not the case with Tears of the Kingdom. Why? Because dataminers have actually found unused dungeons hidden away in the source code! Here’s our video about it, if you prefer that format:

YouTube player

And if you prefer text, keep reading. Because now we’re gonna explain everything these dungeons have to offer.

The Dungeons

Starting with the dungeons included in this state. Here are all the dungeons with unused variants in Tears of the Kingdom:

Wind Temple
Fire Temple
Water Temple
Lightning Temple
Hyrule Castle
Spirit Temple

As you can see, it’s all the main ones. We’ve got the 4 temples, Hyrule Castle, and the Spirit Temple at the end of Mineru’s questline.

And that’s it. There are no Construct Factory or Gloom’s Origin prototypes here, so presumably those areas were created far later in development (or at least, didn’t get separate maps).

General Differences

As for the general differences, well there are a fair few that apply across all 6 maps. Firstly, their separate status changes how a few items function.

Like how the Travel Medallion doesn’t work here. Yep, just like in the Divine Beasts in the previous game, you can’t place a Travel Medallion in these dungeon maps either. Presumably, the coordinates overlapping with Hyrule Field likely had an impact there.

The lighting is also clearly unfinished too. Simply because there really isn’t much of it.

Or at least, there isn’t any complex lighting setup here. It’s brighter at the top of the map, and it’s darker at the bottom. Unless it’s the Lightning Temple, at which case the entire map is lit up like a Christmas tree instead.

It’s an interesting look, and gives us strong ‘Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass’ vibes. Or perhaps ‘early Mario Kart custom track’ ones.

There are also a few interesting connections between these maps and the final ones. Namely, anything you do on one, will usually affect the other.

So, if you visit a temple early on, you’ll see it in its initial state, with all the terminals inactive and the puzzles unsolved. Meanwhile, if you actually do anything there, then going back to the final version will show the same changes there too.

Which seems to imply these maps were mostly finished when the developers decided to move them into the main overworld. After all, if all the event flags are set up correctly, and the puzzles work fine, and the enemies in the right locations…

That seems like pretty good evidence for a last-minute change to us!

Unfortunately, this change does break a few things. Like say, general progression and boss fights.

Since the sages aren’t actually loaded in these versions of the dungeons. As a result, you can’t finish any of them in this state, since you have no way to activate the terminals. You can theoretically bring a sage avatar in later on, but based on our testing, it seems like they won’t even spawn until you set the relevant flags to mark their quest as completed.

So, you can’t progress the story here.

You also can’t defeat any of the bosses here, with the exception of Phantom Ganon. That’s because phase 2 loads the relevant cutscenes in the final dungeon’s overworld location, and teleports Link there along with it. This unloads the boss due to how different the coordinates are for the unused version of the map, and restores it to full health when you make your way back there.

Glitched Mucktorok Cutscene

Defeating bosses in these dungeons usually breaks the cutscene, and warps you far from the arena

Finally, Ascend doesn’t work in these dungeons at all. No ceilings have been set as possible to Ascend through, so it’s only usable with Hover Stones and your own contraptions, not dungeon geometry in general. Not ideal, but it seems like the rule of thumb for this game is ‘you can’t ascend through a ceiling unless we specifically mark it as possible to ascend through’, and these ceilings weren’t given that setup.

Can't Ascend

Ascend doesn’t work in these areas at all

So that’s the basic stuff done. Onto the level specific points…

Dungeon Information

Wind Temple

Starting with the Wind Temple, since it’s usually the first dungeon you visit. This one is mostly complete.

Since the major differences from the final version are treasure chests without items set (which usually default to Opals), enemies with weaker weapons and the lack of a giant storm cloud circling the ship…

Wait, that last one isn’t that minor, is it?

Nah, not really. The whole point of the dungeon was that it took place in a storm cloud above Hebra, complete with a blizzard and smaller flying ships around it. This version doesn’t have any of that, and feels kinda empty as a result.

No Storm Cloud

The storm cloud and flying ships don’t exist in this version

Perhaps that aspect wasn’t thought up when the dungeon was created. Or perhaps it wasn’t added prior to the dungeon being merged into the main overworld. Regardless, it’s a pretty notable difference nonetheless.

Another notable difference is in the temperature of the area. In this version, you only need one level of cold resistance to survive, while in the final one you need two. Based on this (and the point above), it’s possible the area might not have even been in Hebra back when this was made.

Still, that’s all we can find in terms of Wind Temple differences. Onto the Fire Temple now.

Fire Temple

Where the lighting issues are probably at their most severe. Because this dungeon is more vertical than any of the others, the area gets increasingly dark the further you go down. To the point where the ground floor is perpetually shrouded in darkness, and the floor itself is difficult to even see.

There’s also no scorching climate either. As a result, you can survive just fine without flameproof armour here, and use things like Bomb Flowers without any trouble. Interestingly, this seems like an intentional design decision, since the Constructs themselves use wooden weapons that would immediately burn to a crisp in the final version.

Wooden Weapons in Fire Temple

The Constructs use wooden weapons and shields in this version

Finally, the Depths ceiling doesn’t exist here, since the Depths itself isn’t rendered around the dungeon. As a result, you can fly straight up to the roof in this version, which has its own (glitchy) textures and full collision. It’s an interesting setup, and one which seems like it might have been kept in for way longer than you’d think (since said roof exists with fixed textures in the final game).

Top of The Fire Temple

Link can stand on top of the Fire Temple in this version of the map

Fire Temple Roof Final

The roof of the Fire Temple technically still exists in the final game, just above the Depths ceiling

So that’s the Fire Temple and its differences. Time for the Water Temple.

Water Temple

Which is probably the least changed of the lot. The weapons are placeholders, the treasure chests sometimes have placeholder items, and if you visit the area after clearing the finished version, the goop is invisible.

Link stands on invisible muck in the Water Temple

Weirdly, this muck is only visible if you enter the area before clearing the finished dungeon

That’s about it. Onto the Lightning Temple.

Lightning Temple

Early Lightning Temple

The Lightning Temple looks bizarre in this map…

Aka the most weirdly lit area in the entire game. Put simply, the area is at full brightness in this version.

Lit Up Lightning Temple

The Lightning Temple is fully lit in this version

And it looks interesting to say the least. While the previous one was a spooky labyrinth filled with easy to miss secrets and dead ends, everything is so well lit here that it feels like every other dungeon in the game.

It’s nice for people who want to look at the architecture a bit more closely, but has all the atmosphere of a random office building as a result.

Other changes are a bit more subtle. The ore deposits outside the dungeon don’t exist here, a couple of weapons and items are replaced with placeholder ones, and the outside of the temple is a lot more visible now, since it’s not sunken into the sand anymore.

Unused Lightning Temple Roof

The ore deposits don’t exist here, as you can see on the temple roof in this picture

What’s more interesting however are the event changes. Or at least, how you can easily see how said events work in this version.

Since by default, the dungeon doesn’t have the pink orb on the front, nor the Gibdo Hives surrounding it. These are only added in if you activate the dungeon normally, and hence aren’t part of the default dungeon model.

Lightning Temple Initial State

Before it’s activated in the final game, the Lightning Temple has no Gibdo hives or pink orb

Gibdo Hives & Decor Appear Later

Once you activate the dungeon normally, the hives and pink orb appear

And other events get a bit wacky here too. For example, Queen Gibdo can be fought in this location, but defeating her outside the dungeon here causes the cutscene to glitch out in all kinds of ways as you warp to the actual temple’s coordinates with incorrect lighting. Meanwhile, clearing the puzzles inside the dungeon will cause Riju to comment on the situation, despite not actually being loaded in the map, and cause various zoom outs to the original location for every single cutscene.

Weird Queen Gibdo Battle

You can fight Queen Gibdo in this unused map…

Creepy Queen Gibdo Scene

Which breaks the cutscene, causing this creepy scene…

Strange Riju Scene

And leaves Riju shrouded in darkness!

It’s a very interesting mess, but worth experimenting with for that reason alone. Ah well, onto Hyrule Castle!

Hyrule Castle

Where we see one of the biggest differences from every other dungeon in the game. That being…

We can actually make progress here! ‘Zelda’ appears in each location as expected, and the Monster Forces do get loaded in when you approach ‘her’.

Fake Zelda Scene Works

The fake Zelda scene works as expected

But there are some differences there nonetheless. For instance, the Monster Forces are completely different from the final version, with the Bokoblins, Moblins and Hinox being weaker…

Link fights a red Hinox in the library

This Hinox is weaker than the one in the final version

As well as the Lizalfos being unarmed. So, the makeup of the monster groups you fight is very different here.

And while 90% of the events work fine, the actual boss does not. The cutscene before heading to the Sanctum plays as expected, the Phantom Ganon pre fight cutscene plays when you enter the room…

Phantom Ganon Intro

Phantom Ganon’s fight does start as expected

Then you get unceremoniously plonked in the middle of nowhere with a message saying “you cannot leave this area”. Said message appears over and over again, since there’s no ground under where you spawn, and it’s miles away from the castle itself.

Can't Start Phantom Ganon Fight

You can’t start the battle due to the different location

Presumably the game is set to put you where the actual throne room is located on the map, which isn’t where this version can be found. And because you can’t leave the Phantom Ganon battle, the result basically softlocks the game.

Softlocked Phantom Ganon Fight

You can’t make your way back, since you can’t leave the area where the game THINKS the Phantom Ganon fight takes place

Interestingly though, this doesn’t apply to the second phase of the fight. If you managed to escape the ‘real’ Phantom Ganon fight with a glitch and approach the Sanctum in this version of the map…

The battle will actually resume here! What’s more, beating phase 1 will put you in this version’s throne room instead, where the rest of the fight and post-fight cutscene will play out as expected. Albeit with the latter in front of an ominous, blood red sky instead of a throne room:

Phantom Ganon Reappears

Phantom Ganon reappears if you escaped the normal fight with a glitch and headed into this unused dungeon

Phantom Ganon Phase 2

And phase 2 of the fight loads just fine. Weird

Ganondorf Unused Dungeon Shot

This scene with the sages and Ganondorf looks INCREDIBLE

So, literally every flag in the dungeon works fine, except the one that actually kickstarts the boss battle. Huh.

Other changes here (again) involve items. Like in the other dungeons, many of the items and chests haven’t been set up yet. So, you’ll be getting lots of Opals again, and coming across a fair few Construct Bows and Wooden Sticks too. Nothing too major, but interesting nonetheless.

There are also a few missing enemies here too. Namely, the Horriblins in the tunnel. Those flat out don’t exist in this version of the map, as strange as that may be.

Finally, there’s the performance. For the most part, these dungeons are pretty similar to the final ones performance wise. They don’t run too badly, there isn’t too much pop in, and as far as we can tell, they work about the same as in the finished versions.

Except Hyrule Castle.

Hyrule Castle runs terribly here. Like, extremely so. To the point trees and objects pop into existence five feet in front of your face. That bad.

It’s a mess, and makes us wonder if performance reasons were part of the design change here. It’d certainly make sense, given how well Hyrule Castle runs in the final version.

But yeah, Hyrule Castle is pretty different. It’s got all the right event flags and functions like the final dungeon, yet most of the enemies and items are different, and it performs like utter crap.

Either way, onto the final dungeon. One which is very, very different from the others so far.

Spirit Temple

Since now, we have the Spirit Temple to talk about. The single dungeon that inspired this research, including the video and related articles.

Because while in the final game there’s not much to it (an entrance room, boss arena and area with shops and the Secret Stone).

In this version of the map things are completely different.

For starters, it’s actually a sort of mini obstacle course for the Construct. You start at the top with a teleport pad near the Construct, and work your way down past various enemies. Floor 1 has a Construct alongside a spiked ball and iron pole, as if to teach you the basics of combat…

A Construct Obstacle Course

The unused Spirit Temple is an obstacle course for the Construct

Floor 1 of the Spirit Temple

With floor 1 having a single Construct to fight

While floor 2 has a whole army of Constructs to deal with, and even more items to fuse alongside them.

An Army of Constructs

Floor 2 has an army of Constructs to fight

Then floor 3 has all the emitters to play around with, plus an ice block to get past…

Emitters And Ice Blocks

Floor 3 has all the emitters, plus an ice block

And the final accessible floor has some ice themed enemies, which are easily taken out with a flame emitter from the last area.

Vs Ice Enemies Spirit Temple

The final area has you fight ice enemies

It’s an interesting setup, and seems like the start of a dungeon designed around the Construct and its abilities.

But it’s also very clearly unfinished. There are no walls or decorations, the boss room and cutscenes don’t exist at all, and the obstacles feel very much thrown together without the care you’d expect in an area like this. As a result, it’s basically more of a test room right now, more a way to demonstrate the Construct than something to be played as a ‘level’.

And this unfinishedness extends to all the little details too. Location names are completely missing here, meaning a file saved in this area will be named as if it takes place in ‘Hyrule Field’ rather than the ‘Spirit Temple’. The map is nowhere to be seen, with floors not labelled at all, and accessing the area does nothing to progress the main game.

So, whatever this place was, it was clearly cut early in development. Probably early enough that Mineru’s questline hadn’t even been planned out at that point.

Regardless, it’s a completely unused dungeon in the game, and shows what the Spirit Temple could have been, had they not gone with the Construct Factory setup instead.


Overall, those are the unused dungeons found in Tears of the Kingdom. For the most part their layouts are much the same as the final ones, with the changes being more minor details that got tweaked later in development…

But there are some with much bigger differences nonetheless, with Hyrule Castle being far more unfinished and the Spirit Temple being an actual dungeon rather than a glorified boss arena. It’s interesting to see, and gives a nice glimpse into what may have been planned earlier in Tears of the Kingdom’s development.

Regardless, thanks to the Tears of the Kingdom data mining and research Discord server for their help setting this up, and thanks to everyone here for reading this far. If you found the article or video interesting, share them with your friends, subscribe to us on YouTube for more of this type of content…

Then leave your thoughts in the comments below, or on our Discord server today!


How do I access these dungeons?

Oh boy, that’s a video or article in itself. For now though, here’s the setup:

  1. Mod your Nintendo Switch to run homebrew/hacks on it. There are whole tutorials for this, so we’ll link this one.
  2. Backup your save file with JKSV. You can do this by opening the program, selecting your TotK user profile, then backing up the file
  3. Open an FTP connection with FTPD.
  4. On your PC, connect to your Switch via FTP
  5. Open the JKSV folder, then your profile folder. You’ll see up to 5 folders with numbered names
  6. So, you’ll need to find the right one. Best advice is to download the caption.sav files, and plug them into the save editor here. When you find the one that matches, select the progress.sav file from that folder
  7. Then open it in the editor linked above.
  8. Go to the Master Editor tab.
  9. Search for the Sequence_CurrentBanc variable
  10. Then change it to one of the LargeDungeon names linked above
  11. Transfer the file back to your Switch via FTP
  12. And restore the edited save via JKSV
  13. Once you load the save file, you’ll be in the unused dungeon you selected

Why does my save file get stuck on an endless loading screen when I select it?

You probably mistyped the name of the dungeon in the Sequence_CurrentBanc variable, or copied a version of the name that has a space at the start/end. Make sure there are no extra spaces in the name, and it correlates to one of the dungeon names listed in the article. Otherwise, it’ll try to load a non-existent map, and the game will basically keel over.

How would I fix this issue?

Edit your save file to change the Sequence_CurrentBanc variable to a valid value.

Why am I falling through the air? I just loaded my save file!

Ah, it’s because the coordinates for these dungeons map to Hyrule Field. Unless you somehow saved on what’s ‘solid ground’ in said dungeon, you’ll be in the air near it.

Hopefully. You REALLY want to be close to Lookout Landing if you do this, since that’s about where these dungeons are located coordinate wise.

What happens if I don’t land in the dungeon?

You’ll keep falling until you hit the bottom of the Depths. At this point, an object called an ‘Eliminator’ will cause Link to void out immediately, and you’ll reappear where you saved (probably in mid-air).

Is none of Hyrule loaded around it?

These dungeons are on separate maps. Neither Hyrule nor the Depths exists in these maps.

Why do I fall through the dungeon?

Ah, you may be on a later version. We heard from someone that Nintendo removed the collision data for these maps in later versions of the game. Best to try on version 1.0 if possible.

What happens if I save in one of these areas?

You’ll reappear in that area upon reloading the save.

Why is my position not updated here?

Your save coordinates don’t seem to be updated when you save in an unused dungeon, so you’ll always appear in the first place you entered it, regardless of where you saved on that map.

Can I ruin my save file by saving in these areas?

No. You can just warp out at any time, and you can’t make any real story progress in most of them anyway. For the one you can progress in (Hyrule Castle), it just works like the normal dungeon quest does, so you’ll be fine.

What happens if I load a file saved here without a hacked Switch?

You appear in the unused dungeon. You only technically need to use these tools to edit your save file in the first place, not to explore said dungeons.

Can I keep any items found in these dungeons upon leaving?

Sure. It’s just like you picked them up in a shrine or cave or something.

Is there a second copy of the Champions Leathers in Hyrule Castle?

Seems to be. You can get two of them this way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment