The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition is a compilation of The Legend of Zelda games from previous consoles for the Nintendo GameCube, along with a 20-minute demo of the newest installment of the series, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. All full games featured on the disc, however, are not ports in the traditional sense, but rather ROM images of the games running on an official emulator specifically designed by Nintendo.
The games on the disc, along with the demo of The Wind Waker, are The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. The former two were originally released on the Nintendo Entertainment System, while the latter two were originally released on the Nintendo 64. Also included on the disc is a Video Retrospective which chronicles every main installment of the series up to that point.
Some of the games included have been subject to minimal changes, such as the color of the buttons in the head-up display, whose B button is changed to match the color of the GameCube controller's corresponding button. Furthermore, the GameCube controller has a built-in "Rumble Feature", no longer requiring an optional component in order for the player to experience haptic feedback during certain sequences (however, the Stone of Agony must still be obtained in Ocarina of Time for the Rumble Feature to work outside of the Fishing Pond).
The compilation notably excludes The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, since its Game Boy Advance port had recently been released. However, Nintendo pointed out that with both this disc and use of the Game Boy Player, every game in the main Zelda series could be played on the Nintendo GameCube.
The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition was released in limited quantities, and was commercially available only as a bundle with Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. Additionally, the game was available through a small number of other channels:
- For a time, the game was bundled with GameCube consoles sold in North America and Europe.
- It was offered as a prize for members of various Nintendo websites and clubs throughout the world, specifically by registering Nintendo games and hardware (in most regions).
- Customers who had purchased certain GameCube titles (including Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem) could send their receipt/proof of purchase to Nintendo directly and would have the receipt and game sent back to them.
- It could also be obtained by ordering a one-year subscription to Nintendo Power in North America.
The games included on the disc are not actually ported in the traditional sense of the term, but rather the (slightly altered) ROMs (Read-only memory) of the original games running via emulators; this has been proven by the ROM dumping community, who have been able to extract authentic ROMs of all these games from the disc, and they can even be booted on their original consoles with a copier or flash cart (depending on the console).
Because they are only emulated (rather than altered for the new console) there are some problems, most notably some of the music in Majora's Mask is said to be inaccurate. Furthermore, there have been many complaints regarding unexpected crashes and freezes, save files being deleted, and even failure to save the game altogether. Similar problems have been reported to exist in the emulated version of Ocarina of Time, including lack of lens flares when looking at the sun. Despite these concerns, it was still received very well by fans of the series.
These problems appear to stem from problems with Nintendo's proprietary emulator rather than the ROMs themselves, as they have been successfully run on various fan-created emulators without many commonly cited problems occurring. Additionally, fan-made emulators have had various bugs and compatibility fixes applied to them over several years, whereas Nintendo's emulator will obviously not receive any such support.