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Like many successful franchises, the Legend of Zelda series has changed along with video games themselves. The battles against Ganon and accompanying villains span every single Nintendo platform, usually highlighting the unique features of the company’s newest console. With the recent launch of the Wii U, it’s exciting to imagine what the next entry will present, and what it can borrow from previous installments.Plot: Skyward SwordThe Zelda games have never been known for their storytelling prowess. However, the most recent entry, Skyward Sword, shows how a decent narrative can focus each objective and tie the dungeons into a cohesive knot. Rather than traveling between out of place temples merely for the sake of it, you tackle puzzles and meet characters that lead you from one to the next. The context in which each is placed makes sense and getting there is almost as fun as the dungeons themselves. A decent plot won’t elevate the next title to greatness alone, but it can definitely help. Bosses: Ocarina of Time Despite my love for the bosses of the 2D Zelda games, none of them can touch Ocarina of Time’s. Series classics like Phantom Ganon and Twinrova proved, without a doubt, that thrilling combat could take place on a 3D console. In true Zelda fashion, each of these bosses makes clever use of their dungeon’s special item, even if that use isn’t especially clear right away. Figuring out how to finish off each boss was a puzzle in itself, but utilizing the environment added another twist to the battles: deciding which portrait Phantom Ganon would emerge from, using the hover boots to assist your aim while on Bongo Bongo’s drum, and avoiding Morpha’s water all increased the intensity of the encounters. The satisfaction of slaying these behemoths was the icing on the dungeon cake, and any great Zelda game should follow suit. Alternate Dimension: A Link to the PastOcarina of Time made great use of a parallel world with its time traveling mechanic, juxtaposing the mature world of adult Link against the more innocent one seven years prior. But A Link to the Past did it even better. The light/dark world dichotomy creates two disparate maps with alternate locations and secrets alike. Switching between the two allows you access to alternate routes, hidden prizes, and most importantly, eight new dungeons that more than doubled the game. This clever use of an alternate dimension makes many of the following games seem small by comparison. Dungeons: Twilight PrincessDevious dungeons are the core of any good Zelda game, but Twilight Princess’ are some of the most mind-bending and well-designed puzzles in the franchise. Controlling the flow of water in the Lakebed Temple or rescuing monkeys to create a bridge in the Forest Temple showcased in-depth design based around a larger mechanic. These dungeons, much like those in Skyward Sword, are also placed in believable locations. For instance, instead of just having a Fire Temple, the dungeon is a Goron mine. Snowpeak Ruins is situated on an icy mountain top, while the desert temple-esque Arbiter’s Grounds act as a prison isolated from the rest of Hyrule; this placement makes sense. If a new Zelda game can combine this cohesiveness and pitch perfect level design, the rest should fall into place.Progression and Reward: Majora’s MaskZelda II’s RPG elements allowed players to beef up Link with better attack, magic, and life attributes, an element later forgotten in the series. These effects were tangible, and helped players along the path of one of arguably the toughest entries in the franchise. But if any Zelda game really rewards your efforts in a meaningful way, it’s Majora’s Mask. Not only did the acquisition of each new mask create fun side quests and optional objectives, but the resulting effects were always unique and sometimes weird. The Blast Mask made Link’s face explode (enough said) and the Mask of Truth let you talk to small animals. And if you felt like the effects of the 20 optional masks were getting boring, you could trade them in for the Fierce Deity Mask, transforming Link into the ultimate badass. Any Zelda should take cues from Majora’s Mask on how to make side content worthwhile.Map Management: Phantom Hourglass and Spirit TracksThe Nintendo DS titles added a small addition to the Zelda formula which saved pages and pages of gamers’ paper. These titles allowed you to make notes on the world map, indicating treasure chest locations and secrets to return to later. Both the 3DS and Wii U Gamepad could make great use of this mechanic and, in turn, save us hours of searching old areas.Music: Wind WakerMusic and Zelda go hand- in-hand, and this is apparent in Wind Waker more than any other entry. The soundtrack forgoes the regal tone of previous entries for a more personal score with Irish influences. The Wind Waker, Dragon Roost, and Outset Island themes all used real instruments for the first time in the series, and the change spoke volumes. The music present in the rest of the series is adventurous and memorable, but Wind Waker boils it down to a fluid, charming, endearing science. Any future Zelda score should strive toward the chemistry of the Wind Waker soundtrack.Setting: Link’s AwakeningHyrule is iterated upon for the majority of Zelda games. From the mature tone of Twilight Princess’ realm to the vibrant style of Skyward Sword, every rendition of the legendary land invites exploration. Deviations from this environment are almost always just as likeable, and Koholint Island is no exception. This setting ranks above the anomaly Termina – from Majora’s Mask – simply because it’s even weirder. Shipwrecked in Link’s Awakening, Link meets characters from other major Nintendo franchises. Running into a Yoshi or Chain Chomp for the first time is surreal. The perfect Zelda game doesn’t have to take place outside of Hyrule, just so long as it creates that sense of mystery that the best Zelda worlds are known for.Motion Controls: Please don’t include motion controls. Don’t do it.
[Header Image Courtesy of Dark Horse Comics]
Many have said it, but TP's combat additions were great. They made the game much more enjoyable.
I find the darker atmospheres of TP and Majora's Mask more immersive. They felt threatening and distorted throughout, not just when you reached a boss and the DUH-duh-DUH-duh music started. TP had better functioning fast travel than the rest, too.
Some of the humor of Minish Cap, maybe?
I believe I may be the dumbest person in my immediate vicinity. I've played through OoT about two dozen times, and I don't believe I've ever used the hover boots on Bongo Bongo. I just run to the edge and target, swapping out first and third person for the arrow strikes. What a mook. Of course, I can see myself forgetting to take them off before rushing in to attack and getting all annoyed.
Sounds almost perfect, love all of these suggestions and I would by a Wii-U if they said the next Zelda game would have all these elements.
I think that a Zelda game pulling all those elements would be good for the next one. I do got to say though, I would like to see an art style similar to Majora's Mask art style where the colors are vibrant but not cartoony. Also some kind of an option available when you first start to have a normal difficulty or a hard mode considerably ramping up the games difficulty.
Just the same, add an option for players to use multiple wtyles of input. Wii remote and nunchuk only, game pad only or a combination where you can prop the game pad up on a table and use it to keep track of the map, stats and resources. Just some ideas to add on.
I really enjoyed the motion controls. What would be cool but difficult would be the choice of doing motion controls or not.
I actually liked this column. And just out of curiosity, what was wrong with the motion controls. I had a blast playing Skyward Sword with the motion controls. And agreeing with someone else in the comment section, making motion controls optional would be awesome, but very difficult at the same time.
They could just pull everything from Majora's Mask. A Majora's Mask sequel would be amazing :D
I wouldnt mine these being in the next Zelda game, they make a lot of sense. The only thing I dont agree with is the No Motion Control. The Motion Control in Skyward Sword was almost perfect. With a Next Gen console Nitnendo can make it even better. And if motion control isn't your fancy you caould use the Game Pad. Which can work because the second Analog stick can act as your sword attacks. Since the touch Screen is on the controller eveything can move over so it frees up the second analog stick. What they should have said was to not make your attack solely on the touch.(like Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks)
Yeah! Give it to us Nintendo! Now THIS would be what an HD Wii U Zelda would be for! I hope that the gamepad could be used in full for the Toon Link touchscreen management.
My favorite section is the motion controls.
Ok now I feel like playing Zelda. You guys got me all excited and I'm going to play some Ocarina of Time tomorrow I think. Maybe Wind Waker but I'll have to see.
Well, now that we have at home the WiiU, we want a new Zelda game!!!
But I want a game like the old days, a game made with passion and fantasy, not a game made only to meet the needs of the market.
Sorry to say, but SS is a bit cold and desolate, I hope that the next Zelda back the magic and the involvement typical of the series
I like all of the points this article makes and I have to agree with just about everything it's trying to say. Add this in with the 'rumor' Wii U Daily published about the next Zelda title and I'd say we would have an absolute masterpiece on our hands.
I have to disagree with one thing tho: Motion Controls. The sword fighting in Skyward Sword was absolutely brilliant and I would really hate to see that disappear in future Zelda games. The Wii U is able to use the Motion Plus controller, so to me it's almost like they intend on (and have so far: Nintendo Land) using these controllers for games like this. While I don't think the game needs to focus on using a motion controller in a ton of unique ways, I think the sword play established in SS should stay.
What's more exciting tho, is what they will do with the GamePad. Oh, the possibilities!
I agree, get rid of motion controls. Skyward Sword's were fine and all; but returning to that game is a NIGHTMARE because you have to re learn everything, and get the timing back down.
Very interesting article. I am definitely okay with each of these pieces and can see them combining to become a wonderful Zelda game.
I'm really not a fan of motion controls, so intense motion controls that would kill a Zelda game for me.