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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]
THIS WAS AN AMAZING ARTICLE!!!!
I'd love a Zelda game that takes all the pieces from various past games like this and perfects them into one awesome game.
lots and lots of zelda games
What I want is a complex, challenging combat system that works just as well with the Wii U controller as it does with the Wii Motion Plus. I know that's a big thing to ask for, but I'm sure Nintendo could pull it off.
I like these ideas for the most part.Personally, I'm totally chill with Skyward Sword's motion controls, But the option to choose between a standard or motion controller would be welcome.
Motion controls, although not the best, were not awful either, and here he spoke about them like they were awful.
I agree, although to have a Zelda game that perfectly incorporates the best elements from every previous Zelda game would be a miracle. And yeah, I think motion controls were just included so Miyamoto could say "YOU CAN SWING THE SWORD LIKE LINK! ISN'T THAT AWESOME?!" Just... (like you said) don't do it.
My Wii MotionPlus actually stopped working, so Skyward Sword sits on a shelf, forever alone. Luckily, I had already beaten it, but I will probably never complete a second playthrough. It's sad that such a great game had full dependence on motion controls. I My dream for the next Zelda is to be able to play it with buttons OR motion control (Although I think I know which would be the player's choice).
This by far the longest news post I have ever seen you guys add :)
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)
Wow, this list is near flawless. I thought I was going to have to comment here and say the music from Wind Waker was a must, but apparently that's accounted for. The only things I would disagree with would have to be the Alternate Dimension and the Motion Controls. While many feel the alternate worlds are a staple in the Zelda franchise, I feel like it's one element that has over stayed its welcome. Like the musical devices that were cool at first, but lost their touch once we were getting pan flutes in the DS titles. The motion controls I think should return with out a doubt. And not just as an option that can be turned off, but rather a mechanic built into the game like Skyward Sword. SS was one of the hardest Zelda titles in a while and it was because of the motion controls, I felt.
The one other thing that I wish the best Zelda game to have, is less structure. I don't like the generic list of 6-9 dungeons, each with an item and a boss, all leading up to a battle with Ganon at the end. Wind Waker switched it up a bit, so now we need another like that, but with a more cohesive world to explore and enjoy.
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this list was absolutley perfect, especially the bit about the motion controls
No, the motion controls in LoZ SS were phenomanal. It was way better to throw or roll bombs with a wrist flick, shoot arrows with delicate aiming, or swing my sword with extreme precision instead of button mashing to fight skillfully.
Hunting down all of the masks in Majora's Mask easily doubled if not tripled the game's longevity for me. I'd love to see a new Zelda game that expanded on those sorts of side-quest/collecting elements.