Why I Respect Zelda More Than Any Other Video Game Series - airbornebovine Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Why I Respect Zelda More Than Any Other Video Game Series

This article was originally published on zeldadungeon.net under the name Keaton, because that is my first name.

There are many series of video games I love, such as Mario, Pokemon, Dead Space, Borderlands, Super Smash Bros., and more. I of course believe that Zelda is the greatest of them all. That's why I couldn't allow myself to let the opportunity of applying to write for Zelda Dungeon slip by. Now that I'm here, I need a first editorial to kick things off. I know that anybody reading this has surely read their fair share of articles about why Zelda games are so fantastic, which is why I did not want to simply write another. While scouring my brain for ideas for my introductory editorial, I found one that enabled me to convey a broad opinion of the series without rehashing an idea as old as Zelda itself. That idea was to write about why Zelda has such a great deal of my respect.

The way a series earns my respect is through its design choices and Zelda makes many respectable decisions in that regard. One such decision, the story, is unfortunately heckled by many of Zelda's dissenters. Unlike them, I don't believe storytelling makes or breaks a game. I even enjoy a good deal of Zelda's stories, but that's beside the point. Unless we're talking about a game like The Walking Dead, story is secondary to game design when it comes to a game's success.

Zelda's series of legends tied loosely together by a timeline is a great approach to video game storytelling, as it frees the designers to take the series wherever they want it to go. I look at Halo and see a great FPS series constrained by its own dedication to a fictional universe. The Halo series will likely never take any radical turns in story, setting, or gameplay, because that would put it in danger of jumping the shark. On the other hand, Zelda is free to experiment with new locations, gameplay elements, and even art styles.

I also respect Zelda for its adherence to long development cycles. While I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with an annualized series such as Assassin's Creed, I do maintain that developers' best work can only be achieved when they take their time. In Zelda's case, trying to push a new game out within a single year would be rushing it. Over the years, we have come to expect only the highest quality from a Zelda game, and anything Nintendo does to maintain that quality is fine by me. Waiting four or five years for a new console Zelda game can be agonizing, but the the wait is always worth it.

Probably the most respectable aspect of Zelda is its willingness to try new ideas. On the surface, Zelda might appear to be a repetitious series of collecting three artifacts, retrieving the Master Sword, and saving Princess Zelda from Ganondorf, but fans know it's much more than that. Despite retaining much of the same core formula, Zelda games always introduce new gameplay elements. A Link to the Past allowed players to swap between Hyrule and the Dark World. Twilight Princess bestowed Link with the power to transform into a wolf. Skyward Sword placed the Master Sword in our hands through excellent motion control. And most recently, A Link Between Worlds added a clever wrinkle to exploration with Link's new ability to become a painting. One of the best examples of Zelda's willingness to reinvent itself comes from very early in its history. With The Adventure of Link, Zelda went straight from a top-down action adventure game to a side-scroller with RPG elements.

It's a nice feeling to know that I don't have to feel guilty about loving Zelda as much as I do, because it is a very upstanding series that should serve as a role model for the rest of the video game industry. It took a chance on losing some of my respect by halfheartedly rehashing A Link to the Past's world in A Link Between Worlds. Instead, A Link Between Worlds only reinforced that respect by tweaking the Zelda formula in a great way and setting itself in a comfortably familiar overworld to ease the change.

Has Zelda earned your respect as much as it has mine? Do you agree with my reasons for respecting it? Do you perhaps find anything dishonorable about the series? Feel free to discuss these things and more in the comments!

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