What We Want From Zelda On Wii U
Zelda is beloved amongst gamers, and for good reason. The series has delivered many defining video game experiences for many players. It’s a series fans hold to a high standard, demanding evolution with each entry, but continue to insist that it not stray too far from what made them fall in love with the franchise in the first place.
Nintendo has said little in the way of a new console entry for the series. Other than showing off a tech demo for what a Wii U Zelda could look like when the publisher announced the Wii U, we know nothing. But that doesn’t mean we can’t express our hopes for the future of the series.
Let go of my hand
Fi in Skyward Sword was overbearing. She rarely had anything of value to say, and she made sure to say it constantly. Navi, Tatl, Midna, and the King of Red Lions from Wind Waker offered similar frustrations, which could lead a Zelda fan to demand that these types of characters be removed, but I don’t want that. Going on an adventure with someone by your side adds an important element of personality to your journey. I don’t want that character to be eliminated – in fact I would like to see that character more visibly present. What I don’t want are constant interjections of information we already know. Instead of the removal of this character, I’d like an option in the beginning of the game to let the player say, “I have played a Zelda game before and would like as little direction as possible.” It’s a system that worked remarkably well in the recent 3DS A Link Between Worlds, but I did miss having a partner along with me for the ride.
A truly open world
An argument can be made that the original Zelda was one of the first truly open video game worlds. Every Zelda game has offered an impressive level of exploration and freedom, but ever since the series moved into the third dimension, the world has been separated by walls and doors requiring loading – except Wind Waker. Link’s ocean adventure presented the most seamless point-to point exploration, and I would like to see that brought forward to a new generation of Zelda. I want to travel without barriers, and if I can do that from the seat of a bird looking down on the world below, that would make me happy.
One of our favorite aspects of the A Link Between Worlds was the option to tackle dungeons in any order. Choice is a nice option, but more impressively, it made the world feel more alive and grounded. It wasn’t a place with a series of checkpoints put in place to guide you along an adventure – it was a world you could tackle from any avenue. I wouldn’t complain in the slightest if this system, or an equally creative system, was brought to the next console flagship entry.
This system could also afford the opportunity for Link to end up in areas he shouldn’t with enemies outnumbering or overpowering him. Areas of Hyrule (or wherever a future Zelda would take place) should be dangerous and scary, and a good way to do this might be to open everything up rather than blocking off areas until you’re ready to explore.
One of my favorite things about Majora’s Mask, likely the Zelda with the most sidequests, is the way interacting with the characters opens up the personality of the world. Games like Grand Theft Auto offer an incredible sense of realism with their living worlds and seemingly motivated pedestrians, but I don’t know if I have ever felt as connected to a video game’s cast as I did in Majora’s Mask. I knew every character’s backstory and day to day schedules because of all the side quests associated with them. I love learning the often tragic stories of the characters that live in Zelda’s worlds, so I hope Nintendo isn’t scared to offer more side quests for every person we can interact with.
Head to page two to read more of our hopes for Zelda on Wii U.
Zelda should be more present
Zelda is often an interesting character – one worthy of helping or saving – but even the entries where she is the most present eventually put her in a position where Link cannot communicate with her. Spirit Tracks dabbled with the idea of having Zelda around more, and while that entry ended up being one of the weakest Zelda games, it certainly wasn’t for this reason. I would like to see Zelda working together with Link as a partner throughout to defeat evil.
Speaking, but not in a known language
The lack of voice acting in Zelda seems to be a criticism brought up during the release of each new entry, but I have never minded it. It has always lent the worlds a truly fantastical element, and if they started speaking in a language I understood, it would diminish the fantasy. However, I wouldn’t be opposed to hearing them speak at some capacity. To relate a voice to a character is helpful. Even if it’s not understandable, emotion can come through strong in a spoken language. Fi had a voice in Skyward Sword, and though it was gibberish, I thought it helped sell her character. The recent Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons used a somewhat similar method of storytelling to great effect.
Skyward Sword was one of the only games that delivered on the promise of the Wii’s remote. Whether or not you enjoyed the gameplay of Skyward Sword, it’s difficult to argue that it didn’t work as pitched. Link had detailed control over his swordplay in a way other games with similar sword action were simply incapable. Hopefully, the gap between the launch of the Wii U and a Zelda game that uses the GamePad technology in interesting and useful ways is smaller. Some established Wii U GamePad mechanics, like relocated maps or item management, work well for Zelda as they do in Wind Waker’s HD re-release, but I hope Nintendo takes it a step further. I don’t know what that step is, but I am hopeful and confident that Nintendo will be able to make it.
Eschew the fan service
We love Zelda’s music, its characters, and its worlds, but I hope Nintendo doesn’t consider itself beholden to those traditions. It’s a difficult line to walk – delivering something new while retaining beloved elements – and I hope Nintendo doesn’t mind throwing it away where applicable. Give us some new music to fall in love with, or new radical character designs. As long as it has the Zelda game spirit, it doesn’t need all the clear identifiers.
What do you want for a Wii U Zelda? What would you like to see stay the same, and what would you like to see changed for the future?