Ever since I received Ocarina of Time for the N64 for Christmas all the way back in 1997 I have loved the Zelda series. Over the last few years I’ve managed to play every single entry except the CD-i games, which could be considered a good thing! What could Zelda on the Wii U be like?
Since the release of Twilight Princess in 2006, Nintendo have repeatedly stated that with the next Zelda game, they were going to completely re-invent the formula to make Zelda seem new again. After all the recent images, videos, impressions and having played the game myself at Euro-gamer Expo 2011, I feel that they failed. Yes there is a new art style, yes there is 1:1 swordplay and yes even the dungeons and over-world have been worked differently, but the game still feels like its chasing Ocarina’s success.
Shigeru Miyamoto used to be the director on every Zelda released until Majora’s Mask where Eiji Aounuma took over. However Miyamoto recently stated at the Zelda 25th Anniversary concert in Japan that he personally wants to take the reigns with Wii U Zelda, as he is brimming with ideas for where to take the series next.
So, where could Zelda go with the Wii U’s unique abilities?
There’s no denying the Wii U controller is very unique. As it features a 6.2” touch screen, its not hard to imagine Nintendo incorporating some of the game-play mechanics recently seen in the DS’s Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks. Having the ability to draw on a map to show the way, making notes about a certain puzzle, or using the touch interface to interact with objects in new ways. It could be used to create potions in a more tactile fashion or even using it to make music, a series staple, by plucking individual strings on a musical instrument.
The controller also features a microphone so you could use a wind instrument, Bulbo’s could return who are enemies scared of loud noises. What would be an exciting new direction for the Zelda series, is that Nintendo has always maintained that Link doesn’t have a voice as they want the player to be immersed thinking they themselves are Link. What if you can talk through the controller to the NPCs? Why this may initially sound complicated it wouldn’t be that far of a stretch to imagine Nintendo incorporating a similar system to the one Bioware is including in Mass Effect 3 via use of Kinect.
Miyamoto also said in a recent Iwata Ask’s article that he couldn’t imagine ever playing a Zelda game again without 1:1 swordplay. Could it be that Nintendo plans to keep the Wii remote a central part of the next generation Zelda experience? Its not hard to imagine, you could be strapped in with your trusty golden Wii Remote+ with your Wii U pad at your side showing your map, items and ready to act as your instrument when needed.
The Zelda HD experience demo Nintendo showed at E3 2011, didn’t let you control Link himself, just the camera, display options and switch between night and day. So its safe to assume Nintendo do want to incorporate some form of touch controls.
Graphical presentation of Zelda games was never that big an issue, until the unveiling of The Wind Waker. A year prior Nintendo had shown a Gamecube demo of what Zelda would look like on the console, a high-res Ocarina style which had fans excited. Then they dropped a clanger by presenting The Wind Waker in a striking different, bright coloured, cel shaded juxtaposition. Once gamers actually got over the shock, and played The Wind Waker, it was clear that this was one of the finest Zelda games ever created with tons of personality. Since then Nintendo and fans themselves have been wary about how the graphical style of Zelda is perceived.
I think everyone is familiar to the over-joyed reaction of the E3 unveiling of the mature-looking Twilight Princess, there was screams, there were tears, there were grown men jumping around like kids at Christmas! If Nintendo needed any indication of what fans want with the Zelda series, this was it.
But, you’ve got to hand it to them, Nintendo have balls. Skyward Sword was revealed at E3 2010, not in the style fans crave so much, but in fact a mix between the style of Ocarina and the style of Wind Waker. Resembling French impressionism, there are bright blurry brush strokes of colours throughout the game, whilst it somehow maintains a certain level of maturity.
In Zelda The HD Experience, presented at E3 2011, Nintendo again showed a very beautiful dark and mature looking Zelda for Wii U. they were keen to stress this was just an example of what it could look like. Could they do it again?
While personally I loved the Wind Waker, I would like Nintendo to stick to the style they showed in the HD experience. This is the first time Nintendo have had a HD console, so it would be very welcome to see how Nintendo handles a mature Zelda with all the extra detail in textures, lighting and particle effects.
Ah, the Zelda time line. Nintendo confirms it exists, but won’t confirm what titles appear in what order. Nintendo themselves have said that Skyward Sword is the pre-cursor to Ocarina of time. It appears that those living in Skyloft believe that Hyrule below them is still being created, as described by the Deku Tree in Ocarina.
One part of the time-line I would like Nintendo to explore was the subject to a hoax a few years ago about a leaked Zelda game before Skyward Sword was revealed. It was called Project: Deluge whose story revolved around the hero, clad in a green tunic, not turning up to save the world which was then destroyed by a mighty flood, which happens to be the Sea in Wind Waker. I’m personally all for getting away from Elf boy saves princess kidnapped by evil pig man cliché we’ve played through so many times. If this can only happen when the hero is no longer Link so be it.
Nintendo have been talking about having a much more solid online infrastructure for the Wii U, and have even admitted they are getting help from external partners. So far for the Wii U several high profile online games have been announced, Dragon Quest X Online, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Online, notice a theme? Online! It’s also clear that several other games will support online in some way, Killer Freaks, Smash Brothers, Lego City Stories, so why not Zelda?
I always remember hearing a rumour before the Internet was wildly available back in the 90s, that Miyamoto was working on a 1000player online Zelda for the N64’s successor. Obviously this didn’t materialise, but its an interesting thought. How do you solve the issue of a game being online where everyone wants to be the same character, Link. Have a game without said character, with a method of designing and customising your own character. Another genius use of the controller!
This may be a presumptuous article, as we won’t see Zelda on Wii U for at least 2-3 years. Plus no one can ever tell what surprise Nintendo has in store, however its fun! Zelda is one of those games that has millions of fans around the world who care for it, but since 1997 we have had a total of six games all in the similar style of Ocarina of Time. Sure there’s been a few changes along the way, Majora’s Mask’s three day cycle, Wind Waker’s art style, Skyward Sword’s dungeon/over-world synchronisation.
Perhaps one of the reasons Zelda fans haven’t given up on the series just yet is because each instalment releases several years apart. But with new hardware comes a new responsibility to change and build something unique, from the ground up for a console that deserves every chance possible to make a market for itself.