What I Want To See In The Next Legend of Zelda

A new Legend of Zelda game is coming. This is practically guaranteed, one doesn’t have to be a clairvoyant sage or a Nintendo insider to predict this. Now whether we’ll get two new adventures for the Nintendo Wii U or one is hard to tell, as Nintendo is known to go back and forth on that.

If I were to guess, a peek at the pattern would suggest two new games. Obviously unintentional, but it seems Nintendo never releases one new Legend of Zelda game during a console’s lifetime twice in a row:

  • Nintendo – Two (Legend of Zelda & Zelda II : Adventure of Link)
  • Super Nintendo  – One (A Link To The Past)
  • Nintendo 64 – Two (Ocarina of Time & Majora’s Mask)
  • Nintendo Gamecube – Two (The Wind Waker & Twilight Princess)
  • Nintendo Wii – One (Skyward Sword)
  • Nintendo Wii U – ????

My wishful thinking doesn’t stop there, I have a few concepts I’d love to see in the new Legend of Zelda game for Wii U:

They’re going somewhere with Skyward Sword, build off of that.

It is awkward calling it such, but Skyward Sword feels like a reboot with the way Nintendo dedicated a whole game to narrating the origins of Hyrule, Ganon, and the Master Sword. It would be nice for Nintendo to pull a Wind Waker and bump the story 100 years, detailing the rise of Hyrule Kingdom, and other series-staple locales. I would love to see this arc continue.

The high level of NPC interaction in Skyward Sword (much like Majora’s Mask, and the first half of Twilight Princess) really breathes life into the world of Hyrule. I would like to see that continue to be a trend moving forward.

Boss Battles Are Trending Towards Awesome. Keep It That Way.

Nintendo has done a tremendous job with the enemy design. Nintendo should take a look at the boss roster of the entire Legend of Zelda franchise, and see which ones were awesome, and why. They should take more risks with unique battles like the Argorok boss in Twilight Princess.

Boss battles like the Moldarach fight in Skyward Sword – ones that could be re-created in A Link to the Past’s engine – have no business being in a modern Legend of Zelda. The only mechanic in that battle that couldn’t be reproduced on the Super Nintendo is Motionplus sword-swinging.

Despite Moldarach and the underwhelming Scaldera battle, Skyward Sword had excellent boss battles.

(Please don’t write me hate mail about The Imprisoned, I’m not even counting that abomination as a boss battle.)

Stop Being Stingy With The Swordfight

Nintendo loves to do tease by designing only a handful of these epic clashes. Instead of four or five, try nine or ten. Spice it up with variety, let your game designers have fun with the process. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a swordfight, enemies can wield a spear, bo-staff, bladed tonfas, who cares!

Stop Trying To Add Surprise To Ganon’s Presence

Waiting till the player is halfway through the game to reveal that Ganon is behind everything, is NOT a twist.  Writing Legend of Zelda plots require a different approach when compared to writing an RPG’s story, so Nintendo knows best how to approach this. I’m just pointing out that Skyward Sword’s ending makes it fair to assume Ganon will be the villain in the next Legend of Zelda, so let’s hope they handle it correctly.

On That Note, Do Keep Providing Epic Finishes

So far we have:

  • The stab in the mouth (Ocarina of Time)
  • The “Down + A move” From Super Smash Bros to the head (The Wind Waker)
  • The “Down + A move” to the gut (Twilight Princess)
  • … Another “Down + A move” to the gut (Skyward Sword)

Switch it up this time, but keep em coming!

GG2EZ

CLEAR EYES, FULL HEARTS, CAN’T LOSE!

Legend of Zelda is just too easy. Nintendo is moving in the right direction in terms of AI design, but Skyward Sword’s Hero Mode is not a satisfactory solution to the issue. Buffing monster strengths – Giving them double health and damage – is what I call an increase in “Artificial Difficulty”.

Artificial Difficulty is exactly what it sounds like. It’s not a real difficulty increase. A real difficulty increase would be smarter AI, or alterations to a design to increase its challenge.

I understand that it’s probably silly to alter Boss AI. At its best the design already allows a narrow window of vulnerability so why mess with that. Make the dungeons, puzzles, and environments harder. Those sections of code are a lot less sensitive, and have a lot more room to experiment with.

And Finally, Re-Examine The Way It’s Marketed

Drop the pitchforks. Assassin’s Creed 3 matched Skyward Sword’s lifetime sales (3.5 million) in its first week. Nintendo could stand to learn a thing or two from Ubisoft’s marketing. We all know we’re getting world-class gameplay from Legend of Zelda. Montage some epic cutscenes and bam, you have a commercial.

After Ocarina of Time, the Legend of Zelda franchise has been slow to evolve. Here are the sales numbers courtesy of VGsales Wikia:

The sales numbers show that the Legend of Zelda franchise failed to assert strong staying power with fans after Ocarina of Time.

The games operate on a familiar formula, and dare I say it: The Legend of Zelda franchise is officially a niche. We can’t even classify it as mainstream anymore.

If I were an Executive at Nintendo, I would not focus on the cute teasers. We already know hardcore fans are going to buy the game anyways. The challenge I’d tackle first above all others is:

Millions of fans have lost interest in The Legend of Zelda. Without changing the game, how can I market the Legend of Zelda in a way that will appeal to them?

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