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LONG BLOG

If You Love It, Change It: The Legend of Zelda

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The Legend of Zelda franchise stands head and shoulders above many of Nintendo’s biggest titles, even more so than Metroid, which I highlighted yesterday. The story of Link, Zelda and Ganon has become the stuff of gaming legend, and no Nintendo console is complete without a Zelda title being developed for it to give the hardcore gamer something nice to play with.

But I'm not going to be nice here. The Zelda franchise does not deserve it. Not after farming out the same storylines and essentially the same game for the last 15 years. Search your feelings, you know it's true. Almost every game since A Link to the Past, chiefly those on the consoles, have offered us different experiences, but the story underneath remains the same, unchanging, stale, boring, repetitive, predictable, monotonous crap. And it needs tweaking. Now.

Breathe new life into this series with a new story.



My biggest qualm with the series has been and will continue to be the fact that the same story is pumped out again and again and again. It’s not nostalgia… it’s called laziness, Miyamoto. And just slight tweaks do not an original story make.

I did some actual research, digging through and finding out some basic information on the 17 major Zelda titles, all the way from the first NES game to the most recent entries on the Wii and DS. I focused around two main elements: location and antagonist. Here’s what I came up with:

Location

Hyrule (incl. variants): 10
Koholint Island: 1
Termina: 1
Labrynna: 1
Holodrum: 1
*Koridai: 1
*Gamelon: 1
*Tolemac: 1

Main Antagonist

*Ganon: 10-11
Vaati: 2
Dark Link: 1
Wind Fish Egg: 1
Majora: 1
Bellum: 1

*Includes the spin-off CD-i games; without those titles, Ganon has appeared 9-10 times in the series as the primary antagonist. This number depends on whether you count Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages' combined ending featuring the final battle against Ganon as one time or as two.

Neither count includes Master Quest, any official re-releases, the Zelda Satellaview games or the special edition Zelda Collection. Including these numbers would only add to Ganon and Hyrule's totals.

Still, it becomes evident that there are trends here: Zelda games take place in Hyrule, and the main villain is Ganon. No less than six of these titles (Zelda, A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Four Swords Adventures, Wind Waker and Twilight Princess) feature a combination of the two, and most of those are the ones considered the major titles in the series.

The one title missing from that list? Majora’s Mask, the Nintendo 64 Zelda game I still believe is better than Ocarina of Time, and EGM agreed with me at one point. And I will go to my grave saying that.



Why? It was different. Not just with the time and mask mechanics, mind you. We had a new boss in Majora, no princess to save but an entire world instead, and most importantly of all, the ending wasn’t obvious before I played the damn game. Sure, a lot of familiar faces showed up as new people in this alternate reality, but Majora’s Mask dared to venture outside what had been established, and it paid off. It’s overall a better game than Ocarina of Time and one of the most underrated titles on the Nintendo 64, having to live in the big shadow of “the highest rated game OF ALL TIME OMFG AMAZING!!!!!!”

So here’s a couple of ideas on how to change it. At the end of Twilight Princess, we saw Link riding off into the distance. Let him go to another land, another people, one not dealing with this Ganon bullshit. Let Link save them from something new; in my game idea, it’s a non-Ganon force that’s also from outside this land. And like Majora’s Mask, time travel plays an important part, but more in-depth. Your actions in the past have a huge and noticeable effect on the present, whether it’s moving a box or blowing up a rock to make something accessible or completely changing someone’s life in the present by changing the lives of their ancestors in the past.

Or, if we’re staying in Hyrule… ditch Ganon. He’s gone. Poof. Bring on someone new. Vaati is acceptable as a new villain, considering they have established a backstory with him through Four Swords and Minish Cap. Or maybe someone entirely new, like Zant was shaping up to be before Nintendo fell on their old crutch of “OMG GANON IS BEHIND IT ALL LOL! YOU NEVER SAW IT COMING!”

That predictability is why I lost so much interest in Twilight Princess and why Excite Truck is the launch title I played the most. I don’t want “been there, done that” to be the feeling I get playing a Zelda title.



It’s her legend. Let her play an active role in it!

If we’re keeping the series stuck in Hyrule, then it’s time to start making some major changes, like with the titular character.. You know, if her legend is getting captured again and again, that’s a pretty shitty legend. It’s about time Zelda took more than just a passing role in the games.

Unfortunately, when I bring the idea up, I get people who tell me it should never ever happen "because the CD-i games sucked and no one wants to play as Zelda," or something to that extent. Now, to me, that's a weak ass excuse, and I personally think that if done properly, Zelda could be done right. Obviously, that means never letting Philips within 500 miles of the studio the game’s being developed at, but the reasoning that Wind of Gamelon sucking shouldn’t mean this idea dies with that pile of crap they called a game.

In Twilight Princess, she got a sword. In Ocarina of Time, she got an entire new personality as Sheik. Ever since the beginning, she's had mystic powers. But she always ends up falling to Ganon in some manner. Meanwhile, Nintendo has not only managed to create a strong female lead in Samus Aran, but they've also turned Princess Peach from the same damsel in distress into a more dynamic character who even got her own game. Meanwhile, no matter what situation, Link is an unstoppable, silent bad ass, always having to go save the princess.

Please, someone tell me why the fuck that makes sense. I don’t get it.

Now that doesn't mean Zelda needs her own game, and I'm not even suggesting that, but Nintendo, here's a bit of advice; in the next Zelda game, let us play as the title character for a little bit. Do something shocking. Let Link get captured for a brief little bit, and leave it up to Zelda *gasp* to rescue his ass. Let us play that part as Sheik, so we'll have a bit more combat-friendly game play.



Make Hyrule feel alive.

Here’s an issue I’ve never really seen touched on too much. Hyrule is this big land with almost nobody living in it. Now in the old days, there were size limitations that caused this to be a reason, but even in Twilight Princess, Hyrule Castle Town felt barren. I seriously think about 20 people live in the entire Kingdom of Hyrule. Hyrule Castle Town ought to feel something like a smaller version of Liberty City from GTA IV: bustling, filled with crowds trying to get about their daily business. Now you don’t have to go to the extent Rockstar did in that game, but adding more to explore and more people to the city would go a big way in making the series feel more real. Same thing with the outlying villages, too.

New or expanded functions for weapons, please?

Twilight Princess did do one thing right, and that was to bring some new weapons to the table, most notably the ball and chain, addressing a long-standing issue of mine, but it’s use was rather limited. Why only limit to smashing enemies and ice walls? Why not use it to smash open walls and reveal hidden passageways where dead ends might seem to be? Most of these weapons only seem to have one or two functions in the Zelda series, and that just kind of seems… well, rather short-sighted. And why can the hookshot only hook onto certain points? There small nuisances, yes, but they are ones that do detract from the game. Especially every time I hit my sword against an earthen wall and hear a clanking metal sound. Someone should have let me known the ground it now made out of stainless steel.

Orchestrated music. Not that hard.

The continued use of MIDI music recorded using computers and such also bugs me. This is Zelda. This is one of your biggest franchises. If Smash Bros. gets orchestrated music… why not a game like a Twilight Princess? With so many other games now turning to recording studios and real instruments for their soundtracks, the longer Nintendo does this, the more archaic and stubborn they seem. The next Zelda needs orchestrated music to really have that epic feel to it. Otherwise… it’ll just feel bleh.

More interactivity with the people around you.

Alongside the bigger towns idea is the fact that you should be able to talk to and individually interact with all the people in town, and their emotions, thoughts, feelings, manners should change depending upon the game’s situations and maybe how you treat them. Steal someone’s Cuccoo for fun? They won’t talk to you or give you helpful items. Return their lost child? They’ll always remember it and will be especially grateful and helpful in your quest. Pumping out one static answer over and over again does little to help you feel like you’re in an actual world. In fact, it does the opposite.

All this said, there's a lot of issues I haven't touched on, some controversial like voice acting. Nintendo's promised us a new Zelda once Twilight Princess was done. Let's see if they keep their word.
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About Brian Szabelskione of us since 12:13 PM on 02.11.2007




Oh, hi there. Didnt see you enter. Anyways, welcome to my humble little blog. For those of you not familiar with who I am, the names Brian. Im 24 years old and hail from Findlay, Ohio. I work at the local newspaper here as a copy editor, putting my four long years of college to actual use. Kind of. I think.

For those of you who might recognize me from elsewhere, I work as Assistant Gaming Editor over at Blogcritics Gaming and as Features Editor over at Tomopop. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it because I get to do a lot of cool shit with a lot of cool people.

I've been gaming since the relatively young age of around 3 and I've played plenty of games, both good and bad. I'm continuously expanding my gaming collection, which has become more of an archive in recent years as I'm focusing on collecting older, less well-known titles. You'd honestly be surprised on what people are missing out on in bargain bins...



Other than gaming, I love anime, manga, sports, movies, TV, and a whole lot more. I also happen to have something of a legendary love for Cammy, to the point that I am the site's unofficial official Cammy fanboy. And yes, I do play as her in Street Fighter and do so quite well, too.

Also, I am Chad Concelmo's B.F.F., my prize for coming in first in The Great Retro Quiz .18 - ActRaiser. Accept no substitutes. Not even Aerox.

Contact Info:

AIM: NihonTiger90
MSN: hurricane317 at hotmail.com
Skype: NihonTiger90
Twitter: brianszabelski
GMail: brianszabelski at gmail.com
MySpace: Click
Steam: NihonTiger




Mad props to Ghost for this amazing card!

Great Retro Quiz! Results

Punch-Out! featuring Mike Tyson


Star Fox (winner)
ActRaiser (winner)
Dolphins!!
Metroid
Ninja Gaiden
Street Fighter II
Super Mario Kart


Castlevania
Contra
Donkey Kong Country
Smash Bros.
Zelda II

Nihon's Gallery of Hotness:









(Yes, thats one of Dtoids own, Hollie (a.k.a. phoenix-blood). I met her at PAX and she is awesome.)





(Ooooh, I think I found a new favorite :3)

Psst, more here.
Xbox LIVE:NihonTiger90
Mii code:1555-3898-0488-3828


 

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