Virtual Insanities: What’s Next For “The Legend of Zelda”?

“This will no doubt be the last Zelda game as we know it today.”

-Shigeru Miyamoto, series creator

This quote, concerning The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, is already a few months old. I first read it, I believe, while reading a Nintendo Power magazine on the toilet. Then, I read it again in a news post on the Internet. It was pretty big news. “Last Zelda as we know it”? What could this mean? I had a lot of time to think about it because the game still had a few months to go before its release date.

Fast forward to November 2006. I pre-ordered the Nintendo Wii at my local Zellers, along with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Excite Truck. I played through the game, obviously in awe of the art style and completely oblivious to what was happening around me. The story had me and wasn’t letting go. Finally, I simply forgot about the above quote, completed the game and went straight to Excite Truck and Wii Sports.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend reminded me of the quote at the start of this article. Being a well-known Zelda geek, I tried to answer his questions to the best of my knowledge. After all, I had read about the next game, titled “Phantom Hourglass”, so the answer seemed obvious to me.

“He probably meant the last game played traditionally. With the DS and the Wii, it looks like they are trying to incorporate new types of control, like the touch screen features in Phantom Hourglass, or maybe more motion-detection stuff in the next game on the Wii.”

But what if that wasn’t what Mr. Miyamoto meant? Sure, Phantom Hourglass will not be Zelda “as we know it”, but what about the next games? Will they try to move the series to a new genre? Will we get a new protagonist? A new villain? Have they told everything they needed to about the legend, meaning that the next games are destined to be nothing but spin-offs like Tingle’s RPG?

After thinking about different possibilities, reading forums, watching rumours all over the web and eating two chocolate fudge Pop-Tarts, I managed to come up with a list of what fans of the series want to see. Here is a non-scientific compilation of what gamers around the web apparently want from the Legend of Zelda series.

What Could Be Next For The “Legend of Zelda”

More Spin-Offs

Some guy on a forum that was not Inside Pulse’s was asking for an American version of Tetra’s Trackers, which is apparently a puzzle guy that came with Japanese pre-orders of The Wind Waker. What I want is an English version of Tingle’s Fresh-Scented Rose-Colored Rupee Land, dammit. This is a game that looks original and fun, yet because people in North America are constantly complaining about Tingle because he’s obnoxious and different, the odds of it being released here are pretty slim. I got this job writing at Inside Pulse with a rant about why Tingle is a better character than people give him credit for, so you know I’m serious. Tinge is funny. Tingle rules. I want his RPG here, because unfortunately, I don’t speak Japanese. If Nintendo decides not to release the game on this side of the Pacific because some people hate on a guy just because he wears tight clothes and thinks he’s a fairy, then I’ll have no choice but to go on a road trip across America while bashing some heads with my hockey stick.

The only thing I will accept as a replacement, if we are to be refused the fun that a Tingle game would be, is a kart racing game. I know that most kart games that don’t have “Mario” in front of them are on the awful side of the scale, but I am a sucker for them. I just love the mindless fun. I know that a lot of people would think that a game like that would be whoring out the Zelda franchise, and I would probably agree with them, but there’s a good chance that it could be fun. I know I’m probably alone on this one, so let’s just move right along to the next possibility.

Full Sword Movements Mapped to the Wiimote’s Motion-Control

This has been thought of ever since the Wii was announced, and while it could be fun, I don’t know if it’s entirely possible. If we check the way you can handle the bat in Wii Baseball, then I guess they can do it. However, if it does happen, I know a lot of people who are going to be whining and bitching about it when it comes out, mostly because they won’t really be able to swing properly in every direction with the Wiimote when they’ll be sitting on their couch. Full motion control would also mean that in order to defeat enemies or find weak spot, you would have to swing your sword in the correct direction instead of slashing like a madman.

Just imagine Twilight Princess’ battles against the Darknuts. You had to go behind them, slash at their back and stab. Swinging wildly didn’t work because they would either block with their sword, or take the hit without damage because of their armor. What does this mean for the player? The game would probably be less forgiving. If you can’t hit the enemy in its weak spot, then it’s your own damn fault, and it’s because you suck and you can’t aim properly. Are gamers ready for that? When the control is mapped to a button, as in the previous versions of Zelda, it does the correct action according to what’s happening. Different sword moves were as simple as changing the direction you’re pushing on the joystick. Things are gonna be different, and probably harder if you are responsible for mimicking the exact movement you want reproduced on the screen.

Personally, I think that the creators hit the perfect balance between motion control and traditional control with Twilight Princess. Aiming with the Wiimote is perfect, slashing away feels natural without being too awkward or uselessly complicated. Do we really need full motion control just because it would be possible? I love the Wii because it’s all about innovation, but it doesn’t need to go over the top with it. While I’m still undecided if that would bee a good thing or not, I have a feeling that if they do go with it, Miyamoto and his team would manage to make it all look easy and simple.

The Legend of Zelda: The MMORPG

When searching different forums in hope of hearing more about what fans of the series wanted, I came across a huge number of posts clamouring for a MMO version of the game. At first, with the popularity of World of Warcraft, it seemed like a good idea, but then I remembered two things:

1) If Nintendo was to make a game of that genre, I think they’d go for Animal Crossing series, for the simple fact that the basics are already in place, and the series is already well-established all over the world.
2) 2) I hate MMORPGs.

Why do I hate MMORPGs? For a start, I think that they are too time-consuming and don’t really play well with my lifestyle. I rarely play games for more than an hour at a time, and I don’t really have the patience to build a character from scratch and level it up. Secondly, I think that MMORPGs, while they can be fun and help people all over the word communicate if used correctly, have a tendency to bring out the worst stereotypes people have about gamers. I think it isn’t too farfetched to imagine the following situations happening if such a game was to really happen:

-Nerds spending weeks at a time in front of their computer, eating nothing but junk food while trying to bring their Gerudo warrior to level 60, then bragging about it in-game while pissing people off and calling each level 4 Goron Mage they see “N00bs”. Just because you don’t have anything else interesting to do in real life doesn’t mean we’re going to quit our day jobs just so we can be as “cool” as you.

-Male players trying to chat with every “sexy” in-game avatar they see. Sure, that Sheikah chick looks all cool and mysterious, but don’t forget that behind it, someone like this could be the one having some hot and wet cyber-sex with you.

-You thought that nearly pornographic World of Warcraft fan art was bad? Wait until you see artists going crazy for Zoras. I mean, come on, they’re naked, and Princess Ruto clearly has boobs, so you know some people are gonna do it. Please people; let’s remember that Zoras are basically fishes. Anthropomorphic fishes, but fishes nonetheless. Let’s not bring bestiality to the next level.

-More Link/Hylian obsessed cosplayers than we already have, or need. Most of them aren’t even blond anyway, and those fake plastic pointy ears freak me out. Let’s try to keep them at a minimum.

Anyway, as much as some people would like this to happen, I would hate to see this become a reality. Thankfully, the odds of it happening are next to none, or so I hope. I don’t know what all of you think, but I don’t feel ready for such a game. I’m not sure if I ever will be.

In Closing

“The last Zelda game as we know it”. Such a statement only leaves a cloud of mystery floating around the series. While rumours have been popping up around the Internet that the next Zelda game for the Wii was already in production, nothing specifies what it’s going to be about, and what form it will take. All that’s left to do for us is wait for Phantom Hourglass, which is already shaping up to be marvellous when you look at the trailers, and then enjoy its apparently amazing multiplayer mode. I’m glad there are bringing some multiplayer action back to the series. I didn’t get to enjoy the Four Swords series, due to my lack of a friend with a Game Boy Advance, so I am still waiting for my first Zelda multiplayer experience.

Maybe I am just over-thinking all of this. It might mean that they will simply shuffle the way the game unfolds, concentrating less on the dungeons and more on other aspects of the game. Maybe they will simply introduce a new gameplay mechanic to the series that will revolutionize the genre the same way the Wiimote revolutionized controllers. Whatever it ends up being, I am not worried a bit. One thing I have learned from playing video games in the last 20 years or so is that if Shigeru Miyamoto thinks he has a good idea and it could be fun for everybody, he’s probably right.