As with many Nintendo franchises, every time there’s a new The Legend of Zelda game, there’s usually some sort of hook or interesting bit meant to keep the player interested. Some of these work, and some of these are the Sky from Skyward Sword. These aspects of the game that change between different titles can really help to push a game over that edge of glory (ha), or aid in it tumbling downward to infamy. Well, while there aren’t really any particularly bad Zelda games, there are certainly some that we don’t remember so fondly. Thus, certain aspects of the Zelda franchise can really help make or break a game. Here’s five Zelda gimmicks that need to make a return, along with five that can leave for good.
10 Stay: Alternate Words
One aspect of Zelda that is familiar, but fun, is the concept of an alternate world. Whether it be a Dark World type of situation (one that is very similar to the base world with slight differences), or a completely new world such as the Twilight Realm, giving players a second world to explore is never a bad thing.
Also, feel free to make Bunny Link a permanent fixture of any alternate world you may choose to add to your games. Love that man.
9 Stay Away: Linearity
Linearity on its own isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it isn’t exactly what is best for a Zelda game. The muddled reception to Skyward Sword (although there are a lot more factors at play there) shows that this isn’t what fans want out of a game of this type. An exciting, sprawling adventure is what we’re here for, not to be shuffled down corridor after corridor of shrubbery.
8 Stay: Flying Devices
This is very very vague, but just stay with it for a second. Getting to fly around in Zelda games is literally never a bad time. Who doesn’t like to fly? The paraglider is one example of this concept. Getting to drift to anywhere you want to within Breath of the Wild’s massive map is a great thing, and using the Deku Leaf over the open waters of Wind Waker strikes a very similar chord. Let us continue to see the best of the huge worlds that Zelda games tend to and should (see the above point) provide from up in the sky.
7 Stay Away: No DLC
Breath of the Wild was the first Zelda game to offer any major form of DLC, and boy did they do it well. A massive story expansion and a huge set of trials for only $20? I paid that much for a Zombies map in COD: World at War (probably, it’s been a while). If the developers have a great idea, it should be added. It’s far too often that Zelda titles are a one and done deal. Pack those maps with as much content as humanly possible.
6 Stay: Open World
While it obviously isn’t something that can or needs to be done with every single title, giving us a Breath of the Wild-esqe open map every once in a while is an absolute must.
The map of that game is what made it the massive critical and commercial success that it turned out to be, and hopefully, games like BOTW 2 and other open games can manage to capture just a fraction of the magic that the original open world Zelda game had.
5 Stay Away: Boring, Open Areas
That said, what we don’t need are things like the Sky from Skyward Sword or Hyrule Field from Ocarina of Time. If there are going to be big, open areas, make them worth exploring. Make every nook and cranny hide something worth finding. Wind Waker is a compromise between empty and full, so if you’re going to do something in that vein, make sure we have a Swift Sail to keep us moving.
4 Stay: Transformations
Being a wolf was pretty fun, huh? So were the masks in Majora’s Mask! While nothing can truly top Bunny Link, giving the player the ability to transform between different species and creatures only assures that the game stays fun and varied. Was anyone else lied to and told there was a fish transformation in Twilight Princess? No? Okay, fine.
3 Stay Away: The Ocarina Formula
The concept of Ocarina being the basis of every Zelda game up to Breath of the Wild is certainly an accurate one. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
Make sure that each and every game gives players a brand new toolset to mess around with, something they haven’t received before. Give Link a purse to slap his enemies with. I dare you.
2 Stay: Different Art Styles
One thing that the Zelda series is known for is reinvention, and one thing that continues to make that a reality is the series’ continual change in art style. Whether it be the cel-shaded graphics of Wind Waker, the more realistic look to Twilight Princess, or the cute look to the brand new Link’s Awakening remake, no two Zelda titles (save for a few direct sequels) look the same, making way for each game to make a distinct mark on our memories.
1 Stay Away: Weak Stories
One thing that Zelda isn’t always known for is its stories. Majora’s Mask is one title that has a much heavier focus on narrative, and it’s one of the best regarded in the series. Absolutely 100% retain the voice acting of Breath of the Wild, and put a bigger emphasis on story in your games. Maybe make it optional, like BOTW did, so fans aren’t forced to hear it if they don’t want to. When Zelda commits to a narrative, it’s usually done very well. More of that please.