Are we craving the next evolution of Zelda, or what?
It started earlier in the year with Darksiders. Here was a title that clearly owed almost everything to Zelda (and Portal, to be fair). It took everything we knew and loved about Link’s never-ending quest to rescue the princess, and painted a dark veneer over it- adding, tweaking, and pushing those ideas here and there. Most agreed that while highly derivative, Darksiders did manage to be a more solid and enjoyable Zelda-esque title than anything Nintendo has produced recently (for the record, I highly enjoyed Twilight Princess despite it being far from the best entry in the long-running series).
So here we are now with the recent release of 3D Dot Heroes. Again, we’re looking at a title that owes so much to Zelda, I’m surprised Nintendo aren’t letting their lawyers off their leashes. It looks and plays exactly like a remake of the very first Zelda release for the NES, with slight changes that bring it into the modern era of gaming. It feels nostalgic, and seems to be hitting a lot of buttons that gamers have been craving for some time now.
Recently, Nintendo’s begun speaking about the next Zelda game in the franchise, stating that their aim moving forward is to simplify the game play. Now, while I’ll be the first to admit that the series has become increasingly more complex, I can’t help but feel they mean to aim the series more directly towards the mass of casual gamers who have invested in the Wii. This could potentially be a good thing, if Nintendo were to do for Zelda what Galaxy did for Mario. Not so much a reinvention as a invigoration.
Nintendo also runs the risk of alienating it’s core fan base. For some reason I don’t think any one’s ever been able to put a finger on, the Zelda series has never had quite the same mainstream appeal of Mario. The games sell great, yes, but if we’re talking about a series that would appeal to the casual gamer who has a Wii sitting in their home, I don’t think of Zelda. So with that in mind, what changes would Nintendo be willing to make to their long-standing franchise in order to make it more appealing to that segment of their consumer base?
Whatever play Nintendo ends up making, one thing’s for sure: the Zelda series will never be out of the spotlight for too long a stretch. The only question is do we as fans still care, or have we moved on?