Link needs an overhaul

With the anticipated release of Skyward Sword this fall, and a sneak peek at the game itself at E3 2011, it begs the question... is Nintendo doing all it can to keep the Zelda franchise fresh for it's horde of fans? I say NO!

June 20, 2011

Link needs an overhaul!


With the anticipated release of Skyward Sword this fall, and a sneak peek at the game itself at E3 2011, it begs the question... is Nintendo doing all it can to keep the Zelda franchise fresh for it's horde of fans? I say NO!

I remember staying up for hours on end in the 80's playing the original NES Zelda (yes, the gold cartridge) with my cousin. Perhaps I am biased, but in my humble opinion there has only been a handful of "worthy" Zelda titles that come close to being as good as the '86 smash hit. I feel that Skyward sword, though not even rele
ased, will not be one of them.

When "Adventures of Link" was announced as a sequel to LoZ I was stoked. I could only imagine a whole new world to adventure in as Link with better graphics and game play. Then the push back. "Sorry. Japan has it, but America isn't ready yet." Christmas came and went. It was disappointing, but life moved on. It wasn't until a full year later that we got to see the actual release of the game. I went to Toys R Us, pulled the ticket off of the massive NES wall, and waited patiently in line to purchase Zelda 2. I Got it home... Pushed the cartridge (another gold one) into the slot. Powered the NES on and, UGH! Now this was REALLY disappointing.

As Nintendo rolled on with Link to the past, Ocarina of time,
Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, and a handful of hand-held titles, very few of them caught my attention as "show stoppers". With that said, however, I will say, I was a fan of Link to the Past and the more stylish graphics that came with it thanks to the SNES's 16-bit capabilities. The story was fun, the game play was enjoyable, but most importantly I got to see the top down perspective that was worthy of my attention...something I had missed so much in Adventures of link. The game wasn't the original, but it was closer than the previous release so that was a step in the right direction.

As new titles came out, I was reluctant to buy them. They all looked like rehashes of the game I had already played. Get hearts. defeat bad guys, find the slingshot, hook shot and boomerang (fishing was a cool addition though) ...It wasn't until Wind Waker arrived, with it's beautiful cell shading and the ability to sail, that I deceided to purchase into th
e franchise again. I played Majora's Mask and Ocarina at friends, but I didn't buy any of them as they didn't "wow" me; Although, Wind Waker did. I loved sailing the open sea, talking to fish and traveling the vast world late into the night. The new tools, weapons, and npc's made for a delightful journey. With side quests abound, this title had a lot of fun wrapped up into it's little Game Cube disk.

As time went on, with every new console Nintendo released, it seemed to be paired with an eventual Zelda title. As the dawn of motion controls arrived, the Wii brought us Twilight Princess. The graphics seemed a touch more mature (especially compared to the fan fare of the cell shaded Wind Waker), and the motion controls definately added a new level of player experience. But even though I loved playing the game, the game itself, and the franchise as a whole, had started to
fall flat for me. The games have a sense of adventure that varies with each release, and the tasks and enemies certainly change a bit, but all in all it is just another revamp of the same old to do list. The weapons and overall treasures have become predictable. I ride a horse. I get a sword, use a boomerang, find a hook shot, increase my heart containers, chase fairies, and sing a song. Where is the originality? Where are the new items? Features? Are we at the end of the "list" is this the last page of the notebook? I hope not.

As I look ahead at Skyward sword I anticipate; riding a bird,
finding fairies, getting heart containers, using a sword, chucking a boomerang and gathering the same various colored rupies, hearts and magic bottles from shredded grass blades as I do a spin strike on an open field. It's getting old. I want the allure of '86 and the gold cartridge. I want the yearning of enjoyable game play (not grinding) through a level to find a wand or red candle. I want to hold a tri-force piece high above links head and feel as though I have accomplished a feat, not simply completed an item off of my to do list. I want to feel proud to own the new Zelda title.

Perhaps it's my age showing, or the nostalgic side (the "kid" in me) coming out for a peek at the new century of gaming. I want the exhilaration of opening a case, tossing the game into the system, grabbing a rack of Dews, a 3 lb bag of skittles, and settling into hours of game play that sucks me in. I don't want hours of cut scenes and reading... I'll play La Noire for that. I want adventure at the truest sense of the word...Discovery. Finding new hidden treasures.

My plea to Nintendo... Release a Zelda title with an "M" rating. Get that tunic stained, torn and bloody. Beef up that graphics engine. Come up with some new weapons, traps, puzzles and creatures. Put me in some snow. Show me some gore. Rough up Link. Add some fear. Take away the cartoon and inject some stealth. Give me a reboot that makes me go "Awww yeah... lets go pick up some fairies... we're gonna need them for this shit!"


Chad is an Adjunct Faculty member teaching video game design in Boston, MA. His school web site is He can be reached for comment there.

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