Tuesday, September 10, 2013

To Zelda too.

1980s Link is frustrated that his Franchise has become stale

I started this post on a day I called in sick-- paid sick days were a perk to my previous place of employment.  And, wouldn't you know it, after a crashing into a nap, post sick-call, I woke up with the earnest desire to play Zelda II:  The Adventure of Link.  Then it occurred to me: there is a very good chance that I stayed home sick from school at some point in my childhood and played Zelda II.  That's neither here, nor there, but I have been thinking about the game since getting up.  

Zelda II is often seen as an aberration in the series, the experimentation with side scrolling and RPG elements being too much for some people.  But I loved this game.  It was a family game and I've played it a bunch of times throughout the years, but I've only beaten it a couple of times.  I made similar claims of favoritism regarding Zelda I and those claims are true; but Zelda II occupies a different and very special place in my memory.

I think it's important to note that the clay had not hardened on this game series when Zelda II came out. Hell, it was only the second game in a series that by now spans over a dozen.  There was no reason to think that each sequel would be the same as the last.  As a matter of fact, it occurs to me that Mario 2 (Mario USA) was also radically different from Mario 1.  However, unlike Mario, we had to wait until a new console system came out to get a third installment of the Zelda theme.  

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed in Zelda III choosing to be another top-down game.  Even though that game is probably my favorite game ever. And in retrospect, it was certainly an impactful decision for the whole franchise, as the next in the series, Link's Awakening, was also top down, and every subsequent Zelda game for a portable system has been a top-down design.  

But back when Zelda II was still relatively new, it was a great game.  I loved the side scrolling, I loved that you got to use Magic and I loved the RPG elements.  Raising levels and an overworld map, two important RPG innovations.  Basically, Zelda II is a completely different game than Zelda I was, and there is no need to compare them.  I think this variation between sequels is great, I wish more game series were like this.  Zelda II was also a true sequel  - the story picks up chronologically after the events of the first game, and Ganon is dead.  

The side-scrolling, overworld map and RPG elements were abandoned after Zelda II, and frankly, I think to the detriment of the series as a wholeI wish Nintendo had been more willing to branch out and experiment with this series.  I don't mean to sound bitter, but in my humble opinion, the Zelda franchise has grown stale and over-marketed.  I think this can be shown by the release schedule of Zelda games.  In the 1980s, two games were released.  The decade of the 90s saw four games. The 2000s saw seven Zelda games released.  I believe it was during the decade of 2000-2010 when Nintendo missed its opportunity to branch the series in a new direction. But, you know, maybe it's never too late.   


Zelda RPG anyone?

Esuna and Kamil - How about Zelda and Link?

And since I'm in love with my own ideas, I want to talk about my old idea for a Zelda RPG.  This was inspired by playing 'The 7th Saga' by Enix on SNES,  something I did a lot of as a teenager.  This was sometime after Zelda III came out, but long before Ocarina of Time.  While playing as Esuna, whom I always played as, I had a moment when I imagined Princess Zelda casting the ice spell.  When playing as Kamil,It wasn't too hard to imagine Link there, sword and shield in hand,  and suddenly I want a Zelda RPG with battle style identical to 7th Saga.  

Now take these two characters above and re-imagine them as Zelda and Link.  Not hard to do eh? Just put a green hat on Kamil and pretty much leave Esuna the same.  At least it wasn't hard for me to imagine in 1996. I thought it would be so cool to play as Zelda and Link fighting side by side.  Mario RPG came out at around this time, and I thought it was a fantastic and innovative game.  In that game, I enjoyed being able to play as Princess Toadstool or Bowser, and I longed for a chance for the Zelda Universe to expand in a similarly clever way. 

It's too bad that we've made it this far without a proper Zelda RPG.  I really think Nintendo dropped the ball on that one.  By Zelda III, the world was lush and full, ripe for development in an RPG style.  The series featured two top-down games and a side scroller with RPG elements.  Further expansion of the series into a multi-genre franchise seemed possible then.  By now, I worry that it may be too late.  Or, is it never too late?  How about it, Nintendo?  


Zelda-- I mean Esuna casting an ice spell.  

Many thanks to:


for exactly the image I was looking for.

No comments:

Post a Comment