Zelda and Transportation Overworlds: Why So Many?

Axle the BeastNovember 17th, 2012 by Axle the Beast

New video discussion! This one’s about “transportation” overworlds in Zelda games (as I call them), the kind that has appeared in The Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks, and Skyward Sword. The discussion is basically about why we’ve been seeing them so much, and how Nintendo hasn’t done many other kinds of overworlds in a while. Enjoy! You can watch the video here or check out the embed after the jump.

I’ve never been a fan of this type of overworld, even as early as The Wind Waker (as I get into in the video), but I wouldn’t have minded it if it was just for one game. My only problem is with it appearing so much. I briefly mentioned this article in the video, if you’re interested.

So what about you? Do you really like these overworlds and want to see more of them in future games? Or are you with me, and think that they’re not as good as on-foot travel, and/or that we need a break? Tell me in the comments!

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  • Tingle


    • wafflegoat

      Oh, you must be so proud, *sniff sniff* they just grow up so fast.

      Seriously, this is so tiring I – I… I’m honestly just lost for words…

  • Tingle

    Wait? Forbidden Woods? I think you meant Forbidden Fortress.

    • http://axlethebeast.com/ Axle the Beast

      Nope. Once you do the stuff on Windfall, you have to sail in a straight line to Dragon Roost Island. Once you complete it, you’re still only allowed to sail in a straight like to the Forest Haven. Aside from what you find on your path, you’re not allowed to do any exploration whatsoever until you complete the Forbidden Woods. The game stays a literal hallway long after completing the Forsaken Fortress.

      • Redtunic-link

        I managed to get to outset island before even starting the forbidden woods.

  • Clemens909

    My first zelda game was phantom hourglass. to me the transportation was flawless. I was so young… so ignorant.

    • http://axlethebeast.com/ Axle the Beast

      Well, in defense of your younger self… Phantom Hourglass has my favorite overworld of the four transportation methods. =P Though if you count the surface areas, then Skyward Sword beats it IMO.

      • Clemens909

        Completly agree but theres nothing then your first zelda. every new one is amazing but your first one is always amazing,

        • MSspirit

          Agreed. Spirit Tracks was my first. Then TP, And SS. But I have a special place for Spirit tracks.

          • The Hylian Monolith

            We have almost the exact same gaming timeline! Kind of. Technically, I played TP first, but I was about eight and I’m ashamed to admit that I gave up quickly and forgot about it. The I got ST for Christmas in 2011, played it, finished it, and I was hooked on Zelda! I unwedged myself in TP and now I’m on the Snowpeak Ruins, I borrowed PH from a friend, he let me keep it (2nd finished!) and now I’m on Skyward Sword, too. They’re all amazing, and OoT is at the top of my Christmas list, but none will ever top ST in my opinion.

            You never forget your first Zelda. xD

          • wafflegoat

            Spirit Tacks was my first too, but I’ve sorta forgotten about it. I think, although it is in fact a good game, it just doesn’t meet the usual Zelda standards, sadly. :(

        • baileygirl99

          My first was OoT. It’s still my favorite.

    • Midnafan

      Someone just like me!! my first game ever was PH, so i’m a lot more partial to it then others are. just like with Pokemon DP, it’s harder for me to see what’s so wrong with it. when i finished it for the first time 5 years ago, i thought it was epic, and the final boss was difficult. it didn’t age well, though, cause replaying, i beat Linebeck in 10 seconds and the ending cutscenes were stupid. Still, it’s nice to know i’m not the only one who started so late in the game (no pun intended) ! :D

      • Clemens909

        Dont worry about being late
        my timeline is PH SS OOT MM TP TWW
        I starded when I was 11 and I am now 14. almost 15.
        my ds broke so I dont think I will ever play spirit tracks :(

        • Midnafan

          I’m not alone anymore! :’) I started when i was 11 too, but i’m 16 now. Mine was PH ST TP SS OoT3D TWW(have barely touched) i also got the anniversary FS tried ALttP, LA, and the Oracle games, didn’t like ‘em. :/

  • Darkgreyfire

    When you do as many games as Zelda has done, you have to keep it fresh. Especially with the same basic basis for the story in each game. And they have been fun, from the loft wing to the King of the Red Lions. But to me, theirs nothing like riding Epona through Hyrule field… Ocarina and Twilight style.

    • mother groose

      I miss Epona.

      • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.clark.967 Kyle Clark

        Epona: ney ney ney ney neeey neeeeeeeeeey
        Translation: i miss you to zelda universe

        • WolfLink11

          *Nuzzles Epona’s leg gently and whimpers softly.*
          Translation: (I still love you Epona.)

          • wafflegoat

            STOP THE MADNESS!!!!!!!!

        • Chief Wiggum

          Stay in school son…

          • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.clark.967 Kyle Clark


      • Midnafan

        Epona’s only been in 3 out of 16 games, yet she’s so iconic. They really need to make her a more frequent part of the series, even if she’s optional. kind of like the Hylian Shield. :)

        • Adamjay

          Did anyone else wonder why they gave you the option to name the horse in Twilight Princess? Like there was any choice….

          • Midnafan

            You could name the horse what ever you wanted. most people just name her epona anyways :/

          • wafflegoat

            Hehehe…After I finished TP for the first time, my friend and I played again on a different save file and called her Death Destroyer, lol

        • The Dark Lord Demise

          5 games!

          • Midnafan

            What other two games was she in? :/ The intro to the oracle games don’t count. -_-

          • The Dark Lord Demise

            YES IT DOES !

  • Midnafan

    The transportation stuff is really boring, cause all you do is wait to reach the next destination, and defeat an enemy or too along the way. My problem is is there are virutally no obstacles while traveling. I think if PH had more battles like with the 3 monsters that kept you from entering the islands, it would have been much better. Or if more islands required work to enter like Frost Island or the Cobble Kingdom did. In SS, if you weren’t looking for it, you met pretty much no obstacles while flying.

  • http://www.facebook.com/calebofroy Caleb Mark Roy

    I like how they incorporated the red loftwing into the hylian shield. I mean it was always there and we never questioned why… However I agree That it’s bogus that they just keep it going. What happened to Tornado Travel. I do like Epona also, but maybe link doesn’t need a transportation just once. Or maybe he could have a strange bicycle-like creation. I Love the Windwaker because it was so huge and that music while sailing was just awesome… but it was original then… not so much anymore.

  • Ben

    I just finished playing wind waker for the 2nd time and I enjoyed the overworld more the 2nd time around. I like the amount of exploration they give you in the wind waker – 49 islands. Also once you learn the wind’s requiem on dragon roost island, which is at an early point in the game, you can really go anywhere you want.

    I also thought Skyward Sword could have populated the sky with a little more to do

  • Ninty

    Much more concise than usual. (^_^) I take it you’ve spoken about this with your friends or something before?

    I do think they should bring back the old themes of the Zelda series, like more exploration as the first game had. Of course, the ridiculous secrets that almost nobody can find without a walkthrough don’t have to stay, though it doesn’t always have to be so obvious either (crack in the wall). Also, maybe they could have less items so the ones they do give us are much more refined and complex, and require more skill to master.

    The newer games are certainly fun, but the transportation gameplay does get old pretty fast. I did like more ground-based, flexible ones like being a wolf or Epona, though. They also need to do more with the Overworlds like add more for us to discover. It would be pretty boss to learn more about the world finding hieroglyphs or other hidden secrets that teach us a little more about the world of Hyrule. That coupled with less obvious but not impossible secrets to find, and maybe some hilarious/interesting NPCs along the way… It would be awesome.

    • The Hylian Monolith

      …This whole comment reminds me inexplicably of a moment in the Hyrule Field in front of the west Casle Town gate, in TP. There’s a section of the cliff north of the path to the Great Bridge of Hylia(you start there with Rutela’s Sidequest) that has vines on it, teh kind ou climb on. Use your clawshot to get over to it and turn into a wolf. Dig in the center of the odd circle of stones on the platform that the vines hang from and you’ll fall into an underground room full of helmasaurs(hope you have the Back Slice). Defeat them all and a chest containing an orange rupee will appear. This was even more reminiscent of other OoT than the thing with the Poes in Arbiter’s Grounds, but in a good way. I had fun with it, and just like you stated, it wasnt as obvious as it could’ve been, and it wasn’t too tricky to find and accomplish. I like Twilight Princess a lot, my only current issue is that I refuse to believe that the Snowpeak Ruins are a dungeon, even though I’m currently fighting Darkhammer. Are you using TP as your base of reference for this? Or OoT? I mean, POSTMAN. Combine those awesome overworlds with those little historical secrets you mentioned, and the overworld would be golden. Maybe even Triforce golden.

      So it wasn’t as irrelevant as I though…;)

      • Ninty

        I actually didn’t think of TP as a base reference but just more my experience, though that is a great example. And as funny as Postman is, the overworld could definitely use more. I mean, TP’s Hyrule, now that you mention it, is known for being so expansive but lacking in some people’s eyes. In fact, that’s why Skyward Sword isn’t quite as big. I hope they reconsider and try to make a world that big again with more to do in it. Secret NPCs in caves, or little huts, maybe even some of the tons of people that are normally in Castle Town in TP. lol Now you got me thinking about that game! There really is so much more they could improve from TP’s style. It would be so golden.

  • erikingvoldsen

    What about Twilight Princess?

  • Blackbaldrik

    I am not a fan of the “Transportation Overworlds,” Wind Waker’s was ok, but I had a very hard time playing it again.
    After the first time, that fun “I’m on a boat!” feeling is gone, and all you get is the “am I there yet?” feeling… Same thing with Phantom Hourglass.

    I stopped liking the trains in Spirit Tracks during my first playthrough because the game was literally on rails. Zero overworld exploration killed the fun almost instantly for me.

    I really hope Nintendo goes back to the non-transportation based overworlds again. I miss being able to explore the world on foot.

  • Dart

    Although I cannot say I did not enjoy “trasportation overworlds”, I enjoyed free-roam overwolds much more. My first real video game ever was ALltP, and exploring Hyrule one I left the sactuary was amazing. You can run around most of Hyrule and make discoveries before the first dungeon. Then the Pegasus Boots make exploring more fun. PH and WW are still amazing games, but open exploration is far better.

  • Adamjay

    In my opinion, Skyward sword could have done without the entire sky region. Wind Waker’s great sea had a load of just random islands that existed for sidequests/a few rupee/heart piece, whereas most of the sky in Skyward sword was just random rocks that served no purpose or to give you medals you already have. Either do it well or don’t do it…

    Much as I LOVE Wind Waker (for all its flaws my favourite game in the series), and enjoyed Skyward Sword, I think Twilight princess got the “overworld” the best. A large map that you can explore on foot, or on horseback, or just warp across. If you want to get from a to b, use the warp. If you want to just have a quick scout out for secrets/ easy kill some baddies, go on horseback, and if you want to have a proper scour for everything in the area, go on foot. I enjoy the fact it emphasizes the fact that just because you have been to an area, it doesn’t mean you have discovered everything in it (or caught the sodding bugs.)

    • littlemissgleek

      I know what you mean, this overworld element is also what I personally love in ocarina of time. It gives you choice and variety in how you want to explore and get to places. Walking, horseback or ocarina of time warps.

  • littlemissgleek

    I personally found the ocarina transportation system in ocarina of time and minish cap the most enjoyable. It really gives you a choice as to how you want to play. Like, you can explore anywhere you want and there are no limitations, but for the people who want to rush through the game, they can get to where they need to using the ocarina. And that way people will never get bored, you can adventure through it or fly through the game play.

    I didn’t find the transportation in phantom hourglass and spirit tracks completely restricted, as, with the transport comes a lot of sidequests. Like in phantom hourglass you can claw for treasure anywhere on the map but I really liked the bunny sidequest in spirit tracks, and found it quite fun.
    And who else here loves in spirit tracks when you reach the top of the mountain in the north-east region and when you look at the view you can see the sky and the ocean. It’s just so intriquing to look at.

  • The Wanderer

    The ideal Zelda overworld strikes me as humungous, sweeping, majestic, and beautiful. If it bears all four of these qualities, walking through all of it is going to take quite awhile. Therefore, I do hope “transportation” returns in some form; it makes things quicker and gives us a rush, even if the vehicle isn’t terribly useful on its own. This was actually one of the problems I had with Xenoblade Chronicles: so much space, and your only option was to walk, Landmark warps aside. It made things slow.

    I don’t think overworlds should be designed around that transportation aspect so much, though, as it feels more limiting than anything. You can’t get around how you want to – you must rely solely on the vehicle to cross the space. Overworlds designed around their vehicles also tend to bear the most fundamental flaws, ironically: The Wind Waker had long expanses of nothing, and Skyward Sword’s sky was virtually pointless and filled with irritating loading screens. That doesn’t mean they were bad, per se, but they still felt gimmicky and limiting. At least they did to me.

    For all its criticism, I honestly feel Twilight Princess had the best 3D overworld in the series. You got Epona early on, warp points were frequent, and Wolf Link could run fast anyway. Much of it was empty, but then, most other 3D Zelda overworlds were pretty empty anyway, and a swift horse with tight controls didn’t make speed an issue. Needed more color and variety, but in terms of functionality, I much prefer Twilight Princess’s overworld.

    • http://twitter.com/PosiREP Robby Post

      OK, you just described Skyrim…so…go play that.

      I mean, I agree with you but clearly Nintendo aims Zelda at kids these days so they take all real exploration out of the series.

  • OcarinaLink

    Minish Cap is a side game. A SIDE GAME! Big whoop!

  • James Kensel

    I agree, I really hope they don’t push the same thing upon us in the new Zelda.

  • Taylor

    phantom hourglass was a terrible game wind waker was awesome

  • DarkRinku

    While I understand that the transportation overworlds get boring over time, I’ve never felt like it’s been terrible in the Zelda series. Nintendo seem to understand that it gets boring and therefore come up with new ways to make it faster- almost like a reward for progressing through the games. Like in Wind Waker, once you get the bow, you have the potential to then ‘warp’ to the different locations whenever you need to, which cuts out a lot of the travelling time and therefore stops the bordem. And in Skyward Sword I always enjoyed flying around and finding the small islands where the Goddess Chests were, and never even thought about it being a “transportation world”. With that said, I feel as long as there are enough side quests to enjoy, transportation overworlds aren’t a problem- only when it becomes more of a chore when trying to get to somewhere you need to be.

    So yes, transportation overworlds could be used less in the series, but only if there aren’t enough side quests available to interest the player whilst also progressing through the game.

  • baileygirl99

    Minish cap is NOT a side game!!!! :-(. I like traveling in the over world on Epona, rather than just walking. I didn’t really like how in ST the destinations were always so far away from each other, so I would have to Tavel and wait for a long time. It got annoying. Same with WW.

  • Isaac Heflin

    I personally liked the SS sky and overworld, it felt good just riding around on my loftwing and talking to everyone and doing stuff. I am indifferent about the WW and PH overworlds, while it was kinda fun, it wasn’t the best and could be improved upon. I hated ST overworlds though, no more of the ST overworlds. NO MORE!!!

  • faror

    i really liked flying on the loftwing. fav part of that game.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RyanF.Hullstrunk Ryan F. Hullstrunk

    I want to see a Zelda game take a few notes from the book of Assassin’s Creed in the aspect of overworld that has multiple places to go and different ways and areas between those places, as well as in the platforming aspects that exist in Assassin’s creed and could easily fit well in The Legend of Zelda.

  • DementedAvenger27

    the transportation is what initially turned me off to the DS zelda games. thought I enjoyed them to an extent I found myself bored because of the limitation. Link needs to start hoofing it more.

  • Knots-077

    If they could have integrated both in a fun and involving way that makes sense, it wouldn’t have been so bad.

  • DaveAndersmith

    This is how I imagine my perfect Zelda Overworld hapening:

    So you begin the game, and your in a small area, say your home village type dealy. You learn the basics of control and stuff from someone, and you get your sword and the main problem is presented, and you get a some sort of a hint or suggestion hint as to where to go next. And then? The whole world is open to you.All you got is some boots and a map. you can go do sidequest, explore hte area, flesh out the lore and characters, or you can go do your main quest and such and develop the plot and stuff., but always have exploring hte realm as an option. The only thing keeping you from doing things is your free will, difficult enemies, and maybe lack of an item for certain quests and dungeons and whatnot. You advance the story at your pace, but you don’t get gheld back from exploration if you go slowly. That’s my dream Zelda.