Is it Time for Zelda to Reintroduce Magic?

GuestMarch 11th, 2013 by Guest


Magic has had quite an interesting relationship with the Legend of Zelda series throughout its history. While elements of magic have always been at least thematically present in Zelda games, magic itself has not always been a part of Link’s available weaponry. Link has only used magic as a means of offense in The Adventure of Link, A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and The Wind Waker. Its implementation within the different games has been fickle to say the least, and its usability has seen several alterations. The success of magic as a gameplay element has also been varied, which may be a reason for its recent absence.

The Magic Meter as well as magical spells and items have served a number of purposes to Link throughout his adventures. Magic in all of the Zelda games in which it has been featured has been given a dedicated meter that keeps track of how much has been used, and how much is remaining. By using certain magic items or spells, the meter will decrease, depending on how powerful the magic is. The Magic Meter can be replenished by picking up magic jars in the field or by drinking a Green Potion. Primarily, magic has been used to solve puzzles, defeat enemies, and provide the player with additional defenses.

What makes the Magic Meter interesting is that since it decreases with every usage of magic, it gives the player an additional resource to keep track of. The tactical management of deciding when to use certain abilities creates an additional layer of depth that singular items cannot provide. While certain items like the Bow are limited by their ammo capacity, magic differs in the sense that multiple skills are tied to one limited supply.

Despite the unique qualities that magic can provide, it has not been seen in a new Zelda game since The Wind Waker ten years ago. It should be noted, though, that it was originally intended to be included in Twilight Princess. This suggests that with the recent games, it has been a deliberate decision to remove the Magic Meter from the core gameplay. Why is that? To decipher that, it would be beneficial to analyze what about the Magic Meter has worked in the past and what has not. Based on that, it would be easier to tell what would work best if magic was to be implemented into Zelda Wii U.

The Adventure of Link

Zelda II Spell List

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was the first game in the series to utilize magic as a gameplay element. It also features magic much more prominently than any other Zelda game. Although Zelda II plays dramatically differently than the rest of the Zelda games, that does not mean we should exclude it from being a source of inspiration.

The Adventure of Link takes a vastly different approach on its gameplay than its predecessor, and not just because of its side-scrolling nature. Games in the Legend of Zelda series are known for having combat that emphasizes a symbiotic relationship between the sword and an array of secondary weapons. Zelda II takes a different approach to this idea by denying Link of an attainable inventory, and he instead employs him with magical spells as secondary weapons. This was definitely a unique approach to a Zelda title, but it was not appreciated as much as it should have been because the game differs so drastically from the rest of the Zelda franchise.

Barring perhaps a single exception, the spells all have consistently practical purposes. There are defensive spells, offensive spells, and three other “action” spells, which have more unique functionalities.

Among the defensive spells are Shield, which doubles the players defenses, Life, which restores health, and Reflect, which deflects magic beams from enemies. Each spell is useful in keeping the player alive, which comes in handy in such a difficult game.

The offensive oriented spells are Fire and Lightning, which summon a fireball and lightning, respectively, to attack enemies. The player needs to decide when is the best time to use them in order to both conserve as much magic as possible and to defeat enemies as efficiently as they can. Spell could also be considered an offensive spell, as it turns enemies into Bots (the little slime creatures).

The ability Fairy is extremely interesting to me. It has many different emergent strategies associated with it, such as avoiding enemies and flying to higher locations. Most interestingly, just like in the original Zelda where you can buy keys, you can fly through locked doors as the fairy in Zelda II. This provides an alternative solution for those who are less puzzle or exploration savvy, but comes at the cost of reducing your limited magic bar.

The last spell, however, is less interesting and actually helps define my main gripe with magic in the Zelda series. The Jump spell, while it theoretically could be used strategically, is not a very viable tool. It merely consumes magic to complete required tasks. It is exceedingly frustrating to be in a situation where you know that you have to jump to reach a higher platform to move on, but you cannot do it because you don’t have enough magic. I will probably constantly repeat this, I apologize in advance, but arbitrary limits should not be imposed on tasks that are necessary to progress through a game. Jump should have been made to be more viable in multiple situations, and high platforms should have been either removed or dedicated to discovering optional secrets. They also could have made high jumping a skill that did not require magic, just like the upward and downward thrust attacks.

Despite a few shortcomings, Zelda II had a very well designed, well implemented system of magic, most likely because it was a deliberate focus of the game’s design.

A Link to the Past

aLttP Magic

Many of the ideas that were presented in Zelda II in regards to magic were translated in one way or another into A Link to the Past. Although this entry in the series returned to a style of gameplay similar to the original Legend of Zelda, the magic concepts introduced in Zelda II were altered to fit within this type of game. The main difference is that the Magic Meter was tied to the usage of certain items, rather than its own set of abilities. This was an effective method for the most part, although it did come with its share of inherent flaws.

A Link to the Past shared the problem of having some magic items used to solve mandatory puzzles, although, thankfully, none of them were used exclusively for this purpose. It was a clever design choice that in some situations, there were ways around using those items. For example, although there were many locales enveloped in darkness throughout the game, you did not necessarily need to light candles with your Lamp in order to progress. There were defects though, like the fact that Link needs two of the Medallions in order to open two of the game’s dungeons, and they require magic to open.

One of the parts that comes to mind as significantly aggravating was facing the boss Trinexx, which required the usage of the Ice and Fire Rods to win. I ran out of magic a few times facing the boss before I was able to defeat it. What’s worse is that after losing, you are warped to the beginning of the dungeon and must grind to find more magic before you even think about facing the boss again. I will repeat, do not create such limits on tasks that I need to execute in order to progress. This is not the way that difficulty should be implemented. After discovering a way to accomplish a task, the execution of the task is what should be challenging. Being physically unable to accomplish a task you know how to execute is not an example of difficulty, but an example of unfairness. This boss fight could have been fixed easily by allowing alternate methods of defeating it, even if they were less effective.

Some of the items were very innovative and very useful, though, and what was very cool is that some of them were entirely optional to acquire. The Magic Cape and the Cane of Byrna were two very cool hidden items that were very powerful, yet consumed a lot of magic. Items like these make a system of magic very interesting and thoughtful.

Ocarina of Time

The practical usage of the Magic Meter saw a significant decrease in Ocarina of Time. Most of the items that consumed magic were either essentially useless in combat or were used to solve puzzles. There were some notable exceptions, though.

Of the three magical spells, only one of them really justifies the use of magic. Nayru’s Love creates a shield around Link for a short amount of time that prevents him from taking damage, in exchange for a large amount of magic. While this is a good idea in theory, I don’t know of many people who actually used it. On top of only being available towards the end of the game, there are not many situations that make the player feel in danger enough to use it. Besides Nayru’s Love, two other spells exist in the forms of Din’s Fire and Farore’s Wind. Farore’s Wind can be incredibly useful in traversing dungeons more quickly and efficiently, but there is no reason that it should cost Magic Power. Din’s Fire can be useful in some situations, but it is mainly used to mandatorily light torches, and I’ve already mentioned my disdain for such things.

Din's Fire

The game also introduces the Lens of Truth, which goes both ways for me in terms of successful functionality. On the one hand, it is a very cool concept to view hidden objects in the environment by using the item in exchange for magic. On the other hand, the player will have no idea what to do without its help. Unlimited usage of the Lens of Truth would have been overpowered and would have made puzzles much easier, but conversely if Link has no magic left, he will be entirely stuck. It’s hard to say what would have made this more balanced, but at the very least there should have been more environmental cues leading the player to the solution without the Lens of Truth, so they would not be completely lost without it available.

New to Ocarina of Time is the charged spin attack, which is acquired along with the Magic Meter. This was a very cool, almost natural evolution to the sword beam of previous games, but did come with its share of problems. For one, you could bypass using magic entirely with this attack by just spinning the control stick and pressing B. Admittedly, you will not get the full range of the attack this way, but it is impractical to wait for a full charge in most combat situations anyways.

Finally, the game introduced the elemental arrows. Both the Fire and Ice Arrows are technically optional, which is nice, but neither are ever all that useful. The fact that they are never needed in order to progress is nice, though (that is if you have Din’s Fire). In exchange for the magic that they cost, they boast greater power and different effects than regular arrows. Most importantly though, they just look pretty awesome. Overall, the added bonuses of these arrows very rarely justify their use, and most people choose not to use them due to inefficiency and lack of necessity. The Light Arrows barely even see opportunity for usage since they are introduced so late in the game. They are a very cool item, though, despite the fact they are required for the first phase of the Ganondorf battle, even if you’ve run out of magic. Granted there were jars on the floor below to replenish your magic, it would still be obnoxious to have to interrupt your fight to go get that.

Majora’s Mask

Fierce Deity

Majora’s Mask utilizes essentially the same magic system of Ocarina of Time, so there is less to note about it. However, the game managed to expand on it slightly, but also took a few steps backward. Primarily, the Fire, Ice, and Light Arrows saw more usage as puzzle-solvers, much to my dismay, but were also a bit more useful in regular combat. Some masks used magic well, though. The magic shield used by Zora Link was a good concept, although due to its power, it should have drained magic more quickly. The Giant’s Mask was a smart, alternative way to fight the boss Twinmold, due to its power but quick drainage of magic power. The Fierce Deity’s Mask drains magic as he continues to attack, which was also very cool, and a great reward for completionists. One thing that Majora’s Mask introduced that should NEVER be repeated, though, is Chateau Romani. Despite being moderately expensive, this is a small price to pay for being essentially invincible in multiple situations. This meant the nearly unlimited usage of one-hit-kill Light Arrows and Fierce Deity Link, which is almost indisputably overpowered.

The Wind Waker

Excuse the extremity, but The Wind Waker took everything that was cool about magic and completely threw it out of the window. Other than the Deku Leaf, the game did not add anything new to the realm of usable magic in the Zelda universe, and merely borrowed concepts from Ocarina of Time. There are five items in the game that use magic, and, uninterestingly, three of them are different types of arrows.

Upon obtaining the Deku Leaf, the usage of the Magic Meter almost makes sense. One of the two functions of the item is a flotation device that is used during certain execution puzzles. It’s reasonable to have some sort of limitation on the time you can remain afloat so that there is an actual challenge to these puzzles, however, there is no reason that a Magic Meter should be this limitation. For one, a giant leaf just does not seem like a magical entity in any sense. It simply would have made more sense to relegate the item’s gliding time limit to some other meter that applied to the Deku Leaf alone. It also would have kept this limit constant throughout the game, regardless of increases to the Magic Meter.

Deku Leaf

While having elemental arrows consume magic power is not a new idea, it is not improved or made any more sensical in this game than it was before. The Fire and Ice arrows only serve to gain access to a couple of islands in the game, and then they become essentially useless. Sure, they can be used in battle, but there’s no real reason to since they will not really help you be any more effective at defeating enemies. Again, it makes sense to have some sort of limit on a more powerful item, but this is not the way to go about it. The Light Arrows also have the same problem as in Ocarina of Time where they are obtained at the end of the game, and are mainly used mandatorily to defeat the final bosses.

Another borrowed concept from Ocarina of Time is Magic Armor. After completing a lengthy side quest, you are given this item which is almost identical in function to Nayru’s Love.

It almost seems like Nintendo implemented magic for the sake of it in The Wind Waker, and just because it was present in previous Zelda games. It is an entirely tacked on feature and does not improve the gameplay in any way. Based on this, it makes sense that they would remove the magic meter from Twilight Princess. The two games have almost the same amount of thematically “magical” items in their inventories, but by the time of Twilight Princess the developers seemed to realize that does not mean that tacking on a Magic Meter would be wise. They were smart and gave specific items, like the Lantern, their own limitations (which is exactly what the Deku Leaf should have done!).

TP Magic


In general, magic’s implementation became worse as the series progressed. It became less of an actively developed game design idea, and more of a thematic add-on to the games. Based on how its been implemented in past Zelda games, I think its safe to say that magic works best when it plays an integral role aiding Link’s survival. It works well when it gives an overarching limit to your most powerful set of moves so that you cannot constantly abuse them, but come in handy when facing particularly difficult situations. There is more incentive to use magic in more difficult games because your standard set of moves may not save you from death. Magic, in its best implementation, is a tool to be used sparingly and tactically for the best results.

Magic does not see its potential realized in the best way when it is used primarily by puzzle items. Imposing a limit on a tool that is necessary to overcome a challenge is nothing more than frustrating. In these instances, your resource to solve the puzzle should be unlimited, and the challenge should come solely from discovering the solution and executing it.

So how should magic be incorporated into Zelda Wii U?

Zelda Wii U

I believe that, if implemented properly, the next Zelda game could benefit greatly from a reintroduction of the Magic Meter. It would mostly incorporate elements from Zelda II and A Link to the Past where it seemed to have a clearer design goal, although some of the ideas introduced in Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask could be included.

The sword beam should be included again, but in a slightly different vein. Borrowed from Ocarina of Time‘s charged spin attack, as well as Fierce Deity Link’s sword beams from Majora’s Mask, the sword beam would require magic to use. Summoning the sword beam should be as instant as it was in the end of Skyward Sword’s Hero Mode in order to keep it useful and practical, but Zelda Wii U would have it limited due to the magic consumption. In games like The Legend of Zelda and A Link to the Past, it never really made much sense to only have this powerful, ranged weapon when at full health, so limiting the usage of this technique through magic would lead to a balanced middle ground between the different approaches.

Enemies and bosses should be designed so that magic is never necessary to defeat them, but it is much more effective in certain situations so that its use is justifiable. Certain enemies can be weaker to certain magic attacks, but you should be able to defeat them without it so you are never completely stuck. This way, running out of magic makes situations more challenging, but not complete dead ends.

Magic should never be necessary to solve mandatory puzzles. Magic can definitely be used for puzzle-solving, but it should be dedicated to optional puzzles and secrets. With this implemented, if you come across a puzzle that requires magic, but you have run out, you can continue to progress and you can simply remember to come back to it later.

Since magic is such a powerful resource, it should be more difficult to acquire. Enemies and jars dropping magic should not be too frequent, as a constant replenishment of your most effective tools would become quickly overpowered. The most reliable form of magic recovery would be carrying Green Potions.

The game should also remove items that rely on Magic for ammunition, except for one new item; a Spellbook. The Spellbook would be similar in concept to Link’s list of spells in Zelda II, but applied to the current Zelda formula. Looking at the previous Zelda games, magic has appeared to be most focused and tightly designed when it has been its own entity. The spells included would move away from having entirely puzzle-based purposes, and primarily include abilities that will aid in Link’s survival. There could be moves similar to those like we’ve seen in past Zelda games, only they would not be tied to separate items. As always, the more powerful the spell, the more magic consumed.

Just a few examples of what could be done:

  • Fire Blade: A spell that engulfs the sword in magical fire after charging a sword beam. Enemies caught on fire will slowly receive damage. Can also be used for light. (Similar to Fire Arrows/Din’s Fire)
  • Ice Blade: A spell that engulfs the sword in magical ice after charging a sword beam. Frozen enemies cannot attack until thawed. (Similar to Ice Arrows)
  • Wind: Blows a powerful gust of wind all around Link that will push most enemies back and down to the ground, leaving them temporarily open for an Ending Blow.
  • Lightning: Strikes all on screen enemies lightning for weak damage, and momentarily stuns them. (Like in Zelda II)
  • Invisibility: Briefly makes Link transparent, making it impossible for most enemies to see Link. Enemies can still deduce where Link is based on his movements. (Like the Magic Cape from A Link to the Past)
  • Life: Restores some of Link’s health. (Exactly like from Zelda II)
  • Shield: Reduces the damage that Link takes from enemies for a short period of time. (Exactly like from Zelda II)

These are just a few ideas, but the possibilities are endless for an arsenal of super moves for Link to utilize. But what do you think? Should magic be included in the next Zelda game? Have you liked how the past Zelda games have incorporated magic or do you think it should remain absent in future titles? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Categorized under: Editorials, Zelda Wii U
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  • VikzeLink

    I only read the title: YES!!!!!!!

    • Nevan Lowe

      I agree with the title, but not the article. I liked how the deku leaf used magic. It didn’t make sense, but I liked it. I liked how in ALttP you had to use the rods to kill trinexx. I didn’t like how there was no magic in TP. But most of all, I DO NOT want all magic items replaced with a book. I want things to be like in ALttP OoT MM and WW. Not a list of spells. Thats what made Zelda different from other games. Now they are taking that away if they chose a spell book.

      • Roth

        I thought the book idea was neat (see my post for how to integrate it with items), but the rest of the article, yeah. Very one-point-of-view. :

        • Nevan Lowe

          I don’t really like the idea of spellbooks. I more like the items using the magic them selves. IMO, it just feels more, Zelda-y.

    • Roth

      That’s all you need to read. Well, also look at the last portion, where the title actually applies.

      • Kin’emon

        What did you say?

      • WhovianGrrlGamer

        I see what you did there.

  • Jam9t3

    Yes Yes Yes. Magic should 100% be implemented into the next game. Magic is what makes Zelda magical, it gives a feeling of fantasy, which leads to exploration and then adventure. That’s how OOT, MM and WW felt so grand, so exciting to go and further explore new places, magic gives the whole game a new theme. Zelda is meant to be an adventure, a fantasy, a journey to defeat evil. Zelda should not be modern, that kills the whole idea of the game, Zelda is unique for having these magical fantasy-ish qualities, and when magic power left, so did all the excitement.

    I hear people moaning about how they always run out of magic, well I have one thing to say: Cut some bushes. Unless you’re completely blind, then you won’t notice the excess amount of pots and bushes which 90% of the time grant you magic pots, if you excessively and constantly keep wasting magic power, then I expect these type of people to complain all the time, I never find myself in a situation where I run out of magic, even if you waste all your magic -its not an excuse, because there are those holy pots which reward you with as much magic as you need. What, does the game need to actually shine down a holy spotlight to show you where a bush or pot is? Is it that hard to maintain a huge magic meter? Even a small magic meter is enough to get you through ANYTHING, I absolutely do not allow this excuse to be valid, it is ridiculous.

    Back to the topic, Nintendo needs to bring back the magic, that’s how some really cool items can be made, I miss the Ice and Fire arrow, and don’t forget the magnificent light arrow, they were spectacular ideas which Nintendo threw away and ran off to modern style. Bring Magic power back, I’m sure it would bring back a hell of a lot of fans too, who would once again have faith in Nintendo, just like they had faith before.

    • Zakabajak

      The thing is, if there’s going to magic drops everywhere, I don’t see why they would bother putting in a magic meter since it would virtually remove all limitations. I agree that it’s a ridiculous excuse in OoT, MM, and WW where this exists, but it’s not a trend I think should be continued for balance’s sake.

      • Roth

        Rather than eliminating the meter, I think there should be multiple ways to accomplish things more often. We’ve seen this at times with enemies, where you’re out of the best weapon to fight it and must try something else, but it’s gotten rarer. Without making it superfluous, magic could stand to be more of an extra, where yeah, you could stun this thing with your hookshot and then slash it at close range, but it’s much less tedious to freeze it and then smash it to pieces with your hammer. WW actually did this pretty well, the only problem being that it was merely a fun option for most fights and not really an advantageous technique; if you had to fall back on your sword, it was just as well. To make this really work, though, it needs to be incorporated into the world itself, so that every minute of gameplay encourages you to have and use your extra stuff to navigate, solve puzzles, and deal with enemies. This goes for other resources as much as magic, really.

        • IgosDuIkana

          I think that alttp had the right idea, this is yet another thing that the series needs to take from ALTTP. I found the meter in alttp to be at least a sort of hinderance. They could put a stricter limitation on drops though

    • Roth

      Zakabajak has a point, though: with magic always available, why even have a meter?

      You have to be able to run out of magic during operations, at which point you have to refill before continuing. This is crucial.

      WW had plentiful magic drops, but there was the Deku Leaf, which ran on magic to let you float. Since there aren’t magic bottles in the air, this made it an effective limit to how long and far you could glide. Another good example is rolling as Goron Link in MM: while there was no reason to keep you from going too far or anything, you had to have the magic on hand reach the necessary level of speed for jumping and offense, as well as to maintain it until you could hit a refill.

      As for other items that just use a portion, from the Fire Rod to the Light Arrows, there needs to be enough reason to budget your magic use so that you don’t simply waste it. This is usually accomplished by forcing you to take time out from the action when you run out, either to wait for small foes to kill for resources during a boss, or to head back to somewhere you can obtain it so that you have enough to complete the task (even if it means redoing it) when you come back. The key is to avoid having a situation where magic is necessary, but you cannot leave for more and there is nothing to replenish it where you are. The older games arguably got away with this, being more skill-focused, but it isn’t recommended.

      Now, I’m not saying this is what you meant, but having magic instantly on hand whenever you run out is the wrong approach without items like the Deku Leaf. If you need to freeze patches of water with the Ice Arrows to navigate, and you can always slash a nearby pot to get more, then there’s no excuse to be frugal in the first place. Resources have to be limited, or there is no purpose for the resource. They just have to be limited within reason, so that you’ll never be unable to get more, but you can’t simply waste what you have.

    • Hoff123

      “Magic is what makes Zelda magical,” Haha, awesome :).

  • Vaati’s Soul

    I would love to see combat-intertwined magic return to the series like Ether and Din’s Fire, etc.

  • Roth

    I think you’re a bit harsh on WW, because it actually balanced the magic meter quite well. What it was used for may seem uninspired, but it worked. You rarely had to take time out finding more magic, but it limited how much you could use items at once very successfully. It felt natural, rather than being either cumbersome or extraordinary.

    As for Chateau Romani, I agree that it would be a mistake to implement in pretty much any other game (although SS, if it had magic, could have done it justice through an upgradable potion); but MM’s construction made it a great reward item to let you blaze around completing tasks in the second half of the game without having to worry about pacing yourself based on conserving/seeking out magic power, in turn allowing you to focus more on what you were going to do, and when, as the clock ticked on. It took a precious half-day to obtain, as well, so if you wanted to squeeze the most out of your three days, you probably wouldn’t go out of your way to get it just to shoot Light Arrows indiscriminately. If you could budget your time properly to swing by the Milk Bar one night, you probably deserved to have the burden off your shoulders. And did I mention that the Light Arrows are obtained late in the game? It’s not like they’re Din’s Fire or something. The other arrows, most notably Ice, were largely for puzzles, so the milky elixir actually takes off one of those “limitations on necessary tools to progress” you were talking about.

    Lastly, the fact that it made Fierce Deity Link a complete god wasn’t really its fault; I’d consider it a flaw in the Majora battles, seeing as they’re almost as easy to beat just as long as you have a full supply of arrows. Really, whether Majora is a drudgery or a cakewalk comes down to having arrows. How’s that for an arbitrary limitation? It’s not impossible without them, but come on. So, in conclusion, wielding such awesome power wasn’t the problem, it was how the other aspects of the game were designed that made it good or bad.

    Magic isn’t something you can universally judge; you have to look extensively at the game its being used in and how it fits into the larger system. I would love to see the next title incorporate it, but it should do so with originality, not looking back to try to live up to a certain archetype.

    I will say, personally, that a spellbook sounds fantastic. In fact, with such elements as fire and ice, why limit their use to anything specific like arrows or even the sword? Have them be castable on anything, from directly blasting the foe in front of you (extremely effective, but very limited) to temporarily modifying any item in your inventory, like your boomerang (less deadly, but an awesome ability to run around with for an extended period of time). This would open up a wide variety of combat strategies and puzzles, possibly merging the offensive options of WW’s battle system with the puzzle mechanics of ST, which would be just too awesome for words. Somehow I doubt Nintendo will do such a thing, given their penchant for simplicity and accessibility, but one can dream.

    • Zakabajak

      I definitely was harsh on them, but it was just to figure out what worked best out of all of them. None of my gripes really did anything to harm the games for me since, other than aLttP and Zelda II, magic wasn’t really a huge part of the games. And that’s a great idea, applying the elemental magic to different weapons or just casting it alone. Not too complex of an addition, but soooooo many possibilities :D

      • Roth

        Fair enough. I mean, you gotta bring the criticisms out if anyone’s going to realize they exist; I just find there are a lot of counter-arguments to what you presented.

        I apologize for being kind of harsh myself, as once I’d responded at length, I made a couple responses to other people with pretty terse summations of my general reaction. I try to really dig into the reasons behind things and in doing so consider all sides, but sometimes I kind of unequivocally barrel down the path I believe in due to giving it so much analysis. I suppose I’m accustomed to such rigor because oftentimes, I’m the one with a unique idea or minority viewpoint that I want to get across to people.

        But, in the end, it’s what you get out of the game personally that counts. Some things annoy or engage different people, and that’s that. It’s always good to be shown a new way to look at something, so that maybe your experience is transformed for the better; it’s happened to me, and it’s what I try to do particularly for people who reviled MM’s clock. And sometimes, a little discussion spawns a completely new idea that both parties would love to see realized.

        I know I’m writing way too much again, but the spellbook, as you said of my idea: not too complex, but loads of new possibilities. This is a fundamental goal of design in my mind, and many of my own criticisms regarding newer games is that they overcomplicate the basic elements and wind up with less complicated or varied results; whereas a simple set of objects and rules can produce a kinds of dynamic scenarios. Case in point: Conway’s Game of Life. With more complex formats like hexagonal grids, it becomes harder to do anything interesting without bloating the entire system. If objects and rules are more complex to begin with, they can only interact in specific ways, and the products of their interactions are thus limited. This topic really gets me going, so I’m going to leave it at that, but… man, such a spellbook would be incredible.

  • This guy


  • Demise

    Just wanted to say that Din’s Fire is not required at all. Neither is the Lens of Truth. Skipping magic entirely is also possible, but pretty impractical, if you ask me, as you need either Din’s or arrow fire to complete the 6 trials in Ganondorf’s castle, and they are obnoxious to skip.

    • Zakabajak

      I’m pretty sure you need both items in order to enter the Shadow Temple. Unless you mean to skip certain parts entirely by sequence breaking, but that’s not how Nintendo intended for the game to be played.

      • Demise

        Not really sequence breaking. Clipping. First, you get on top of the seam of the Graveyard; then walk carefully towards the place where you warp, making sure not to fall down either back into the graveyard or into emptiness; when you’re on top of the stair, align yourself properly and sidehop. This skips the trigger to load the room with the torches, however the trigger to enter the temple and collision maps are loaded, so just walk into the temple.

        You also need Dins’ Fire to burn two wooden spiked things that try to crush you to get the boss key. On 3DS, you can hookshot clip onto the redead, although that’s tricky. On N64, if you slash at the wooden barrier at the proper place, it will activate the redead, who will scream and freeze you, making the barrier pass right through you.

        I don’t think that’s sequence breaking… Although it’s still not how Nintendo intended for the game to be played. :P

        As for the LoT, you never really “need” it. The only really annoying bit is when you go into the desert, and normally you’d follow the poe, but without LoT it’s darn hard. However, this time there are no actual “glitches” involved.

        • Zakabajak

          Yeah it’s definitely possible…with glitches :P. But like, imagine it’s your first playthrough of OoT and you don’t get the Lens of Truth or Din’s Fire. You’d be screwed haha

  • PRDX4

    Maybe have a menu for magic like they did with the inventory in SS. This way you wouldn’t have to pause to change magic. I think Life may be too OP. Why use bottles or heart drops if you can just use Life?

    • Zakabajak

      My thoughts exactly with the inventory. And Life would definitely be powerful, so that’s why it would cost a lot of magic. That way, if you chose to use it, you’d hinder your ability to use other magic, making it a much more meaningful decision to have to make.

      • Kravik

        Magic = Rupees, in the Zelda series. Not hearts. ;)

  • Baljeet

    The magic meter isn’t anything characteristic to the legend of Zelda. It isn’t anything that makes the legend of Zelda great. The overword, dungeons, bosses an story are. The only game where magic is much involved is Zelda II and who liked that game.

    • IgosDuIkana

      People who had the attention span to finish it. Most modern gamers cant even play the first Zelda. Its this lack of attention span that is the cause for the series lapse in quality since Wind Waker, which was a great game, but began a trend towards a different target audience than was present prior.

      • Kravik

        Hear hear! :)

    • Altair_420

      I like zelda 2.
      I like magic meters.
      I dont like you and your attitude.

  • Flaming Lemons

    But didn’t the magic armor in Wind Waker use magic?
    And I thought the ice arrows in WW were especially useful when you used them on enemies then used the skull hammer and crushed them while they were frozen to kill them faster.

    • Zakabajak

      Whoops, I did forget about the magic armor. It is essentially the same thing as Nayru’s Love though, which I did cover. Great idea, although it doesn’t see much usage in a game where enemies don’t deal much damage. The Ice Arrow + Skull Hammer combo also was nice, but again it would have been a more useful strategy and would have been used more if the game had been more difficult.

      • Lady Mongrel

        When I did the Six-Eyed Reef or Cyclops Reefs or what ever they were called the Magic Armor did wonders! I used the Magic Armor all the time to negate some of the worst annoying monsters while sailing.

        • Zakabajak

          I don’t doubt that it can be useful in some situations, like perhaps it would have been good to use in the Savage Labyrinth, as well. I personally wouldn’t know because I never got the item when I played Wind Waker (probably why I forgot to mention it in the editorial :P). I guess my main point is that it isn’t something that you’ll feel like you need to use often in the game, although that will vary from person to person.

  • Joe Forster

    i like your ideas about magic use, especially wind. id also like dins fire to make another appearance


    Magic is really cool! I enjoyed every single one of the Zelda games that had magic (WW deku leaf pissed me off). I think they should bring it back. It would make the games a lot more interesting.

  • WhovianGrrlGamer

    Magic is a helpful asset is Zelda, but I think it should be secondary. In Final Fantasy, for instance, magic is super helpful and most bosses are next to impossible to fight without it. But in Zelda, most of your power is physical; therefore, there should be more room for learning cool moves. I think there should be some cool techniques that require either a side quest or a dungeon finished in order to learn, but don’t consume magic (like the Songs in Ocarina of Time). There should also be a few attack spells, but magic should be nothing more than “that other thing”. There shouldn’t be a load of spells like in Adventure of Link; I like the idea of more magical items like in Ocarina of Time.

    Fire Arrows and Ice Arrows are super important, but don’t necessarily have to consume magic. If you don’t get them until late enough in the game, they don’t need to consume magic. Light Arrows, or Silver Arrows, are a tradition that should be kept, but a very small magic consumption is good enough because you get it so late in the game anyway. An item like the Megaton Hammer in OoT could take the place of the Wind spell that Zakabajak proposed, although the spell is cool too. Lightning is a super cool idea that I rather like (or Quake is also good), and so is Invisibility (although Invincibility would work almost as well). I don’t like Life and Shield at all though; since you have a shield you don’t need Shield, and I like Red Potion better than a Life spell.

    Anyway, that’s just my opinion; you are welcome to think differently. :)

  • HylianHero

    I like it when magic is kept to weapons, like the fire and ice rods or arrows, or even Din’s fire etc. Not a spellbook.

  • shadowreaperx

    Actuallly Wind Waker had a very powerful item that used magic which makes the total 5. The Magical Armor uses magic, and lots of it, so add that to the list as well.

  • erikingvoldsen

    Absolutely not. Magic is one of the worst inclusions of the series and I’m glad to see the back of it.

    • IgosDuIkana

      Interesting, I would like to hear why. Have you even played every game? I personally enjoy the magic in the series. Could you elaborate for discussion?

  • npatoray24

    i enjoy magic in the zelda series, but maybe some different items other than arrows etc

  • kikito

    Is it me or does link look TOO realistic on the wii u screenshot?

    • IgosDuIkana

      That is not realistic, not even slightly. High Quality does not mean life like. That is more surrealism, which is a really good direction for the series, although perhaps not in that exact form.

  • Linkbeatmario

    How about we use spell books to enchant our items, giving us a variety of different weapons to use against enemies. The enchanted items would then be able to use a magic meter as their limit of use until it becomes the regular item.

  • gamer

    Yes! I want the series to go back to fighting being the main point of the game, and not puzzles. Yes, keep puzzles in the games, but this is game about a young man that runs around with a sword, shield, and a bow. Adding magic back to the mix, can only bring more depth to the fighting mechanics. I’ve missed the magic, it’s the one thing I really liked about Zelda II.

    • Zzen

      Zelda has never been about fighting except in Zelda 2 the puzzles are the the series identity.

  • Cmaster

    They should have magic but they really shouldn’t overdo it like they did in some of the games.

  • vehiclecharger

    This was a great article, thanks for posting! Magic is a great element and I’ve enjoyed wielding it, on some level, in each game I’ve played. I think you’d agree that the big guys eliminated it, starting in Twilight princess, because it wasn’t working as it used to. ( And I really liked the idea of including an oil meter in place where magic should be, and wish there was more “magic” type things like that throughout the game). I appreciate the hands-on, one to one, weaponry in Skyward Sword. It was definitely a good design choice to keep magic or anything like it away, and made the entire game feel much more artistic and conceptual. But magic is just so cool to use! Battling, puzzle solving, whatever.

    Zelda 2 has a unique, more role-playing-esque use of the magic, the only one to use numbers in fact. The spells are fun and interesting. I think your idea of a spellbook is fantastic. And a game centering on obtaining spells and magic sword power ups sounds pretty awesome. I would like to see Wii U Zelda have a lot of Zelda 2 elements. Even Wizards!

    ALTP, what a great array of magic items! Hey, I think part of the fun was discovering that beating Trinexx required fire and ice rods, and that they would use lots of magic and need to bring green potions. I think you were right when you said that “it gives the player an additional resource to keep track of.” Elements like that make the game much more interesting, to me. The frustration of solving the puzzle makes the outcome so much more satisfying. One of the keys to solving puzzles like that is to make sure you have enough green potions! Or make sure you don’t miss. When it comes to battling enemies, Zelda almost always gives you options! It’s always interesting to see what solution a player chooses.

    OOT, magic use is cool, but not as magical as it’s predecessors. But whatever. That game wins in so many other levels, am I right? Also, I loved using Nayru’s wisdom toward the end. It rerally helps against the iron knuckles.

    Majora’s Mask, back to a great use of magic. I liked that it was used for elements of the transformation masks, especially loved fierce diey link. I love your idea of bringing back magic sword beam, and have them be instantaneous. Nintendo should create more rewards like that for players who accomplish solving difficult puzzles. The new Zelda should definitely borrow heavily from this game and Zelda 2.

    Wind waker, not a big fan of the game. If you add up all the time it takes to play, half is spent sailing the high seas! It epitomizes the statement “arbitrary limits should not be imposed on tasks that are necessary to progress through a game.” It sure tested my limits!

  • Nin☆Knight

    I can see how the Spellbook would actually be good. As you progress you learn more magic, applying it to the book. Allowing more spells of different types to be used. But not in a list form, it will be used like an item. This is how I see it:

    Imagine you’re in Skyward Sword. You hold B to pull up your item circle, on of the the circles is the spellbook. You select and equip it. Link pulls out the spellbook, holds it with his left hand.
    His right hand, however, is glowing. A “magic” circle appears in the players view, following on Link’s back. It is transparent so you can still see through the other side while using it.

    On the circle, there are other circles or points, like what the item circle has, or what the dowsing circle has and such. Using Motion Plus, the player guides Link’s hand into a different direction, if you go far enough in one direction, Link’s hand and a portion of the circle will overlap, causing that point on the circle to highlight. Doing this, you guide Link’s hands around the magic circle to form different shapes. Each shape, requiring up to 3 or 4 lit up points, are how you use the magic.

    For example, Link just learned Lightning. Let’s say you have four points on the magic circle, up, down, left, and right. In order to use Lightning you must guide Link’s hand to each point in this order: Up, Left, Right, Down. It forms the shape of a thunderbolt. Link clenches his fist, and winds it back, ready to release it. You must press A to use it. Now, since you have a magic spell ready for use, you have a big glowing circle on the ground in front of Link at a medium distance. (About a bombs throw away) and the circle indicates where the spell will hit. In this case, Lightning is a distanced area-of-effect spell. Like aiming a bomb, place that area circle over where some enemies are and allow the spell to be used.

    Press A and Link outstretches his hand, unleashing Lightning onto the victims that you targeted within that circle. This, however, costs magic. Let’s say that Link’s magic meter holds up to say about, 20 points of magic. Lightning, being a more costly spell, takes up 8 points, using up just over a third of the meter.

    Now, there IS another way you can fill up your magic meter. But it is quite drastic, but understandable. This IS *magic* we’re dealing with.

    So, Link’s magic circle has the full 8 points. All compass directions are selectable on the magic circle. You follow your wiimote movement along the bottom point, the top-right point, and the top-left point. You just formed an upside-down triangle. Link will again pull his arm back, fist clenched, like he’s holding energy. Now, if you press A to use the magic. Link outstretches his hand, and just like that, he LOSES 1 heart, and gains 1 point of magic. However, this type of magic is repeated use, you press A as many times as you need to, so you can transfer your life count into magic count. It could be a dark magic type, or a curse.

    The Healing spell operates the same way, but with the opposite effect, using up magic to gain life. But instead of costing 1 magic point per heart, it costs three magic points per heart. A constant reminder that your life count is more precious than your magic. To use Heal, just highlight the top point, bottom right point, and the bottom left point. It’s a regular triangle.

    Of course, green potions are always more desirable. Allowing you to restore magic with out costing you life.

    But all this still happens with Link being fully controllable like in Skyward Sword, so while trying to conjure up some spells, Link can be attacked increasing the danger, but allowing the reward to be worth the risk. It also forces players to back away, and use the spells at long range, causing a change in play style.

    Also, if you accidentally highlight the wrong point before you finish the spell, thrust the wiimote forward, and Link will dispel any points that have previously been lit up, allowing you to start again.

    I hope my idea makes sense as a better use of magic. Use potions to restore magic, with less magic drops available, but if you have no more potions to do that, you can choose to restore magic at the cost of life.

    • Nin☆Knight

      Fourth* of the meter with Lightning, sorry!

    • Zakabajak

      Those are some extremely cool ideas, I especially like your ideas for exchanging magic for life and vice versa since it’ll be very difficult to abuse that way. A couple things with your idea on how to cast the magic though. For one, using the Wii Motion Plus, although very precise, is not 100% accurate which leaves room for error, although you did kind of address that with thrusting forward to restart. Similarly, it might be difficult to implement shapes that don’t overlap, making it easy to summon the wrong spell. Another thing is it just seems like a lot to memorize (admittedly though, if I can remember all of the ocarina songs from OoT and MM, it wouldn’t be too much of a problem for me :P). PRDX4 had the same idea I had below in the comments where he said “Maybe have a menu for magic like they did with the inventory in SS.” Granted, it’s not as cool, immersive, or risky as your idea, it’s easier, more reliable, and leaves less room for error. Both ways could definitely work though.

  • Cameron

    This is great, man! Especially your ideas for how magic should be implemented in Zelda Wii U… it makes me really wish I had a Wii U so that I could play the game when it comes out.

  • Zzen

    You didn’t mention wind wakers magic armor it has magic in the name.

  • JeredenDonnar

    I love the spell book idea, in my game there is one (The Legend of Zelda: Rain Shadow). What about an illumination spell? Like the lantern only it’s a spell. Transmit the lens of truth into a spell that enlightens your vision for a little while (not a constant drain).

  • Yambino

    There are some really good points in here, especially how
    magic shouldn’t be so focused on solving puzzles, but at the same time, having
    some puzzles solved by using some magic can be very interesting in it’s own
    way. I didn’t have a problem with not having enough magic to complete areas
    where it was necessary in my play-throughs (except Zelda 2, which I found
    myself using magic excessively). For example, there aren’t enough times during
    the game where I needed to be using magic except for solving the puzzles, for
    which I always had enough to magic to complete them, even without magic
    upgrades to increase my overall amount. Very rarely did I ever find myself ever
    using magic except to complete these puzzles, which made me feel like they were
    not focused enough on combat.

    Such as, why should I use my fire arrows on any enemy that isn’t out of reach
    from my sword, or whatever any other item I have that doesn’t consume magic,
    and even then, there’s the hookshot, which is more often than not always in my
    item slot. I only used these special arrows for combat in Wind Waker, because
    they added a little bit of a fun flare to fighting off enemies, and I knew
    there wouldn’t be repercussions for it later on because there is only one other
    item (Deku leaf) that would need to be used to complete a task. I knew that
    using up all my magic on thesespecial arrows wouldn’t be problem associated
    with the only other magic item since, I noticed there was always a pot or bush
    nearby in areas where the Deku leaf would be necessary in order to progress in
    an area. So besides not having enough items that used magic, I didn’t feel like
    the magic used in Wind Waker was a problem.

    Sure, Zelda 2 and A Link to the Past had their own problems with magic being
    too dependent on some puzzles (Like the Trinexx boss listed above or the jump
    buff), but in the 3D Zelda games, using and running out of magic never proved
    to be an issue.

    The Spell book mentioned above was a really great idea that really should be
    implemented, but because it’s focused more on combat perhaps it would be good
    if magic slowly replenished itself instead of having to find magic bottles,
    keeping the combat more steady and engaging. However that could be difficult to
    implement if there are other items that use magic, where it would be tedious if
    you had to wait for your magic to replenish in order to use a certain magic
    item that wasn’t used for battle since combat already encourages using the
    spell book as a regularly used item.

  • Linkyo

    Magic should definitely be included again. The absence of it has been pretty conspicuous in my opinion. Other Medieval fantasy games have implemented magic in a way that blended well with physical combat, so there’s no excuse as to why Nintendo couldn’t achieve it. I think some Zelda fans just have a bad taste in their mouth when it comes to magic in Zelda due to Nintendo’s history of poor use of it.

  • Hoff123

    Awesome article, and yes, absolutely. I’d REALLY like magic to make a comeback.

    Also, I really liked those examples you gave. Especially the first 3(fire sword, ice sword, and wind).

  • Thomas Durand

    For the love of god I wan’t spells from the 2nd game they were cool and fun.