Does the Legend of Zelda Exploit Nostalgia?

DjinnFebruary 14th, 2014 by Djinn

98789465413Is the continued success of the series due to exploitation of nostalgia? This is the question that Jamin Warren of PBS Game Show has asked to the audience and he takes a look at the series as a whole and discusses what exactly keeps fans coming back.

Jump inside to check out what he had to say for yourself.

The Legend of Zelda has been massively popular for over 30 years running. People LOVE the series, creating fan art, cosplay, and diligently purchasing each new release in the series. But does this Zelda series exploit our feelings of nostalgia? We remember playing as kids, and the music, world, and even sounds bring back warm fuzzy feelings. Are the creators riding that success and using our childhood memories to their own gain? Are the games really that great? Watch the episode to find out!

Honestly I think he has a pretty good point. I have been in many conversations with fans over the years about this very subject. My personal theory has always been that Nintendo does like to maintain that nostalgic feeling in their games by their maintaining a certain style to all of their games. Zelda games always have a few points they always maintain such as Link is the silent hero, the game is based on exploration in an open environment of Hyrule, or Link through all the art styles still keeps the same green tunic and floppy hat. They always try to keep some things the same even if the setting changes drastically. The explanation of music proven to draw nostalgic thoughts in the viewer was an insteresting point.

Source: YouTube

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  • hylianndreamer

    Well there’s a difference between exploiting our nostalgic feelings and just keeping the main elements of a series. Saying Link has always had a green tunic because it reminds us of childhood memories is like saying Mario still has is mustache because otherwise we wouldn’t buy his games.

    Some games – say, Twilight Princess – were done in a way to make us very nostalgic because they had a lot of references to previous popular titles ( Ocarina of Time and even Majora’s Mask a little bit ), but I don’t think the green tunic and Link’s silence is there to appeal to our nostalgia. It’s just the way it is for the Legend of Zelda. If you don’t want a silent hero, go play Kid Icarus.

    I’m not saying the producers aren’t using this nostalgia that comes with the Legend of Zelda ( which, by the way, would still be there even if the games didn’t make it even more present. We would still get nostalgic by hearing some music or playing older games ), but saying they’re exploiting it to sell more, even to the point where it’s the only thing that keeps the games apparently good enough to buy ? That’s plain exaggerating.

    • TangledLink

      EXACTLY!

    • TheHylianPixels

      *sheds tear* You sir, are a motivational speaker

    • Linebeck’s-Girlfriend-Skyla

      I completely and utterly agree

  • LordSlayaton

    There have been about 8 articles in 3 months about this. The answer is no, it is a great series that doesn’t rely on nostalgia.

  • DarkHylianInterloper

    Yeah let’s give Link a long trench coat, A beard, and some shades. Do you honestly think Link can be portrayed any other way than his iconic green tunic?

    There are reasons some things don’t change.

    And Zelda isn’t nostalgia dependent. It’s clear very similar elements are used in each title, but if they were to change everything with each newcoming title, do you think it even be Zelda anymore?

    It’s like saying, “Since the last Zelda game was a third-person adventure, the next should be a FPS.”

    • ian

      I’m not saying that I would like this, but Nintendo could reach the “hardcore” by remaking Link’s Crossbow Training as a FPS with the title Link’s AK-47 Training.

      • YoshiFan101

        NO NO NO NO NO! that would never work!!!

        • ian

          Why not? They could also re-release games as “hardcore”, like SM3D World “hardcore”, with a tiger power-up instead of cats, you get to eat and tear holes through enemies. I’m not saying that I personally would prefer this version, i’m just saying that it could draw in “hardcore” audiences who won’t buy a game if it’s not rated M!

          • Linebeck’s-Girlfriend-Skyla

            NO, JUST NO!

  • hollander

    Link must stay link, and the one clothed in green.

    • The pirate Tetra

      Exactly :)

      • hollander

        If Link is red in the next game, than I will die.

        • Hero of Scotland

          Nah, he should be purple.

          • hollander

            Rather pink than purple.

    • Essence Of The Triforce

      Wise words, friend.

      • hollander

        Thanks.

        • Essence Of The Triforce

          No problem.

          • hollander

            I hate it when I cannot see,
            my downvoters, you can only see your upvoters.

          • Essence Of The Triforce

            Yeah, that sucks.

          • hollander

            Did you know me already when I was a troll?

          • Essence Of The Triforce

            You were a troll??

          • hollander

            Well, I was a troll in another way, not as worse as yepper,
            ask other people, they might know more about it.

          • Essence Of The Triforce

            ok

          • hollander

            It wasn’t really, that worse, so what do you think?

          • Essence Of The Triforce

            I haven’t checked. Was it a while ago?

          • hollander

            It wasabout half a year ago,
            upvotee

          • Essence Of The Triforce

            Oh. Were you still hollander?

          • hollander

            I’ve always been hollander,
            check my new profile picture!

          • Essence Of The Triforce

            Yeah, nice shoes.

          • hollander

            Malladus is the best final boss.

          • Linebeck’s-Girlfriend-Skyla

            Yes, malladas is A final boss but the best final boss is well…. um…. um…. heh… gulp… bellumbeck.

          • hollander

            Bellumbeck is boring, and the idea that
            you have to draw a hourglass, to stop time
            is tjaa, not fantastic.

          • Linebeck’s-Girlfriend-Skyla

            You have no idea why I said that did you

            I GOT TO SEE THE ACTUAL STRENGTH OF LINEBECK!!!

          • hollander

            He’s weak, it’s the sneaky bellum,
            Btw, malladus, has the best boss theme
            the best boss FIGHT I think is TP’s.

    • TangledLink

      Your words calm the hordes…

      • hollander

        Lol, how do you mean?

    • Hero of Scotland

      I prefer my Link in red, 75% less damage FTW.

      • OcarinaPlayerOfTime

        NOOB! lol

        • Hero of Scotland

          Have you battled Ganon with the green tunic?

          • Essence Of The Triforce

            OoT?

          • Hero of Scotland

            Original and aLttP.
            OoTs tunics didn’t affect the damage you took.

          • Essence Of The Triforce

            aLttP is very hard without the red tunic.

          • Hero of Scotland

            That’s why I like Link in red.

          • Essence Of The Triforce

            Yup.

          • Ghirahim

            Yes. It sucked. I had so much rage.

      • hollander

        For me that doesn’t matter, and green looks original,
        and perfect.

  • Hero of Time

    If they day comes when they will stop making Zelda games, I will buy the rest of the Zelda games right away that I don’t have.

    • TangledLink

      NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Never Speak of Such Things!!!! Even IF Nintendo Stopped, Fans would Rise Up and Make Fan-games To keep The Sires ALIVE!!!!!!

      • VladNorris

        Everything has to come to an end at one point. That’s how life is.

        • Hero of Time

          Sadly, it is true.

          • NightmareXIV

            The good news is Nintendo has no plans on stopping the Legend of Zelda at all, and even if it should end it will be years from now just look at LEGO it’s been around since 1934.

          • Hero of Time

            True!

  • Hero of Time

    This is a very good video! Every time I sit down to play some Zelda, I get a strange ”fuzzy” feeling inside. It is like I am coming back home after being away for years. So yes, I do believe Nintendo is using nostalgia to make fans come back. And they will be doing it for years to come, until whenever they will stop making Zelda games. (Which I hope they NEVER stop making Zelda games)!

  • The pirate Tetra

    well, I think it could be about nostalgia, but it could also run on the love for the series maybe, and how each zelda game is different each time so it could just be the excitement of the the differences in the games. I don’t know… :)

  • itsameluigi1290

    IDK, I thought Wind Waker was one of the most amazing games ever, and before that (besides Melee), I didn’t even know who Link was. To be honest, besides WWHD, Zelda never feels THAT nostalgic to me. I’ll admit I had some nostalgia on my second playthrough of TP going into the Temple of Time again (I’d seen my uncle go in there previously but I’d never played OoT then), but besides that, not really. I think the games are genuinely good.
    (Also, I didn’t watch the whole video, so my comment may seem odd, sorry in advance)

  • UltimateTankOP

    I can safely say that there’s a lot more to the series than simply nostalgia. I have the “gift” of a really sucky childhood, so I don’t really get nostalgic about anything.

    Also, Zelda isn’t 30 years old yet. 2014 – 1986 = 28, which is less than 30.

    • TheMightyDekuWarrior

      I’m sorry to hear about that.

  • TheMightyDekuWarrior

    You know what makes me mad? When people get angry over an emotion that people get. It’s silly.

    • UltimateTankOP

      You DARE get mad about such a thing?!

      YOU MUST DIE!!!

      • TheMightyDekuWarrior

        O.o

        • Omega

          I suggest you build an underground bunker my friend

          • TheMightyDekuWarrior

            Why would I do that when I can hide in a flower?

      • Linebeck’s-Girlfriend-Skyla

        lolz

  • TheMightyDekuWarrior

    Hey, at 00:40 the video refers to the first comment I ever made. OcarinaPlayerOfTime will know what I’m talking about.

    • The Doctor

      Wow. You just made me scroll to the very bottom of your profile (2556 comments) to find your first comment. To save other people time, here it is:

      At the part were he said “I swear to kokiri forest” he should have said “I swear to hylia”. Would have made more sense, and would have been more funny.

      • TheMightyDekuWarrior

        Congragulations! A winner is you! (Intended typos) You’re only the second person to ever get to the bottom of my profile!

        I actually pronounce Kokiri the way they do, most people do.

        • The Doctor

          Who was the first? :D

          • TheMightyDekuWarrior

            OcarinaPlayerOfTime.

  • TheMightyDekuWarrior

    Wait… “Finding the Master Sword in the cemetery”?

    • EOTW

      Reffering to the magical sword in the first game, I would assume. (Haven’t watched the video yet.)

      • TheMightyDekuWarrior

        IKR? It’s even more confusing because the Magic Sword isn’t even the Master Sword. But… that has things to do with theories. I don’t believe that it’s the Master Sword because of MANY reasons.

        • michkori

          Magic sword > master sword > four sword
          the magic sword is the best!

          • OcarinaPlayerOfTime

            I’VE GOT THE MAGIC, IN ME

          • Horayn

            nononononono… Golden Master sword>Biggoron sword>Magic Sword>master sword>four sword>wood sword
            always view the bigger picture

    • bluelink121

      I think he ment sancuary.

  • Guest

    (I can’t watch the video, but based off the question)
    Considering I wasn’t a huge fan until Skyward Sword came out, I would say no. It seriers was just enough to let remember moments from old games (Such as when Zelda’s lullaby plays in each game) and also let you experience new things at the same time.

  • Cubemaster

    I think that nostalgia helps the games, but they are good games that don’t completely rely on it. I don’t think that all nostalgia is done on purpose, and that Nintendo just doesn’t want to change up the formula too much. I think Link Between Worlds was cool because, even though it was very similar to ALTTP, it added the Item Shop which changes up a lot of things. I thought that it was a great idea, but honestly now I think it should have been a new world simply because a lot of people think it’s an ALTTP remake, and a lot of other people think it only succeeded because of nostalgia.

  • Essence Of The Triforce

    Maybe they are. I don’t really care either way.

  • awsomeMrlink

    I don’t like the PBS Game Show right now, because he doesn’t have the experience like Mike from PBS Idea Channel. Unlike Mike he exploits titles. Is this really right to blame it on The Legend of Zelda? Doesn’t every other game have nostalgia too? Also why say exploit, that just attracts views by making it more controversial, even though Nintendo doesn’t plan that at all. There is also the fact that nostalgia can be bad for the company. I’d like to hear what he has to say, when he (And if he has a script writer his script writer) becomes good at his/their job.

  • NightmareXIV

    They donexploit nostalgi, but it’s still a good game with each game bringing something new to the table.

    • Essence Of The Triforce

      Yup!

  • Link58

    That is so true!

  • http://medlismessages.blogspot.com/ Heroine of Time

    It’s interesting that everyone always uses the argument that most people’s favorite Zelda games are those they played as a child. I suppose that’s true in a lot of cases, but I’ve always preferred the newer games, it seems. To be fair, I was still quite young when I played most of those games, but Majora’s Mask, Link’s Awakening, and Skyward Sword are my favorites, and I played those all in 2010, 2011 or so. I’d already played several other games in the series when I was much younger, like The Wind Waker, Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, Phantom Hourglass… but those three are still my favorites today. It’s also interesting how until ALBW, it seemed like I’d always attach myself to the NEW release. Spirit Tracks was my absolute favorite game for such a long time because it was the first Zelda game I got the day (or day after because GameStop is mean and got it in late) it came out. Skyward Sword is obviously still one of my favorites. And I played Ocarina of Time 3D nonstop for far too long, despite having already enjoyed the first OoT via Virtual Console.

    Then again, I also played The Minish Cap and A Link to the Past during that same time period, and… those are my least favorites. So maybe, because I was playing them all around the same time, I didn’t really form any specific nostalgic attachments to any games, and I just ended up judging them on other factors? I don’t know, haha. I definitely agree that nostalgia isn’t Zelda’s only attraction, though. It’s silly to say that; like the video kind of says, new viewers would never even touch the series if that was the only good thing about it. And in fact, it’s interesting, because when I think of a game that was catering to nostalgia, I think of Twilight Princess referencing Ocarina of Time, but it seems like Twilight Princess was actually poorly received by older fans (or at least it’s not liked much now) but attracted new ones in hordes.

  • DestroyerOfClockTown

    I don’t care if they are I’m still gonna buy their games.

  • Cross EMS

    Yep

  • snakeoiltanker

    I think a lot of other franchises tend to loose their original fans due to the “lack” of nostalgia in their respective sequels. Things that are familiar are what makes a franchise stand out as itself. What would a Mario game be with out mushrooms or Koopas. Or halo with no Covenant.

    In order to keep fans happy, and the game believable as taking place in the same universe as it prequel, the game needs familiar things in their sequels to place them in the same universe, weather it be characters, enemies, environments. I guess the only “exploitation” Legend of Zelda would be guilty of would be its music, but I would be very unhappy to play a Zelda game and not hear a familiar tune! Especially the overworld theme!

  • TheHylianPixels

    05:04 He did NOT just call Link an elf!

    • Zoltier853

      He did. Link is too tall to be an elf.

  • I Like Link

    you’re reading too much into it. People like the series because it’s good, not just for nostalgia. There are several huge fans that only started playing with SS or TP. How is that nostalgia?

    • YoshiFan101

      like me!!! I actually started with Oracle of ages but I was quite young so I had no Idea what was going on… I couldn’t even get to the first temple.

      • The pirate Tetra

        my first was Tp but I didn’t know how to fish and it took maybe 30 min. to 1h to figure it out XD ( I gave up later and did some researching on it)

        • YoshiFan101

          that happened when I started TP as well. I sucked at video games :p

          • YoshiFan101

            it also took me hours to finish the goat hoarding thing. I’m not joking

          • The pirate Tetra

            I hate fishing in that game! :)

        • TheMightyDekuWarrior

          Ganondorf is just adorable in this. :3

    • Zoltier853

      I started with OoT 3D and thought it was good.

  • OcarinaPlayerOfTime

    WELL. I’M NOT SURE! MAYBE IT’S SUCESSFUL BECAUSE THE GAMES ARE ACTUALLY GOOD? NAH, IT’S NOSTALGIA! All jokes aside, I don’t think it exploits it, I just think people like it more then that, like it’s just the affect the games have on you more then a a feeling of past games that get’s you going through. Most Zelda fans (Even fanboys) have a reason to why they like a game like Skyward Sword, or Majora’s Mask. I’m sure nostalgia gets to some fans during those games, but not through the entire game, they just enjoy the game itself

    • DarkHylianInterloper

      Well said.

  • StationaryBomb

    Oh yeah there is major nostalgia for the reason I like new Zelda games. Otherwise I would feel meh about them XD

    • TheHylianPixels

      When I asked my older brother for help on that, he yanked it out of my hands and slammed the DS shut. I thought he was so mad at me for constantly asking him that he was trying to break my DS!

  • pizzaman

    “The Legend of Zelda has been massively popular for over 30 years running.”
    Zelda NES was released in 1986.
    It’s now 2014.
    Do the math. That’s not over 30 years.

    • YoshiFan101

      you know what he means. its pretty darn close

  • StationaryBomb

    5:36 New N64 Kids React! Wii U Edition!

    Anyways oh yes Nintendo you money schemers, thanks to you I use my hard earned money to grab Zelda games over and over again… BUT its a good series, anyone disagree? I just imagine the look on my future children’s faces with there fancy video game helmets watching me pull out the old consoles asking “WTF is that junk slab?,” Well “Its the greatest piece of old and wonderful entertainment ever.,” same words came out of my mouth and my father’s :P

  • hollander

    Zelda is just great.

  • LittleGreen

    More than 20 different titles?

  • LittleGreen

    Kokiri Village?

  • LittleGreen

    More than 30 years?

  • LittleGreen

    Who cares? Zelda’s cool no matter what…

  • Zoltier853

    Oh, I felt so nostalgic when playing through OoT 3D, my first Zelda game, for the first time. This theory makes no sense when people new to Zelda start playing and think it’s good.

  • EponaRocks

    Every zelda player is biased to their first zelda game – EG my first one was Twilight Princess so I love anything to do with TP. Therefore if other games have similarities with players’ favourite/first games then they will be popular. For example Hyrule Field/Hyrule theme thing and maine Zelda theme hardly ever change (if you can hum one zelda theme you can basically hum all the others too) so players always smile when they hear that theme. It’s the same for other games too (I think). It’s also because if we enjoyed one game and another is like it we will link that with enjoying the other game.So for some reason Koholint Island to me always sounds like pokemon and I find pokemon hilarious so I find Koholint island hilarious too (even though I love LA).
    Basically, yes, I think Nintendo HAVE been exploiting our nostalgia with Zelda.

    Does that make any sense at all????

    • Essence Of The Triforce

      Sort of.

  • NightmareXIV

    I will definately play Legend of Zelda with my future children. Thus making me the first generation Zelda player in my family it will go on forever.

  • NightmareXIV

    Nostalgia carries me through the nearly unbearable openings. (Just the slow ones.) and the game just being good carries me through the rest.

  • rosie

    just a little…ok a lot :D

  • Ruby

    Well, as someone who never even played one single Zelda game as a child and only started following the series a year ago, I don’t know. My first game was Skyward Sword, and I fell in love and started trying to hoard all the other games I could. So, in my case, it has nothing to do with nostalgia at all – it’s just the fact that the Zelda series is really amazing to me. But to other people, then maybe nostalgia is what carries them through. I guess it depends on the situation.

    • Reincarnation_of_Link

      Well you would be the perfect person to ask. My first game was Ocarina of Time back in 2002, and I had been an obsessive fan ever since. I am always going to be partial to the Zelda games because I grew up with them. You on the other hand can be a lot more objective because you don’t have that nostalgia factor. Skyward Sword was a brilliant game, and if you still feel the same way about the other games then i guess there has to be more than just nostalgia.

      Personally I think it’s a little bit of both. We all love it when we see things we recognize from previous games, and I think that might help us forgive the shortcomings of new games a little bit (Doesn’t save Twilight Princess for me, but there you have it). But most of these games are objectively very good, if it was just the nostalgia factor it wouldn’t be pulling in new fans.

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