In my old article, Overworlds: The Land Between, I took the time to define the personal names I have for four styles of overworld commonly seen in Zelda. The wilderness is a wild and dangerous area where you are left on your own, while the map is either a miniaturized representation of the world or little more than a menu. But it’s the hub and transportation overworlds that I will be focusing on in this article, for I believe that the execution of these overworld concepts has generally been weak in the Zelda series.
In the aforementioned article I discussed why I felt that the wilderness overworlds were the most natural fit for the Zelda series, but whether that’s true or not, the other styles of overworld should be able to work when well-executed; this article is not about bashing Zelda and talking about why half of its overworlds suck, but an in-depth look at what I believe to be flaws and an examination on how they can be improved. To do this, I will be looking to other series that have executed these overworlds better than any Zelda game has.
So first let’s begin with the most talked about style: The transportation overworlds, where the gameplay actually changes into something else while you travel, typically due to riding a vehicle or mount. There are two games in particular that use this style of overworld that I think have outperformed Zelda’s use of it. These are Beyond Good & Evil and Kingdom Hearts II.