Since the announcement of Zelda Wii U, limited details regarding the game’s plot have been spared– leaving plenty of room open for interpretation. Written by one of our very own forum users, Tatltael, has mused an intriguing speculation concerning the story, tone, and other details worth noting that could have otherwise been easily overlooked. You can read all about it after the jump. Read more…
The empowerment of decision-making is a popular trend in video game stories these days. As shown by the critical acclaim and commercial success of series like Mass Effect and Telltale’s The Walking Dead, players obviously enjoy the sense of free will and importance that meaningful in-game decisions create. Even games with narratives that are otherwise set in stone like to offer choices at pivotal story moments, particularly ending sequences. While I doubt Zelda will ever embrace interactive storytelling, it’s fun to imagine what might happen if it did.
As it turns out, I believe there is a lot of potential in a game like this. Zelda has always placed game design as a higher priority than story, but there are plenty of intriguing and unique story elements that only Zelda can provide. The eternally reincarnated main characters, splitting timeline, and rich history of Hyrule can be explored and expanded upon in ways Nintendo might never dare to try. Considering so much has already happened in the Zelda universe, I think it would be best if a spin-off game or series of games told its own original story based on existing Zelda lore. Here are my ideas for such a game, and why I think it would be great.
Take the jump and find out why I think there’s so much potential for a choice-driven plot within Zelda’s signature brand of storytelling! Read more…
In the modern age of video games, we’ve grown rather used to slow openings with drawn out cutscenes at the beginning. We don’t really want to start playing when we start up a game…or do we?
It seems A Link Between Worlds harkens back to the old days of Zelda where you were off as soon as you started. Hit the jump to see what Kotaku has to say about it!
A Link to the Past was the first Zelda game to really bring a running plot to the game itself — as opposed to just a simple backstory to explain why the heck you’re collecting triangles or jewels or whatever — but it’s still not regarded as a story-heavy game. Different events happen throughout and there’s dialogue, and plenty of the moments are even quite cinematic and epic in their own way, but it’s still not a game with a really deep story, great characterization, or complicated motivations. That said… somehow it still had a certain phenomenon that we still rarely see even in the plot-heavy modern titles: A non-villain boss that’s his own character with his own dialogue and buildup.
While Agahnim and Ganon were both major villains and thus had the appropriate amount of story and buildup, Blind was just a lowly dungeon boss with no real effect on the overall story or game… and yet Nintendo saw fit to build him up quite a bit!
Majora’s Mask is unquestionably a classic. It was released more than a decade ago on a console that’s now firmly cemented in people’s memories. It was the sequel to one of Nintendo’s greatest success stories, and it has been hailed by the fanbase as one of the greatest titles in its series — praise that’s not unwarranted considering its quality.
Considering its age and status, and the fact that it was only the eighth Zelda game ever released in what is now a 15-game series, it might also be tempting to think of it as a relic of a bygone era of Zelda games. There is, however, a fine line between the recently-released Skyward Sword and the classic Majora’s Mask, and it’s a line that seems to grow thinner the more we look into some of the fundamental ideas in these Zelda titles. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how instrumental Link’s Awakening was to the development of stories in Zelda games. If that’s the case, the transformation to the “modern” Zelda style may well have been fully realized over a decade ago.
The last article I wrote began with a call to arms for Nintendo. They were being left behind in the new culture of gaming, I said, because of their reliance on gameplay to the detriment of their story. I pitched a grand vision of a single Link’s tale concluding in the upcoming game A Link Between Worlds. I talked about how they should allow that story to connect with the gameplay by allowing players to traverse a Hyrule changed since the events of A Link to the Past, and allow players to experience the strangeness of being in a familiar but changed land just as Link does in the game’s story.
Further information has since come out that has made that possibly less likely (though still possible, and I continue to hope!), as it was confirmed that A Link Between Worlds is not a direct sequel. Though it was received with muttering and minimal discussion, I fear that this news is yet another symptom of a sickness that has been plaguing the Zelda franchise for quite some time now. This sickness is the reason for the franchise dropping out of mainstream gaming conversation. This sickness, I believe, is responsible for the disappointing sales of Skyward Sword.
Today, we’re going to talk about just what this sickness is, why it’s affecting the franchise, and how the franchise can cure itself of the affliction.
Time is concept that is very common within the Legend of Zelda series; with 16 installments over 27 years, the series has brought us a total of six games which have used the idea of time in some manner. Time has also played a factor in the grand scheme of Zelda in the form of the timeline itself. Ocarina of Time has three alternate outcomes — two of which were a consequence of Princess Zelda sending Link back in time to relive his childhood — thus the infamous timeline split was created. So one could say that time has played a pretty big role in the Zelda series, and this is what I would like to explore within this article. Basically, I’m going to go through the main ways that time has been utilized, make my analysis, and finally, come to a conclusion on how I think time could be used in the next installment.
Progression and Contrast
Let’s start with the idea of progression, an important factor in any game with a good plot and which works hand in hand with the concept of time. As time generally flows in a set, linear direction, so does the world we live in. Essentially, through time we see the physical contrast between one set of events and the next. Now, time itself is a rather controversial topic, but from looking through many definitions (and I mean many) I decided what I believe time is:
Let’s talk about stories.
To those of you familiar with my article work on this site, you will know that I have a deep passion for storytelling, and specifically, story structure. I’ve written about the monomyth — or, as it is more commonly called, the “Hero’s Journey” — and how this literary phenomenon is reflected within the Zelda series. I’ve talked at length about Joseph Campbell’s theories and their pertinence to both the series and video gaming at large. It is safe to say that most of my work here has been an exploration of storytelling in the Zelda series, and I would venture to say that I am one of the most ardent defenders of the series in this respect.
That said: Nintendo, it’s time to step it up. Gaming has evolved, and on the whole, the medium is maturing at a rate far faster than you are. Storytelling in games has reached new heights, with behemoth titles like Journey (another game I’ve talked about here) and BioShock Infinite doing some exciting things with the medium in ways both new and conventional. Games aren’t just about gameplay anymore; they’ve turned into a versatile and powerful storytelling medium. And, Nintendo, you’re being left behind.
But not all is lost. Long have you been the titan of gameplay, the company that manages to make games fun even when their stories are inane or razor thin. You can retain that crown while moving forward into gaming’s new future as a storytelling giant. You have the perfect opportunity sitting in front of you, too: A Link to the Past 2.
This is a call to arms. This is a humble, but passionate, pitch for pushing your own storytelling forward, Nintendo. Today, I am going to talk once again about the Hero’s Journey, and how you have a wonderful chance to use this new game, this new chapter in a legendary franchise, to tell a fantastic story that you’ve already been telling. You just didn’t know you were telling it.
Each Zelda tale is rich in puzzles, enemies, and overall solid gameplay. However, I have recently realized that my favorite Zelda games tell (what I perceive to be) the best stories in the lore. Maybe the writer in me makes me bias to liking one Zelda game over another based purely on this factor. It’s tough to justify this; video games should be enjoyable based mostly on how much fun you have actually playing the game. Stories are important, for sure, but I would argue that the most important aspect of any game is an enjoyable gameplay experience, story coming second or third. Some of my all-time favorite video games tell barely any story at all: TMNT: Turtles in Time, Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong Country, etc. But Zelda is different. I’ve always enjoyed writing and found storytelling fascinating; Examining everyday people handling larger-than-life problems. The Zelda series has, time and time again, excellently recycled the story of an average boy stepping up, embracing a daunting destiny, and saving the world. Hit the jump to see which Zelda games I feel have best told the tales of our favorite hero (in order of release).
The Zelda franchise has a long history of being incredibly versatile, borrowing disparate elements from many different series such as God of War, Darksiders, and Goof Troop. Lately, however, the franchise has stalled a bit, failing to bring any exciting new elements to the table. But the gaming industry overall has never been more diverse; there are so many series that Zelda can look to for inspiration, and perhaps the most exciting one is Call of Duty.
Frequently selling millions of copies, Call of Duty is undoubtedly the most successful franchise in the industry, and for good reason. More so than any other series out there, Call of Duty’s developers understand how to craft exciting experiences for all who play the game, regardless of their skill level or familiarity with the genre. As its sales numbers illustrate, the Call of Duty series is clearly better than any of the modern Zelda titles, none of which have sales that hold a candle to even the weakest selling entry among the recent Call of Duty games. So naturally, the question is, what can Zelda take from Call of Duty in order to appeal to a more widespread audience?
There are three specific aspects of Call of Duty that Zelda would do well to learn from and assimilate into the stagnating series formula: cinematic action, a microsession and multiplayer focus, and Skinner Boxes.
Well hey there guys! New mailbag! This time around we’ve got a pretty wide variety of questions. Zelda Wii U is touched on, as is the Zelda timeline of course — because both of these are fairly recent news — but most of the rest are pretty diverse, ranging from topics like the proper title for a Zelda fan, to what aspects of Twilight Princess we’d like to see again. So hopefully this is a refreshing mailbag! 14 questions in all. Enjoy! You can watch the video here or check out the embed after the jump.
Questions and timestamps:
(00:24) – If you could have Nayru’s Love, Farore’s Wind, or Din’s Fire in real life which would you pick?
(01:07) – Who would win in a fight between Ganon, Demise, and Majora?
(02:04) – Which Zelda game has the best graphics in your opinion?
(03:01) – There are Whovians, Potterheads, and Sherlockians… what’s a Zelda fan called?
(03:09) – Do you think Zelda Wii U is going to have The Wind Waker’s art style?
(03:54) – Nintendo’s going to “re-think the conventions” of Zelda’s gameplay, but what about its story and characters?
(04:52) – If the characters in Skyward Sword are humans, why do they have pointy ears?
(05:32) – If Hylians started human life on the surface, then where did other human races come from?
(06:11) – Will new Zelda games try to fit in the timeline, or will they just go off on their own?
(06:53) – Would a futuristic Zelda game work or would it be a flop?
(08:19) – What aspects of the original NES Zelda game did you like and dislike?
(09:25) – Is Dragon Roost Island from The Wind Waker Death Mountain from Ocarina of Time?
(09:34) – Do you think the Wolf Form, Hidden Skills, and Hawk from Twilight Princess should return?
(10:53) – What would you think if you were in a future Zelda game, or there was a reference to ZD?
Zelda lore is truly unique.
After over 25 years, we finally have a clear-cut timeline, and some very basic facts laid out: There are three Triforce pieces, several heroes, several princesses, and a monstrous succession of villains bred by hatred. But for every question each new game answers about the series’ lore, more questions arise. How does this world work? What is its history really like? How much of what we see in each Zelda game can we trust, when the series is mired in apparent contradictions that only sort themselves out through a convoluted timeline?
Compare to The Elder Scrolls, with its lore that rivals that of Middle-Earth in its clarity and richness. Its political factions constantly vying for power, its supernatural elements played against a fairly realistic world in both aesthetic design and complexity. Compare to Halo, a series in a much less story-driven genre, which nonetheless boasts several books and a cohesive backstory to its faceless main character. There are countless game franchises that develop their backstories in a linear way, reminiscent of (and sometimes similar to) that of books, movies, or television shows.
The Legend of Zelda is different. At face value, its looks like high fantasy, with its large cast of characters and its rich history. But it plays out more like a fairy tale, and people both familiar and unfamiliar with the series could probably point out the framework of most Zelda stories. There’s always a villain — if not Ganon, then an analog for Ganon. The villain is often trying to seize some relic, usually the Triforce. The princess is often, but not always, kidnapped or put in some kind of peril at some point in the story. Link, of course, fulfills his role as the hero and saves the day.
If Zelda is a high fantasy series in the tradition of Lord of the Rings, how does this repeating story make any kind of sense? Furthermore, why are the different iterations of Hyrule so dramatically different in terms of geography?
Hey guys, new mailbag! This one’s got an extra large number of viewer opinion questions, where I want to hear what you guys would say more than usual. There’s four of those. The rest, as usual, cover a wide variety of topics in the series, although again we have a particularly large number of future Zelda questions and just general design questions. There’s 13 questions in all. Enjoy! You can watch the video here or check out the embed after the jump.
Questions and timestamps:
(00:19) – What is the hardest Zelda game in your opinion?
(01:10) – What is your favorite Ocarina song in Ocarina of Time?
(01:53) – What is your favorite sidequest from any Zelda game?
(02:48) – Which style of Zelda do you like better? Cartoony The Wind Waker or realistic Twilight Princess?
(04:00) – Would you like to see a Zelda span over a long period of time, where Link gets taller?
(04:25) – What do you think about getting to choose your weapon at the beginning of the game?
(04:52) – Do you think the developers would be willing to change the story and make it more sophisticated?
(06:12) – Do you think in the future Nintendo will make a game based around the Goddesses or the culture of Hyrule?
(07:19) – Do you think Zelda games should have regions or just an open map?
(08:05) – If the Master Sword is enchanted to destroy evil, how come the Biggoron Sword is stronger?
(08:13) – Why did Navi leave at the end of Ocarina of Time?
(09:05) – How old is Vaati? Is he Toon Link’s age or is he a lot older?
(09:54) – Do you think that Arbiter’s Grounds could be a “remodeling” of the Spirit Temple from Ocarina of Time?
A Link to the Past arguably had the best opening sequence not just of any Zelda game, but of any video game. It introduces the player to the controls, the lore, the world, and the level design, and does so seamlessly while pushing Link forward through a rapidly-progressing story. Several pivotal things happen in succession, but they all make sense and set the tone for what’s to come.
It’s the fastest-moving section of the game, and not only did it do a good job of setting things up, but it was a precursor to modern action games which start in medias res. Like Star Wars, it thrust its main character into the middle of a story that was much larger than he was — but it did so artfully.
It was the first Zelda game with a real introduction, and it started things off with a bang. Subsequent Zelda games would have wildly different beginnings, from the mostly docile Link’s Awakening to the bizarre Majora’s Mask to the (sometimes painstakingly slow) Skyward Sword, but none would ever reach for the frantic, quick, perfect pacing of A Link to the Past. No Zelda game since lacked a lengthy introduction sequence. The formula was in place, but there was plenty of room for variety within that formula.
Zelda is a quest by definition. It features a hero or protagonist working at a goal. The intent may be of various nobility. There is an antagonist, many obstacles obstructing the path to the goal, and in nearly every game thus far, there has been an underlying theme of maturity and coming of age. Self-knowledge is gained as the character progresses through the storyline and upon completing the quest, he/she will typically experience an epiphany regardless of whether or not the protagonist’s intents come to fruition. So The Legend of Zelda fits smugly in the elementary mold but doesn’t do anything extraordinary to set itself apart from other hackneyed “save the kingdom” scenarios.
Story is an important element in the composition of a video game, although not always vital. But once a story that takes itself seriously is introduced, the areas where it lacks will be amplified. If the story is going to be present, it should connect the segments of gameplay seamlessly and shouldn’t serve as a barrier between the player and the game. Zelda has done decently enough in terms of plot, but there are times when the games feel stinted and stale due to a lackluster sequence of events almost as if its dragging its feet. Make the jump to read more!