Why A Link to the Past 2 is the Worst Zelda

First of all, let me reiterate (as I do in each of these editorials) there there is no such thing as “the worst Zelda”–just as there is no such thing as “the best Zelda”–for the very good reason that there’s no real way to evaluate these games in an unbiased way, thus one game might be Player A’s “best” while that same game might be Player B’s “worst”. Case in point: A Link to the Past. When I wrote the editorial on why some people might feel that The Minish Cap is the worst (and mentioned that my own favorite game was A Link to the Past) there was a flood of comments declaring it “the best” or the favorite of the poster, insisting it was far superior to A Link to the Past. Yet just last week when I posted an editorial on why some people might feel A Link to the Past could be the worst Zelda game, there was an equal flood (presumably by people who hadn’t read the previous editorial) who insisted that A Link to the Past was the best and that it was absolutely better than The Minish Cap. I posted these editorials back-to-back to allow a point to be shown: there is no absolutely no consensus. Well, except that we all can agree that the CD-i games are the absolute worst, but we don’t really count those, do we? Nintendo certainly doesn’t so those three games should never even enter into the argument. Also a non-starter: all Zelda games are gosh darn good; even one person’s “worst Zelda” is heads above nearly any other action-adventure game out there.

And to once again clarify: the thesis of these editorials is that we each have a very different idea of “what is Zelda” determined by the bias of which Zelda games we played first. We then judge each subsequent game based on how well it fits into that cookie-cutter shape. Yet that shape is different for each person. This series of editorials is meant to show how it is possible that someone whose first Zelda game might have been Spirit Tracks could feel that Ocarina of Time is the worst Zelda game (actually, that sounds like a good one, maybe I’ll do that one next week).

This week, to push the point even further, I’m going to examine how it is that a game that was announced less than a week ago is already being called “the worst Zelda” by some (not by me: I think it looks amazing!) six months before its release.

But first let me explain something: these opinions that follow are almost never my own. That has been the case in almost every one of these editorials. Instead they are based on real-life comments I’ve pulled from the comments on these editorials, from the Zelda Dungeon (or other websites) forums, or–as in this case–from the comments on other posts here at Zelda Dungeon. The following comments are adapted from the comments found on the various news posts our News Staff did on the announcement and details regarding A Link to the Past 2.
From the perspective of someone who wanted Majora’s Mask 3D first
Due to all the fan-made trailers and box art and false online shopping listings, it seemed like Majora’s Mask 3D would be the next game released.* Heck, even a huge community was formed of many various Zelda fans begging Nintendo to do a remake of Majora’s Mask. With its darker story and more intricate and involved NPCs and side-quests, it certainly is much more worthy game of a remake, which is really what A Link to the Past 2 seems to amount to: it has the same overworld, the same gameplay mechanics, the same music, the same sound effects. So if one of the two of these games had to be remade it should have been the one that most fans have actually been crying out for. Besides A Link to the Past already has three sequels, does it really need a fourth?

From the perspective of someone who wanted a 3D-styled game
A top-down Zelda seems like a waste. They showed us in Ocarina of Time 3D that the 3DS was capable of a console-style 3D Zelda. Speaking of 3D, using the 3D effect in a top-down Zelda also seems like a waste: what’s the point of having layers of 3D if it is only from just above Link’s head down to the floor? The 3D effect was much more effective in Ocarina of Time 3D where they could use multiple layers stretching back into the distance to really give the landscapes depth. Just using it to have the Heart and Magic meters on a layer above Link’s head seems pointless. And not only do they have to insult those of us who wanted a 3D-styled game by giving us a top-down game, but they take it a step further by introducing a become-a-drawing-on-a-wall gimmick which basically makes part of the game a 2D style like The Adventure of Link which no one wanted.**

From the perspective of someone who wanted a direct remake of A Link to the Past
If they were going to come so close to actually remaking A Link to the Past, why not just go all the way and actually remake it? They’re using the same overworld, so it probably was originally going to be an all-out remake to begin with, but when designing the dungeons, they probably just wanted to make use of the 3D effect and redesigned the dungeons around that. The graphic style itself is just a bland HD interpretation of A Link to the Past’s, it would have been much more exciting to see something brand new instead of the uninspired claymation look. Or if not that, why not just use the original 16-bit graphics and add a 3D effect onto those? That sounded like Miyamoto’s original intent anyway, from back when they first announced a Zelda game in the works for the 3DS. Or it would have been much better to see A Link to Past remade in a style somewhere between Skyward Sword and The Wind Waker where it’s a 3D-style game with a cel-shaded style based on the Link to the Past instruction manual art.

Though the game has not yet been released and only two different videos have been made available to show it off, many fans have already relegated it to “the worst” pile based on their cookie cutters: they have a specific idea of what Zelda should be, and the things that are least like that–be it due to gameplay style (top-down versus 3D) art style, or story tone–will get tossed into their “worst” pile before having even played it. I am guilty of this as well: back when The Wind Waker was first announced I was appalled at the art style. What was this super deformed-looking, overly simplistic and cartoony thing? I felt like if they had to do a cel-shaded graphic style, why not just do one that looked like the official art from the previous games which looked pretty anime/cel-shaded already. Of course, I didn’t realize at the time that the GameCube was not quite powerful enough to handle something like that. I had already decided The Wind Waker would be one of the worst Zelda games. Yet when I actually played it, it quickly proved itself to be one of the best. Even that odd art style ended up charming itself into my heart. It wasn’t what I wanted (I think it wasn’t what any of us wanted) but Nintendo knew better and gave to us what they knew we needed, and they were right. Similarly, maybe a sequel to A Link to the Past isn’t what many of us thought we wanted–many of us wanted Majora’s Mask 3D–but likely Nintendo knows better.

*Except that Nintendo made it abundantly clear that while they knew there was more fan interest for Majora’s Mask 3D, they were much more keen on releasing a brand new Zelda first. They have indicated that Majora’s Mask 3D is still a possibility at some point after A Link to the Past 2 is released.

**This is an almost verbatim quote from a comment someone posted.