Posted on June 23 2011 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
This topic has been a fiercely debated topic in our forums, as you can see in the original thread. The topic is essentially what makes a Zelda game truly be a Zelda game. Some users are arguing that a game like Spirit Tracks, Majora’s Mask, and others are not really Zelda games. The argument is change the characters and it doesn’t even appear to be Zelda.
I have some rather strong thoughts on this topic, and I’ve been heavily involved in the debate to this point. I thought it was time to highlight this topic for a much hotter debate in the comment section. What defines what a Zelda game is?
For me it breaks down into 3 basic principles. Every single game has had these 3 basic concepts embedded into them. Puzzles, Dungeons, and Action Adventure style combat. To me, that is all that is truly needed to make a Zelda game feel like a Zelda game. It’s why Darksiders is compared to Zelda, because it features all 3 of these elements. Change the main character to Link and magically you might as well call that game a Zelda game.
There are other arguments to be made in such a debate. As an example, the big debate in the forum topic revolves around the Mythos, and getting away from gimmicks and trying to bring fresh stuff into the mythos of Zelda. Naturally I disagree here, because I don’t think the Mythos has ever truly been established. It’s been different in nearly any game.
Also as one great fan took me to school on one day: Everything is a gimmick until it is commonly accepted. Sailing? Gimmick. Flight? Gimmick. Musical instrument? Gimmick. Of course, the final one is no longer a gimmick, but it certainly was at one point. Even 3D gaming (getting out of the 2D realm) was a gimmick at one point until it became widely accepted.
The point in all this is what truly defines what a Zelda game is? For me it’s as simple as those three points, for others it’s a much more complex equation. Even to the point that some don’t want Aonuma working on Zelda anymore because he doesn’t know what Zelda is anymore. I disagree of course, because I think Miyamoto is handcuffing Aonuma. One just has to look at Majora’s Mask for that proof.
Still, what defines Zelda for you? The debate rages on.