Posted on November 25 2014 by Fernando Trejos
Zelda, as a series, has always been expanding its horizons and genres in tons of ways, from the ridiculous exploration and adventure of the original Legend of Zelda to the more story and puzzle-driven Skyward Sword, and with huge transformations between games like the gap between 2D and 3D titles. However, there’s one gameplay style that Zelda has never really tried out: platforming.
While Link’s Awakening featured a few Mario-esque platforming sections inside dungeons, Zelda has never really embraced platforming as the core concept for a whole game. I would personally love to see a Zelda game based purely on platforming, either in 2D or 3D, but it’s more likely that if sections like this are ever implemented, they’ll be more like fleshed-out versions of the platforming in Link’s Awakening, perhaps involving some kind of specific item or puzzle type.
It’s important to remember the fact that the first Legend of Zelda was developed alongside the original Super Mario Bros. for the NES, with the central idea that they should be complete opposites. Zelda would focus more on open-ended action and adventure, while Mario would try to throw the story and exploration out the window and focus on platforming. Zelda was never meant to be a platformer, and has always been structured to act as its opposite; Link cannot jump in nearly any Zelda game, and getting around dungeons or overworlds in the series has always been more a question of intellect rather than skill in movement. If you look at it this way, making Zelda fully a platform-based game would ruin a lot of what the series has going for it.
It is true that the genre of platforming doesn’t lend itself very well to exploration or open-ended gameplay. Because of this, I doubt that we could ever see a full-on platformer Zelda game, at least outside of a spin-off or an in-game minigame. Ideally, I would personally love to see platforming in a Zelda game incorporated as small, in-game sections, essentially a much more centralized and expanded version of the platforming parts of Link’s Awakening.
These parts wouldn’t even have to be broken up from the main gameplay, especially if we’re talking about a full 3D Zelda game; perhaps platforming could just become a more central theme in the general game, if we gave Link the ability to jump in-game. This way, dungeons could be structured to include more skill-based challenges with precise jumping, and arguably, it could make the game and its combat a lot more dynamic, with a much more agile and controllable Link.
Zelda II was the first and only fully-2D platformer in the Zelda series, and as many people agree, it didn’t really feel like a Zelda game altogether; it sold rather poorly, and is remembered as one of the first Zelda games. I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed it, but I do have to admit that the 2D platforming did not lend itself well to the Zelda formula. The game just didn’t feel like a Zelda game, even if it was loads of fun. You can disagree with me there, as I know it’s the favorite title of tons of others, but Zelda II didn’t do a very good job of keeping the exploration and puzzle aspects of Zelda within the platforming genre.
The actual overworld even had to be done in the same style as the original game, with a top-down view, in order to provide exploration within the main world of the game, so it’s not that good of an example when it comes to a fully-2D Zelda game; rather, it’s more like the examples I kept mentioning, where the 2D segment are just a part of the larger game, but in this case, they encompass most of the experience.
In the end, would you be open to seeing platforming in a future Zelda game, perhaps as the core concept of a future game, or would you not be open to it at all? How would you like to see them implemented? Would they fit in better in 2D or 3D titles? Let us know in the comments!