Posted on February 16 2023 by Emi Curtis
With the new trailer out for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, more and more questions have emerged of what features will grace the new Zelda title. Will there be a return to more involved hands-on storytelling? Will dungeons be returning to the game? Will Ganondorf be the primary villain? As we look at these questions, it’s important to remember why we’re asking these in the first place. Way back in late 1998, a little title called The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time graced Nintendo’s first 3D-based console, the Nintendo 64. The title redefined adventure games, bringing the wide open exploration of it’s predecessor A Link to the Past to the third dimension. Environments like the sprawling Hyrule Field, multi-tiered Water Temple, and horror of the Bottom of the Well were simply just not possible in 2D and set a standard in games for years to come.
It’s been 25 years since then though. Games have evolved since then, and even Zelda games in and of themselves. Collect the 12 Macguffins doesn’t cut it as a main plot point anymore. Mirror Shields reflecting light isn’t impressive anymore. And numerous moments in even Majora’s Mask right after Ocarina of Time put the Well to shame. Despite this, many do still hold Ocarina of Time as the mold with which Zelda games must strive to and many believe the game has yet to be outdone. The question is, is this idea holding us back? As things evolve, it’s natural for things that we used to take as standard will eventually fall away. How many expectations based in trying to recreate the splendor of Ocarina of Time are holding future Zelda games back?
As we look at Tears of the Kingdom come into view, I think we are likely to be getting a snapshot of where Zelda games will be going for the foreseeable future. With lessons learned from Breath of the Wild, I think Nintendo will be using this game as the foundation for what Zelda is in the year 2023. Frankly, I really want to see this game depart from the vestiges of the series. Much as other Nintendo titles have striven to renew themselves in the modern era, I want Zelda to be refreshed with this game. I’ll say it, I’m tired of talking about Ocarina of Time. Not just the game itself, but all the pieces that it contributed to the Zelda series. I think we’re beyond modular locale-based dungeon design, singular use equipment, linear plots, and standard good vs. evil tropes. We owe it to ourselves to ask for more out of our beloved series than just a sad uncle trying to recreate his golden years.
What your thoughts? Do you think the standards of what makes the Zelda series “Zelda” have changed? Or do you think it would be better if we turned back time and went back to the origins? Let us know in the comments below!
Emi Curtis is an associate editor with Zelda Dungeon, having originally joined the team in late 2020. She is a freelance artist, programmer, and streamer with a healthy love of both the creative and analytical. She can frequently be found playing RPGs and Adventure games, her favorite of which being The Wind Waker. She is also quite fond of playing Zelda Randomizers. Currently, she hosts a tabletop RPG series on Twitch and operates a freelance illustration business. She can be found on Twitter and Twitch as her VTuber alter-ego Gwen Myoty, creating nerdy artwork, dungeon mastering tabletop games, and playing RPGs.