Posted on May 21 2018 by Rod Lloyd
There exist a few special video games that have established a formula and brand so strong that they are now considered their own genre. Classic games like Rogue and Metroid / Castlevania are so unique, and their formulas so instantly recognizable, that any clone, imitator, or inspired / derivative work belongs to the genre defined by those classic games’ success. This is why genres like Roguelikes and Metroidvanias have been accepted into modern gaming vernacular.
Does The Legend of Zelda deserve the same distinction? There’s no denying that the Zelda series is one of the most influential game series in history; it established numerous gameplay ideas and traditions that have been utilized in countless titles over the years, especially in the action and adventure mold. But for all that The Legend of Zelda has done for the gaming world, does the series belong in the company of games like Rogue, Metroid, or Castlevania as a game definitive of its genre?
To many fans, the Zelda formula is unique and defined enough to be the basis of its own genre. The particular mix of exploration, puzzle solving, and action that Zelda employs has helped to set the series apart from others in the action-adventure sphere. Likewise, any game with dungeon exploration or lock on-based combat owes a lot to the Zelda series. But despite games like Okami and Darksiders clearly barrowing such ideas from The Legend of Zelda, many gamers still say that these games occupy the action-adventure genre. For all its influence, are Zelda games still not unique enough from others in the action-adventure genre? Does the Zelda formula merely adapt action-adventure tenants in its own way?
In more recent years, we’ve seen some players adopt a Zelda-like genre distinction for titles like Oceanhorn and RiME. We could be at a point in history where the Zelda series has gained enough prestige to be considered its own genre, fostering ideas that can be used in similar titles. A new generation of game developers is citing Zelda games as massive influences on their own projects, moreso than other action-adventure games. So it could be that the series is finally being considered unique and important enough to justify its very own genre.
The verdict is still out, so let us know what you think? Is the Zelda series unique and important enough to be considered its own genre? Or, for all its influence, are Zelda games still just action-adventure games? Join the debate in the comments below.