When planning the Inspired By Zelda themed week, the staff here at Zelda Dungeon had a bit of difficulty deciding on a name that would best represent the games that we wanted to showcase. We asked ourselves: what name best describes games that share, in some way, that Zelda DNA? Do we call them Zelda-likes? Zelda doppelgangers? Zelda clones…? That last suggestion was met with swift disapproval by our staff. Something about the term “Zelda clone” did not convey the type of admiration we held for the games we’d end up covering for Inspired By Zelda. So, what is it about this term that led to our reaction? Does “Zelda clone” come off as derogatory?

For some that use the designation regularly, “Zelda clone” could simply refer to game that reminds one of Zelda games, especially in look and execution. Games like Silicon Studios’ 3D Dot Game Heroes wear their Zelda inspirations on their sleeves, sometimes in a very earnest or tongue-in-cheek way. In this way, resembling Zelda seems to be one of the goals these games are trying to accomplish, perhaps because they wish to pay homage to an important classic that came before.

On the other hand, the term “Zelda clone” could assign negative connotations to a title. A game that is a clone of another may paint that game as derivative or unoriginal — a lesser game, if you will. So, in recent years, when a handful of high quality games have released that in some way call to mind the Zelda series, the gaming community seems to want to separate the inspiration from the art. These players choose to simply point out a game’s likeness to Zelda without overtly referring to it as a “Zelda clone”.

What do you think? Is the term “Zelda clone” derogatory? Do you choose to use a different classification for games that remind you of The Legend of Zelda? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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