Posted on January 22 2015 by Jeffrey Edelstein
Since The Legend of Zelda is typically regarded as a fantasy series, it’s not too often then we imagine it set in a future era rather than some mystical, bygone era. Part of the explorative and adventurous nature of the series and its gameplay is assumed to be derived from the untamed and pristine (to varying degrees) world with which we are invited to interact, but with the mixtures of fantasy, science, and technology present for years through sci-fi and the like, it’s unfair to merely dismiss the potential of a futuristic setting for our favorite franchise without some discussion.
Before we go about the reasons why a situation like this wouldn’t work for Zelda, let’s go over just a few of the potential benefits. The world and its inhabitants have the potential to be largely different, especially if this title were set in the very distant future. If a technologically-enhanced society/kingdom were the focus, this world would have the potential to be much larger, both because of new options in travel (master cycle, anyone?) and new connections created through centuries of exploration of external regions. As for the residents of such a land, between migration and evolution, we could face new races with different skills to offer us on quests, providing us with yet another way to look at Hyrule with fresh eyes.
Moving back from the dream of a Zelda that challenges the conventional, the stark reality remains that this is an extraordinarily unlikely route for Nintendo to take with the series. Yes, Eiji Aonuma and others currently invested in the series are searching for ways to challenge the assumptions that players make as they move through these games, but such a drastic change would likely be considered far too risky. Additionally, while adventure and exploration are pillars of Zelda games that could be adapted to a futuristic setting, Nintendo already has franchises which fit this description without deviating from their normal formulas, Metroid and Xenoblade Chronicles, for example. As such, it’s quite possible that in establishing what makes a Zelda adventure just that, Nintendo need place it in more fantastical surroundings to differentiate from its fellow franchises.
Given the option between a futuristic Zelda title and a more traditional one, I’d very likely side with the latter; while the potential for change in the former excites me, I strongly believe that it would turn the series into something which it is not. Nonetheless, I am hopeful for a middle ground of sorts and would love to see one successfully established and explored in a future title. Perhaps the well-tread subject of time travel could be re-purposed to this end. What are your thoughts on the matter? Do we need A Link to the Future? Or should our adventures stay rooted in a more mundane land? Join the Daily Debate!
Art source: Sean NG