Zelda II level upAs the years have gone by, more and more people have complained that the Zelda series has become boring, due to its dependence on a formula-based progression through the game. For those of us who have stood up for the Zelda series when presented with this argument, a popular counterargument was the steady improvement of the level-up and trading systems with each new release. There are subtle changes in each new title, so these improvements aren’t always noticeable, leaving many people with the idea that they aren’t there, or that they’ve become stagnant, and that there’s nothing new that can be done. However, those people would be wrong.

Ever since The Legend of Zelda, there has always been a level-up system for combat. These systems have either been found in the acquisition of a new sword, new technique, or in an experience points system. In later games, acquiring new swords and new techniques have been used in conjunction, but the experience points system was only in The Adventure of Link, and has since been abandoned. For this to improve in future Zelda games, I believe a combination of the three is necessary. The player would gain experience points from defeating enemies, bosses, solving puzzles, getting through dungeons, and perhaps more, and only once gaining a certain number of experience points would the player be able to spend them to learn a new technique.

The player could also gain new swords throughout the game. This could also link back to the experience points system, in that the player would need to have acquired a certain amount of experience points before obtaining better swords, which may be harder to handle, or the character that could give you a new sword might say that you are not yet worthy of wielding a better sword. A problem with this level-up system is that it can feel linear if a player chooses to get each upgrade as they get progressively more expensive. To avoid this, like The Adventure of Link, the player would have the option to skip learning a certain skill or buying a certain sword and save their points to learn more difficult skills or buy better swords.

Great Fairy of MagicThe magic meter is a recurring aspect in Zelda games. In the games they appear in, the player nearly always gets their magic meter levelled-up by being granted an upgrade by another character in the game. The only games in which this is not the case are The Adventure of Link, in which the magic meter is also upgraded through the experience points system, and A Link Between Worlds, in which you find a scroll that has a spell written on it that upgrades your replenish meter (or whatever you want to call it; it works as a magic meter, so I’m including it here). I believe that this could be improved in the same way as combat: you are only granted an upgrade from a magical character once you have enough experience points to prove that you can handle the extra magic. Alternatively, there could be several scrolls that have spells written on them, and your magic meter is upgraded bit by bit. An extra little detail, though a bit of a hassle, could be that you would have to take a scroll to a magical character (a wizard or a Great Fairy) once you’ve found it, and they’ll interpret and cast the spell, upgrading your magic meter.

Treasures were first introduced in Phantom Hourglass, and since that time there has always been a way to trade treasures for other items, whether it be for other treasures (via Wi-Fi), train parts, item upgrades, or potions. With every new game, I’ve always looked forward to seeing how treasures will be utilized in new ways, and by far the most interesting way so far, in my opinion, has been in Skyward Sword. Providing Gonzo with treasures so that he can use them to upgrade your items was a good use for the treasures, though I felt it wasn’t very realistic that somebody would grind up apparently-valuable items. In both Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, there was always a character that you could give treasures to in exchange for another item. I personally found this to be a more appropriate use for treasures, and would like to see it return in Zelda Wii U. There is, however, a slight problem with this form of treasure exchange.

TreasuresWhilst playing Spirit Tracks, whenever I went to buy a new train cart, I was always frustrated when I got there only to find out that I didn’t have enough of a particular treasure, and I had to go back out into the world and do whatever I could to try and find the treasure I needed. Wouldn’t it be much simpler if there was a way to know exactly where and how to get that particular treasure? To this extent, I propose the idea of a treasure merchant. Each game has always had a character who will buy your treasures off you, but never has there been a character who you could give a certain quantity of one treasure in exchange for another treasure. To avoid the same issue of needing a certain amount of one treasure, you could trade whatever amount of whichever treasures you had, and you could even fill in any gaps with a handful of Rupees. Obviously you’d need to pay a little extra, because this treasure merchant would need to make a profit, but I would still prefer knowing exactly where I can get an item, rather than searching and guessing, which would still be an option even if this idea was implemented in future Zelda games.

These are my ideas on how the level-up and trading systems could be improved in future Zelda games. What about you guys? Do you have any ideas? Is there level-up mechanic or trading system that you have been dying to see utilised in a Zelda game? Let me know in the comments!

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