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Is 2011 the Year of Zelda?

Is 2011 the Year of Zelda?

As 2010 comes to an end, so does one hell of a year in gaming for Nintendo fans. We saw the largest Pokémon games to date in HeartGold and SoulSilver. We experienced the highly anticipated sequel to Super Mario Galaxy as well as Mario’s 25th anniversary. We lived the return of the Donkey Kong in another renowned installment of Donkey Kong Country. We learned the past of our favorite bounty hunter Samus in Metroid: Other M, and that’s far from an exhaustive list of the variety of great experiences Nintendo has provided this year. Yet for all of its installments, 2010 was lacking in one regard: there was no new Zelda released.

Since Twilight Princess in 2006, Zelda fans have been eagerly awaiting the next major console release. It has been four years now, which happens to be the longest wait we’ve had for a major Zelda title since the six year gap between A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time, from 1992 to 1998. I hardly think we can complain there though, as the delivery was arguably the greatest game of all time. Perhaps we are on the verge of such a breakthrough again.

At E3 2009 we were all hopeful that there would be something. Some announcement of a new console Zelda. In the end, there was nothing; nothing except for the leaked painting of Link with Zordiana (read as ‘The Skyward Sword’). It stirred up some excitement before dying down again. Thus, Zelda fans awaited Spirit Tracks, which hit the stores in late 2009. It sufficed to fill the desire of many fans, as Phantom Hourglass did to a degree, but still a thirst remained for more. As we entered into 2010 the hype of Spirit Tracks died down and E3 was what we all looked to. Thankfully, it delivered.

Nintendo’s 2010 E3 presentation was, by far, the show stopper (apologies to Shawn Michaels). With or without Zelda, it was awesome, but The Legend of Zelda’s presence made it all the better. I am glad that at the end of this year, I am not again writing that we are yet to hear word of any new Zelda installment. Not only do we have Skyward Sword to set our sights on, but also Ocarina of Time’s remake into the third dimension of gaming – on the Nintendo 3DS. We haven’t just had an announcement of the next console title, but we’ve been given hope that 2011 will be the year that The Legend of Zelda returns in all of its glory.

Slated for release in early 2011 is the reinvention of the classic: Ocarina of Time. No, we’re not just getting a mere port, but a re-imagined adaption. The world of Hyrule will not only be seen in the third dimension, but also with a level of detail never before seen. We can expect a new interface and way of using our items, as well as a straightening out of the original game’s quirks, like the inaccessibility of the iron boots. We’ve had rumors that this title may even be bundled with the 3DS, but know in the least that if it’s not a launch title, it won’t be far behind. This looks like the first must-play game on the 3DS. For those of us that are already ever so familiar with Ocarina of Time, we just have to pick it up to see what Nintendo has done. Other new gamers will live the experience for the first time, in a modern way. Ocarina of Time, on the go, is there to remind us that Ocarina of Time is the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be (additional apologies to Bret Hart).

Then once we’re all over Link and his ocarina, it’s time for the next major console Zelda release: Skyward Sword! There for us series veterans, the series’ followers, or the many new gamers to the franchise due to the earlier 3D installment, Skyward Sword is promising to be great. Here we have the first game to adapt fully functioning, one-to-one motion controls with the Wii Remote Plus, or your standard Motion Plus add-on. Zelda series staples like bombs, the bow and arrow, and the Master Sword will be experienced in a new way that is unprecedented. With development spanning five years, Skyward Sword is set to deliver an immersive gameplay experience, an encapsulating story, and I’m sure, everything else that we’ve come to expect from Zelda.

Don’t be mistaken though, Skyward Sword will be a diversion from the typical formula. Expect a new take on the overworld-to-dungeon method, as well as new items, like the Beetle, and new gameplay opportunities. At this stage it is likely that there will be some delays, and we won’t see it as early in 2011 as we had hoped, but Skyward Sword will be worth the wait and the excitement. After all, we want Nintendo to take their time and deliver us with the most awesome thing ever (oh geez, more apologies to Mike Mizanin).

Is that all for Zelda in 2011? Two titles that are almost predestined for greatness, unless something goes severely wrong. No doubt the Zelda community, Zelda theorizing, Zelda fanon – you name it, will all explode with excitement and activity, but there could be more. Will there be other announcements? Perhaps Majora’s Mask 3DS? Or a unique Zelda title for the 3DS? E3 2011 is yet another date to mark on your calendars, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. 2011 is the year that Zelda returns with a vengeance to show us what gaming is all about. To remind us why we love The Legend of Zelda like we do.

So strap yourself in, take some deep breaths, and in the words of Bill Trinen, “Try to stay away from ledges and sharp things for the rest of the day, Zelda fans”, because this is one year of Zelda that you don’t want to miss. In fact, 2011 marks 25 years since the release of the original Legend of Zelda in 1986, and Zelda is having its silver anniversary celebration with a year of style. No matter what does happen in the end, one thing’s for sure: we’ll have you covered on everything here at Zelda Informer (by the way, who’s played Smackdown vs. Raw 2011?).

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