The Legend of Zelda has certainly provided an array of useful, unique and downright fun items. From classic items such as Bombs, the Bow and the Master Sword to the entertaining Bombchus and the odd Cane of Somaria, players have always found themselves enjoying solving unique puzzles with the variety of items presented in each game. However, some of the more recent titles, while introducing some brand new items, have been lacking the innovation that has been presented by Link’s equipment in the older games. It’s about time Link was fitted out with some fresh, exciting weapons to replace a now blunt Master Sword and exhausted Bow.
The original The Legend of Zelda gave rise to the use of the Bow, Bombs and the Boomerang, three of the most iconic weapons in the series. They have appeared in almost all of the official games, often playing the same role in Link’s quest. While that is all well and good, these items have become redundant over time, as the puzzles and enemies that they are involved with are more often than not exactly the same. The Bow is used to shoot eye switches, bombs knock down walls revealing a new passage, and the Boomerang is used to stun enemies and hit multiple switches at once. These puzzles were fun and interesting the first time around, even the second, third and fourth time, but by the tenth game that implements them comes around, it begins to feel a little stale. Nintendo have attempted to tackle this feeling of déjà vu by adding tweaks to existing items in order to give them a new lease on life, but this is unfortunately a lazy attempt at refreshing the classics we all know and love.
A prime example of this is the Gale Boomerang featured in Twilight Princess. Instead of being a simple boomerang, the Gale Boomerang emits a small hurricane as it is thrown. While at first this made the weapon look new and intriguing, its actual use is hardly different to that of the regular Boomerang from previous games. It is still used to target multiple switches to open a door or lock, and caries items back to Link. The only additional uses of the Gale Boomerang is that it can blow out torches and spin “wind switches”. While those new additions were unique in the Forest Temple, the first dungeon in Twilight Princess, its use became old further into the game, where puzzles were expected to be slightly more difficult. The Bow and Bombs have suffered similar tweaks, where Bombs could be fired in conjunction with an arrow from the Bow, resulting in Bomb Arrows. These Bomb Arrows were fun to use for about five minutes before it became apparent that they were only slightly different to the elemental arrows from Ocarina of Time.
Link’s equipment was far more interesting in older titles, where Nintendo experimented with unique ideas that ended up being quite memorable. The Oracle of Seasons featured the elusive Magnetic Gloves, an item that attracted or repelled magnetic objects to Link, or even Link himself towards or away from a target. These provided a new series of puzzles for long time fans of the series, and they were well implemented. The gloves were again featured in Four Swords Adventures, but due to the games small fan base, they are often overlooked in that title. Why the gloves have not been applied to a 3D title yet is quite disappointing, as the scope of their use could greatly increase and provide players a new set of puzzles to solve. The Cane of Somaria from The Oracle of Ages provided a similar breath of fresh air to the Magnetic Gloves; they added a new level of puzzles to the game and was downright fun to use.
Zelda Wii is just around the corner, and Nintendo have again and again assured its fans that this new game will be innovative and fresh. If they are to deliver a truly unique title, then it is imperative that Link is fitted out with some new gear, along with new puzzles and foes for the items to be used with. A break from core items such as the Bow may be unrealistic, but to just have some clever and innovative weapons that coincide with the Wii’s control capabilities would give The Legend of Zelda the fresh boost that long term fans have been awaiting.