Everything that endures in this world passes from generation to generation. Whether it’s a piece of knowledge or a simple trinket passed down a family line, it will follow the law of the generations. What then, with our beloved Zelda series? It has been around for over 20 years now, surely it too has changed throughout the generations. Actually, a close look at the Zelda series indicates that there has been two quite distinct generations of the series: the old generation and the new generation. Currently, we live in the peak of the new, known as the touch generation.
Many Zelda veterans continuously complain about the recently released games being too easy, being without an enthralling story and without any challenges. They complain that Nintendo has turned their focus towards the casual gamers. This, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, is the exact generation divide within the Zelda series.
The original generation Zelda spans from 1987, to the turn of the millennium in 2000. It spans the classics; The Legend of Zelda, The Adventure of Link, A Link to the Past, Link’s Awakening, Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. The original six. The new generation Zelda picks up directly after and continues to our current time, 2009. It incorporates the Oracle games, the Four Swords Trilogy, The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess and Phantom Hourglass.
To be able to identify two separate generations, there must be significant differences, and there is. Undeniably, since after Majora’s Mask, the series has taken a hardcore casual swing, with the games decreasing in difficulty, becoming simpler tales, and even becoming shorter. The old generation games are generally considered to be classic, even amongst the greatest games of all time. They were challenging, told beautiful tales and fulfilled what the gamers wanted.
You can even claim that there are a specific group of Zelda fans for each generation. The old generation consists of those who have been fans for over a decade, following along with every release. Then there are the new fans, joining the new generation within the decade. The old fans continue to keep their eyes on new releases, but keep finding themselves disappointed, even frustrated with the direction the series has taken. They continuously return to the classics for comfort. The new generation loves the games of recent, and don’t seem as appreciating of the classics. Sure, they may have played them, but they just don’t appreciate them as the works of art they are, as the revolutionary games that they were in their day. The new generation is blinded by modern day graphics and effects.
Nintendo has attempted to reinvent some of the old games for this new generation, with the Collectors Edition for the Gamecube, and with A Link to the Past for the GBA, which may have been successful to a degree, but it didn’t bridge the divide. Some of the old generation fans have simply given up, they’ve gotten over what Nintendo is doing. To many of the original fans, Zelda has died. Games like The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess amazed the new generation players, because they didn’t know Ocarina of Time. These games gave them the experience that Ocarina gave the vets a decade ago. That same feeling of awe.
There doesn’t seem to be any way for the two generations to coexist at the moment. The new are thrilled by the approach of Spirit Tracks, with the old looking forward to it, but not fathoming what happened to the good old days. The new love looking strange to those around them as they swing their remotes and viciously tap on their screens. The old enjoy it, but remember the good old days of sitting on the couch with a controller in hand, with a cord brushing against their leg. Zelda has definitely taken a drastic turn, ironically, at the turn of the millennium. Maybe it’s time for the veterans to just accept it, and let the new generation have their fun, as they are supposedly the future. Or maybe there still is hope. No generation lasts forever. Maybe, just maybe, the generation in Zelda is about to change once more. Maybe both the new generation of casual gamers and the old generation of hardcore fans can enjoy a new generation. We can only hope that Zelda Wii will usher in the next Zelda generation.