Our friends over at LegendZelda.net recently posted an article about how the Zelda series has moved away from its exploratory beginnings, namely the massive overworld exploration that takes place in the very first Legend of Zelda. The article’s focus is on how much exploration is needed to actually progress in the old game, but in more recent titles you have the assistance of a helper and a more linear progression of events.
“This dimension of exploration added an imperceivable depth to the game, and thus enhances its realism. You were thrown into a world which needs saving. You have no ideas, no answers, not even a weapon. Has any true hero ever gone out on an epic quest to redeem the land, knowing exactly what to do and when to do it? Of course not. Imagine yourself in such a situation. You would be utterly clueless as to the means to reach your end. Thus, you would resign yourself to explore.”
As a child during the time when there were only 2D Zelda games, I can relate to the annoyance the author feels towards the new games and some of the people who advocate for the linear gameplay, but by no means do I think the first Zelda is a model to go by. As far as 2D games go, I don’t think that Nintendo had it figured out until A Link to the Past. You can see where walls can be bombed and you are given some help from the fortune teller and from Sahasrahla; in the first game you almost have to bomb every square or burn every bush to find items, and the cryptic directions of the first Legend of Zelda’s old man are hard to follow. It wasn’t perfect, but it was an improvement no doubt. For the most part I agree that new titles can look to the past for answers, but I don’t think that the original Legend of Zelda is the game to emulate.
What do you all think? Do you like having helper characters? Would you get mad if you missed out on a weapon? Let us know in the comments.