With The Legend of Zelda finally delivering a true motion control game with Skyward Sword, one has to wonder how the Wii U, with its large touch screen controller, is going to impact the future of the series. Back when Wii MotionPlus was first associated with the series, it sounded as though Nintendo was hoping for it to become the new standard for Zelda control. Honestly, after my hands-on time with the game, I absolutely agree – MotionPlus and Zelda go together like Link and his sword.
So what about that new controller? It doesn’t sound as though Nintendo’s interested in casting it aside any time soon, so it’s sure to play a role in the future of the series. Will it replace MotionPlus as the Zelda standard on Wii U? Or does Nintendo have something else in mind? I have no idea, really, but based on my experience with Wii U at E3, one idea in particular stands out…
Two words: Cooperative. Multiplayer.
Think about it. Most of the Wii U demos from Nintendo – the real demos, mind you – used a combination of Wii Remotes and the Wii U tablet to deliver a varied, multi-layered, multiplayer experience. Usually the demos focused on the competitive element – ship vs. shooters, hider vs. seekers – but certainly the second screen could make cooperative play more feasible in a core console Zelda title than ever before. One player could make use of Wii MotionPlus on the big screen, while the second player takes command on the Wii U tablet. This could incorporate the new controller while still keeping the MotionPlus framework set by Skyward Sword intact.
The big question would be how to create a gameplay scenario that fits into this kind of setup. Having a second Link wouldn’t necessarily be too far-fetched, especially given that the idea’s already taken hold in the Four Swords games, but somehow I can’t see that idea working out too well given that the two controllers have wildly different capabilities. I think a completely different second player character is a lot more likely. It’d be a heck of a lot more engaging and immersive than Four Swords, where the variety of cooperative play was limited to the single-item your character was holding at the time.
Who could the second player be, though? Obviously Princess Zelda comes to mind. The touch screen on the controller would be a perfect setup to quickly select from a wide array of her magic abilities in order to fight enemies, solve puzzles, and aid Link in battle. Separating the two characters onto two different screens means that you could have all the excellent 3D worlds of the recent console titles plus a massive amount of freedom for both players. Of course, the series isn’t just limited to Link and Zelda – the second player could be anybody, from another classic fan favorite to a completely new character with whatever kind of moveset Nintendo can dream up.
This kind of two controller, two character set up could extend beyond just cooperative multiplayer – it could even offer a more varied single-player experience. Each of the characters could have a separate solo story mode, or perhaps the game could hide secret content that you need to use one character or the other to discover or unlock so you can 100% your file. Really, the hardware is an open book – Nintendo can mix and match the two styles in whatever way they wish, or use just one while ignoring the other. But I’ve got to say, the two-player controller combination idea just seems right to me. We’ll see, I guess!