Today, the Source Gaming team comes together to discuss the Zelda franchise. Who do you agree with? Who do you disagree with? How do you feel? Let us know on Twitter on in the comments below!
What was your first Zelda experience?
My first Zelda experience I’ve had was with the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the Wii.
Playing the Legend of Zelda on my sister’s NES was fairly inauspicious; I never really “got” how to play it, and largely gave up for more sessions of Super Mario Bros. 3. Later on, when I got a GameCube in 2005, I got the Legend of Zelda Collection of the first two games and the Nintendo 64 entries, and was hooked since. I’ve been replaying a lot of the series this year, all because of some impressive game design.
My first Zelda game was The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. My family had only copy, so my sister and I would share it. We actually fought over it a couple of times. Later, I got Majora’s Mask, and fell in the love with the series.
I got to learn about the Zelda series through Super Smash Bros. Melee with the generous amount of content it had back then. The hero Link, the princess Zelda and the villain Ganondorf immediately reminded me of the dynamic between Mario, Peach and Bowser and that may have been a factor of interest in the series back then. Since I had just gotten the GameCube, I learned of The Wind Waker and that became my first actual Zelda game. I remember buying it second-handed at a GameStop in Ireland and it was a surprise to know that it was a pre-order copy with Ocarina of Time bundled with it! Both games were great experiences and I became a huge fan of the series to the point of owning nearly every game in the series nowadays.
Majora’s Mask on the N64. I remember hearing about the Zelda series after playing as Link in Smash Bros… I went to the store and wanted the newest Zelda game and got Majora’s Mask. Loved it. Really spoke to me on another level when dealing with issues like anxiety and depression. When I was a bit older, I got Wind Waker and loved it just as much if not more. I loved the art style of Wind Waker and the game could always make me smile.
I believe my first experience was Ocarina of Time although it may very well be A Link to the Past. I Honestly don’t remember, but Ocarina of Time was the one I have the most memories with so let’s go with that one.
What is your favorite Zelda game, and why?
My favorite Zelda game has to be the one I started with. Twilight Princess was a game I really enjoyed. I loved the atmosphere that game had to offer and the puzzles in it were really cool. I also love the secrets in the game as well.
It should be Wind Waker, but it’s probably Twilight Princess. That probably has to do with the fact that I played it at an age where the flaws in a game weren’t as readily apparent to me, but it’s the one that has the most memorable moments and the one I remember enjoying the most.
It’s gotta be the Wind Waker. It’s not perfect – Twilight Princess has better dungeons, Majora’s Mask has a more consistently strong plot – but it’s gorgeous, immersive, and very smart about its history. It almost reads like a curtain call for the series, as Link and Tetra learn about this wonderful world lost to the sea, only to finally go off in search of a new land. It expanded on both mechanical and narrative ideas from Ocarina of Time, and its art style is the best the franchise has had in a history of great and diverse art styles.
The Wind Waker, without a doubt. In my opinion, that game has a charm that no other game in the series ever had since, it felt adventurous, the music was memorable, the art style was captivating and it’s the game in the series I’ve played the most, having done multiple playthroughs of it. It’s the game I’m still most nostalgic about, even though other games like Ocarina of Time, Skyward Sword and Four Swords Adventures also left me with fond memories.
I’d probably say the original: The Legend of Zelda. It’s such a fun game and it really hasn’t been replicated throughout the series. I enjoy the freedom and the challenge. I’d love to see the series make a game like this again, maybe even give it the New Super Mario Bros. Wii treatment and give us multiplayer with Zelda and other characters. Also, an honorable mention goes out to The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I felt it really perfected Ocarina of Time.
I can never choose between Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker. Majora’s Mask meant more to me as a kid. But Wind Waker I feel has better mechanics. Both have pretty weird choices by the devs that hurt it at certain points. Such as the Triforce Pieces in Wind Waker (I mean seriously, how is a kid supposed to figure this out?), and the time mechanic in MM sometimes just being a chore. But their pros more than make up for those issues. I’d also have to put A Link Between Worlds on that list as well.
For me it is probably Majora’s Mask but a very close second is the Wind Waker. Majora’s Mask did everything right for me in a sequel. It was different, it was unique and it felt like it easily stood on its own as a Zelda game. There was a lot to do in the game and it had a very different atmosphere all around. Wind Waker is second due to its polarizing atmosphere with Majora’s Mask and how well it works, as well as having a much better story overall.
What is your least favorite Zelda game, and why?
Phantom Hourglass tried to solve the biggest frustration players had with Wind Waker – that its sailing got tedious over the course of the game – but unfortunately excised all of the title’s strengths. The immersion was fitful, the environments bland, the cast less interesting, and the story unengaging. There’s often an implicit dismissal of the handheld Zelda games as less worthwhile or interesting, and while that’s patently not true that view can be seen here.
Zelda II. Never could quite get into it unlike any of the other games, including the first game, which I actually greatly enjoyed. I’ll give credit where it’s due, though: the music is great. To be honest, though, I might actually try playing it again one day, who knows.
Skyward Sword. The game did everything thing wrong with what a Wii Zelda should have been. The sword controls were clunky and the game was too much about puzzles. Combat just wasn’t fun. And no overworld? I think the fact that Dowsing made it past the idea phase really tell you why this game was just so bad. This game just did everything wrong. I’m hoping the next Zelda stays away from this.
I would have to say The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords. Being a primarily solo gamer, the game gave me a lack of interest considering you needed some sort of multiplayer in order to really experience the game. Playing with only one link really bogs down the experience. It just feels almost unplayable that way.
Playing through the original Zelda is rough. I can see the enjoyment in almost every other title. But the original is really confusing. It doesn’t hold up. If I account for the standard of games at the time though… my least favorite would likely be Skyward Sword.
I would have to go with Phantom Hourglass just because outside of Linebeck it really is not that memorable. It has no major impact to the Zelda story and the majority of items and dungeons are not memorable. It also has the Phantom Dungeon and it’s incredibly obnoxious timer that you have to redo over and over again. It just becomes a chore in the end.
What changes would you like to see made in the Zelda series?
Frankly, I think I’m at a point where Zelda U needs to convince me that I want to play it. Just the name isn’t going to do it any more. To me, as an action-adventure game, Zelda has been surpassed in a lot of ways by other modern games. I’ve never found the story or characters particularly gripping, the presentation is lacking, I find the action/combat rote and simplistic, and it’s not really quite open-world, and it lacks interesting things to do. The dungeons remain a part of the formula that I don’t think has really been successfully emulated by any other games or studios, but I don’t think I’m going to buy a full-priced game simply for that element.
I will buy Zelda U if it’s with female Link, though. Like, not a male/female option, but if it’s only female Link, I’ll preorder that immediately.
All things considered, I really don’t feel that there are many that are particularly necessary. The Link to the Past/Ocarina of Time formula is incredible, and while diversions in the vein of Link Between Worlds are important to make, the series isn’t in need of drastic upheaval. However, I do think there are things that would be good to see: full voice acting, a greater commitment to exploration outside the main story, an approach to puzzles and dungeon design that expands on what both can be, and the ability to play as a female version of Link (I should note that I’m not counting the latter as part of an elaborate “character creation” system, which I really do not think Zelda needs). The series could really use those touches, I think, to energize itself.
I tend to like the side stories more, so I’d like to see more of those. I’d like to see less formulaic dungeons, and better storytelling. I’ve played enough Zelda games, that it wasn’t until Link Between Worlds was I really surprised with a dungeon’s puzzle. They all follow a pattern, and it gets pretty redundant. I’d like to see new items–especially ones that can be used in a variety of ways.
The most important thing is to not let itself become too formulaic, which several games following A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time have been somewhat guilty of, which is why I appreciated the Four Swords games and A Link Between Worlds for actually trying something different, those respectively being a strong multiplayer focus and a return to non-linearity. All the noise about female main character or voice acting that a recent rumor has alluded to would certainly shake things a bit and offer a new experience. The exploration, side quests involving the minor characters and the dungeons are the pillars of the franchise, but even those can always make use of more creativity and a bigger focus on new items would be an interesting idea as well.
I’d really want to see the series return to its Action Adventure roots. A big world to explore. Challenging monsters and bosses. All the stuff that makes Zelda great. I feel Zelda has been left behind by western games such as Elder Scrolls and The Witcher. I want to see Zelda be that epic game again that is worthy of a golden cartridge.
One change I would like to see is a possible difficulty setting similar to that of Fire Emblem. Not something that is like Hero Mode, but something that just drastically changes up the gameplay depending on which difficulty you choose (such as new, harder enemies.)
If Zelda Wii U/NX is taking cues for Skyrim… I think that’s a really awesome direction. Building Link to have special Bow skills if I go down a certain side-quest is something I’d love to be explored more in depth. Being able to 100% the game after the Final Boss would also be something I would enjoy. So I guess a really solid post-game.
More optional things to do to make the world feel more alive would be great. Something similar to what Red Dead Redemption did with random events happening to you in your travels will go a long way with making the player feel more immersed. One other thing would be to make the combat a bit more complicated. Some games have gotten close to this but always made the battle upgrades optional meaning no enemies are designed around it and so it becomes useless. Something like Twilight Princess’ combat system but not optional would be amazing.
Let us know your responses in the comments below!
Mains: Yoshi (64), Game and Watch (Melee), Wario (Brawl), Wario/Pac-Man (Smash for 3DS/Wii U)