Waiting for something can often be quite rewarding, by showing patience your eventual reward is made even better. I wish I could say this was always the case but unfortunately it isn’t, sometimes waiting can be the world’s biggest burden as you have time to think and this is my biggest problem with Zelda U. This game was originally set to arrive in 2015 and it was looking incredible, however the expected delay happened pushing into 2016 to release who knows when, this was fine at first but I have had time to think and with that I have lost most of my excitement for the game.
Having time to think is great, it affords us the opportunity to reflect and present our own spin on certain things and embrace our opinion. This is also what destroys Zelda U, sure the game still has many great things going for it, the world looks stunning, it is really open, and I suspect we might see some Fallout level of mysteries to uncover. These are all great positives and there are many more, but time has allowed the negatives to boil to the surface and I can see Zelda U’s biggest potential flaws and where the game will take a step back from the excellent evolutionary path the franchise has been on since Ocarina of Time.
Among most Zelda fans Ocarina of Time is the definitive Zelda title, it is the game that broke new ground for the franchise and essentially the entire mass of 3D adventure games going forward. This game is the one we look back on when we think of the franchise and how it has evolved with time, and as a whole it is the starting ground for the franchise going forward as each game has bettered it in one way or another.
Moving forward we had Majora’s Mask, this game was essentially a thing that you really liked or hated, but one thing we can’t argue with is what it did for the franchise as a whole. Majora’s Mask advanced the story telling in the franchise is a very strong way and created a truly unique title in the process, it would not be until 2006’s The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess that Nintendo would improve storytelling again creating one of the most memorable Zelda storylines while also tackling some truly dark subject matter.
In 2002’s The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker we saw the evolution of the open world formula set out in Ocarina of Time, the difference however was that this world was not an illusion, the oceans in this game were open to explore. This expansion to the open world is the very matter that Zelda U is trying to claim with its big world ripe for exploration, this however is fine as it shows how the world can be expanded upon in the land based open world formula.
The big game however is the last new 3D Zelda entry 2011’s The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword, in my eyes this is the definitive Zelda game and for good reason it gave way to many of the series greatest improvements. For starters storytelling was improved yet again and the best part was that it was cohesive, the story was driven and always the focal point of the entire adventure as we set out to explore foreign lands to find Zelda.
Additionally it was the vast improvements made to the gameplay that made vast improvements over the previous games. It was the masterful use of the motion plus control system that defined this game and improved the gameplay in a big way, each fight you encountered was clever requiring the player to have to work out strategic methods to overcome them. The game even had us fight the same boss on numerous occasions which was fine because the game forced you to adopt new strategies. Skyward Sword stepped the franchise into new ground showing the true potential of Zelda as a whole, and this is where Zelda U is going to step the franchise back.
As I said having time to think can be a bad thing and Zelda U is proof, I have been given time to look at the previous games in the franchise and find where the next game will go wrong. Even with the positives that will undoubtedly be good in Zelda U, I can’t help but be concerned by the complete disregard of Skyward Sword and the beneficial improvements the game brought to the franchise.
The new game may look to have some cool ideas but these are only minor when the game will revert back to Twilight Princess styles of gameplay and become simplistic. Honestly even with thinking about the possibilities without the motion plus I cannot find any way that the game will be as responsive or even quite as intelligent.
Sure Nintendo may be trying to tailor to the Wii U and its gamepad, as well as trying to give fans wat they want but they are hurting the franchise and the game itself. By taking away the advancements that made the previous game more fun and raised the skill level Nintendo is ensuring a game where the gameplay in terms of puzzle solving and even combat are lessened down to a level that is now supposed to be a thing of the past in 3D Zelda games.
Zelda U still has the potential to be a great game, and knowing Nintendo the game will be great and one to remember, but still I can’t help but feel let down by the step backwards they are making here. I have had time to think and forgetting Skyward Sword and its improvements will be something that will affect me when I finally get the chance to play the game, and hopefully it will affect others like me who loved the improvements made in Skyward Sword.
In all with everything considered I don’t have that same excitement I once had for Zelda U, I want to like the game and still be excited but it is these big changes and the time I have waited that really changes things.