There was a lot of excitement at E3 when Zelda fans were finally presented with some gameplay footage of the new Wii U Legend of Zelda title, which we can now confirm is notdue for release by the end of this year. In fact, much of the discussion generated so far has revolved around whether the character in action is not in fact Link, but a girl. It seems Eiji Aonuma, Group Manager of Nintendo EAD has enjoyed the speculation, but was quick to clear up the matter, stating that “you have to show Link when you create a trailer for a Zelda announcement”. Of course, in the spirit of the cryptic Aonuma, that doesn’t mean we won’t be controlling a girl character either. Players of the Legend of Zelda games have not previously been given the chance to actually play as Zelda, with the exception of a minor role in Spirit Tracks. And it was precisely that line of thought that got me questioning-what are some key things every Zelda fanboy and fangirl should know about the upcoming game? Pick up your master sword and let’s get started.
Gamers aren’t playing as Zelda -or at least, that ain’t the princess in the E3 trailer, she be in another castle. As previously reported on Gameranx, the recent trailer featuring a feminine looking character does not mean that Zelda has suddenly become the main character (though admittedly that would be very cool). It is in fact link, as Eiji Aonuma has confirmed. The folks over at Zelda Dungeon have prepared a scene by scene breakdown of the trailer, with the eighth image from the top showing us a pony-tail wearing Link. This may have been a major contributing factor that fuelled the fire of the recent gender debate, especially since Link’s typical hairdo has not undergone significant changes over time. Whether we do end up playing as a female character at any point in the game is still unknown. At this stage, there have only been some quite interesting discussions which seem to be rather supportive of the concept of a ‘girl-Link’, but the realisation of this within the game is another matter entirely.
Aonuma wants Link not to appear too realistic- if you were hoping for a more Twilight Princess-like Link, then your hopes might have been squashed upon hearing this. But fear not, because the more painterly effect that has been employed in creating this Link is all for you. Aonuma has previously stated that he and his team always strive to create unique gameplay and graphical representation-something players have not seen anywhere else before. Aonuma also clarifies that while Link’s appearance will not be ‘cartoonish’ it will be something new. Link’s style is the one part of the game design process that Aonuma and his comrades struggle with most, which comes as a surprise given how successful The Legend of Zelda franchise has been. Then again, taking a leap of faith every now and again is necessary for a game to grow and change as a whole. Nintendo’s reinvention of Link throughout the ages has of course been influenced by the game’s transition across various consoles, and when you consider how important it is that Link’s style itself lends itself to the gameplay (think A Link Between Worlds and merging into walls), it becomes a little bit easier to understand what sort of pressures Nintendo must be facing in their attempts to create a balanced game everyone can enjoy. I’m betting that Link’s semi-realistic appearance in the upcoming Zelda might just have some important connection to the game overall.
It is the most ambitious Zelda to date-the game has already been dubbed as ‘the biggest Zelda game’ and I mean this in both the literal and figurative sense. The development team working on Zelda for Wii U is reportedly the largest ever team organised by Nintendo, which is like a serenade of water to my ears. And it gets better-we can expect dungeons that are so large that they will literally take hours to complete, as well as a brand new soundtrack, which will be the successor to a long line of some of the most powerful and inspiring soundtracks in gaming history. It is a rare and beautiful thing for a game to consistently feature a stunning accompanying soundtrack, but with tracks like the haunting final hours from Majora’s Mask, Ocarina of Time’s Spanish sounding Gerudo Valley theme, and the decision to reverse Zelda’s theme in order to create an epic battle cry for Skyward Sword, I think it is safe to say we have a team of rare and beautiful minds in charge of Zelda. And on a more sombre note, the fact that certain temples will be taking hours to complete may be Nintendo’s rather indirect way of saying “we are recreating a new and improved water temple with even more insane layout than ever before.” Be prepared.
There will be much more freedom- as detailed in the Legend of Zelda trailer released during E3, we know that open world exploration will be given a huge boost, which will allow players to move around and reach landscapes far into the distance-even mountain ranges if they wish.If you’ve ever wanted to reach those hills in the distance that are usually blotted out and blurry unreachable game areas, your prayers have been answered.
Gameplay is getting revolutionised-by fully taking advantage of all the Wii U’s features, Nintendo plans to create a truly innovative experience for all Zelda players. The promise is that the Wii U gamepad’s design will allow us to be able to do things that are simply not possible on any other platform, which very suddenly makes me want to purchase a Wii U. Mission accomplished, Nintendo-for you, I will.
The Legend of Zelda will be released in 2015 on Wii U-and according to Zelda Universe, should be playable at next year’s E3. What are your thoughts on the new game? Let us know in that empty white box below.