Rescue Zelda, defeat Ganondorf, and save Hyrule. Across nine game systems over more than twenty years, this formula has served as the core narrative in The Legend of Zelda games, perhaps the most beloved series in video game history.
This year marks two Zelda milestones: the 10th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a game many consider the greatest of all time; and the series has reached 50 million units in total worldwide sales.
So now may be an opportune time to pause and carefully assess the Legend of Zelda series, both where it's been and, more importantly, where it might go next. I propose to do just that in a series of posts that will consider key elements of the game--overall design structure, gameplay, interactivity, music, and narrative--and suggest ways these traditional components may be preserved, revised, or discontinued in future games.
As a confessed devotee of the Zelda games--okay, I'm probably teetering on the brink of fanboy--I believe the series has reached a critical and pivotal juncture in its development. Certain predictable aspects of the game need to change, in my view, in order to continue the game's long history of peerless design and vitality. A recalibration of the franchise's balance between core Zelda gameplay and innovation is necessary to maintain the game's liveliness and relevance to today's gamers.
I'm not suggesting we throw everything out and start from scratch, but as I'll propose in coming posts, some parts of the Zelda experience may have stagnated in recent years, and I believe it's possible to move the series forward while preserving its fundamental spirit - as Super Mario Galaxy proved so brilliantly.
I hope you will join me for this project and offer your suggestions and insights. We Zelda gamers can be a rather passionate bunch, and I welcome that enthusiasm into the discussion. We carp and we defend because we love, right? ;-) If I neglect a particular aspect of the Zelda games that you feel is important, I hope you will let me know that too. I can't wait to get started.
First on the docket: sound and music in the Zelda games. More tomorrow.