The Zelda franchise is a loved and treasured series that many obsess over. It is a series that continually and reliably pumps out some amazing games and the only complaint people seem to find is the fact that it’s more of the same, every time. To the naked eye, it seems as if they never experiment with their game play (unless you consider motion gaming an experiment and not a disaster.) I come before you today to proclaim this ixiom, all you naysayers will need to find something else to complain about because the Zelda franchise has experimented plenty! Look passed Ocarina of Time and realize they’ve done it in their side games, never risking the popularity of the main tier games. Join hands with me and let’s explore.
Majora’s Mask was the sequel to the vastly popular N64 title, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It was released in the winter of 2000 and brought a twist to the game series that hadn’t been seen before: a time limit. In any Zelda game before this you had as long as you wanted to explore the dungeons and travel the world. Heck, you could stay in the first dungeon and just keep playing it over and over again, but now you had a set time and the only way to change that was by finding a way to turn back the clock. Now I realize that I said that the changes were only seen on the side games, but it could be said that with the negative views the gaming community gave Majora’s Mask, this is why Nintendo isn’t willing to take one of the flagship games and experiment with it anymore. This is sad considering many view it as the greatest Zelda game of all time.
The Oracle of Seasons and the Oracle of Ages were a pair of games that came out for the Gameboy Color in the spring of 2001. The games weren’t that experimental in the game play itself but instead the change came through the environment. For the first time in a Zelda game depending on the time of the day that you are playing depends on what the environment is like. If you started playing in the morning or the evening this will decide not only the color of the ground but also the monsters and the items you will find. Just like many other games these games were highly received and sold millions in their life time.
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords was released in the summer of 2004 and brought with it one of the first radical changes to the game play of any Zelda game. Put down your Hyrulian Ale for one second and check this out….four Links. That’s right, within the game you control four Links who fight together and whose actions are identical unless another player comes in in which they will control one of the Links. This Link-play was the first form of mulitplayer ever integrated into a Zelda game. It wasn’t received as highly as past predecessors but that doesn’t say much since even the greatest of games can have trouble matching a Zelda game.
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks was released just recently in 2009. It didn’t bring anything radical to the game play but instead brought an interesting means of travel that added to the quest structure. By setting tracks on the map you could instruct where your train was going to travel. You would then maneuver to different towns and do the usual exploring dungeons and solving puzzles but the alterations in quest came through the fact that some quests became escort missions. This game was extremely well received and was even called the best handheld Zelda game in some circles.
The future Zelda title, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, was at first advertised as being a major game changer for the Zelda franchise but after some time in development they decided to go back to the original game play style. While at first this may sound like they may be copping out of coming up with something new and exciting but I highly doubt that any one will complain with what they come out with.
This post brought to you by:
“Steven Henderson is a narcoleptic insomniac with an obsession with video game history. He spends all his time playing video games and no time speaking to other humans. Who needs them anyways.”
You can contact Steven on twitter, his handle is @ragon306.