Zelda’s long-time formula gets a makeover

In the 8-bit and 16-bit days of gaming, The Legend of Zelda franchise was known for many factors, one being exploration. In the earliest Zelda games, players would have to find their own path to the action… sometimes by choice and sometimes by accident. Players would complete a dungeon or side-quest and then wander from screen to screen until they eventually found what they were looking for, with only a couple of sentences of advice from a lonely old man to guide them.

Since the dawning of the 3D era of gaming (dating back to the 64-bit Nintendo 64), Zelda adapted a new style: home turf –> field –> dungeon –> field –> dungeon, etc., with side-quests in between those steps. Various characters, signs, and other clues throughout the games provided the player with multiple hints of where they needed to go next to proceed. Console Zelda games that have used this formula include: Ocarina of Time (N64), Majora’s Mask (N64), Wind Waker (GameCube, with the “field” portion of the game substituted with the sea), and Twilight Princess (GameCube and Wii). Some players feel that this formula does not allow them the freedom to explore the map of the world as the formula in the 2D gaming era did.

Obviously, not all fans of the series or gamers in general are in agreement. Some argue that all Zelda games should have used the original exploration style with little in-game help. Others feel that the games from the 3D era are fine as they are, not too easy, and they favor the back-and-forth feel. Others still feel that all of the individual games are  efficient as they are, with all of their own respective styles of play.

Eiji Aonuma, the director of Nintendo’s upcoming Zelda title for the Wii (tentatively titled “Zelda: Wii 2” at this point and slated for release at the end of this year), has said that the new game will break away from the field–>dungeon–>field style, and provide for more exploration of Hyrule in between quests and also less of what some players refer to as “hand-holding” from the game. 

Currently the only official piece of art for the game, this image comes from GamePro's website.


We live in the age of cyber space, and whether or not players receive much in-game tips and advice, odds are that, from the time of release of the title, at most there will be a lag of a few weeks until fan and even official walkthroughs begin to surface on the web.

If you’re interested in hearing more details about the change in the upcoming Zelda title’s formula, or you want to read discussions and debates between gamers, check out the article on Zelda Universe here

This new Zelda game is also confirmed to be compatible with Wii’s MotionPlus device, which allows better precision between player movements and on-screen renderings. Aonuma told gaming website Andriasang that with the new controls, “Link’s sword and the controller that you’re holding become one.”

The new Zelda title is rumored to be making some sort of appearance at E3, perhaps even with a playable demo. Find out more by reading GamePro’s article here

My question to any of you who have played games from the Zelda series would be: Which style of play do you prefer? The exploration of the old-school games, or the back-and-forth feel of the newer generation games? Do you have a specific favorite title?


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