By Godwind 20 Comments
Today Zelda defined by the following definitions, story, puzzles exploration, characters and adventures. I make this conclusion not of my opinion but on what others discuss of Zelda . If we were to call Zelda an Action RPG today, we would find a lot of confusion today. Today, nobody defines Zelda as an action RPG. We call it an adventure game. It shouldn't come to much surprise. After all Nintendo no longer calls Zelda an action RPG but an adventure game. Just take a look Nintendo's listing of Zelda 1 , Zelda 2 , Zelda a Link to the Past , Zelda Ocarina of Time , and Zelda Majora's Mask . It would make a lot of sense on the surface with proof like that. But then what about games that are Zelda like? There are some games that without a doubt can be dubbed "zelda clones" or "Zelda like games" made by other companies. Would they label their games as adventure games? Here is a partial list of them:
Wonder Boy 3
Secret of Mana
If you were to look at all those links, they are defined as Action RPGs (with exception of Secret of Mana, which is defined as just an RPG). Isn't bizarre that Nintendo would term their games different from the competition? I would say it is bizarre that Nintendo decided to relabel their games. Zelda was once defined as action RPG just like the rest of these. Take a look at the last paragraph of this Nintendo Newsletter. Nintendo defined their series as a combination of action and rpg games.
So how did this new label come to be? There are two reasons for this, the hybrid principle and productivity purposes. Back in the NES days, video games were rarely defined by their genre. Games were being designed to be hybrids and mixes and matches of games to make brand new ones. What do people call a game that plays like Zelda and a vertical scrolling shooting game? It is called Guardian Legend . How about taking Zelda and Mario together? That is called Metroid . What about Metroid and Zelda? That is called Blaster Master . How about blending Contra and Mario? I'll call that Megaman . Thanks to to blending of games, fresh, exciting and new games were coming out. When you look at the Zelda series, it isn't as action intensive as other games such as Mario and a few others that come to mind when you think action games. Then there is the other extreme, the RPGs, where Zelda fails to have that intensive RPG values of stat building that previous RPGs had.
The second and more important reason is productivity purposes. Go into 1995 and the industry made the jump from 2d to 3d with consoles and Nintendo wants all their games to be 3d. Now you need to produce a game that was once 2d into a 3d setting. Such a rule can be hard to apply if there distinct guidance how to go about. So how do you go about getting those results? Redefine what you are working with. As long as matches some of the features built from previous games, it gives a designer some wiggle room. That is how Zelda Orcarina of Time was built. They did this by maintaining certain features, such as combat, item acquisition, dungeon crawling, and maintaining common experiences such as exploration. However, the features would become later redefined. Instead of defending against a hoard of enemies in one room, a player in Orcarina of time is likely to face off one enemy at a time(However, the illusion of being attacked by multiple enemies was created). Items which had previous had preserved most of its value extensively through out the game became tied mostly to one dungeon (where events would be triggered to make an item look useful.) In the original zelda, bombs were just as important for combat as the sword in the same manner that it was important for exploring. Today, most of a bombs use is for exploration. Dungeon Crawling, the place of the most dangerous combat in the game, got replaced with the use of puzzles to restrict exploration. Even exploration has been redefined in Zelda. Just check out this speed run.
Notice how the person decided to follow which order of doing dungeons is being done. Today, a player MUST move from dungeon 1 to 2 to 3 and so forth.
Keep in mind another mentality of today. Isn't there much complaint about how Zelda feels stale? That each new iteration loses its "magic." What it does well is to attract new gamers who will get that "magic" where as old gamers feel like their eating stale bread. Zelda 2 is always gets poked at for being the black sheep for being different from the other zelda games. It is perhaps the most Zelda game out there with being the most intensive in the action and rpg department of the series. Ask someone who played Zelda 1 "how many times did you playthrough this game?" I can tell you right now, more times than the number of fingers they have. I know this to be true for myself. I played the game back in the 90's, when the collector's edition was released and even today. The same is true for Zelda 2 and Zelda 3. Ask a person "How many times did you playthrough Orcarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Windwaker and Twilight Princess?" I played through Orcarina of Time probably about 5 times, and once I beat the rest, I would only scratch the surface with them playing in no more than 2 hours. This is a clear problem in regard to quality of those that is being designed with the new games. They simply lack the replay value that the older games had. Zelda doesn't need new gimmicks to try to fresh (such as boat sailing or a link transforming into a wolf), but instead needs to go back to roots as an action/rpg. So here is my check list:
Combat: When a player entered a room, players were attacked by hoards of monsters at the same time, something that could keep a game from going stale and staying a classic.
Items: Most items are almost exclusively useful in the dungeons they are found in. They should be more useful for combat and have a flexible tactical use for the player to use. in addition, it should also reshape how the player explores the landscape of the game, which modern zelda games aren't doing.
Get rid of Puzzles: Is a puzzle in a zelda game interesting again once again when it is solved? The answer is no. It is simply no longer fresh and becomes redundant in every sequence of play since the player knows how to solve the puzzle again.
Exploration: There was a time when the player shaped most of this. This allowed for the experience to be ever changing from the first playthrough and allow for a unique experience every time. The new zelda games do this for you and result in a redundant experience.
Keep the story to the instruction booklet: In the old days, most of the story was told through the booklet. It gave more sense of myth to create a sense of premise or purpose for why the world of zelda exists. Then once it became in game, the rest of it was left to the imagination of the player.
Anyways sorry I haven't been very active in the forums. I have been pretty busy with school work and what not. I should be coming on more frequently since the school year is ending.