Does The Legend of Zelda Need to be Fixed?

legend of zelda

If there’s any game series crying out for a fresh interpretation, it’s the Legend of Zelda. While this belief is a little incendiary, many people feel that the series hit its zenith with Ocarina of Time and has been in steady decline every since. That’s not to say that the games are bad, necessarily, but they are formulaic and in need of a shot in the arm.

During my travels on the dusty roads of the World Wide Web, I stumbled across an essay entitled “Saving Zelda” by one Tevis Thompson. In his piece he runs down what he sees as the problems with the current version of Zelda and where the series went wrong. His comments on how the game world is just a series of locks (and how the items you collect can be equated to a jangling keyring) struck a particular cord with me, and this is by no means the only point he makes. He examines everything from the games’ visual styles to the design of the over-world to the re-treading of the same story over and over.

His article is a bit lengthy, but it’s well worth the read, especially if Skyward Sword left you wanting. The comments about how modern Zelda games do not respect the player is in step with how I felt about Skyward Sword, and the analogy of game designers being helicopter parents was almost too perfect.

I really urge everybody to take a break from their day and read this; you may not agree with every point but it’s a great argument against the staleness of modern Zeldas. What did you guys think of the article? Did the author make some good points? Where do you agree and disagree?

SourceTevis Thompson

Written by

mitch@gamersushi.com Twitter: @mi7ch Gamertag: Lubeius PSN ID: Lubeius SteamID: Lube182 Origin/EA:Lube182 Currently Playing: Stardew Valley, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, Battlefield 4, Tom Clancy Double Feature: Rainbow Six Siege and The Division

7 thoughts on “Does The Legend of Zelda Need to be Fixed?”

  1. I think my favorite part of this (besides the excellently written intro) is where he breaks down how Demon’s Souls is a modern take on the original Legend of Zelda. He nails it so perfectly, and really gives a pretty solid argument how a game like that is more in line with the tone of the series than the direction they’ve gone more recently. I love this kind of writing about games. I think we all know what he means in the opening sentences when he talks about a game that infects our dreams and works its hooks inside of us.

  2. God, this depresses me. At least if I look at Dark Souls like a new Zelda, I may be able to keep from throwing myself in front of a bus.

    Still haven’t picked up Skyward Sword again.

  3. As a big Zelda fan, I have a lot to say on this.

    I think the author loses a lot of credibility with me when he says that the Mario franchise never needed saving. How the variation’s in Mario’s jumping ability was enough. Nothing about how the story in every Mario game, like Zelda’s is to save the Princess, and how Mario games really are just as formula based as Zelda games. They are full of locks, too, and the key comes from Stars or whatever equivalent is now available.

    Now, personally I don’t believe either series to be too seriously flawed. I like both a lot.

    I thought both Twilight Princess and Skyward Swords were great games, each for their own reason. Twilight Princess felt like I was revisiting Ocarina, but also completely new. It felt very fresh to me.

    Skyward Sword was a great game, I thought. While combat wasn’t perfect, it was challenging (and yes, at times frustrating), but never impossible. I thought that game was HARD as it was. It’s puzzles were challenging, although they did not always seem relevant. My biggest complaint is the hand-holding and obvious “lock and key” system. I felt like the intro was far too long, and I didn’t at all like that things were obviously out of reach until you got that item that you knew exactly what to do with.

    It was a little too predictable, even if combat and puzzles were challenging. My biggest problem I came across was getting the water to recede in the Forest, because I’d always drop into the wrong spot.

    The only thing I felt I really agreed with in the article was his idea to make Zelda more of an adventure. I like the idea of an off-the-rails Zelda, even though I think that the story did help set good pacing with all of the 3D Zelda games.

    A real, open, brutal Zelda is not something I’m opposed to. I like that idea a lot, but I don’t think it’ll be possible because of Nintendo’s market. It is a business, after all, and it has already lost a lot of the “hardcore gamer” market. Maybe it’s time to move on from Zelda altogether. I hate to say it, but there should not be that many rehashes and sequels of any game. Not Final Fantasy, not Mario, not Metroid, not Zelda. I don’t think there should be more than 1 or two sequels.

    On this note, I am in favor of Bioshock Infinite, because it is not really a sequel. It’s a new location, a new characters and story, and with 1999 mode hopefully a truly new game experience.

    Maybe Zelda should just have a 1999 mode, or in this case I guess a 1987 mode.

  4. I got to the Demon’s Souls analogy before he did. After reading the first few sections, I thought, it sounds like he’s saying is take Zelda, and make it Demon’s Souls. Then I was convinced this was his message in the “Death Mountain” section. Then he actually said it.

    I’m not sure I agree. Zelda has turned into something different and maybe that’s not a bad thing. I think they could pare tutorial levels down to half-size (or more), but making Zelda into Demon’s Souls would actually make them lose fans, I think.

    Besides, there already is a Demon’s Souls, and what this article did do was make me love the Souls games even more than I already do, which is a lot. And if they’re the new Zelda games, I’ll love them even more for it.

  5. I haven’t played a Zelda game since I was a kid playing through Link To The Past, but the other day I watched my friend’s 3 and a half year old son play Ocarina of Time on their GameCube. He had found the sword, and my friend, his dad, said to me “Do you have any idea how long it took me to find the sword?”

    The little kid had found it by himself, no walk-throughs or help from adults/older brothers. Just being a kid and exploring. I think that’s really important. I don’t want to be an adult and be blown away by the difficulty or complexity of Zelda or Super Mario. Just explore and have fun.

  6. Hrmmm. This article rankles a bit, though I’m having trouble coming up with much of a rebuttal to his arguments. If nothing else, anyone who ranks Zelda 2 right up there with the original as the best of the series has a very different idea of what Zelda is about than I do. I will say that he makes some excellent points, though he may take them a bit too far. Though I can’t say too much, as I haven’t touched Demon’s/Dark Souls or Skyward Sword, I do recall Twilight Princess losing me for a while in the middle, and I certainly agree that the series could do with more simplified mechanics, less hand-holding, and more open exploration.

  7. @benign1 – I, too, am an Adventures of Link lover, and I still can’t beat the freaking last guy! I do agree with you, though, that he takes it a bit far. Yes, those original Zelda games are wonderful, but the series has changed, and who is he to say it was better then?

    Also, it doesn’t take much to notice the similarity of Zelda 2 to Demon’s Souls. I know you haven’t played the latter, but it’s very apparent.

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