Anyone who knows me well enough, is acutely aware of my love of the Zelda series. Going into why this is true would be a post all on it’s own, and is not entirely what I wish to discuss. I feel I need to mention this fact, for the more casual readers, as a good setup for recently developed thoughts. I start with embarrassing honesty, however, with the fact that I was unable to play Wind Waker HD, when it launched on the 4th.
The only source of comfort I can associate with this minor failing, is in regards to why I didn’t get to play WW, as it wasn’t due to “cheating” on the title with another game, nor was it sheer laziness. Obligations of the writing persuasion were what prevented me, so at least I was being responsible. Times like this, are the ideal moments when I reassess my own means of pre-planning, and why thinking head is so important.
Rest assured, I have set aside my next day off to enjoy the title, and enjoy it proper. I don’t get a whole lot of actual free time now a days, and even when I sit down to game, I have pen and paper at the ready, ready to plunge head first with analysis, and even “go gonzo” when necessary. Wind Waker will certainly be a delight, of this I have no doubt. The title’s previous status as severely under rated, which remained until very recently, was always misplaced in my opinion. This may have been due to a number of things, though I do believe Ocarina of Time’s standard of quality was so high, it may have actually hurt the series, by setting unrealistic standards of what was consistently possible.
Which brings up a good point. Most Zelda games eventually rally the fan base around them, even if met with initial controversy. This remains a secret to everybody, but not one that remains completely obscured from perception. Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker have already suffered the process, and I imagine Skyward Sword will meet with the same, terrible fate. Of course, if we take Zelda Producer Aonuma’s recent comments with any real consideration, we may be nearing a radical new age of Zelda.
Aonuma has expressed interest in questioning the regular formula of Zelda titles, which seems to have been a conversation that’s been going on for some time now. I do believe the series experiments enough with every title, so that I don’t feel cheated when a new game comes out. Almost never cheated, anyways. I think this self awareness is healthy, as it gives way to move progressive thinking, instead of stalled, or even regressive ways of game design. You can do a lot with the Zelda name, and I’m sure plenty would love to see how radically they can recreate it.
As Aonuma has cited the Wind Waker HD adaptation, in the assistance of questioning the series, maybe the man realizes what made that game so powerful to begin with. Wind Waker, against all norms and conventions, created a new identity for itself, and apologized to no one. The gamble worked, and we ended up with a new reassurance cel-shading had a chance as an art style, reminded everyone Zelda wasn’t just a one trick Epona, and gave Gamecube and Zelda fans alike, one of the best games in either category.
Wind Waker succeeded where many others do not even put forth the effort, being confident, and being itself. Without trying to aimlessly emulate past Zeldas or other adventure games, Wind Waker gave way to it’s own sense of identity, and probably only deterred the most shallow of observers with it’s cartoon like aesthetics. WW is ample proof to the gaming masses, sometimes, you have to go against every instinct you’ve ever had, in order to find any kind of success.
I’m really not too worried about the Zelda series, nor Nintendo in general, despite occasional concerns about doing the opposite of what they normally do. I do believe this line of thought from such important creative minds is a healthy state of being, and will hopefully benefit Zelda fans the world over, when Nintendo finally reveals Zelda Wii U (at next years E3 please/thanks)
And remember Nintendo, in “doing the opposite” or going for a full blown ground up approach, almost nothing is out of the question.