A Link to my Heart
With last year’s release of Link’s Awakening; the reimagining of one of the quirkier entries to the Zelda franchise, on Nintendo Switch, along with A Link to the Past arriving via the Nintendo Switch Online service, it’s pretty safe to say, we’re blessed with an abundance of 2D Zelda in our lives right now.
However, has it all become a little stale? Now, hear me out here. A Link To The Past is my favourite game of all time, without question, and Link’s Awakening grew on me more and more as I explored the dreamlike island of Kohnolit, despite my initial impressions being somewhat negative.
Whilst 3D Zelda games remain the staple of the series, rightly so given the magnitude of the masterpiece that was 2017’s GOTY – Breath of the Wild, and with the as of yet untitled sequel set to astonish once more, 2D Zelda games have taken a bit of a backseat. A Link Between Worlds was an entirely new adventure, but even that feels eerily familiar, due to the map being so similar to the one from ALTTP. When I first played ALBW, I found every heart piece and item during my first play through, a result of my muscle memory of ALTTP’s secrets and hidden areas.
2D or not 2D…
It feels like the 2D titles have hit a bit of a creativity wall, one that I would certainly like to see scaled, post haste. Link’s Awakening is a charming little number, but for obvious reasons is too familiar, and subsequently, too short.
Triforce Heroes was an entirely new entry into the series, and once again was the perfect example of Nintendo allowing one of their younger teams the opportunity to shine. Unfortunately, it never garnered Splatoon like momentum. For better or worse, the multiplayer aspect of the title was paramount and as a result, although entirely playable, it faltered as a single player experience. While it looked good it was, at least in the opinion of yours truly, a largely unforgettable experience that would rank down amongst the lower echelons of Zelda offerings.
I would like to see Nintendo sit down, once BOTW2 had wrapped and focus all their combined energies on a fresh, modern and intuitive 2D Zelda – a game that challenges as much as it charms, that’s puzzles leave as much of an impression as it’s beautifully orchestrated score.
Dungeons have, BOTW aside, always been a key part of Zelda games of any perspective, and while they all shine on the aforementioned titles, maybe with the exception of ALBW, they all feel a little cumbersome and contrived. Imagine, you approach your first dungeon in ‘Future 2D Zelda title’ and are greeted by a kooky character who explains that no two runs are ever the same. Leave the temple (or even save) and the layout of every little thing will change. While Dampe’s appearance in Link’s Awakening clearly signals the future arrival of a 2D Zelda dungeon maker on Nintendo Switch, what if it was also research for their next unique 2D offering? The Zelda timeline lends itself to perpetual flexibility and instead of revisiting the Hyrule of ALTTP or ALBW, why not explore something different altogether?
Skyward Sword ended with Link, Zelda and Groose atop Loftwings, ready to embark on an adventure of exploration, in the strange world beneath the clouds. The thought of a sequel fills me with all kinds of feels, and it would be the perfect environment to stray off the beaten track and offer an all new type of Zelda experience. With the land of Hyrule completely unmapped, Nintendo could add mapping mechanics akin to the Etrian series. You could farm, cultivate the untamed lands and create villages and communities, all the while a darker and ominous presence looms behind the scenes, growing in power and manipulating everything you set in motion.
How about this for a curveball. What if the next unique 2D Zelda title didn’t feature Link or Zelda, but instead saw you play as an angry and ambitious young man – the first male born of the Gerudo tribe for a century in fact. Of course I’m referring to Ganondorf. Not only would it offer a unique perspective, further adding to the rich Zelda law, but it would demand new gameplay mechanics, as Ganondorf wouldn’t be seen dead throwing a boomerang around or waste his days chopping down grass!!
Temple of Timelessness
The possibilities are truly endless and it would be so refreshing to see Nintendo further experiment with one of their most beloved franchises. Cadence of Hyrule showed that Nintendo can be brave, providing the foundations of the idea are solid.
With the continued success of the Nintendo Switch showing no signs of slowing, Nintendo have stated that they wish to keep the momentum going by having a new Mario, Zelda and Pokemon title on the console every year. Unfortunately, I feel as though we will see reimagining’s of the Oracle games, maybe even ALTTP, before we see anything brand new. Aside from BoTw2, and a Zelda Maker (furthered moreso with the surprise addition of a unique 8bit Zelda Sprite – bombs et all, to Super Mario Maker 2,) towards the end of the console’s life, it seems like we’ll be seeing more ports than a cruise ship regular.