For the past year and a half, Nintendo has been trying to grow its user install base for its most recent home console gaming system, the Wii-U. The successor to their very popular Nintendo Wii entertainment system, the Wii-U gaming console has only managed to sell 2.7-million units during the fiscal year of 2014 which concluded back in March. To add some scope to that, Sony’s Playstation 4 console was released a full year after the Wii-U, and already managed to outsell it with an install base of upwards of 7-million units during the same fiscal year. The bottom line in many people’s opinion, is that if Nintendo intends to survive this ‘console war’, they’re going to need some kind of ‘killer app’ that will make gamers take notice and start buying up Wii-U Consoles. Then, during E3 this week, Nintendo swung for the fences with the home-run announcement of an all new ‘Legend of Zelda’ game for the Wii-U.
This all new ‘Legend of Zelda’ looks to break the mold the series has crafted for itself, going with a high-definition fully open game world to explore and ditching the fairly linear stories of the past games in the series. This game is set to return to the spirit of the very first ‘Legend of Zelda’ game, giving gamers a fully open explorable world where just about anything can happen at any time. Several months back, series producer Eiji Aonuma spoke about plans for the future of the series, stating that:
“We’re trying to find new ways to play. Not only the kinds of items you find, but how you use those items. I want to give the player more freedom. I want them to be able to explore more. The concept of the item will be completely different than what you’ve experience before. With regard to… breaking the mold or changing the formula, I certainly hear the thoughts of fans. The impressions of fans that maybe it’s getting a bit stale… If we change it too much, I’m also concerned people will say, ‘Okay, is it no longer Zelda if we don’t have this formula?’. If we don’t change, we might die. We need to evolve. Things need to change. Things need to grow”
In the all new game footage that premiered at E3 this week, Aonuma introduced fans of the series to a brand new yet somehow oddly familiar world. The scene begins with Link and his trusty steed (assumably Epona) in a large colorful open field of tall grass atop a hill. There are large mountains out in the distance across a beautiful blue sky. Suddenly, everything changes, demonstrating how quickly things can get dark in the world of ’Legend of Zelda’ (which is usually set in Hyrule, but that has varied from game to game in the past). A large, seemingly mechanical rounded monster with large tentacle-like legs runs across the field at Link, while simultaneously firing a laser at him from it’s one large eye; burning the field and sending fire and smoke everywhere in the process. The creature chases Link into the forest, and eventually to a bridge where it cuts him off at the pass and the two face off as the footage comes to a close.
It’s also worth noting, our series hero Link appears to have an all new look! Gone are his classic green garbs, exchanged for more of a teal-colored tunic and orange pants (not unlike the ones worn in the beginning of ‘The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker’). He looks to sport not hat this time around, uses a bow as what appears to be his main weapon, and even sports a ponytail! There’s always the off chance that this isn’t actually Link at all though, and that it is an entirely new character! Could they be changing the series so drastically that we’d get a ‘Legend of Zelda’ game that doesn’t feature Link as the protagonist for the first time in the franchise’s history? Or maybe even a game starring Princess Zelda herself? After all, Zelda’s ninja-esque alter ego, Sheik, also wore blue. Or maybe it IS Link, but Link is female this time around? There are almost too many questions to think about! To add to fuel to the fire, in an interview with Venture Beat, series producer Eiji Aonuma even went on to say “no one explicitly said that was Link”.
While not much footage of actual gameplay was shown during these initial offerings, Aonuma touched on how the new open world gameplay would effect a gamer’s experience in this new game:
“You can enter any area from any direction, so the puzzle-solving in this game begins the moment the player starts to think about where they want to go, how they will get there, and what they will do when they arrive. This is a clean break from past Zelda games, where you had to follow a set path and play through the scenario in the right order. I believe this departure will create opportunities for new gameplay that have not been experienced in previous Zelda games.”
If this first footage is just a taste of things to come from this brand new entry in the classic ‘Legend of Zelda’ franchise, I’d say fans of the series should prepare to experience one of the best games to date. With this new (and currently untitled) ‘Legend of Zelda‘ game, paired with the also recently announced ‘Star Fox’ series revival game, and the upcoming ‘Super Smash Bros.’, Nintendo might just finally have found the right combination to get people buying the Wii-U by the boatload! Only time will really tell though.
This all new ‘Legend of Zelda’ is set to release for the Nintendo Wii-U home gaming console sometime in 2015. It looks like we’ll just have to wait for Nintendo to release more information about the game. In the meantime, just remember, it’s dangerous to go alone; Take this!