Hello Sean, and sorry for the long email
I am one of the many Legend of Zelda games fan. I played all the console games and only two of the portable games(will explain why later) and with the last two games: Skyward Sword and Link Between Worlds, I feel both with faith and fear of the franchise.
My first game of the series was a Link to The Past. I didn’t pay much attention to the NES games but I knew they were popular. This made me get a Gameboy and Links Awakening which I really enjoyed playing at the dentist office waiting for my turn and at home while I was taking breaks from studying. Ocarina of Time became my best game of the series when I played it and kept that position for many years, beating all other Zelda games that came after that… Until I played Zelda 1 and 2 on Virtua Console.
When I first played them I considered them unplayable for the difficulty, and as a working man that I am now It was frustrating. I gave the games a second chance with a notebook and pen in hand to take notes(I don’t like walkthroughs) and then the games just blew my mind on what they can really offer. They both became my favorites and can’t choose between them as No.1. Thus, these two games made me take a look at the next installments of the franchise with a more critical view.
I tried Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, Oracle of Ages and Seasons. I returned the games to my friend who lent them to me because I couldn’t play them. They became a chore to play instead of fun, probably because they were a lot more adventure than action. Wind Waker grew on me over time, in enjoyed the game on the Gamecube and got the HD version when I bought Mario Kart 8 (free and I had NSMBU while the rest sucked). Majora’s mask was interesting because you had what you may call sidequests. I enjoyed Twilight Princess tour guide(so easy it was more like an attraction than a game) and was interested in Skyward Sword……. and Then I sold it on Ebay halfway through the game in disgust. I don’t even want to have it in my collection gaining dust.
Skyward Sword was a big mess from day 1. Sword fighting felt off because you had to swing your hand properly to get a desired strike while enemies for the most part were waiting for you to strike. It took me a while to finally get the hang of it but combat always fell off. The main issue of the game were not really the puzzles, which were annoying, but how the game slaps you in the face when you feel excited because things start to move in a better pacing. You get a lot of action, then you get a big puzzle that breaks your pacing, and if it’s not a puzzle… it’s a goddamn treasure hunt or collectathon when you go around getting a number of orbs, notes or whatever in order to progress. You want to keep going in the game story, but these damn obstacles were so frequent and pace breaking that pissed me off in all the wrong ways. I didn’t mind collecting all masks in Majora’s mask since they were optional and you can complete the game without them, but in Skyward sword I have no other choice but to get the damn stuff in order to get to fight an enemy. The game says I have to hurry to save the world, but these obstacles….. ARRRGHH!!. I turn off the game and posted the game on Ebay 5 minutes later with a cheaper price because I wanted to get rid of it ASAP. I gave the game three chances and in all of them the game failed. Skyward Sword is, to me, the maximum expression of Anouma’s wrongdoing and betrayal to the series.
Link Between Worlds picked my interest and overall I was satisfied. However, what bugged me a bit is how cheesy the game was. In a world supposedly in danger, there were many ackward moments of Japanese comedy that felt out of place. You didn’t really feel the world was in danger or dangerous. However when I was playing in dungeons and fighting enemies, it felt good. there was nothing that would break my pacing. I saved rupees to rent all items and I rarely went back to that shop. I went to play my own way.
I like how Hyrule Warriors is looking and I would laugh if this game sells more than Skyward Sword or Wind Waker HD.
The next Legend of Zelda has me worried and hoping at the same time. Having a full world to explore without much obstacles feels more like the first Zelda games. but with Anouma at the helm stills has me worried. I believe this game feels like a response to Skyrim, since Nintendo can’t have the game and many former Zelda fans went to Skyrim to get the kind of game they wanted. to many I know Skyrim replaced the Legend of Zelda
That’s very impressive that you finished Zelda 1 and 2 without any maps. It is harder to come back to older games
I agree Skyrim has replaced Legend of Zelda. Skyrim was a big wake-up call to publishers. When Skyrim came out, the Game Industry (which Nintendo is a part of) had the mind that single player games were over and the future was multiplayer. Only multiplayer games sell! But Skyrim sold big, very very big. Sales numbers woke up publishers that there was a market for single player games. We can thank Skyrim for Nintendo not turning Zelda into an online multiplayer game.
If Zelda was made in the same quality as Classic Zelda games were, Zelda would be doing Skyrim numbers (or better). But since we have Crappy Aonuma Zelda, we get a tepid market response with every Aonuma Zelda selling on the premise that it is “getting back to Zelda’s roots’ (which it never does). We look at Classic Zelda and Aonuma Zelda and wonder why Nintendo can’t see it.
In many ways, Nintendo cannot see it. At GDC 2005 I believe, Reggie Fils-Aime asked game developers a sobering question, “How would you market the successor to Super Mario World to a market raised on Grand Theft Auto?” What the question implies is that Nintendo believed Super Mario Galaxy was a successor to Super Mario World. The 2d Mario / 3d Mario divide simply wasn’t seen by Nintendo (and it may be in part because Nintendo didn’t want to see it). It was the freak sales of NSMB DS and NSMB Wii that rattled Nintendo’s thinking.
I think with Zelda, the powers that be have that if Miyamoto thinks the Aonuma Zelda is the successor to Classic Zelda, then it is. The Miyamoto cannot be questioned! So we have to speak up and say, “Hey. This isn’t Zelda.”
Luckily, we spoke up about Metroid: Other M before it was released. That’s a slam dunk issue, and I’m amazed the project even got greenlit in the first place.
People, like yourself, say that Link Between Worlds is a step in the right direction. We’ll see if Nintendo keeps doing these steps.
What I don’t understand is that if doing one thing doesn’t make sales, why does Nintendo keep doing it? Why not do something else? ANYTHING else? Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is insanity.
With Zelda Wii U, I expect tons of gimmicks from the Gamepad. I bet one item will force you to hold the Gamepad up toward the TV. Oh, and there will be many Gamepad centric puzzles! Oh yes…
My response to Aonuma Zeldas is like yours, emailer. I get pissed off and the game feels like a chore. Even in the most frustrating parts of Zelda 1 or 2, I never felt like the game was a chore. I cursed the game obviously, but I still wanted to BEAT whatever I was stuck on. Today’s Zelda game I just get uninterested by the Japanese comedy, the forced tasks, and the lack of a coherent universe. The ‘its a secret to everyone’ or ‘I am error’ was witty and funny. Today’s Japanese humor feels forced. Less is more. No one is interested in Zelda developers’ “creativity”.