Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 1, 2018

Email: Why the Next Zelda Has a Tough Act to Follow

I am finally, finally getting to play BoW WOW! after like 9 months of avoiding spoilers. I’ve spent the past week with the game, playing non-stop, and I think it has met the hype that has swirled around it this year. I have reached a burnout point because I probably have played it too much, but I expect to be enjoying it again after giving it a break for a few days.

I got to the edge of the map where there is an insurmountable canyon which serves as a hard line to end the map. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what is on top of that gigantic mountain on the other side?

Where I’m going with this email is that Breath of the Wild has a very clear path forward. Explore other unexplored regions. Add a couple of massive new continents. But wait, this sounds familiar. As if… Hold up a second!!

Inline image 1

Yes, it’s all coming back to me. A recovered memory. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link did for Zelda 1 what Breath of the Wild’s sequel must do. In other words, Zelda 2 is a blueprint for future Zelda games.

The second Zelda enhanced the world map to such a degree that it dwarfed Zelda 1’s world by comparison. Now, the world was not detailed in the same manner, but with the technology we have today, I see a beautiful opportunity to make this work.

This article is fascinating because it shows the amazing expansion that Zelda 2 accomplished and that every Zelda after it has failed to acknowledge. Several massive regions were added in Zelda 2 that are completely unused in later games. It’s time for Nintendo to revisit this: /05/08/hyrule-a-geography-and- cartography/

The article explains it better, but here is an image that compares the placement of all the major locations of Zelda’s world across the games:
Inline image 2

Generally pretty similar placement, depending on how you orient the maps. Each game has a more detailed reinterpretation of the same general abstract map from Zelda 1. The cut you see from Zelda 2 is deemed to be just South Hyrule. So almost the entirety of the series takes place in South Hyrule according to Zelda 2’s map.

If Nintendo gives us a detailed version of Zelda 2’s world that is 3 times as big as Breath of the Wild, it would be the next phenomenon that could catapult Zelda’s reputation as an open world series beyond any other.

The problem is that Nintendo may never do this. I have some faith in Hidemaro Fujibayashi, who says he is considering whether this next one will be a direct continuation or a sequel. It would be interesting to see what he and his team would do with a continuation to BoW. The DLC ignoring this opportunity has me concerned, though. As an example, instead of just getting a Majora’s Mask item, we could have explored a more expanded version of Termina for the DLC.

Nintendo resists expanding the world beyond what is depicted in Zelda 1. Besides Zelda 2, Majora’s Mask, and a few handheld Zeldas, the series has not really explored brand new territory to an extremely expansive degree. It is all rearrangements of the same world map, even with BoW. You just look closely at where everything is in Zelda 1, ALttP, Ocarina, Twilight Princess, and BoW and see that it is the same, just verrry repackaged and expanded to be increasingly more content-rich.

Nintendo’s greatest failures were when they completely disregarded any world map and made it an empty area with puzzle bunkers. In these attempts to redefine Zelda as a puzzle dungeon game rather than an Open World game, Nintendo flooded the world in Wind Waker and restricted nearly all access to it in Skyward Sword’s sky. They dodged repeating the same world map design so the effort would not need to be made and so we would not notice the similarities.

The main continuity of Zelda is its world map, which is brilliant. The gameplay may change, but Nintendo has kept the general layout of things intact. This is opposite of what Nintendo did with Mario, where every game is random, no continuity or place. Zelda must justify its attempts to expand to new regions, unlike Mario.

I imagine it will be difficult to figure out the sequel if Nintendo is going to stick with the reimagining of Zelda 1’s world map trick again. If they do stick with this formula, what will they do to the BoW overworld to make it fresh? Ravage it, changing the geographical layout? But they already did ravage the land in BoW. There needs to be a good story explanation.

There is only so much they can do before they need to add another realm to really take things to that next sequel level. Perhaps we will see the Dark World return in addition to normal Hyrule, which would be a huge undertaking. Personally, I would like that, but taking Zelda 2’s world and fleshing it out may be best. As well as Termina. And someplace completely new would be fantastic.

At the very least, Nintendo could block off the section of Hyrule we are used to and explore a new region or kingdom. This allows the game to have a more manageable scope, and there are practically limitless story possibilities that could be explored with that setup. It would be similar to Bethesda’s handling of the Elder Scrolls, with each new game being set in a fleshed out region of Tamriel teased from the first couple of games.

Perhaps the Zelda team will continue to do great things. Or maybe they will just become arrogant with the success and do something “surprising”ly stupid with the next installment. Aonuma said they would keep the ‘open air’ formula for future Zeldas. However, since Majora’s Mask, every other mainline Zelda has removed the open world. Wind Waker to Twilight Princess. Skyward Sword to Breath of the Wild. Zelda has been yoyoing from massive failure to decent or great success purely based on whether it excludes the overworld or includes and emphasizes it. Will the Zelda team continue this trend?

I have no faith in the Zelda team. BoW exists not because Nintendo finally found the compass of where Zelda should go, but because Nintendo has been falling into holes and walls with Zelda for so long that doing the opposite of what they were doing led to this direction.

To those who may seem surprised by this reaction, remember that Nintendo had no understanding why the Wii succeeded and made the Wii U. Nintendo sees what it wants to see in its success. Nintendo only changes direction or confronts their own biases when financial pain is involved.

With BoW, we see: Return to old school style NES Zelda with rich overworld.

What they probably see: Creativity and genius wowing the players, the overworld being multilayered puzzles with ‘open air’ concepts.

During the NES Era, I thought I would get a continuation of that quality. During SNES era, it dropped severely. Then it fell off a cliff as it went into 3d. Whenever Nintendo developer says, “I want to beat that classic,” like the basis of Mario Kart DS was to beat ‘SNES Super Mario Kart’, they end up with something really, really good. Instead, they often declare themselves geniuses, think the audience is stupid, and make something like Metroid: Other M.

Part of my bitterness is how terrible the 2d Mario games have lately been. NSMB U? Come on. Terrible, terrible 2d Mario. How hard is it to understand the concept? When I think of 2d Mario, I think of adventure, I think of exploring new worlds, of new enemies, etc. But when Nintendo thinks of 2d Mario, they only think “level design” which is why we got NSMB U and non-games like that 2d Mario editor. “That is why they like 2d Mario,” they think, “because of level design.” As if level design wasn’t in any other genre of video game. If Nintendo had analytical integrity (which they don’t, which is why my blog is here because Nintendo loves to throw out analytical thought for their own biases) they would remember that Super Mario Brothers (the original) was not even a finished game. Level design in that game was broken. The ‘turtles’ you jump on to get infinite lives as they come down the steps was a bug which the programmer thought he was going to get fired. Negative world was a bug. But the reason why Nintendo will not allow such analytical integrity is because it shatters their made up narratives why Mario fans still don’t buy 3d Mario.

NSMB DS and NSMB Wii were very flawed games but also very brilliant games. How? Well, NSMB DS was the first new 2d Mario game in a LONG time. NSMB Wii did 4 players at one time which game the game a new type of value. But how did Nintendo respond to such awesome sales numbers? Weak, tepid responses such as NSMB 2 where you just collect coins or NSMB U which is rehash central. You can tell they didn’t want to make those games. So why did they make them? Why isn’t there someone in the company that knows and wants to make them? It shows that Nintendo is out of sync with the market in scary ways.

Look at the fucking non-existant D-pad for the Switch. The only Switch d-pad is on the Pro Controller which is fucking broken. You can’t even play Tetris with it. Nintendo doesn’t really care because Nintendo doesn’t really like 2d games. There is something with this company or the people in it that go fucking bonkers over 3d technologies and gameplay. They completely destroyed the DS platform, the most successful gaming platform made, with their sick, sick obsession with 3d.

To me, looking at this, it is open and shut case of what is going on. What I don’t understand is why it seems I’m the only one saying it. The market is even saying it, hell that is why 2DS is replacing 3DS. It is so obvious, but no one is saying it.

You make the most popular gaming handheld, yet you cripple it with expensive 3d technology which your largest userbase, children, shouldn’t use. How can any company be so stupid? The answer is love. Love makes people do stupid things. And there is some sort of love within the company that is obsessed, sick obsessed, over 3d gameplay and 3d technologies.

At least they knew enough not to do VR this time.



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