Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is great, but I hope the next game isn’t like this

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is great, but I hope the next game isn’t like this

It’s a bit difficult to accurately describe how awesome a The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom game is. Personally, I find it increasingly rare that I actually play a triple-A game that delivers on its big promise, but by Nintendo last release did it successfully. There’s just… so much to do, and so much worth doing. The side quests feel like worthwhile endeavours, rather than meandering distractions, the new abilities are outdated beyond belief, and the main story itself quickly hooked me. Obviously, there’s an easy argument to be made that this is the game of the year. But I just hope that whatever Zelda game Nintendo makes next is nothing like Tears of the Kingdom.

Despite its size, TotK works very, very well in both docked and portable mode.

Zelda is a bit of a weird series. It’s a bit of an iterative franchise, but not quite as big as its cousin Mario, which constantly strives to make moving through 3D space more interesting – or at the very least drastically different – ​​than the last. For the most part, though, every Zelda game has its own thing that really helps it stand out, at least since Majora’s Mask. Said N64 game obviously had the masks that allowed Link to transform into the different groups of people he featured in Ocarina of Time.

Then there’s Wind Waker, which removed Hyrule’s open landscape and turned it into an open ocean landscape. Twilight Princess went even further by turning Link into a literal wolf, Skyward Sword gave Link a bird to fly on, A Link Between Worlds let him turn into a painting, Minish Cap let him shrink down to size of a speck of dust, the list goes on. They’re all gadgets, but ones that often offered interesting ways to explore the world – similar to the new abilities in Tears of the Kingdom.

It’s not the gimmicks that made these games as interesting as they are, but for me personally, it’s the worlds you have to explore that made them interesting to explore. And Zelda is at its best when it’s weirdest, like with what’s easily one of the series’ best, Link’s Awakening.

Just a perfect little guy!

I first played Link’s Awakening when the remake came out, and very quickly realized why so many people consider it their favorite Zelda title. The concept easily lends itself to doing something different with Link (he’s stuck in a dream and has to find a way to wake up), and good for him. Everything is wonderfully eclectic in Link’s Awakening, everyone is slightly strange but charming. And without the chains of having to deal with the Triforce or Ganondorf, it allowed Link to have an adventure where the stakes were a bit lower.

Unfortunately, I don’t know if we’ll ever get a game like Link’s Awakening again. Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma has said that Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom are the new format for the series going forward, and if he means that will be the case for all Zelda games , I think that’s a shame. While I understand people wanting to experience that classic feel a bit more with linear dungeons and the like, I don’t really mind that the series has made a change in that regard (to be perfectly honest, I think only a few dungeons are truly memorable).

What I don’t want to happen, though, is for Zelda to lose its unique spirit by actually doing something different from game to game. It’s perfectly OK, even pretty awesome, in fact, whereas Zelda is much smaller. You can even go as small as indie – something Nintendo has already done, or rather let developer Brace Yourself Games do, with Cadence of Hyrule.

An action game in the visual style of classic Zelda 2D games, literally set to the remixed rhythm of the series’ musical story, Cadence of Hyrule is a constant surprise. Partly because of how good it is, partly because it actually exists (Nintendo? Letting an indie developer run one of its most valuable properties?) Story-wise, it doesn’t do anything revolutionary, a surprise to no one, but it was such a pleasure to spend time in Hyrule in such a unique and vibrant way.

In fact, he might just be the perfect little guy…

I felt the same when I recently replayed Minish Cap for the first time in many years. The first time you shrink down to Minish size always feels magical to me, mostly because it invited me into a world unseen by the citizens of Hyrule. Best of all, the game only took me about 10 hours to beat, a rarity in today’s world where we constantly see games bloated with things to do but no reason to do them.

Minish Cap reminded me of the little ways Zelda could feel big; it didn’t need the huge open world of Tears of the Kingdom to feel impressive, it just needed a wonderfully saturated color palette and flawless pixel art. Not that I don’t like exploring the world of Tears of the Kingdom, actually. I don’t want this to be the only way to adventure with Link anymore.

This view, however.

Tears of the Kingdom is an incredibly difficult act to follow, as it’s arguably the biggest and loudest journey Link has ever taken. How do you even manage to create a sequel that is at least as impressive as the previous one? I don’t think you can, honestly! But deliberately going for something smaller, but not necessarily quieter, means the team behind Zelda can do something fun and unique without having to go for gold.

Nintendo clearly likes to experiment, even if it’s to their detriment (would we have the Switch without the Wii U?) and that’s part of why it continues to matter in the gaming space all these years. later. I don’t need Nintendo to let an indie team try their hand at Zelda, although I wouldn’t mind that, but I don’t want Zelda to lose that weird spirit it has.

Mostly what I want Nintendo to do is let Link do a lot of things; let him fall asleep and save a dream island, let him shrink and face larger than life enemies, let him save a city doomed to be crushed by the moon. Zelda will only be better for it.


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