With every new Nintendo console comes a brand new Legend of Zelda. It should come as no surprise that the Big N has announced a new game starring the green-clad hero for the 3DS: the Japanese developer has been steadily releasing Zelda games for each and every one of its consoles and handhelds for over two decades. What could come as a shock to some gamers is the setting and style for the new, as yet unnamed, 3DS Zelda. The game takes place in the same Hyrule we explored on the SNES in 1992 with The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
After a hands-on demo with the game in which I played through one dungeon, there are a few key factors to take away from this game in its early stages.
This is a not a port of A Link to the Past.
Just to be clear, the new game on the 3DS is not a port of the classic SNES adventure game. Instead, it is a fully fledged sequel to that game. Nintendo has been light on details having just announced the game, but from what I’ve played of the demo and what Nintendo has spilled so far, gamers can expect a totally fresh take on the LttP formula and setting sometime later this year.
A mix of Link to the Past, Wind Waker, and Minish Cap
There have been a lot of advancements in video gaming since 1992, so naturally the new Zelda game is taking full advantage of the 3DS’ hardware. In terms of graphics the new game retains the presentation style of LttP albeit in 3D models. It looks exactly how you’d expect an updated version of A Link to the Past to look. There are also some tones of Wind Waker thrown in as well, in particular with the representation of Link. A key new feature of the game is the ability for Link to fuse with the wall to progress to then-unreachable areas, but when our hero becomes one with the surface he is represented in a chalk-like tone. It reminded me of the story introduction to Wind Waker where everything is minimalist in design and looks like a cave painting. Link himself appears to be the charming lad we saw in Four Swords, albeit in the newly rendered 3D styling. Some may scoff at the “childlike” depiction of Link, but so long as the gameplay holds up, the art style can do whatever it pleases.
A blend of past Zelda gameplay
There have been two distinct versions of Legend of Zelda gameplay: the “traditional” version and the 3D version. The 3D version was first utilized in Ocarina of Time on the N64 and is accented by a third-person perspective, 3D visuals, a first-person zoomed in viewpoint, and challenges/puzzles that take advantage of the game being in the third dimension. “Traditional” Zelda games are dubbed so because they retain the gameplay found in the earliest games in the series. More specifically they are top-down/isometric in perspective, with 2D graphics and puzzles gamers have come to expect from the series. The Legend of Zelda on 3DS is kind of a combination of both. The game has a top-down viewpoint as seen in the original Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, but it is rendered in a sort of 2.5D, akin to the DS’ Phantom Hourglass/Spirit Tracks. From a gameplay standpoint the game feels like a modern console Zelda experience shifted to the handheld. The new game employs depth more than we’re used to seeing on the handheld. You can expect to travel along the Z-axis as much as the X and Y. The 3DS’ 3D slider will get put to good use as well, as the demo showcased the game’s depth of field with the 3D turned on.
Plenty of throwback to Link to the Past
Being set in the same universe, featuring the same art style, and having similar gameplay, there are already dozens of comparisons between the newly announced Zelda and the SNES’ A Link to the Past. The dungeon I played through was a brand new dungeon but featured the return of several enemies from LttP: Stalfos (the jumping skeletons), flying tiles, and the giant worm monster as a boss all make a return. Link also handles like his former self, in particular when attacking. The hero swings his sword as he did on the SNES, and he even shoots his arrows in a familiar way. The titles signifying which room or floor you’ve just entered are reminiscent of the older game as well. Bouncy traps, spike traps, and cracked floors should all stir up old memories for fans of the Zelda series.
What else could we be seeing from Link to the Past?
Seeing as there was only one level to play through and scant information outside of that, there are a lot of unanswered questions about what the new Legend of Zelda game will contain. But since this is a game set in the same Hyrule as Link to the Past there’s a possibility of more being in common with the original game than what we know so far. Items could return that we haven’t seen since LttP including the Book of Mudora, the Flute, and maybe even the original Pegasus Boots! Speaking of the Flute, will there be any instrument at all in this game? Will Agahmin make a return? The more recent Four Swords titles were set in a similar world as Link to the Past, so maybe we’ll see Vaati come back as well. And don’t forget about Ganon! We’ve already discovered a repeated boss monster, so any of these are possibilities. A key component to LttP was traveling between the Light and Dark worlds, so maybe there will be a similar feature in the new game. There’s so much speculation about the connections between the two games one could talk for weeks about the possibilities, but I’ll leave you with those few morsels to chew.
Other features to look forward to
The 3DS has amazing capabilities built into the system that the DS before it could only dream of having. Will Nintendo implement a StreetPass feature with the game, perhaps allowing gamers to trade items or battle one another. Four Swords proved multiplayer Zelda was an enjoyable way to save Hyrule, so will there be a form of online or offline multiplayer? Perhaps the 3DS’ camera will be utilized. From a more straightforward standpoint, who will the main antagonist be? We mentioned those familiar faces earlier, but maybe it will be someone or something entirely new. Now that Nintendo has settled down all the commotion about the series timeline, where will this one fit in the grand scheme of things? How will it end? What will Link discover that we don’t already know? Will Zelda be a playable character? WILL CHICKENS ATTACK YOU IF YOU KEEP HITTING THEM?! All of these questions (and more) are likely to remain unanswered until we get our hands on the game when it’s released later this year or into early 2014.
It’s incredibly exciting to hear a new Zelda game is coming, and even more so hearing it will be a successor to Link to the Past. So much is still unknown about the title, but from what is known and what is possible, I know I’m excited to play this sucker when it releases.
What are your thoughts about the game? Who or what are you excited to see return? What are you looking forward to most? Will you attack the chickens the first chance you get? Let me know in the comments below!
In case you missed the demo in action, here’s the first dungeon playthrough. Those are my gorgeous hands!!