The Map and Compass

March 31, 2010

The  map and compass are well-known items to every Zelda-fan. Whenever you enter a dungeon, you know you will eventually find a treasure chest containing one of these two. Besides the fact, that I hope for less typical dungeons in Zelda Wii, I´d like to use the map and compass as non-dungeon central items.

That means that map and compass become part of your permanent item-set, instead of finding specific ones inside each dungeon. I´m not so sure there´s even need for a map, but then again, it has always been nice to have an overview of the world. Maybe take a look at games like Etrian Odysse for Nintendo DS, where you have to draw the map by yourself. Of course, making it all that manually wouldn´t be fun in a free 3D-game, but maybe combine it with the visuals of the map in Fragile Dreams: Farewell of the Moon for Wii, with its sketchy look.

What´s more important is the compass. I imagine there to be no map at the start of the game, so maybe someone tells you “Ah, the forsaken ruins? Well, I wouldn´t recommend going there, but if you absolutely want to, they´re somewhere in the south-east”. And so you look at the compass, follow its direction and eventually find your target destination. In previous Zelda-games, the world´s structure was so linear that a compass just wasn´t needed. And the one Zelda-game that made use of one happens to be the one with the best world, The Wind Waker.

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The Sheikah

March 30, 2010

Ever since Ocarina of Time, we know of this mysterious race. In OoT, we met Impah, the last survivor of the Sheikah-clan. Said race was mentioned as the royal family´s elite guard. Their signature sign is that very special eye-mark that could also be soon on princess Zelda´s clothing in Twilight Princess (which led to a lot of speculation).

Of course, that is a rather specific matter, but there are many ways to give the player some insight into the clan of the Sheikah. Have there be unknown survivors, or just have there by ancient writings on walls deep down in some ruins that tell you something about them. I remember when I got to the forsaken village in Twilight Princess and thought “wow, now I´ll see the Sheikah!”, and it turned out to be a silly western town. Oh well.

Visually vivid wind

March 29, 2010

A strange title. What I mean is a breathing ingame-world. Something that worked really well in The Wind Waker by visualizing the wind while sailing. But that´s just part of it. Objects have to be moved by that wind. Leafs falling from a tree, being caught by the wind and blown further away. A weather cock changing its direction. But that´s only stuff relating directly to wind.

It also means that the world itself is lively. Non-dangerous wildlife, chatty people, old-fashioned wagons rolling on town streets. Diving into a lake and being able to observe fish and other water-animals. Randomly changing weather-situations. All that. Basically, stuff that gives you the image of a vivid world when you decide to stop and watch it for some time. Not a static, lifeless world.

An open forest

March 29, 2010

Even to this day, a lot of Zelda-fans feel betrayed by the first trailers of Twilight Princess. You know, these trailers that showed Link running around and fighting in a real forest-area. But not a forest made up of several branching paths with green textures on the walls, but a real forest, lots of single trees standing around, letting you walk between them and so on.

Technically, it should be possible by now. It seemed possible on the GameCube, but was canceled due to unknown reasons. Maybe a free forest-area didn´t fit the rest of the game, who knows. This time, there´s really no excuse. Nintendo, let your fans finally enter a deep, rich, moody forest that´s completely open and free to explore. And that doesn´t have a defined entrance, but can be entered from every side.

The adventurer´s diary

March 27, 2010

This the first entry that I take directly from my in-depth article at Flying Fisch. The adventurer´s diary would be the Zelda-equivalent to Metroid Prime´s data base. Inside that diary, all kinds of enemies, locations and persons you meet are listed and featured by a more or less lengthy text. That would be the greatest way to finally give the player more insight into the world of Zelda.

If Nintendo wanted to make this an especially fine feature, all diary-entries would appear in the encountered order. Maybe only arranged by overarching categories. That way, every player in the world will create his very own, personal diary, showing the progress within the adventure of Zelda Wii.  Actually, really offer an option to make EVERYTHING appear in the originally encountered order, and it becomes 100% personal. Not very functional, but personal. And the game could always offer some options to show all gathered data-entries in differently arranged order.

No Story about Link

March 27, 2010

It´s definitely nice to get more backstory about the game´s world, its characters, its lore. What Zelda Wii doesn´t need, though, is a story that´s about Link himself.

I always call Link the “player-character”, which simply means that Link is not a real character like Samus Aran, Solid Snake or Mario, BUT is just an ingame-avatar of the person that´s playing. That´s why hardly any Zelda-fans want voice acting for Link, that´s why it´s so immersive play a Zelda-game: It doesn´t force a story on you as to who you are. You are the player, the adventurer that´s here to save the princess, the world, or whatever.

I do want more stories about Ganon, the immortal (well, exception being Twilight Princess) demon, and Zelda, the ever-reborn princess. But I do not want a story about Link, treated like a real character. Link is just some random guy that´s chosen at the right time by fate/the triforce/the goddesses, because he appears to be brave, and thus gets a mission to help everyone. I certainly do want to know more about that choosing-process, but Link as a character is completely uninteresting. In OoT he´s a fairy boy, in The Wind Waker he´s a baby living with his grandma. In Twilight Princess he´s a popular farm boy. And so on. Link always changes, he´s (almost) never the same. So any story about a certain Link would be just a special story that only applies to one Link of one Zelda-game. And really, at this point I want stories about the bigger picture, not some spin-off like detail-story.

The Windmill

March 25, 2010

In a lot of fantasy-stories, be it a game (The Wind Waker, Ico) or anime, windmills are highly mysterious places. Why is that so? Maybe, because a windmill is a very uniquely looking building, one that moves, both on the in-and outside. They´re also often very big, impressing buildings, high as if they´re stabbing the sky. And lastly, they´re often the main attraction, either by being the biggest building in a town, very centrally located, or by standing in the middle of nowhere.

The Zelda-series had its windmills before. In Ocarina of Time, it could be found at Kakariko, featuring more than just one mission. In The Wind Waker it was the central attraction of Windfall Island, mixed into a light tower. I´m not sure about Majora´s Mask and Twilight Princess. But Zelda Wii should have a windmill. And a great, giant one, inviting for some exploration and sidequests. And it wouldn´t hurt if the windmill was built so that you can climb up all the way to the top by using your skills and items, similar to how you climbed up the tower at the end of The Wind Waker.

Pegasus Boots

March 24, 2010

A link to the Past had them from the beginning, in Link´s Awakening you got them inside the third dungeon. The Pegasus boots enabled Link to run at high speed, crashing stones or attacking enemies. They could even be combined with the feather for long jumps. The kind of were present in Ocarina of Time as well, though the bunny mask never gave the feeling of high speed; it was just a little faster.

The Pegasus boots are one of those old items that were forgotten, so it´d be a neat move to re-introduce them. I can imagine them two include to modes. One, you can run super fast. That makes great use for traveling. Two, slow motion. Yes, slowmo, as in Matrix, Max Payne or whatever other game features slowmo. This would be used for combat and certain puzzles. Everything around you would slow down, while you can move at normal speed. In both these modes, the player is granted higher speed, but each mode gives a different perception of that speed.

A major problem with your usual sidequests is that they exist on their very own. Help someone do that, rescue someone from this, or collect x of something. That will result in someone telling you “thank you!” and giving you some more or less random item. Of course, this type of sidequests has to be there, too, but it´s the lack of another kind that´s bothering.

Majora´s Mask is full of these great sidequests, where most of them are directly related to the effects of Skullkid and the approaching moon. Ocarina of Time didn´t have a lot of these, though one certainly was memorable. It´s the rescue of Epona. While approaching the guy from Lon Lon farm, he´ll tell you how “this horse” is supposed to become Ganondorf´s. A direct connection to the main plot is made here. And a rather important one, considering that wasn´t it for you, Epona would have to be ridden by evil Ganondorf.

This kind of sidequests have to become much, much more frequent. Basically, filling out more or less interesting tidbits that in one way or another reveal more details about the main quest, while still being able to exist on their own. This way, a lot of little stories could be packed into the game, without being pushed in the player´s face.

Meaningful Dungeons

March 22, 2010

What´s so frustrating about recent Zelda-games is how random the dungeons are included into the game world. At some point, you get the object to retrieve three whatever, therefore you have to enter the x-dungeon, the y-dungeon and the z-dungeon. X, y and z being replacements for fire, water and so on. However, WHY do these dungeons exist? I mean, for some reason there are these dungeons, filled with enemies, filled with puzzles and a boss-enemy. Why?

Twilight Princess finally attempted to give these places more meaning, though it wasn´t nearly enough. You have the temple of time, which was a well-known place. You had the Arbiter´s Ground, which was explained to be a prison. You had the fire temple aka Goron mines, which, obviously, also had a natural purpose. Still, why were these places taken over by enemies? No or not much explanation, even less about all the puzzles being in there.

What I am thinking of is somthing like “For hundreds of years, the ancient inhabitants of this area sacrificed one woman per year to the god of the deep well. Ever since then, many years passed. It is unknown if there is still something of meaning down there…or something evil.” Or something like “Ganon plans to attack Hyrule, so he took over that castle to gather his troops there.” Or maybe “Have you heard of that swamp behind the dark forest? It seems Ganon sent a lot of troops there to guard something until he arrives.”

All the examples would put meaning and reason into their dungeons. And not just be big excuses to collect some arbitrary item.