Could a back to basics ‘New Legend of Zelda’ really work?

In the way New Super Mario Bros seemed to revitalise the Mario series again and sell millions of copies on a dime?  While some individuals such as Sean Malstrom argue such a game would be successful in this day and age, and there have been some argue such a game would fix the problems found in the Zelda series as stated in that controversial Kotaku article, I’m not so sure.  Here’s why:

1. Action Adventure Games have moved on drastically, platformers haven’t

This is probably the key issue here.  While platformers like Mario have stayed pretty much the same the last ten or so years, 2D ones even more so, action adventure games really haven’t.  Keep in mind for instance that New Super Mario Bros, for all the lack of effort Nintendo supposedly put into it, is pretty much up to the current level of quality expected from a game in that genre. People still like and hence still buy 2D platformers.

But that’s not really the same for action adventures.  When the hell was the last successful 2D one?  For good examples of an action adventure title now, people look to Zelda, or The Elder Scrolls or such like, 3D games with vast worlds and almost insanely huge amounts of content.  They don’t seem to have that great an interest in those old games with top down views, no real story and no map.

And releasing such a Zelda game now would be an extremely risky proposition to boot, there’s no indication past Zelda games sold that many more copies than recent ones and the game would literally be the only (at least, only retail) game in its genre on the market.  No one knows how well the game would do, and I honestly don’t think it’d convince many people used to stuff like Skyrim.

Not to mention some of the types of design decisions found in the older Zelda games would be received extremely poorly in this day and age, like randomly having to bomb walls and burn bushes to find secrets and even the actual dungeons you need to explore to advance the plot, or the fake walls, or just how arbitary and confusing most of the ways you need to advance are.

To make this even worse, most recent attempts to bring back the style but tone down the confusing crap you need to figure out haven’t really done too well, Four Swords Adventures is the current worst selling game in the entire Zelda series, and even the Minish Cap didn’t do that well sales wise.  So for starters, it seems like demand for such a game might not be too high and the odds are against it doing well.

2. The original style of the Legend of Zelda seems too difficult for non and current gamers to get into

Relates to much of the first point, but look at this review of the original Zelda game on the Virtual Console for a few minutes:

It’s by the wiiviewr, a well known reviewer of Wii games, and he has his son join him and tell him what he thinks of the original Legend of Zelda game.  And with the father being a long time Nintendo fan and gamer, and his son being 11, it’s pretty much the best example I can think of for what the expanded audience thinks of certain video games.  If the original Zelda was really the kind of game that works today, considering people like Malstrom consider it popular, shouldn’t the LilWiiviewer enjoy the game much more?  Shouldn’t most people who haven’t grown up with the NES enjoy it more?

But in the video, he only considers it a game to rent, for entirely valid reasons.  Like it being confusing, or the enemies too difficult to avoid or defeat.  And whether Mr Malstrom likes it or not, I’d say that’s the typical attitude most people have towards the first two Legend of Zelda games in this day and age.  It really just seems like these people, pretty much any non veteran gamer just wouldn’t enjoy a new Legend of Zelda type game as much as the likes of Ocarina of Time or Skyward Sword.  In fact, because of this alone, I’d give a guess that such a game wouldn’t really sell any better than Skyward Sword.  Heck, I bet such a game could barely get 2 million copies sold worldwide, because there just isn’t the demand for it and gamers nowadays don’t want such an experience.

How about non gamers then?  I don’t think they’d buy into either, anyone who played the original NES games but quit gaming is fairly unlikely to just return because of this game, and the audience that buys Wii Play or Wii Fit or Zumba Fitness is hardly going to buy it either.

Basically, such a game seems like it’d be too difficult and too confusing for anyone new to video games or the Zelda series, and just wouldn’t have a market in this day and age.  What a new Legend of Zelda game needs to be successful isn’t to just go back and recreate the gameplay style of the NES installments but to have a vast, interesting world, more dangerous combat and enough of a fair difficulty curve that everyone can enjoy it.  It needs to be in 3D, it needs to have fancier graphics, and needs to be more the best parts of Ocarina, Wind Waker and Twilight Princess than some kind of retro throwback.

You can see what I think would really help the series here:


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