Nintendo showed off a Wii U sizzle reel at their E3 2011 press conference, and in that video was footage of what The Legend of Zelda can potentially look like on Nintendo's new console. It featured a visual style very similar to that of Twilight Princess, only not hindered by the Wii's abysmal lack of processing power. It looked gorgeous, and for many, that one tech demo was more exciting than any trailer Nintendo had put together for Skyward Sword.
Skyward Sword turned out to be an amazing title that incorporated many fresh ideas into the series that actually worked pretty well, but for many, the shadow cast by the Zelda Wii U tech demo looms too large to simply ignore. Maybe it's because we're finally going to get a Zelda game that can (potentially) push the boundaries of the system's hardware for the first time since Ocarina of Time released in 1998. Aside from the game just looking pretty, there's another factor that comes along with hardware that isn't too archaic (the Wii U is rumored to be as powerful as the Xbox 360, which is a six year old machine, so its hardware is still pretty old. Just not archaic... yet): the Retro Studios factor.
If there's one studio that can milk hardware for all its worth, it's Texas-based developer Retro Studios, the geniuses behind the Metroid Prime trilogy and Donkey Kong Country Returns. The original Metroid Prime is easily one of the best looking games on GameCube, and it still holds up pretty well today. Metroid Prime's world is so deep and so detailed – it's a thing of beauty. With the power of Wii U – and I don't mean overwhelming power because, again, the hardware will likely be out of date in a few years – Retro Studios will be able to construct a huge and highly detailed game world. It would be Hyrule like we've never seen it before.
But making a gorgeous game isn't the only incentive to handing the reins over to Retro Studios. Nintendo did a good job at shaking the Zelda formula up with Skyward Sword, but to continue down that game's path would be a poor decision. Although the new elements in Skyward Sword worked extremely well – sword combat and Silent Realm, to name two – many of these were only incorporated because the Wii lacked the processing power to make a huge world possible. Skyward Sword has players going through only a few different areas, and to Nintendo's credit they were able to keep things very fresh.
With the Wii U's hardware advantages over Wii and Retro Studios, however, these development sacrifices won't have to take place. Not only that, but Retro would breathe fresh air into the series, giving it truly new ideas and a Western feel that the series has never had. Going down the beaten path with Eiji Aonuma – or even Shigeru Miyamoto – at the helm would produce very good to amazing titles such as The Wind Waker and Skyward Sword, but true revolution in the series won't occur until new minds take over.
For the purists out there that can't fathom a Zelda title where Aonuma and Miyamoto have nothing to do with it, calm down: it would still be Zelda. Retro has shown a great deal of respect for classic Nintendo franchises when they developed the Metroid Prime series and Donkey Kong Country Returns. I'm not even saying that Zelda should jump from third person to first person like Metroid did.
At its core, Metroid Prime was the same as Super Metroid: explore an open world with no sense of direction. Retro Studios took that and expanded on it, not just with the first person element but with completely new gameplay ideas that had never been seen before in the Metroid universe. Imagine what that same approach could do to Zelda – it might produce a truly unique Zelda experience along the lines of Majora's Mask.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 May 2012 08:49|