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When Plasma Beams Meet Master Swords: Why Retro Should Develop the Next Zelda

Letting go is hard. Whether it's your first long-term relationship, moving away from the neighborhood you grew up in, even deleting your save file from your favorite game can be damn hard to do for some of us out there (Thank god we've gotten away from memory cards). But it's a part of growing up, moving on and broadening the horizon for new ideas and experiences. It's easy to do the same thing for years and repeat ad nauseum until your product is close to perfect, but innovation is often the incubator for some of the game infustry's biggest classics. 

When I recently read over on IGN that Miyamoto was open to the idea of Retro Studios having a shot at the Zelda franchise, my mind start reeling from the possibilities. While Retro is technically a first-party developer for Nintendo, it can be argued they still carry some degree of autonomy. Miyamoto trusted them with the Metroid series, and they went on to create 3 stellar entries that each had commercial success. Moreover, they were also the first studio to actually make a FPS game on the Wii that didn't fail miserably with the control scheme (Thank Retro for the invisible bounding box!).

But with Skyward Sword receiving univeral praise  from just about every major reviewer out there, why should Retro step in now and change up the formula? Would they change it at all? Super Metroid is considered by many to be the Link to the Past of the Metroid saga, perfecting the side scrolling adventure with explorative elements and a proper difficulty previous Metroid games helped establish. Is that to say Metroid Prime was needed to keep the franchise going? Of course not. Metroid could survive comfortably within the realm of side-scrolling even today, but the change to a FPS adventure was both bold and new for the series, and it payed off. Hell, Donkey Kong Country Returns and Rayman: Origins are two stellar titles and both are side-scrollers.

Taking on an entire Zelda game is no easy task, as Nintendo has been quick to point out. Spanning nearly 5 years of development, Retro would put more time and effort into it than any other game they've developed. Not only that, but they would also need to pay particular attention to the lore of the Zelda series, as mysterious as the timelines seem to be. Neither factor is a deal-breaker for Retro, as they're abilities to create vast, explorable worlds is something the Zelda series can't be without. Not only that, but the infusion of Metroid elements–tweaking the scanning mechanic, for example–could do wonders for Zelda's own combat system. Imagine Link having to actually search the temple boss and identify the weak point before being able to damage him? To some it may seem like a tedious element to add, but if Retro can pull it off, it may add another element of intensity to each boss fight.

I love the Zelda franchise; I have since my very first days with it when I was but a few years young. But there does come a time when a person, or a studio, must understand the limit of their creativity and allow someone new. For better of worse, a fresh perspective means a fresh take on things, and innovation can help Zelda boldly go where no Zelda has gone before.

Except the CD-i games. Don't ever go there.

 

Gray


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