Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - The Year of Crossovers


Another year has passed and for a year, which didn't see a new title in the The Legend of Zelda main series, this was probably a very lively one, especially when compared to the voids in 2008 and 2012. It all began end of January, where Iwata announced in an investor briefing that Nintendo is going to be less protective about their character IPs:

We will actively expand our character licensing business, including proactively finding appropriate partners.

And this ultimately led to various cameos for the Zelda series in other video games this year. There was the "The Legend of Zelda Zone" in Sonic Lost Word, Link costumes in Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2 and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and of course Link's infamous appearance in Mario Kart 8.

As a perfect fit for this "year of crossovers" we saw the release of the next Super Smash Bros. game, both on Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. Though nothing much happened with the Zelda franchise in the next iteration of Nintendo's allstar fighting game. We got new stages with the Spirit Train from Spirit Tracks, the Gerudo Valley from Ocarina of Time 3D and Skyloft from Skyward Sword. The Zelda franchise also saw a significant upgrade in the field of items with the Gust Bellow, the Beetle, Bombchus, a Fairy Bottle, Cuccos and three new assist trophies: Skull Kid, Midna and Ghirahim. But there were no new playable fighters from the Zelda series and the recurring ones only changed a little, so overall the new Smash probably wasn't all this exciting for Zelda fans.

However, Zelda finally got its own well deserved allstar fighting game with Hyrule Warriors. You could probably even name this the "year of Hyrule Warriors", because this title was huge. Speculating about new characters and weapons, marveling at artwork and of course playing the game, where you can easily invest hundreds of hours - Hyrule Warriors dominated the free time of Zelda fans in the latter half of the year. And it will still keep going. Two more DLC packs are coming in early 2015, one about Majora's Mask and one adding new game modes. Hyrule Warriors will probably keep the fans busy, until the next Zelda games get released.

2015

This time there's actually not much to speculate about the upcoming year, since Nintendo already laid out the Zelda road map for 2015. Fans of Majora's Mask will be happy that their favorite game will finally receive full attention in the first half of 2015. First there's the Majora's Mask content for Hyrule Warriors, which certainly will be exciting, and then there's the remake for the Nintendo 3DS with some improvements and additions.

There will also be new songs from Majora's Mask in the "Master Quest" program of the Symphony of the Goddesses, which returns in 2015 to North America and Europe (I'll be in Dusseldorf). Certainly an event to look forward to.

The 2nd half of 2015 will revolve around the new Zelda game for the Wii U. This year they already showed us the visual style, the open world and a battle against a giant hybrid of an Octorok and Beamos. There's a lot more to learn at the next E3 and the game is still slated for a 2015 holiday release, so in exactly one year we might all be playing the new game!

We also know that there's a new 3DS Zelda game in development, probably based on A Link Between Worlds. However, I suspect this game will be shown and released in 2016 to not steal attention from the new Wii U game. There's also the question, if Hyrule Warriors will receive a 2nd wave of DLC or not, e.g. Skyward Sword and Ocarina of Time packs. I personally don't think so, the next step will probably be a sequel, but it's still a possibility.

In any case: Happy New Year, everyone!

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