Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 - The Year of Zelda

The year is coming to an end and there's no overstatement in saying that this year was the year of Zelda. While celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the franchise we were blessed with many new things. Alone three new Zelda titles were released this year:
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
  • The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
There's no doubt that Skyward Sword was the biggest of these releases. Five years in the making, revolutionary controls, great gameplay enhancements and fun environments make this one of the best Zelda games and a fresh experience. It certainly wasn't perfect though, issues like bad fetch quests, linear game design and mediocre dungeons make it obvious that Zelda still isn't fully back on track. But it's a great game nonetheless and probably the pinnacle of the Wii experience.

The other two games weren't exactly new, but enhanced ports or "remakes". Ocarina of Time 3D made the old N64 classic feel much more contemporary, it looks great and plays nice and smoothly. It's the perfect way of reexperiencing Ocarina of Time, however, the lack of any new content was disappointing. The Four Swords Anniversary Edition on the other hand was my personal highlight this year, finally after eight years I get to play Four Swords whenever I want and the game offered one of the biggest challenges of the entire Zelda series - the Hero's Trial.

Next to these new games some Zelda games got a re-release on the 3DS Virtual Console:
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX
  • The Legend of Zelda (3DS Ambassador Program)
  • Zelda II - The Adventure of Link (3DS Ambassador Program)
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (3DS Ambassador Program)
So far only one of these game is available to everyone, the other three were part of the 3DS Ambassador Program and are only available to you if you were stupid enough to buy a 3DS early (you've learned your lesson). But they'll most likely will be sold on the eShop sooner or later, for example The Legend of Zelda is already available in Japan. Well, the point is that this year was very strong release-wise. Only 2003 and 2007 have been as strong and only in Europe.

But that's not all of it, it wouldn't be the biggest Zelda year ever if it only was for the games. Nintendo celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Zelda and they celebrated it big time with different merchandise, special releases and events. Let's take a look at all their efforts:
  • Robin and Zelda Williams commercials for Ocarina of Time 3D,
    Four Swords Anniversary Edition and Skyward Sword
  • Ocarina of Time 3D Soundtrack CD for all early registrations
  • Link's Awakening DX as the first GameBoy Color Virtual Console game
  • a special remake of Four Swords dedicated to the anniversary available for FREE
  • a Zelda Flipnote contest
  • the Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony orchestras around the world
  • Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony CD bundled with all
    first edition copies of Skyward Sword
  • Golden Wiimote bundled with the Limited Edition of Skyward Sword
  • special Zelda stage in Super Mario 3D Land
  • three 25th Anniversary Zelda eShop cards
  • Limited 25th Anniversary Zelda Nintendo 3DS Edition Bundle
  • Golden Nunchuk (only Japanese Club Nintendo so far)
  • Hyrule Historia Artbook (only Japan so far)
  • the revelation of the official Zelda timeline
  • other merchandise like t-shirts and posters
Just compare this to the 25th Anniversary of Mario or Metroid. Mario got red colored hardware, the Flipnote contest and a disc re-release of an old SNES game. That's it. Metroid basically got nothing so far. Nintendo really put all their efforts into celebrating the 25th Anniversary and that felt great. Zelda got a lot of attention this year and saw many great additions to the franchise. Some of it was awaited for many, many years. Finally singleplayer for Four Swords, finally orchestrated Zelda music, finally the official timeline! What a year!

Of course most of it was done for marketing reasons, to built the hype. And I'm not happy with some of their stunts, for example adding preorder bonuses to Ocarina of Time 3D and denying a special Zelda 3DS bundle at first, so that Zelda fans would go for the game (and maybe a 3DS) early, and then releasing a 3DS Zelda bundle half a year later anyway. This is something that somehow ruined the Anniversary for me and I'm still pissed about it. Luckily I could sell my red 3DS for a good price, but I still lost quite some money and I probably won't ever buy a Nintendo system earlier than really necessary again. I've lost some of my trust in Nintendo due to this action.

Well, for myself I celebrated the anniversary by replaying pretty much all Zelda games, which was a nice and refreshing experience. I also finally got to 100%ly complete all Zelda games before starting Skyward Sword, a longtime goal of mine. So, that was basically my 25th Anniversary, I used the year to play a lot of Zelda (it's also my 25th year of age by the way, I'm as old as the franchise, I like that). And I will definitely always remember this year.

As a conclusion I can only say that this was without a doubt the greatest Zelda year ever. The only downside is that we probably won't get another year like that in the next 25 years until the 50th Anniversary. This amount of new Zelda games, merchandise and events in one year is pretty much unsurpassable. So, I hope you all enjoyed 2011, I sure did.

Happy new year!


Anonymous said...

And on top of all that we also got news about maybe getting a Majora's Mask remake and A Link to the Past in 3D, and with the promise of new games coming out in the next few years we have all that to look forward to! Still I agree, there will not be another year like this until we are both much older, so I'm glad to be a Zelda fan in 2011!

Skullvic said...

xDD yeah, a freaking year to Zelda!
I recieved the Zelda 3DS edition as you have and I'll buy on february Skyward ^^

K2L said...

It was indeed an intense year for Zelda. By the way, my brother gave me SS as a gift, despite me refusing to play it. I guess that makes me an unlucky person.

TourianTourist said...

Seriously... stop whining and just play the game!

Anonymous said...

Seriously, people refusing to play SS for no reason are pissing me off...