Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dark World confirmed for A Link to the Past 2

I was writing an article about the world of A Link to the Past 2 and whether there should be a Dark World or not, but Aonuma saved me the trouble by stating there is in an interview with CNET.

The remaining question is: is that it? Are we just going to play the same world again?

Nintendo has an overworld problem with Zelda. For me personally the overworld was always the most important thing in a Zelda game. The real star of the game. Challenging dungeons are nice (if they are challenging, not like those dungeons for 3 year olds in the last games), but the main motivation always comes from exploring the overworld. I remember the first time playing Link's Awakening... I would just leave a dungeon as soon as I got the dungeon item, because with it I could explore new areas of Koholinth. Exploring an overworld, finding villages, caves, hidden, treasures... that's what the real beauty of Zelda was to me.

But lately Nintendo just f*cked up the overworlds. Either by having very bland and empty worlds or by having worlds that are seperated into individual levels. Or both. What they offered in games like Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks and Skyward Sword was just terrible. It didn't give you this nice sense of exploration, which the original games had. The Nintendo DS games had just lots of boring mini areas connected by a travelling minigame. And Skyward Sword had an empty sky world that connected to areas which worked in a level-like fashion leading to the next dungeon. Completely lacking the feeling of freedom and exploration.

Nintendo proved that they're completely incapable of designing good overworlds. Which is probably why they're just re-using the old ones now... In Germany we have a saying: "Besser gut geklaut als schlecht erfunden" (better a good imitation than a bad invention). Of all the 2D Zelda games I'd say A Link to the Past had the best one. Close to my beloved Koholinth. So, yeah, maybe it's better to use an old world like this as the playing ground instead of making a new world that sucks anyway. But... we already explored this world! We explored it on the SNES (twice actually if you played the BS Zelda), on the GBA and on the Wii Virtual Console... I know ALttP's world like the back of my hand. And it looks like Nintendo is staying pretty close to it:

(image by RagnarokX from NeoGAF)

So, the only thing left to explore is what has changed in the remake. Some of us already had a similar experience with Ancient Stone Tablets, which reused ALttP's world back in 1997 for a half-new game. Which could be quite confusing, I mix up both games when I'm playing A Link to the Past now. I start to look for caves where there aren't any. It might not be as problematic in the 3DS game, because the 3DS game got a different look, which helps you to distinguish it all from the classic. But I feel like the only reason to explore will be looking for the things that have changed.

This can be exciting of course, returning to an old home and exploring what has changed over the years. It's an interesting feeling. But will this be enough for this game? I was actually hoping that instead of returning to the Dark World, they would add new areas. (And maybe they will, there's a lot of potential here.)

What's weird about the Dark World is that story-wise it shouldn't exist anymore after A Link to the Past. After Link got the Triforce, the Sacred Realm should have healed. In Ancient Stone Tablets Nintendo also returned to the Dark World after the events of ALttP, which didn't make much sense, but this game was clearly stated not to be canonical part of the timeline. So, how did the Dark World return? I hope they have a good story explanation for this without messing up the established timeline.

Of course story isn't really what Nintendo is concerned about when making a new Zelda game. It's not really necessary to bring the Dark World back, they were able to cramp eight dungeons into the Light World of Ancient Stone Tablets, they can do it again or they could just add new areas alltogether. So, there is a good gameplay reason for the Dark World comeback. Maybe the Dark World looks really, really insane and twisted in 3D. That would be crazy. Or they mix it up with the wall merge. Maybe going into a mirror when you're a wall painting makes you switch into the Dark World. So, instead of the portals in the original you would have mirrors on walls. This sounds like something Nintendo would do.


K2L said...

I dunno, I actually liked the Dark World from ALTTP, can't we just wait until the game comes out and then see how its implementation in the sequel is justified?

Also, that German quote is amazing. Allow me to borrow it for future reference, please.

TourianTourist said...

If I had the attitude "let's wait and see" this blog wouldn't even exist. :D Speculation is the fun part of all of this.

Michael said...

Maybe it is not the same dark world from ALTTP, but a complete new dark world altogether.