Sunday, June 9, 2013

Let Aonuma Go

Aonuma comment from the latest EDGE:

I’m 50 now, so I only have about ten more years to make games at Nintendo. I want to try all sorts of new things before it’s too late – I don’t want to get to the end of my career and only have worked on Zelda. But every time I come up with some good new ideas, they end up being used in a Zelda game! I need a six-month break to get away from the Zelda cycle and focus on something new [laughs]. But I’d probably end up making a game that’s similar to Zelda

His biggest cry for help was probably Spirit Tracks, where he wanted to make a game about trains for his little son, but was stuck with Zelda. So, he made his train game and wrapped Zelda around it.

His next step will be the rape of A Link to the Past. As much as I like the idea of getting a true A Link to the Past sequel, I'm pretty sure that they will ruin it. It already starts with the whole "turn Link into a painting" idea. Yes, it might be a good devise for interesting new gameplay features, but it's yet another ridiculous one game gimmick.

The Zelda series didn't evolve since Aonuma took over. Each new game revolves around one time main gimmicks like travelling on boat and train or tranforming into wolves and paintings. Together with new "art styles" they try to overshadow, that they never truly try to evolve Zelda. It always looks like they are doing something new and daring, while they really aren't. Changing the art style and making the game revolve around one new gameplay feature, that will never return to the series afterwards, is the same thing they did ten years ago. Zelda does not evolve.

The only game where they tried to make a greater and more epic Zelda experience was Twilight Princess. But they suddenly thought, that it would be a good idea to kill off exploration from Zelda to provide a scripted story. And they haven't recovered from that. Story and puzzles became more important than exploration and true action. And their stories are simply terrible. They are usually written around the new main gimmick, like a story about how Hyrule got covered in magic rails. And it will be the same in the A Link to the Past sequel:

We started out with the new play mechanics, such as Link being able to become a painting and walk along the walls, and then figured out from there how to build a story around them. Rather than forcing elements of the original story into this one, we’ve instead focused on bringing back the characters, so you can see what happened to them after the events of the first game.

A Link to the Past created all the impressive lore for the Zelda franchise, the Sacred Realm, the Imprisoning War, the Triforce - that's a story! The sequel instead will focus on how Link then turned into a painting. Great. And who cares about the useless NPCs in A Link to the Past? It's just silly.

And the next important thing are puzzles, that can be solved by a braindead monkey child in a coma. Offering no challenge or replay value whatsoever.

There are many things wrong with the Zelda series at this point. It needs fresh faces. Let Aonuma step aside and have someone else do the job. Someone, who isn't actually scared of the Oktoroks in the first game. Someone, who respects the NES games and knows their values. Fujibayashi might be a candidate, but it doesn't really matter. Any other would treat the Zelda series with the respect it deserves. Aonuma just uses it as a platform for his "ingenious" ideas.

Let Aonuma make his own game. Create his own gaming franchise. I guarantee you it will fail. It will sell worse than Metroid: Other M. The only reason, why Aonuma gets away with his bad ideas, is because he is allowed to wrap the name "The Legend of Zelda" around them. A name that still holds meaning to a lot of people. A name that is still able to move some millions despite the damage done to it.

As long as Aonuma is in charge, I doubt that Zelda will return to true greatness.


Frédéric said...

Very interesting insight; I never thought about it, but it's true. For me, Aonuma was a great conceptor, and helped the Zelda series to reach a summit. But it's true, on the other hand, that the scenarii have been very poor, and that the serie itself hasn't evolved that much. Thank you for this article and overall for your interesting blog

neithan said...

Wo kann ich unterschreiben? Es stimmt einfach zu hundert Prozent.
Nur wie im Ende beschrieben wird es imho nicht ewig ablaufen: wenn weiterhin solche (unter)durchschnittlichen Zelda-Spiele auf den Markt kommen, wird die Marke Zelda irgendwann soweit beschädigt sein, dass sie wirklich untergehen könnte... klar, so schnell kann es eigentlich gar nicht gehen, aber ich mache mir trotzdem große Sorgen um meine Lieblings-Spielereihe...

Was noch fehlte: Gehate gegen Tingle, die unnötigste Figur im Zelda-Universum :D

Sonst wirklich sehr, sehr gut.

David Green said...

I'm glad to see you've been proven quite wrong after all these years =)

TourianTourist said...

Me too. :D