There Are Too Many Damn Zelda Games
Nintendo didn’t announce a new Zelda game at E3 this year, but Shigeru ‘œI Do What I Want’ Miyamoto decided to talk about one anyway. We’re not talking ‘œTwilight Princess’ style, either, as in a GameCube game being shunted along to the Wii with tacked-on waggle action. We’re talking a full-on, Motion Plus-enhanced sword-swinging extravaganza.
While the citizens of Nintendonia are thrilled at this news, I am quite underwhelmed. Lots of gamers have been irritated with Nintendo on a large scale since the success of the Wii, since Nintendo has stopped catering to them, and instead started looking to SELL SELL SELL (which they’re doing brilliantly).
It’s clear that Nintendo is prioritizing their newfound ‘œCasual’ market now, but it’s also clear that they’re struggling to put out just enough real gaming material to keep the older, reasonably-cynical hardcore market satisfied. The question is, how much can they whore out their ‘œanchor’ franchises until everybody catches on?
By my count, this will be the fourth significant (not a spin-off) Zelda game since the Wii was released. ‘œTwilight Princess,’ ‘œPhantom Hourglass,’ the upcoming ‘œSpirit Tracks’ and now whatever this will be.
Remember when it was years between Zelda games? ‘œOcarina of Time’ was hugely anticipated, because it was the first release in the series for a very long time, and because it was hugely different than any of the games that came before it. When I got my hands on it, I played it nearly straight through in one sitting. Now, new entries in the franchise are expected on an almost-annual basis, and gameplay changes are few and far-between.
I’m not saying that ‘œTwilight Princess’ and ‘œPhantom Hourglass’ were bad games (and they both contained a small amount of innovation, though not nearly on the scale of their predecessors), but I can tell you that it’s at the point where ‘“ for the first time in my life ’“ I haven’t finished a new Zelda game. I lost interest in ‘œTwilight Princess’ once I realized that it was, for the most part, just more of the same. As I grew tired of the stylus control in ‘œPhantom Hourglass,’ I stopped playing that as well.
This is a momentous occasion ‘“ the Zelda series has long been my favorite set of games, and I’ve played through the first few of them at least ten times each. Why can’t I sit through one anymore? My theory is that it’s got the PokÃ©mon Curse*, though not quite to the extreme that PokÃ©mon takes it. Either that, or I’m catching on to the fact that rehashes of old franchises are Nintendo’s answer to the hardcore market’s complaints against them (a few unique third-party games notwithstanding).
The argument could be made that I’m playing through the older Zelda games on an annual basis anyway, so why wouldn’t I be able to sit through the newer ones even if they are very similar? I think it may have something to do with the nostalgia factor… I’m a sucker for the old 8-bit and 16-bit classics.
Either way, Nintendo needs to slow it down with the Zelda games (the same goes for Mario, but don’t get me started on him). The Zelda franchise has been one of the most successful series in the history of gaming, and they’ve always been great games. Unfortunately, at this rate it’s only a matter of time before the world grows tired of them.
*PokÃ©mon Curse ‘“ An affliction caused by game designers who need money, so they release a sequel to an ultra-successful game with only minor changes to the core gameplay formula. This is exacerbated, and allowed to happen, by throngs of mindless consumers who blindly purchase any sequel to a game they liked, because it must be good as well.