We’ve heard the rumours and we’ve heard the mutterings. Eiji Aonuma has a new Zelda 3DS game already in development; it won’t be a sequel to Spirit Tracks or a remake of Majora’s Mask. Shigeru Miyamoto would like to do a sequel, or even an entirely new game based off A Link to the Past. Even Retro Studios might be getting in on the action. But whatever Chinese whispers we might happen upon during our internet travels, one thing is certain. Zelda will come to 3DS– it’s just a matter of when.
Of course, being one of Nintendo’s premier franchises, every man and his cucco gets excited by the prospect of a new Zelda game, even if it’s a remake. We just can’t get enough of it. I should know, as I was one of the many hordes of people who bought Ocarina of Time for the third time on 3DS last year– I didn’t actually buy three copies (that would be silly!), but I do already own the original N64 game and the GameCube version when it came bundled with the special edition of The Wind Waker.
Yet despite having paid for the pleasure of playing the same game three times, I think we can all agree that Ocarina of Time 3D’s touch screen inventory was something of a revelation. Everything became that much more fluid, that much more immediate, and wasting precious minutes rotating the tedious menu screen suddenly became a thing of the past. Even Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, who had both taken advantage of the DS touch screen several years beforehand, couldn’t match the ease and grace of Ocarina 3D’s inventory system, and if the Wii U “HD Experience” at last year’s E3 was anything to go by, the same touch screen inventory may well be here to stay.
But while something like this would indeed be great for the next Zelda on 3DS, let’s think outside the treasure chest for a minute and try to imagine what else we could use that bottom screen for. If we were going down the A Link to the Past sequel route, for instance, the 3DS touch screen could be used as an ever-present portal to the Dark World. Instead of having to switch backwards and forwards with the Magic Mirror to make sure you didn’t materialise in the middle of a rock, you’d have a ready-made portal right there in front of you.
This could pave the way for some interesting dungeon puzzles too, a bit like the ones we saw in Skyward Sword’s Lanayru Desert Mining Facility where Link had to use those nifty Timeshift Stones to navigate his way around his increasingly decrepit surroundings. You could jump between worlds to solve the dungeon, and there could even be bosses that required you to attack it from both worlds as well– or maybe they’d keep escaping from one reality to the next.
Alternatively, what if Link’s companion occupied the bottom screen instead? It would be a bit like Spirit Tracks, but whenever Link and his companion needed to part ways or go and hit different switches, Link would be free to move about on the top screen while you drew a route for your companion on the touchscreen. That way you’d also be able to keep an eye on them and make sure they didn’t run into any trouble along the way. The number of times I’d be waiting for Phantom Zelda to do her thing in Spirit Tracks, only to discover several minutes later that she’d been cornered by a mouse, were too many to count, so having an extra window like that would be an absolute godsend.
But whatever Nintendo end up using the bottom screen for, I’d also really like to see another game that follows in the style of Ocarina of Time 3D and returns to a third-person perspective. I quite enjoy the top-down Zeldas, but I always feel that their field of vision is rather limited. You can’t quite get the same amount of scope or depth (particularly in 3D) when you’re looking top-down, and you definitely wouldn’t have been able to see those jaw-dropping sunrises in Hyrule Field if the camera was stuck facing the floor, so I rather suspect (and hope) that Nintendo will return to a third-person perspective this time around. That said, imagine a game in the art style of A Link to the Past but with fully 3D environments– that would be glorious.
In fact, I know I keep harping on about A Link to the Past, but I’d also quite like to see a game set entirely in the Dark World (or indeed the Twilight Realm). Seeing either of them re-imagined in 3D would be stunning– and just think, what if Link and Zelda were the ones who got trapped in the Dark World instead of Ganondorf? Maybe this could explain the so-called “third” timeline from Hyrule Historia– the one where Link supposedly loses and Ganon reigns supreme. The game could start with Ganon’s apparent victory, and Link and Zelda would have to work together to fight their way out of wherever Ganon sealed them away.
Then again, there was also something incredibly refreshing about having Majora’s Mask (and, to a certain extent, The Wind Waker) set somewhere completely new and different from the normal Hyrule, and I think a new setting would really enable Nintendo to take full advantage of 3DS’s stereoscopic capabilities. The landscape could be specifically designed with 3D in mind, perhaps ranging from towering mountain peaks that draw the eye to an alternative take on the Lost Woods where thick, intermingling trees trick your vision.
Of course, perhaps the next Zelda 3DS game will simply be focused around Link’s new mode of transport. Having already sailed the Great Sea, climbed aboard the railroads of New Hyrule, and soared into the heavens, maybe Link’s new trusty steed will take him into the realms of the Hylian FPS (just kidding). You just never know. Either way, I’m sure we’ll all be incredibly excited regardless of what Nintendo manage to cook up in the coming months and years. Let’s just hope we won’t have to wait too long!