Best of ND 2016: The Legend of Zelda Retrospective (2011-2013)

The fourth installment of our Zelda retrospective!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 12/28/2016 15:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Day four of Nintendojo’s Legend of Zelda retrospective is here! Nintendo produced a number of remakes and original Zelda titles over this period of time, all of which maintained the tradition of excellence that the franchise is famous for. Besides a return to two beloved favorites, Nintendo also pushed the series boldly into the future, spoiling fans over this brief, three-year timeframe with some truly spectacular releases.

If there was one complaint to be had about the addition of Four Swords in the remake of A Link to the Past on Game Boy Advance, it was that the game wasn’t playable solo. Four Swords Anniversary Edition thankfully came along for the 25th anniversary of the series and rectified that problem. A DSiWare freebie, Four Swords Anniversary Edition allowed for both single and multiplayer enjoyment, as well as the inclusion of a couple extras not present in the original version of the game. It was released again as a free download a few years later when A Link Between Worlds was launched. Brief though it was, the Four Swords formula remained as compelling as ever, and it also marked the first time that a download-only Zelda game had appeared in the West.

To say that fans wanted a remake of Ocarina of Time would be an understatement; the Zelda-devout were longing for that particular remake with every fiber of their being. Much to their surprise, they finally got it in 2011 when Nintendo dropped Ocarina of Time 3D on 3DS. Though many fans would have preferred something that looked along the lines of Twilight Princess, Ocarina of Time 3D was still a faithful remake of the Nintendo 64 classic, right down to some of its (unwittingly hilarious) glitches. Where some developers seek to reinvent the wheel when remaking a game, Nintendo knew that for a new generation of fans to truly appreciate Ocarina of Time, all it needed was a visual facelift. Serving as the ultimate example of how less can be more, Ocarina of Time 3D was a sublime return to Hyrule; it even brought along Master Quest for the ride!

Skyward Sword was something of a mystery prior to its release. After a botched display of the game’s much-touted motion controls during an E3 presentation, some were worried that Nintendo’s dream of delivering nearly 1:1 movement mapping with the Wii Remote was little more than a pipe dream. Along with a storyline that promised a new antagonist and was declared to be the canonical “first” adventure in the Zelda timeline, fans waited on tenterhooks up to the day of Skyward Sword‘s launch. The game thankfully largely delivered on its ambitious claims, providing one of the most thoughtful narratives in the series’ history, due in no small part to one of the warmest and most endearing portrayals of Zelda yet seen. The motion controls also delighted, allowing for not just some of the most visceral combat in a Zelda title, but also new puzzle opportunities, as well. The game had some issues with its third-act retreading and bland flying environments for exploration, but despite these shortcomings, Skyward Sword’s stunning graphical direction and play control put it in the upper echelon of Zelda titles. Now about that HD remake, Nintendo…

Speaking of remakes, The Wind Waker HD was a curious case of taking the Zelda game with arguably the most timeless visuals and, well, modernizing them. Luckily, Nintendo, which had already proven it knew how to remake a Zelda game without tinkering too much with the source material (we’re looking at you, George Lucas!), once again only made the most minimal of adjustments without spoiling the core experience. Rather than completely overhaul the game’s graphics, The Wind Waker’s precious cel-shaded style was maintained, but overlaid with a spectacular new lighting system and widescreen support that added an extra dimension to its look. Nintendo also deigned to acknowledge one of the biggest complaints about the GameCube version of the title by adding in the Swift Sail, an optional augmentation to the King of Red Lions that made boat trips much faster. Along with some other alterations, The Wind Waker HD reinvigorated the Zelda title that had surprised so much of the fan base years ago when it first launched, making it even more timeless in the process.

Over twenty years after it was first launched, A Link to the Past finally got a sequel in the form of A Link Between Worlds. Nintendo had previously dabbled with the overhead style of the series’ past, but it had been years since the company attempted to make a proper full-fledged, classic Zelda adventure on either a home or portable console. Not only did A Link Between Worlds mimic the play control of A Link to the Past, but it also attempted a stylized update of its visuals, too. The result was a Zelda game that tickled the itch of series devotees who longed for old-school thrills along the lines of Capcom’s The Minish Cap, and for newer fans it opened their eyes to just how thrilling the Zelda series’ original style of play could still be. Will players ever get to see another game like A Link Between Worlds? One can only hope, as it was every bit as magical as A Link to the Past. Also, that twist at the end? Just brilliant.

Last time we touched on the BS The Legend of Zelda games that were released for Satellaview, but those weren’t the only Japan-exclusive titles in the series. These… oddities starring the utterly bizarre Tingle are another trio that never hit North America. Europeans had the, uh, “honor” of being able to play Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland, but other than it, every other one of the non-fairy’s escapades has been confined to Japan. The former took place in Rupeeland and was an adventure game that featured puzzle solving and dungeons, while Tingle’s Balloon Fight DS was a Club Nintendo-exclusive remake of Balloon Fight starring the bodysuit-garbed 35-year-old. The last game, Ripened Tingle’s Balloon Trip of Love, was a point-and-click adventure that riffed on The Wizard of Oz.

There’s also Too Much Tingle Pack (pictured above), a collection of light software (calculator, coin flipping minigame) only available via DSiWare in Japan. Though obviously not as loved as Link here in the West, it’s still a little lame that Nintendo never bothered to share its Tingle games with us North Americans. Ah well, there’s only so much of the guy a person can take, after all.

We’re at the close of the penultimate chapter of our Zelda mega celebration! The final day awaits; be here tomorrow for part five, and in the meantime let us know in the comments what you thought about this arrangement of Zelda games!

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