The Legend of Zelda 35th Anniversary Retrospective (2011-2013)

The fourth installment of our Zelda retrospective!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 02/27/2021 02:41 Comment on this     ShareThis

Installment 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.

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition

Launched 2011 (DSiWare)

If there was one complaint to be had about the addition of Four Swords in the remake of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on Game Boy Advance, it was that the game wasn’t playable solo. The Legend of Zelda: 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 of extras not present in the original version of the game. It was released again as a free download a few years later when The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was launched. Brief though its time in the sun 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.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Launched 2011 (Nintendo 3DS)

To say that fans wanted a remake of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time would be an understatement; the Zelda-devout were longing for many years for that particular remake with every fiber of their being. Much to their surprise, fans finally got it in 2011 when Nintendo dropped The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D on Nintendo 3DS. Though much of the fandom would have preferred something that was graphically along the lines of The Legend of Zelda: 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!

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Launched 2011 (Wii)

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was something of a mystery prior to its release. After a botched presentation of the game’s much-touted motion controls during E3 2010, 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 both visceral combat and new puzzle opportunities. 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.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

Launched 2013 (Wii U)

The Legend of Zelda: 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.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Launched 2013 (Nintendo 3DS)

Over twenty years after it was first launched, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past finally got a sequel in the form of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. It had been years since Nintendo had attempted to make a proper full-fledged, classic Zelda adventure on either a home or portable console that employed the traditional overhead camera perspective of yore. 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.

Freshly Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland (Launched 2006-07 | Nintendo DS Japan/UK)

Tingle’s Balloon Fight DS (Launched 2007 | Nintendo DS Japan-Only)

Ripened Tingle’s Balloon Trip of Love (Launched 2009 | Nintendo DS Japan-Only)

Previously in this retrospective series 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 franchise. 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 Japanese 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.

Onto the next installment of our Zelda mega celebration! Let us know in the comments what you thought about this arrangement of Zelda games!

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