This is a sequel to an article I wrote a while ago. You don’t have to read that old article to understand this one, I will start from scratch. This is how I would create a Zelda game for the Wii U. So let us begin.
The development should be a coproduction between Nintendo EAD and Retro Studios. Retro should handle the visual aspect and the bulk of the work, while EAD should be overseeing, doing the sound design and quality control. Similar to what they did with the Metroid Prime games, this game would re-invent what Zelda is while staying true to what we all love about the series.
Basic gameplay is similar to all other 3D Zelda games. You control Link with the analog stick, use the face buttons to fight through a 3 Dimensional world. You use the Gamepad screen as interface for your items and puches, just like in Ocarina of Time 3D: But there is a twist:
In this game, you control three different links from three different realities with three different gameplay styles, visual styles and features. The three Links can not interact with each other, except for the titular Ark of Reality, a mystical box that allows every Link to use the items inside. The Ark has a limtied capacity of items, so you can not sotre all your items in there. To make the switch work, puzzles are based around the fact that you need a Link from another reality to find an item and put it into the box, so that Link from another reality can use it. To make this work, it is important that you can switch between links on the fly, at any given time, except boss battles of course.
The game is set around the fact that there is a split timeline with three different realities. So you can play as three links from all three realities with different skills and styles. Have a small rundown on the games various playing and visual styles:
Child Timeline Link – The REAL timeline, if you can say as much, is the child timeline. The Link here is an adult, older than any other Link before him. he is already a knight, a fierce warrior and very powerful. The visual style would be a mix between Twilight Princess and Castlevania – Lords of Shadow. This Link is a powerhouse, very direct, less item dependent and more of a get in there and kill the bad guys type of person. He is very skilled in direct combat. Since there is not tat much magic in this world, he has no magic meter and can only use rudimentary magical skills. But since this reality has been peaceful for a very long time, it is the wealthiest, so rupees are not an Issue.
Adult Timeline Link – Of course this would be set after Spirit Tracks, so this timeline is technologically very advanced. This Link here is a child, and the visual style is of course Wind Waker inspired. The Child Link is the weakest, but his speciality is adapting and blending aswell as stealth. He can climb and hide, making his gameplay more like Assassin’s Creed. Of course the typical Zelda gameplay is there, but there are sequences where you need to hide and follow somebody unseen. Wind Waker already had sequences like that, so it’s not a radical change. Since this timeline is technologically advanced, there is no magic at all, but rather sophisticated technology, like motors or guns. This link is very talented in hit and run tactics, so he would use more distance weapons and items than any other Link.
Classic Timeline Link – Ravaged by war and despair, the classic timeline is the poorest of them all, and it shows. The muted color palette of the Skyward Sword visual style reminds us more of A Link to the Past than anything, but it looks very good. This Link is a teenager and very skilled in magic. He has a magic meter and is able to perform a lot of spells. His gameplay would be the most classic Zelda gameplay, with no stealth and no brute force battles, but with cunning, tactics and of course a lot of magic. The spells would range from attack to deflect aswell as replacing items. Why carry a bow if you can shoot blasts from your sword?
The general idea is it to have these Links interact indirectly through their avatar, a goddess like spirit who is the keeper of the Ark of Reality. She talks to all three of them and informs them about what the other two are currently doing. Each Link has three dungeons to solve with one central dungeon that connects the timelines. This central dungeon is of course home to the evil in tis game, which would be a new creature. But I talk more about the story later.
So how would the mission design in this game look? Have an example:
The quest begins with the adult Link arriving in front of his second dungeon. He starts into a group of Moblins and takes them out fast and fiercly. He then realizes that it is impossible for him to open the door, because he would need a bomb to blow up a rock in front of it. But he has no bombs. He is a knight, not a craftsman. So we switch over to child Link and his cute cartoon graphical style. When we last saw child Link, he was inside his second Dungeon, looking for a way to open a door. But the switch is rusty, and he can’t advance. Lucky him, adult Link found the Hammer and out it into the Ark of Reality. So child Link uses that hammer to smash the switch. Inside, he finds a clock. He puts the clock into his Ark of Reality and we change to teen Link, who faces the challenge of crumbling platforms he needs to cross. But luckily, he can magically change the clock and time around him slowslong enough for him to pass the crumbling platforms before they break down. There, he finds the bombs, which of course he puts inside his Ark of Reality for adult Link to use. But the Ark is full. So he removes an item and places it into his pouch. Adult Link takes the bombs and blows the door open. But once inside, he can’t pass, because he needs his hammer back. But teen Link just removed the hammer from the Ark. So he removes the clock instead to put the hammer back in. Adult Link will need the clock lateron for a trading game, but that is of no importance right now. He has the hammer and continues his quest…
Now imagine that setting with not only the three visual styles, but also the three gameplay styles and of course, three different musical styles. While adult Link has some classical score going on for him, teen Link is more contemporary, featuring slight guitars in the music. Of course child Link has the music a little bit more playful. All three dungeons hve previously used music adapted for their respecitve zone. However, the music used was only used in the respecitve timeline. So for instance, classic Timeline teen Link has the music from the zelda 1 Dungeons, the Zelda 2 Temples and the Light World Temples for his three dungeons while child Link from the adult Timeline has music from Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks inside the dungeons.
This playstyle could extend to even minigames. Imagine adult timeline having a minigame similar to the cave of ordeals, or trainign recruits for the knight academy or something like that. Child link has a game of hide and seek or follow the children unseen through the bushes and teenager Link could have a minigame where he uses the money from adult Link to rebuild Hyrule, like Ezio did in Assassin’s Creed II. The shift in style and focus makes the game unique and also very new each time. That is why it’s important that you can switch between the Links on the fly, without the need to go to a special dungeon. It needs to be easy to do.
So what about the story for a game like this? Well, of course here we tap into the tri-timeline thing aswell. Now, this game would be set after all other games, so it would be the perfect starting point for future Zelda games. It is set after Adventure of Link, after Spirit Tracks and after Twilight Princess. That means that Nintendo could easily put two games before that in the child Timeline and one into the adult Timeline but none into the classic Timeline. And here is my pitch for the story:
A demonic force known as the reality force exists between the realms. One day, this demonic force was set free by an evil scorcerer who used force crystals to find the triforce. This evil force took over the scorcerer and used its powers to claim the trifroce. However, since he exosted between the realms, he was split into three parts, and each part only claimed one part of the triforce. He now seeks the Ark of Reality, whose power would allow him to put all three Triforce parts together and wish for the realities to merge. This would grant him his full power again and he would become a god like deity.
The keeper of the Ark seeks to prevent that, so she contacts the chosen hero in all three timelines to stop the demonic scorcerer and prevent the merging of the realities.
There is a lot left I could tell you about this vision of Zelda I have, and I might update this article when i decide to do so. For now, ejoy the thought of what could be. Who knows? maybe somebody forwards this idea to Nintendo? Maybe they like it. They could use it, I would encourage them. Until then, keep dreaming 🙂