Increasingly, I see people asking for a greater variety of items in the Future Zelda section, and every time, I have to ask myself: why? Why would you want more items?

In the original tLoZ, every item, once you got it, was used frequently, and all were vital in the exploration of new areas. One of the best things about tLoZ, was that once you got an item, you tried it on everything. I have fond memories of going around trying to burn every single bush in the game in an attempt to discover a secret – or rather, “A SECRET TO EVERYBODY.” However, Link didn’t have too many items available – after a point, most new items were merely power-ups of older items. The actual amount of different items was quite small, meaning everything was used. The Bombs were always in use to destroy walls, and find new secrets. The Boomerang was always used to get items from far away. The only item in the game which eventually became outdated was the Raft, which, after collecting the various island items, and obtaining the Whistle, was no longer used. This shows some of the excellent level design which went into the original games.

However, once you reach a Link to the Past, and the Zelda team realised that, hey, they had enough space to do whatever they wanted (to an extent), the Zelda series suddenly began to drown under the weight of the items it had. For example, how often did you use the Cane of Somaria outside Turtle Rock dungeon? Hardly ever. Once you had completed the dungeon, it was a waste of space, and may as well not have been included at all. The Magic Cape also becomes unused after a certain point, being replaced for the most part by the Cane of Byrna. This gets even worse come the 3D games. Ocarina of Time had so many useless items. How many times did you ever use a Deku Nut, even if you include the start of the game? Hardly ever. How many times did you use Farore’s Wind? Not often. And, sadly, how often did you ride Epona? (outside of doing it for fun) Almost never, as warping was so much faster. Similarly, the Stone of Agony didn’t do much.

Finally, Twilight Princess topped the others at this. The Dominion Rod may as well have been a jar of strawberry jam for all the good it did after the Temple of Time and moving the Owl Statues. The Ball and Chain was never used outside of Snowpeak, with the slight exception of possibly the Cave of Ordeals, where it was effective at demolishing some enemies. The Spinner, possibly the coolest item in the game, was almost never used. I found myself frequently heading back to the Arbiter’s Grounds, purely to use the spinner again.

So, most items are there purely to fill space. Or rather, hammerspace. They don’t serve much use outside of the dungeon in which you get them. Why? Because the later games have so many items! And with so many items, there will have to be some which fall by the wayside. Instead of having one item, and giving it one purpose, meaning once that purpose is completed, the item becomes useless, you should have one item with multiple purposes, or have one item which upgrades to be abe to fulfil multiple purposes. That way, an item will be constantly used throughout the game, and therefore not be pointless.

I think this was one of the things the Phantom Hourglass did exceptionally well. Okay, so you may have had only 5 or 6 available items. However, those items received a lot of use! The Boomerang, the Grappling Hook, the Bombchus – all received constant use throughout the game! They weren’t just one-trick ponies, either. As well as grabbing distant objects, the Grappling Hook could also be used to make a launch rope. A Link to the Past also did one thing well, (even if certain items were useless, such as the Cane of Somaria), in that it did have a focus on upgrading items. Is the Power Glove falling into disuse? Well, if so, it will be handily upgraded to the Titan Mitts, meaning that most items get fairly steady use.

What I would like to see from future Zelda titles, is a smaller selection of available items, but greater uses available for those items, and more requirement for each item. The Spinner in Twilight Princess would have been so much better, if Spinner tracks had regularly been incorporated into puzzles, or regularly used to reach secret areas. It doesn’t matter if the game has only 9 or 10 items, as long as I can use all those items, and in a myriad of different ways. For example, instead of having to use a Grappling Hook and Bow, why not simply have a type of arrow with rope attached and a hooked head, handily combining the two? Similarly, things like Nayru’s Love, instead of requring a whole new inventory space, can be implemented into armour, like the Magic Armour of TP. Instead of having to have both a Slingshot AND a Bow, simply start the player with a weak Bow, which is later upgraded to be stronger. Puzzles could be made much harder if you really have to think about how to use a specific item, rather just using the correct item straight away, as you know which one is required. Bosses could be made much harder and more complicated, by having to use items in specific ways, as opposed to Twilight Princess, where you used the base function of the item, then hit three times. In short, Zelda could be much improved, by having less items. Less is more.

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  • Sam

    Interesting points. It’d be nice to see more articles like this in the future; I remember Behind the Rupees and enojyed it, but havn’t seen much of it’s sort in a while.

  • Necromance

    YES! I completely agree and already had that opinion. Another game that I thought did a good job with items is Minish Cap, but it has been a while…
    Good job with the article.

  • Cereal

    I see your point, and raise you an internet.

  • Hydraboxdog

    Agree completely. LoZ did do the items thing really well. Arrows are average in damage dealt, but they are effective against many bosses and can kill multiple Pol’s Voices in one shot. Staff can light up rooms and deal damage from far away, but many enemies are immune to such attacks. Everything had it’s pros and cons that were effective pretty much everywhere, whereas items like the Spinner were pretty much cons when you didn’t have rails (where it was the best item in the game): slow, low-damage, limited use.


    The Beyblade was not the best item in TP.

  • Thisisalongone

    Maybe by variety they mean…. “new” items. How often can you incorporate a bow, a bomb or a boomerang into puzzles before the solutions becomes obvious. Maybe by variety they don’t mean shoving the game with more items so much as replacing some of the so-called classic items with new ones, or perhaps with a twist. Just a thought….

  • timexpo

    i agree to most extent…BUT with one major conflict, if there wasnt all the items using the action replay to change them all would be a lot less fun. super spinner and clawshot are great(= (i dont cheat to beat)

  • MegaLinkX

    Wait, Why have less items that are MORE useful, when you could have MORE items that are more useful?

    Give me 50 items. Seriously… I LOVE getting new items… opening a chest to find naught but rupees gets old… but to get a new item is sweet. Make ALL of them useful! They could totally do it.

  • Luke

    I disagree. It has nothing to do with having more or less items, it’s about the developers not making the items as useful as they could be. Yes, Phantom Hourglass made excellent use of the items, as each one had many purposes and was used throughout the whole game.

    Like someone else said, I think most people would prefer new items, not necessarily more. Bows, boomerangs, and bombs are getting predictable and uninteresting. Give us new items that have multiple uses, but don’t limit us to just a handful of items.

  • zombiefragger

    I must agree the problem is big and growing bigger by each game and I’m sorry to say that the item problem is not just a Zelda issue but a problem for every game. A few examples of this are like in PSP game secret agent clank you get weapons at the start of the game are ether useless from the time you get them or become useless after one or two levels, and the PS3 game Metal Gear Solid 4 guns of the patriots you pick up guns automatically and cannot remove them from your inventory even if you don’t use them.

  • FistfulOAwesom

    I completely agree with your article. Although, I don’t think this problem is local to Zelda. Game Developers think that if there are less items/features in a sequel there will be an outcry from the fans. Developers need to realize that as long as the game is good there will be no need to worry about an outcry.

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  • DesertSpirit

    Thank you! Someone else who finally agrees with the fact that TP had way too many unused items!

  • Tsubasa_Z

    I like items, There can be more. But I also like upgrading. Like in RPG you'll need to upgrade every fue hours. This should be held in Zelda aswell (like in MM, the sword). There no need to have less items, but the Items need to be (indeed) more versitile and upgradeble. Like the minish cap's bendeble boemerang and the remote control bomb

  • PSP games are time consuming but very entertaining;-~

  • Baal

    Spinner was used in several places in hyrule field, and in four temples including the last castle. How much more can you use an item like that? Don't go babbling about the game if you obviously haven't played it completely through, or have really bad memory.

  • ajsuss

    agree+disagree. I certainly don’t want more items, however half the fun of all the item’s in TP was trying to find out where they could be used outside of the dungeon. Walking around for hours to find a spot where the spinner could be used was fun for me, because when I finally did find it I was so overjoyed and I felt so happy. All these items made me very curios to try every item in every situation. for instance in the snow temple I would try and take out those ice monsters with the spinner.. I also found it fun to knock one of those bat thing’s out of the air with the ball and chain and watch it fly 50 feet. And every item has a use for something outside the dungeons it’s meant for, alot of people don’t look hard enough to find it. If you go baco into old dungeons with item’s you have at the end of game’s there are so many places they can be used.

    just my thoughts.

  • Dethenger

    Agree'd, ten-fold. The Zelda games I play the most are the 3D ones; OoT, MM, WW, TP.
    In OoT, I always reserved the left, down, and right C-buttons (or, since I play on the Gamecube, Y, X, and Z) buttons for the Ocarina, Hookshot, and Bow, respectively. In MM, the only change I made was that I used the down button (Z) for my Mask (more often than not the Bunny Hood), and alternated between the Hookshot/Bow (mostly the bow) for the right C-button (X).
    Same with Wind Waker; I kept my Hookshot and my Bow with me at all times, save for when I had a dungeon-specific item.
    Twilight Princess; don't hold your breath, I kept the Bow and Clawshot with me at all times. Don't get me wrong, I love the Bow and Hook/Clawshot. Even if every other item was just as useful, I'd always have at least one of those equipped. It's just that everything else was superfluous; a trend you'll find in many Zelda games.

    Off the top of my head, I can only think of two times the Deku Stick is a useful item; once in OoT and once in MM.
    Deku Nuts are NEVER useful.

  • I like this article. I really think the overflow of items in Twilight Princess drew down it's quality impressively. It was so cluttered with items I no longer used that it was painful to find what I actually wanted. As well, the dominion rod was extremely disappointing. It could have been used to control some enemies. As well, city in the sky focused WAY too much on the single/double clawshot and nothing more, and so did the rest of the game. That wasn't fun at all. As well, the slingshot should have been replaced with the arrows, not put along side of it.

    Windwaker on the other hand did a much better job at making items useful throughout. For one, the hook shot wasn't overused because it was almost last. As well, the grapple hook was used to loot off of enemies by just passing by instead of having to kill enemies. The boomerang was also used a lot to stun enemies and hit multiple targets. And the hoi pare, seemingly useless, even had a shining moment in quite a few places instead of just one.

    I pray they will seriously take into consideration how items can have multiple uses, or even combined like they did with bomb arrows and haw eye arrows in Twilight Princess.

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