Nintendo has a always been a leader in the video game industry, but their inability or unwillingness to follow the lead of others has repeatedly hurt them. Nintendo’s online presence is a common example.

What does this have to do with the Legend of Zelda? While many consider the Legend of Zelda series to be a genre of its own, the series still shares many similarities with other video game genres. In the past ten years, there have been many improvements to those similar genres, but Nintendo has appeared to ignore them so far. Instead, the Legend of Zelda blazes its own path and introduces its own innovations. Full-motion control were perfected by Skyward Sword, but in the process the game missed out on the innovations introduced by other video game developers.

Before the next Legend of Zelda game is released, Nintendo needs to stop for a moment and pay attention to what other developers are doing. Being innovative is great, but not all unoriginal ideas are bad ideas.

There are a handful of specific ideas that I would like to see in the next generation Legend of Zelda game. You have likely read some similar arguments in the past, but that doesn’t make them any less valid.

We have the timeline; now give us a story worth remembering!

The Legend of Zelda timeline is no longer a secret, but the story is still lackluster at best. Nintendo developed an unforgettable world with unforgettable characters, but they aren’t involved in many events that I would call unforgettable. “Uninspired” better describes the events in Hyrule.

Instead, the history of Hyrule seems to repeat itself. We’ve traveled through time, visited alternate worlds, and stopped evil from being resurrected over and over again.

The trouble begins with Nintendo not focusing on the story. Hyrule Historia included comments from Eiji Aonuma specifically stating that Nintendo has always made the gameplay their primary focus and added the story later. I am not arguing that gameplay is not important or less important than the story, but in the future I would like to see more focus on the story than is currently given.

Fortunately, Nintendo seems to have taken notice of this growing problem. I was an advocate of releasing the timeline. I argued that releasing the timeline would only make the story better, and I believe it has.

Furthermore, Skyward Sword focuses more on the story than ever before. The story could have been paced better than it is, but overall I felt Nintendo made great progress with the story in Skyward Sword. Only time will tell if they can improve it even further in the future.

Of course, telling a story usually involves speaking.

It’s past time: The Legend of Zelda needs voice acting.

This argument isn’t anything new, and it is regularly a hot topic in the Legend of Zelda community, but I am a firm believer that voice acting would have only a positive impact on the series. The industry is moving forward and voice acting is part of it. Not including voice acting only serves to make the Legend of Zelda appear outdated and makes the story even less interesting.

I’ve recently been playing through Final Fantasy XIII. While it is true that there are many games with less-than-great voice acting, there are just as many games with fantastic voice acting, and Final Fantasy XIII is one of those games. As is typical of newer video games, Final Fantasy XIII has countless cutscenes and all of them are fully voiced. In fact, I have not encountered any character dialog that is written even outside of cutscenes.

For years, the primary argument against voice acting in Legend of Zelda is that Link is the player–not a original character in the video game–and if you give Link a voice then he may not sound the same way the player would have envisioned. Despite not having the same “link” to the player, similar arguments are cited for Zelda and Ganondorf (or sometimes for all characters).

The simple truth is that the characters in recent Legend of Zelda games, including Link, have had their own personalities and voice-types. A good story requires that the characters have some kind of development. While the stories are still nothing amazing, the events of each game would not be half as interesting as they are if the characters had no personality and showed no emotion. The only major trait the characters lack is a real voice (though Midna and Fi are the exceptions).

The idea that players will become detached from characters who speak is ridiculous. I’m not playing through Final Fantasy XIII wishing that Lightning and Sazh didn’t have voices. On the contrary, the voice acting is what makes the characters interesting!

The Legend of Zelda desperately needs voice acting, and when it is finally added I won’t miss the silent characters for a second.

Player conveniences: saving and traveling

I’m very surprised Nintendo, of all companies, has not taken advantage of two major changes that have made video games more convenient. For the past several years, Nintendo has been working to attract new people to video games, so how did they overlook fast traveling and autosaving?

Granted, Nintendo pioneered fast traveling dating back to the original Legend of Zelda. The Legend of Zelda has always included ways to travel around the world a bit faster than normal, but it has always been hidden behind a gameplay mechanic. In some ways, it’s very neat that Nintendo has been able to justify fast traveling in this way, but it’s also unnecessarily limiting.

Fable 3 uses an interactive map for fast traveling.

In the Fable series, players can open a menu and warp to any area that has already been visited. A certain amount of in-game time passes to justify the traveling time. Other video games include similar fast-traveling systems.

There are no items to find, no songs to memorize, and no statues to locate. All you do is open the menu and select your destination.

Another strangely missing feature is autosaving, or at the very least the ability to save wherever you are in the game (and begin from that point). Skyward Sword actually seems to have moved backwards! Skyward Sword is the only Legend of Zelda game with save points. In the past, players have been able to save almost anywhere, but could only begin playing again from specific locations.

Both of these features are becoming more and more common in video games, and both would give players conveniences that only make the games more accessible to both old and new players.

What did I miss?

Truth be told, I do not actually play a ton of different video games, so it’s likely I’ve missed some trends and features that ought to be added to the Legend of Zelda series. Furthermore, I’m sure more than a handful of readers will have something to say about voice acting in the Legend of Zelda. Let us know in the comments!

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  • Drew

    Well I hope Nintendo will do great on the future Zelda games

  • Peter

    I agree that zelda needs more story, I am unsure about voice acting, and I think that the traveling and saving system is pretty good already.

  • "Skyward Sword is the only Legend of Zelda game with save points."

    *Coughcough*

    Majora's Mask.

    • jduff725

      I found it interesting that the save points in both SS and MM were statues of birds.

  • Vinylzen

    I find it very interesting that all the recent articles on the front page are all implying that the series really needs a revamp in it's core.

    And then all the purist fans are gonna come and start complaining, demanding the series need not grow and keep doing what it's doing for the next bajillion years.

  • Joo

    This scares me when I saw the past articles.

  • bitterlime

    The series has some issues. But non of the things mentioned here are the glaring issues of the Zelda series.

    The biggest issue with Zelda is a lack of respect of (or perhaos trust in) the human capability to think. The plentyful guide and help systems included into the games belittle the player and take away challenge and satisfaction. Nintendo seems to assume that the moment we sit down infront of a gaming console basic brain functions that we need to survive in our daily lives are suddendly deactivated and everything has to be spoonfed.

  • Lance9384

    None of your reasons would make Zelda any Better than it is.

    If you fuse the amount of sidequqests of Majora’s mask with the amount of dungeons of A Link to the past or LoZ, then you’d have the perfect Zelda game right there.

    That’s why Link’s Awakenjng is the top of my list.

    • Joshua Lindquist

      So, you're arguing that the only thing that would make The Legend of Zelda any better is by making the game bigger?

      And honestly, what optional side quests are there in Link's Awakening? Not even the trading sequence is optional (you need the magnifying glass to read the fine print to know the way around the Egg).

      • Callin

        No, I think he wants more depth, completely the opposite of the "bigness" of Twilight Princess. Big, but empty. More sidequests and characterization would be preferable.

  • isha

    no voice acting!

    • nintenlover

      Why? I see so many people say NO VOICE ACTING and not even explain why they don't want to have it. Why is it that Zelda + voice acting= crap? Because of some dumb CD-I games or a stupid Cartoon? People need to get it through there heads that the creators would never let Zelda have that kind of abysmal voice acting again. Do you honestly believe they'd let that crap happen again?

      • Anon

        I wish that short part where Zelda sung could go on forever. HOWEVER, Voice acting in Hylian could turn out to have adverse effects on gameplay.

  • maniozelda

    I wonder what Link would sound like with his original voice actor, talking hyrulian or at MOST japanese, but not english…
    I'd keep it as short as in SS with Zelda tho..

    And the Save Points are just fine >_> stop whining
    And please NO fast traveling.
    I looooooooooooove all Zelda areas, and want to spend as much time as possible in the sky, great sea, hyrule field termina etc. =)

    • Zettobi

      No one says you have to use the fast travelling system if it is implied. You can still travel across Hyrule Field as you usually would to get from point A to point B, nothing's stopping you.

      It just gives those who do want a faster and easily assessable way to travel a choice.

  • gward

    voice acting doesn't make you not like the character, it just creates a different kind of attachment. I would stop playing zelda if it had voice acting. What I liked about the older zeldas witht he weaker stories and less dialogue was that you could create your own story, and give your own voice to all of the characters. it used more imagination. Your ideas are basically:
    "I think we should take the legend of zelda and turn it into final fantasy. Assimilate the franchises!"

  • GoldYoshi

    Voice acting? Certainly NOT!

    Reason 1: In the majority of the games the characters are supposed to be speaking another language, not English (or any other language in the world).

    • GoldYoshi

      Reason 2: Remember the last time Zelda had voice acting? Wand of Gamelon, Faces of Evil and Zelda's Adventure? Or even Nintendo games that weren't developed by amateurs, like Super Mario Sunshine and Metroid: Other M? Remember how warmly those voices were received? … Me neither.

      • GoldYoshi

        Reason 3: I equate reading the text as reading a book. I hear the voices in my head, using grunts as a guide, like how a book tells you what dialect a character uses. And "telling a story usually involves speaking" is complete nonsense. Does that mean the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter aren't stories? Fair enough if it's referring to videogame stories – even though I disagree – but being specific would help.

      • X_factor

        Well those were the CD-I games and were developed by Philip. Let's not count those. (we're trying to forget them)

        • GoldYoshi

          I know what you mean. And I admit those cutscenes aren't bad just because they had voices (the delivery and dialogue is equally to blame), but I personally find it just… wrong that it's there, even if everything else was Oscar-worthy.
          But like I said, think about games that were officially endorsed by Nintendo that had voice acting. Every single one I can think of had at best a mixed reception over the voices.

          • nintenlover

            Metroid Prime 3 had voice acting and it was executed perfectly.

    • Karadom

      I hardly see why reason 1 is a good argument.

      • GoldYoshi

        OK. Have you ever seen the film Battlefield Earth? If no then avoid it. But in it there's a race of aliens who speak English despite not understanding it. Personally, I found this very jarring and would've preferred having subtitles. Same here, Zelda characters are obviously speaking their own language, and having it voiced in a language we know would kinda destroy the illusion.

  • heroofmasks

    i got 2 words for voice acting heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
    the time they add voice acting will be the day the world ends

  • cdickens97

    No…….All these things are almost reason enough for me to stop playing Zelda games…..Story is important yes, but you are implying that they sacrifice game play for story and that is a big fat NO in my book. Next Im gonna start hearing that Zelda should never use cel shading and that blood is crucial to its success. Zelda was perfected with Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. If they just combined those two games as one massive game and put DLC then there you go, an amazing Zelda game that graphic whores will complain about not being "hardcore"

    • cdickens97

      And please dont say Skyward Sword came close because it was nowhere near close.

    • ZeroBlade77

      DLC?
      Holy FUCK no, dude!
      I do NOT want Nintendo to become DLC whores like Xcocks360 and Brony!

    • Zettobi

      When I read this article, I did not see the implication of "Sacrifice gameplay for story", they should be EQUALLY important, not one over the other. Maybe we just interpreted it differently.

    • Skyward Sword was great in my opinion. Though it doesn't meet YOUR expectations, I think it is still my favorite zelda game until yours came out.

  • Jeff

    Autosaving would be stupid, i like being able to choose when I want to save. OoT had it perfect.

    I like being able to travel with warp songs better than just selecting an area on a map when I start the game.

  • they should do this

    a: alttp difficulty
    b: no girly things
    c: no forest fire water format; all dungeons are not mainly an element instead, use different mental tactics
    d: make bad guy gruesome
    e: make link 19 yr old emo

    actually no, but my opinions are better than yours and zelda sucked after ooa/oos 😛

    although ww was good
    and looking back, tp had some good parts
    and skyward swords boss battles were great

    okay fuck i'm done take my opinion and

    shove it in your ass

    • ZeroBlade77

      Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons.

      • X_factor

        Ah, had a blonde moment there for a sec.

  • ZeroBlade77

    I believe every character but Link should have a voice. Also, are you ignorant? Why in the hell would Zelda ever have a fast-traveling system like Fable or Oblivion/Skyrim or whatever? The Legend of Zelda is about experiencing the area around you and solving its puzzles. If I could fast-travel to any area I had been to before it’d be duller as it is for Oblivion/Skyrim/Fable/etc.

  • petiteneko

    IMO, fast travel actually takes away from a game. I enjoy being able to travel from place to place, battling monsters, exploring around. Fast travel inhibits exploration, it inhibits fun secrets that one has to work for (an example is in the Tales games, where you had to find items/conversation points on the world map) and with Skyward Sword fast travel was somewhat enabled – the points to fall down on the map, and that is a good enough idea for fast travel. Besides, where would Epona fit in if fast travel was enabled? Where would the boats/rafts fit in? In numerous games I can list a unique way that travel has been altered: OoT, MM, and TP all had Epona, (not to mention the warp songs on OoT and MM, and the Twilight warp points in TP) Ages and Seasons had Dimitri/Moosh/Ricki (Not to mention the raft in Ages and Subrosia portals in Seasons), Link's Awakening had warp tunnels and a raft game, The Minish Cap had the Ocarina bird, Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass had boats, Spirit Tracks had a train, and Skyward Sword had the bird. The GBA Four Swords had the warp points as well. Almost every Zelda game has a unique adaptation to the traveling and I don't think that fast travel should be added to the game because it would take away from the game rather than to add to it.

  • sabby64

    Zelda doesn't friggen need voice acting. The voices are already enough, and will shatter any imagination of what the characters could sound like talking.

    I agree there needs to be more story in the games, but releasing the timeline to me was the worst thing they could have ever possibly done… The games were good enough to stand on their own, and asking them to fill all these plotholes left by not designing the games around any specific timeline is gonna make for a crappy story in the end. Twilight Princess and Majoras Mask did excellent jobs in storytelling. Now they just need to get rid of the Wii controls and back to the good ol' controller.

  • Karadom

    The CD-i games are no longer a valid argument as to why there shouldn't be voice acting. Just because they made the mistake of poor voice acting then doesn't mean they would today.

  • Peanutz996

    OMG, If ypu could fast travel in, say OoT, how would you ever find any of the secrets in Hyrule Field? It would completely ruin the game, the ''warp songs'' are perfect.

  • I like all of the comments except one. YOU MAY NOT MISS SILENCE, BUT I SURE FREAKIN WILL.

  • falconfetus8

    I just got done playing Portal 2, and I have to say that I was impressed how they pulled of the story with voice acting. The Player's character, Chell, is completely silent throughout the whole game while the other characters speak out loud.

    As long as NoA hires *good* voice actors(preferrably with slight Brittish accents :P), then it should be fine.

  • vrosado6119

    Say, I just realized something. What if they put in voice acting in a Zelda game, but made it so that when Link has to interract with someone, you spoke to them yourself using a special headset? That way your voice would become Link's.

    • Anon

      Then what happens if you end up spewing vulgarities? BTW, the Wii U HAS voice recognition, or is likely to, due to nintendo claiming some patents

  • stan423321

    The save points in SS made more sense than saving anywhere in OoT which took you to your starting point when loaded. Really.

    On the voice acting: I would totally love Nintendo to make that goddamn voice-acting… not in English. In some kind of, I dunno, Croatian, or maybe just Japanese with replaced words (although something actually making sense, names sounding the same all the time etc.). This would add to the atmosphere actually, but for some reason I expect all the acting-supporters suddenly saying "we didn't want this".

  • McGuirk808

    I basically disagree with most of your sentiments.

    I think voice acting would detract from the feel of the series. I like vocal sighs and other emotive non-literary noises, but full voice acting would detract. Especially for Link. Do not give Link full voice acting. Thinking on it though, I could handle full voice acting for everyone but Link — as long as it was in Hylian. For example, Zelda singing in Skyward Sword. That was superb. Then again, I feel it is best done in short bursts. If everything was voice acted it could get monotonous.

    Likewise, hiding fast travel behind game mechanics is not just a good thing, it is a great thing.

    All of this adds to the immersion. Zelda feels more like a book than a movie. I like that.

  • Is it really true that the motion control can't, by any means, get any better?

  • Lanayru

    "The Legend of Zelda desperately needs voice acting."

    NO!!! I mean, HELL NO!!! That would ruin everything. Stop with this nonsense.

  • Anon

    We'll have guards saying: "I used to be an adventurer like you, until you took an arrow in the knee!"

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  • lizy

    Yea the voice acting save you from reading but eventhough I don't like reading I dislike the idea of a given voice to any of the characters. If you give them a voice then the gamer can't make more their ( the gamers) story its just another video game.

  • Wikiemol

    The purpose of a game is not to tell the type of story that final fantasy tells. Don’t get me wrong, i love final fantasy soo much. Square enix basically shaped who i am today. However, i sometimes think final fantasy games shouldn’t be games. I played final fantasy xiii and the entire time i just wanted to get to the next cutscene, and i wished that the game itself would be cut out. The fact that link doesn’t speak combined with the bareness of the zelda story is a ttestament to the types of stories games can get away with and other mediums can’t. The simplicity of the story adds magic, it makes me feel like i am in the fantasy as opposed to observing it. And it actually makes me feel like there are events outside the story, because there is so much in the series that isn’t really elaborated on. This is believable to me. Another example that more people may resonate with is shadow of the collosus. this game has a wonderful story. But like zelda, it is simple. It couldn’t be told in another medium without seeming weird, and yet it has enourmous impact on the player.

  • MaxNanasy

    You say “Skyward Sword is the only Legend of Zelda game with save points”, but didn’t Majora’s mask only allow saving at owl statues and at the beginning of a cycle?