He stops it with his hand. His HAND.

Before I get started here, I just want to ask everyone who comments a favor. We’re looking for a name to call my weekly segment here, and so far the two best choices seem to be “Xizor’s Desk” or “Hey! Listen!” Whichever is picked would be sort of like a prefix to whatever I bring up that week. So, let me know in the comments which one you like! Anyway, on to the real stuff.

After reading that recent article on Kotaku (and by reading, I mean skimming, and by that I mean I read the ZU summary and then read a small smattering of excerpts from the real thing and then jumped to the comments) I have been wondering: What is the actual appeal of Zelda? Why, if so many on that article were commenting in agreement of Zelda not being what it could be, do so many people flock to buy these games? Why do tens of thousands of people visit just this one site every day for information about Zelda? I mean, honestly, overall I think probably hundreds of thousands of people every day access some sort of information about Zelda by choice. So if the series were in such a decline, don’t you think that someone else would have noticed, or at least the masses would have gotten bored?

And that’s why I think I’ve figured out the appeal of Zelda.

I mean, yes, let’s be honest: at times these games are terribly formulaic. They can fall into silly patterns of repetition, each challenge simply being an amped up version of the last without any real change between the two except you now go left instead of right and now the theming of the dungeon is ice instead of fire. The games are more focused on lock-and-key and sequence so that it tells a story more than it offers open world gameplay. Although… wait a second!

That’s what I like about Zelda!

What does that mean, though? That I like repetition? No, it doesn’t. I think it has its place and whether its overused or not isn’t really the point, because I don’t feel beaten over the head yet. What I’m saying is that the appeal seems to be in the fact that the games are reliable for certain things, and that they tell a story.

I mean, I love the story to Zelda. I’ve played open world games that do tell a story (World of Warcraft) and it was a different experience. But that game tells many stories and qualifies more as a “choose-your-own-adventure” type of thing than Zelda really does. Zelda games are like gaming novels. They tell one story with one ending with their own themes. And I think that’s what makes it so attractive as a franchise. What other series really does this?

The intro to Skyward Sword was so much fun. I have watched it a couple of times actually. It tells a good story. Plus, it’s not just any story–it’s a good story. A story with compelling characters and believable plot. There is nothing overly unbelievable about the story (I mean other than it being totally not real) to the point that I find myself rolling my eyes or wishing it were otherwise not there. I like it. It’s a big reason of why I play these games at all.

Not to mention, the game focuses on this epic clash of good and evil. Whether or not the villain is easily defeated isn’t the point: the point is, he’s a terrifying guy who has the gall to want to destroy the world and laugh while doing it. It’s all about the greatness of the story.

In fact, the villain is typically central to the theme of the game. There is nothing to a Zelda game if there is not a good villain. Ganon, while entirely repetitious, is still a great villain. He’s even dynamic. In some games, he’s just evil, while in others he has some sympathetic elements to him. He is entirely unpredictable on the one hand, while you can rely on what his ultimate goal is on the other. It’s wonderful, because it’s a story that you can be invested in while still knowing you’ll win in the end.

Further, Zelda doesn’t need this “open world” idea to be a delightful series, to have wonderful design, to be completely interesting when you immerse yourself in it. Sure it might be one giant puzzle, but how can anyone really say it’s boring to be inside the universe of a Zelda game?

If we look at A Link to the Past, the game has a pretty open world, despite some obstacles that keep you out of the higher areas until you get the items required to get there, which would also mean you’re prepped for the enemies therein. But it’s a game you died in, too, while telling a good story. I mean, I’ve died in Skyward Sword, but I died often in A Link to the Past, but not a frustrating amount of times. I think I’m a weird minority where I like to win at games, not by being handed victory, but because it wasn’t some obscene challenge to beat it. I’d rather just go do something else than run into a wall in a game.

A Link to the Past was also wonderfully designed for its time. I feel like all Zelda games focus on this design beauty, and it’s one of the greatest appeals of the series.

I mean, look at Skyward Sword and tell me it’s not a beautifully designed game. It’s just fun to look at. It’s like the Avatar of Wii games. Beautifully crafted, and it feels so expansive. There was a bit in the Kotaku article about the games taking forever and that being a problem. But what I feel like people are missing is that this is an appeal to so many gamers. They wouldn’t play this game if all they were looking for was the open-world aspect that the former games offered.

So I guess what I’m saying is that people shouldn’t really be upset about the Kotaku article. It doesn’t really say anything except that Zelda doesn’t appeal to a particular swathe of people. It doesn’t need to. It can’t. It can’t appeal to everybody. To alienate those people includes the people it includes. If it went in the other direction, it would then alienate the people who don’t want that. It would not necessarily expand its audience so much as it would merely shift it one way or the other.

The fact that Zelda tells a good story is why I like it. It keeps me intrigued. I don’t care to just slash baddies and run around an open world. I play World Of Warcraft when I want that. And to be fair, I play World of Warcraft pretty often. Somehow, though, there are those times where I need to feel special, like I’m the one who completes the epic story, and that’s when I find myself playing Skyward Sword.

  • SirLinkus

    Hey! Listen! Sounds the best!

  • Pajj

    Ghirahim was the best to battle!

  • !cj!

    you know what? I should have just put up my OWN artical at this point. XP
    PEACE! CJ out. d:

  • Ver

    Hey! Listen! is the best in my opinion.

    I do agree that this is why I buy every Zelda game (well almost, there 4 I still need to get my hands on). What I think could be improved is the world's "alive" feeling. By that I mean the npcs would actually do something of their lives, or there would be animals running around. That would make that storytelling even more immersive.

    • Blizzeta93

      kind of like Majora's Mask?

    • princess m.j hyila

      i agree and i also think it would be better if you could go threw the story the story as diffrent people (resident evil 4)

  • Hey

    Agree with this article. Agree, agree, agree!

    (By the way I like "Hey! Listen!" the best)

  • Witchking

    "What is the appeal of Zelda?" You say? Personally I think its just the draw of a world that you can explore over and over without anything becoming strange, people like the idea that SOMETHING stays the same in this increasingly demented world. But the series has lagged a bit since the release of Twilight Princess. Ideologically, the aesthetics and story have become the one thing that people tend to focus on, and when the story turns out to be something that the fans had not been hoping for this creates a rift between Nintendo and the gaming community. THE STORY NEEDS TO IMPROVE! IT NEEDS to be something more than 'Save the Princess and kill the evil king…" that old chestnut is becoming increasingly harder to crack.

    What needs to be done is for Nintendo to create a means for the fans to choose the plotline during gameplay, this would more than likely draw even hardcore fans of those deplorable sports games. If anyone agrees, I would like to hear it.

    ("Hey! Listen!" Grabs the attention… but you might want to let people know that you're not Navi.)

    • princess m.j hyila

      i agree with Witchking on on that

  • !cj!

    what in the world? what happend to my other 3 comments/ do you have any idea how long it took me to type all that? and I did copy any of it to a document or anything! WHAT HAPPEND?!? that's not fair! my post was to long so I split it into 3 was all I did! I didn't say anything bad! what happend to them? WHY? *crys for real*

  • !cj!

    ment to say "did NOT copy."

  • Nobody cares

  • !cj!

    I care butt hole.

    • Trolldad

      Do any of you even realize there is a "Reply" button?

  • If Kotaku wants an open world with HD and more and harder baddies, then go play Skyrim. I want to play zelda, not some stupid game that has the name: The Legend of Zelda: Open World.
    I want to play LoZ.

    • Zettobi

      And what is bad with HD and more/harder baddies? I noticed you said HD (high definition) and not "realistic", we should all have HD graphics. HD pixels are clean, sharp pixels not little blurs on a screen. They are appealing to the eye.

      If you actually meant "realistic" then please, don't get "HD" and "realistic" confused with each other. They are not the same thing.

      As for the baddies, why not? I would like a more difficult Zelda game, and I'm sure others would too. Just because it has harder villains doesn't make it an "OMG, how dare you change Zelda so drastically" type of game. I like a challenge, both while fighting and while solving puzzles. I don't see how any of those points make it "Skryim".

      • Zettobi

        Eh.. I mean Skyrim, not Skryim.

  • Vinylzen

    Ugh not to agree or disagree with the Kotaku article but why can't anyone actually read the darn thing instead of referring to a biased snippet?

    One may find the article to be much more insightful than you'd imagine. Plus the comments section has a VERY interesting discussion, much moreso than the biased one here on ZU.

  • Xizor

    This was more answering the question I posed than responding to the Kotaku article, but when I said I read the comments, I read THEIR comments after reading part of the article.

  • Austin

    I like Zelda because i grew up with it, its fun to play, i grew up with nintendo,and to me even though you might be doing some things that are kind of the same thing its still fun to play through the game and enjoy it.

  • Keimori

    First off, I Vote for "Hey! Listen!"

    Second, I agree whole heartedly, people often talk about changing Zelda, but often so drastically it becomes not Zelda.
    Really the best change possible would be a difficulty setting available straight off the bat, when you select new game, after you type in a name, bam, it ask you "Beginner, Normal, Hard, or Assnumbingly , brain fracturing, soul destroyingly hard."

    then all you got to do is take your pick, that way beginners can have a nice smooth difficulty curve, veterans can have their enjoyable challenge, and the masochist among us can toss themselves off the difficulty cliff where you hear the game over tune every 5 seconds just like the good old days.
    There, every fan is happy.

    • Red Link

      I don't think you understand completely what people desire with a 'harder' game. people don't mean they want a 'hero-mode' on every game, they want harder to solve puzzles, bosses, sidequests. This is something no mode can change, only the development of the game itself.

      • Keimori

        And why couldn't a mode change allow such?
        Program it right and a mode change could do just what you discribe.

        • Anon

          simply because it takes too much work. If programming a zelda game took 3-5 years, then programming all these modes would result in a zelda game every 20 years, 4 in a lifetime of a human! Do you want that?

  • Dark_Phoenix_Reborn

    open world games have a tendency to have a lot of glitches, and while zelda games do have glitches, they dont number nearly as high as games like skyrim. Not to mention you dont have access to the whole world from the beginning of open world games. you have to lvl up and learn new abilities before moving on to harder areas and there is always something blocking your way at some point or another.
    Oh and i would play a Zelda based mmorpg as long as all the races are available and the lore was accurate.

    • Red Link

      Would probably play it too, but i don't really see it happenning, ever :

  • Questioning

    Hey! Listen! Sounds good. Great article!