Even before The Wind Waker hit American shores, it was hinted that the next Zelda game would be revealed at the Electronics Entertainment Expo. And then, when the event came, many Zelda fans raised their eyebrows in disbelief when they saw the games that were revealed, Tetra’s Trackers and Four Swords, as you can see by simply visiting our forums. And, in my opinion, probably for good reason . . .
Eiji Aonuma had said that they had yet to determine what sort of game the next Zelda game would be, and that if it was about adult Link, it would probably not be cel-shaded, for he could not picture adult Link as a cartoon. At any rate, we were led to believe that at E3 they would show us a glimpse of a new epic adventure. And now this. Now we’re stuck with two games that are designed to be rather casual. In fact, these were games that you might well label “party games,” about as far from a deep adventure game as you could possibly get. And so for many, the great expectations turned into the great letdowns.
Tetra’s Trackers and Four Swords
Reactions to these two games certainly varied. Some liked the idea of both. Some liked the idea of Four Swords and not Tetra’s Trackers. And many didn’t like either. I decided that it would be best to simply quote some of what you, my fellow ZUers, have been saying. Please keep in mind that I will not bother to make distinctions between Four Swords and Tetra’s Trackers, even though I realize that much of what is said here applies much more to Tetra’s Trackers than to Four Swords. The following e-mail from reader “Zach” summarizes the main reasons for the disappointment quite well:
“. . . the classic games LoZ and AoL are the greatest games Nintendo has made and up until Oot, when the first person view came into the zelda series, I felt moved by the legendary story of the great hero Link. But i recently read about two new upoming games: Four Swords and Tetra’s Trackers for gamecube, and this is the problem. It seems like the zelda series has gone from the greatest 1player RPG game to a multiplayer game such as Mario Party. Nothing against Mario Party because thats what that series is based on a 1-4 player party gamebut Zelda should still be a 1 player games as it used to be. and it seems like every game after Oot (which is a great game) seems to be away from the plot and the legendary story. it seems like the series is becoming too commercial and just wants to make money. I’m not complaining that the recent zelda games are bad because I really enjoyed them its just they didnt have the same affect on me as the classic games did.”
So there you have it. Four Swords and Tetra’s Trackers are being treated with suspicion because of two reasons in particular. The first reason is that it seems like a gimmick. Many see it as some cheap-o use of a classic character designed to increase profits. The second reason is that Zelda games are supposed to be grand adventures that, as I’ve said a million times before, “suck the player into a new world.” As far as I know, no one complained when the Mario franchise began to be used for party games, and yet that is mostly because Mario’s world very easily fits into that mold, whereas the Zelda universe is a world apart and is too “serious” to be turned into a sort of casual game you play against your friends. So, in general I would agree with what Zach is saying, except on two points. First, he’s framing it as a question of multiplayer versus single player, whereas I would contend that it is actually an issue of the action adventure in comparison to the party game. I think a multiplayer Zelda game could be made that retains the “serious” tone of the main series. Second, he seems to be implying that Majora’s Mask and The Wind Waker are a movement “away from the plot and legendary story” and a movement towards commercialism. Actually, Majora’s Mask was darker than Ocarina of Time, even if you admit nothing else (of course, I would say more for myself, since it is still my favorite game), and The Wind Waker had a more complex plot than Ocarina of Time. Yet I would agree that Four Swords and Tetra’s Trackers are quite the departure.
Forumer DrZaius1 echoed these thoughts: “Four Swords would be fun if the actual game only cost $20, as I enjoyed the GBA version. Tetra’s Trackers doesn’t look like a game I would like to play, and would be ridiculous if it actually sees the light of day. Going from Triforce shards to Crystals, from Pendants to Intruments, from Medallions to Giants, from Essences to Pearls, than to stamps? It sounds a little far-fetched to me.”
Along those lines, forumer Windwaker said, “I guess it’s allright to make FS to the cube, but Tetra’s Trackers: Collecting stamps?!” Windwaker also said, “I don’t agree with the Zelda is Zelda thing. This is NOT! Zelda”
Forumer Chazz brought up two other reasons why Four Swords and Tetra’s Trackers might not be so great as they currently are: “I would enjoy these 2 games if they came in a 2-game Bundle Pack. It would also be great if there was a Solo Mission Mode on the games, meaning you against the computer (There are those less fortunate than others who cant afford multiple Game Boy Advances and GCN/GBA Connection Cables. I myself could only afford 1 GBA and Connection Cable, while my 2 brothers could not afford em).”
Many are questioning why these two games are billed as separate games, each costing the same as a full-fledged single player game. What’s more, there many not be enough GBAs or connection cables to go around. I know that I’m in a rare situation, but I actually don’t know anyone with a GBA.
Of course, there are still those who are optimistic about the games, who simply want to have fun with them. And they probably will get to have fun in Hyrule in a game that involves fun multiplayer competition rather than the usual adventuring. As forumer Link 2000 said, “I’m probly gonna love FS. I never played the GBA versin cuz I don’t know anybody else that has it. So getting to play Zelda with my brother and my friends is gonna be great. And I think we shouldn’t judge the game by its graphics like some of us did with WW. I don’t think TT is going to be that much fun although I’m still going to buy it because Zelda is Zelda. It might be better than I think.”
Super Smash Brothers brought Link to the public in an entirely new form-as a playable character in a party fighter. Did this begin a slippery slope that will bring Link to new lows as simply a mascot for a party game sold as a gimmick? Perhaps, but then again, perhaps not. The versions shown were quite early. We must wait for the final versions to come out, but nonetheless, I agree with many Zelda fans in that I’m not exactly optimistic about the outcome. And yet, at the same time, I applaud those who can anticipate the multiplayer fun with a bit of eagerness.