When the ‘revolutionary’ aspect of Nintendo’s next system was first announced in September, there was one question on the minds of Zelda fans: how will Zelda evolve to fit the new controller?

Zelda perfected 3D adventure gaming with Ocarina of Time which, at the turn of the century, was hailed by some as the greatest game of all time. Since OoT, Zelda games have been content to ape the control scheme near exactly – and Twilight Princess looks to be no exception – while focussing on an immersive storyline and increasingly creative play mechanics.

With the Revolution’s new remote, Nintendo’s fascination with innovation, and, notably, Miyamoto’s comments on Twilight Princess being the “last Zelda game as you’ve known it,” it’s quite clear the future of the franchise will branch dramatically from successes of the past, at least in terms of control. Intellectually, the remote easily lends itself to god games and first-person shooters, but how it would interact with a third-person adventure game is a little less intuitive.

Are we going to get a first-person stabber, where you control Link with the nunchuck and flail around with your swordhand? It’s not an entirely horrible idea. It’s also not a logical evolution of the franchise, and though Nintendo has had some spectacular brain-farts in the past, Zelda had always been their gold-standard setter where the ball is rarely dropped (some may say the Wind Waker proves they’ve already dropped the ball, but those people are jerks). Will Nintendo make such a dramatic change?

An alternative method of control could be the rumoured cradle, which slots the remote into a shell designed to fuction like a traditional controller. I sincerely doubt Nintendo will go this route, if only because it takes their most popular franchise and their most celebrated innovation and completely fails to capitalize on either. But you never know.


The cradle is not “rumored,” it’s confirmed.

In any case, I would absolutely love to see Zelda played nunchuck style. Or even better (thought this is a huge stretch), incorperate the DDR dance pads into it and control movement without your feet somehow. It shouldn’t be as crude as a DDR controller, but it would be a treat to see Zelda controlled by feet and hand. The next step after that is VR. “Be Link as you face Ganon’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandson, your arch nemesis who has always been there somehow.”

Oh yeah, awesome thought. Of course, if a game of that caliber came out now, speculating from the Revolution controller’s revealing, fans would be in an uproar demanding that they don’t want to be Link in a VR world and play with the regular finger-aching controller instead. Why? Change is never widely accepted. I’m not surprised at the reaction to the Revolution remote (or the REmote, and I shall now call it. Don’t get the word? RE is short for Revolution. Then -mote, which creates REmote.), since the all-powerful insidious fanboys of today’s age find it best suitable to defend their current gaming system with all the vibrato of a childish mob of kindergarteners.

First things first: Fishing minigames will rule in Revolution Zelda games. In fact, the way some of their crazy minds work, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the initial idea came from someone wanting an even better fishing minigame.

Nintendo so should have had a fishing minigame in the Wind Waker. The whole game takes place on the ocean, it would have been perfect.

Ahem. Yes. Now that that tangent is past us, I must say, I am not yet enthusiastic about the possibilities. Oh, intellectually I know that it this could be awesome, and that it’s a bold new step towards making virtual reality a reality… But I am one of those who fear change in the things I love. Change can be so good, but it can also be so bad. A franchise in transition could easily be destroyed or undone. We got lucky with the transition from 2D to 3D, with Ocarina of Time (though I have encountered people who dislike the way EAD managed the move to 3D). Then there was the oh-so-dramatic change from the Spaceworld 2000 graphics to the celshading we see in the Wind Waker.

When something is fundamentally changed, it is extremely likely that many people who liked the original formula may not have the same attraction to a new one, no matter how well done it is. I guess that is my fear – that Nintendo will change the Zelda series in such a way that it loses the qualities I have always loved, or lessens my enjoyment of the series in any way. That has yet to happen, but changing to a Revolution control scheme offers new opportunities.

Of course, my fears are almost always ungrounded. I did not like the three-day thing in Majora’s Mask, initially, but now I can honestly say that it is one of the greatest works of genius the gaming industry has ever seen. I was shocked and dismayed by the Wind Waker’s celshading, but now, four years later, I absolutely adore tWW’s graphical style. I didn’t like Four Swords in either or it’s incarnations – but now that I have played FSA extensively with my girlfriend, I definitely love the game I was wary of the idea of Link turning into a wolf in Twilight Princess, but the idea’s grown on me.

At this point, I’ve learned to ignore my bad feelings about the future games of my beloved franchise. I am willing to set aside my fears and look forward to seeing this upcoming change in the Zelda series.

This change will, of course, be deeply connected to the Revolution’s controller. And I agree with Pipking’s assessment: Nintendo will avoid relying too much on the traditional controller cradle with the Zelda series, instead taking the route of innovation. But in all honesty I cannot think of any way for the current playing style to incorporate this new controller. Which means that we’ll be seeing a Zelda series that is dramatically changed on some fundamental level.

I’ve toyed with the idea of the series reverting to a 2D playing field, but I don’t think that will be the case. Not only is it a bad idea in today’s gaming market, but it would fail to use one of the main features of the Rev controller – that is, the ability for it to sense movement in all three dimensions.

I love speculation, but I honestly cannot think of any logical changes. Whatever it is, it will be something at least partially unexpected.

The controller is certainly quite intriguing… So many possibilities. It seems to me that the controller will be best for the oddball games that Nintendo loves to make, first-person shooters, and fishing. But where does that leave us for Zelda?

Jason made mention of a DDR-esque controller to use. I thought about that, but really, the only way to have something like that work well would be to have it so it rolls around, allowing the player to actually walk as Link. Any other way would be rather awkward. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how well something like that can be made, without running the risk of people being people and falling down breaking their heads open on a nearby stone table or something. Nintendo can’t risk that.

The information for the Revolution’s Remote showed an extention with a thumbstick, which I fully expect to be used in whatever Zelda appears on the Revolution. Unfortunately, I don’t presently see how that works well without being first-person. I’m not sure I like the idea of a first-person Zelda… but who knows? Maybe such a thing would be insanely cool. Although, I can’t help but think of Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, which was first person with swords and bows and the like. I loved that game, but the combat was terrible. Granted, it didn’t have a fully 3-D controlling controller, so the combat would have to be better than that… but combat of that sort always looks cooler in the third-person.

Another possiblity, however crazy, that they could implement would be to have the same sort of 3D that we’ve had with Ocarina of Time through Wind Waker. The movement of the character could be controlled by the tilt of the controller, since the sensors can read its orientation as well as position. That would, unforunately, lead to some serious comfort issues after not very long playing the game; think about tilting your hand down (forward) for a long period of time.

Now I would like to comment on something else: Nintentendo and the controller cradle.

I do not believe that Nintendo, under any circumstances for any game to be released, will rely on a controller cradle for play. The cradle is an addon, an optional appliance that can be plugged into the REmote. Nintendo went all out with this new controller, and took their time revealing it, too. If their plans for it are so important that they had to make sure no other company in competition would steal the idea, then I can say with confidence that Nintendo won’t ever rely on a controller cradle for serious full-length game play.

Instead, I am taking it as this: An optional, entirely optional for every game to be produced, addon that can control each game released with specific compatability for said addon. In other words, if you want to use it for a game, you can, but if you don’t want it, you should never have to use it. That would be a huge marketing flaw; some games only compatable with the cradle, others only compatable with the the REmote. People would refuse to buy games in which you are required to purchase a specific addon to play them.

As a saftey, I do think that the Zelda Revolution game will be able to be played with the REmote cradle. I do not think that Nintendo will make it a key point in the game, or even a point at all besides the fact that it will be useable as an alternative to the REmote.

The cradle seems like a concession to third-party developers and fans of traditional gaming. Nintendo’s inclusive approach to the Revolution (content to be the second system in every gamer’s house), means it needs to accomodate the tastes of a wide range consumers.

If Nintendo is truly happy being an ancillary gaming system, we might never see a first-party title developed to use the cradle. The only games that are entirely cradle dependent – or at the very least fail to use the unique aspects of the (ahem) REmote – will be developed by third-parties and published on multiple platforms.

As for Zelda Revolution, the idea of third-person perspective and REmote control seems… awkward. Could be I just can’t wrap my head around it. But like Scott pointed out it brings up the issue of comfort. Reports on the simplistic demo software suggest that, by resting your elbows on your knees, you eliminate most of the endurance issues.

Funny, but the more we speculate, the more I come to understand just how different the REmote makes things.

The REmote definitely has probably unlimited possibilties, especially for a Zelda game, but when I think about it, and even just what has been mentioned in here, I don’t like the sound of a lot of them. If Nintendo is going to try something new with Zelda, incorporating the REmote, I feel that it should be something that still appeals to a large variety. It’s hard to explain, but let me try this example.

I, for one, hate the idea of Zelda being first-person. To me, there’s a lot of negatives to making it first-person. For one, when you have the first-person view, you only get one camera angle, and that would be which way you’re looking. This would create several problems for a Zelda game, in my eyes. Firstly, you wouldn’t be able to see the envirorment as well, and I’ve always felt that the territory you’re in is a big factor, because it usually is very appealing to eye, and in first-person, you won’t get to experience that as well. Secondly, enemy fights could be a major hassle, especially when your main weapon would be one for combat combat, your sword. As Scott said, what the Elderscrolls did felt every awkward, and in Zelda, notably for a boss-fight, you usually have to keep moving around in order to stay alive. With first-person view, that might be a bit of an annoyance, because you won’t even see where your enemy is as you’re moving. You’ll have to turn and then find him, giving him ample time to blast ya.

I could go on about stuff like that, but there’s another thing I don’t like about first-person Zelda that I feel is important. When I play Zelda, I feel as if I’m watching a anime or movie or something, but I’m in control of how one character does things (Link) and in a way, how it all plays out. First-person may give you the feeling that you truly are Link, but to me, that would weaken the feeling of what happens outside of Link. It’s hard to explain, really, but I much prefer the viewing style as that of like an audience member, that I get to see everything, and not just the way one person sees it.

Reflexively, the idea of first-person Zelda makes me gag. But that’s just reflexively.

On second thought, the idea is so radical that it might actually be good. The problem comes between the two different tendencies in my brain, the first for familiarity and the second for novelty. The problem is that we want each to be so utterly fulfilled that we hate anything new for not being familiar, and anything familiar for not being new.

So, on my second appraisal, I can see the merits of first-person Zelda. The fishing, as mentioned, could be truly brilliant with the new controller– elegant in its simplicity. Other weapons that require casting, such as the Grappling Hook, could be operated from the first person point of view in a more puzzle-oriented type situation. For instance, the game could focus on accuracy and difficult to reach grapple points which form a game.

Or perhaps, even other unorthdox methods could be used to operate other weapons, such as the Hero’s Bow. Imagine waving the controller wand over your shoulder to the invisible quiver on your back, thereby gathering an arrow (say, by doing this in conjunction with the A button, which ‘holds’ the arrow’), slicing it down in front of you as if with a sword to notch the bow, and drawing it backwards to arm the bow– finally releasing the A button to let the arrow fly.

First, besides the obvious health hazard this would be to onlookers, we must consider how this would effect the dynamics of the game. One would be able to make a stronger or weaker shot (with certain limits, obviously) based on how far they drew back the bow. Furthermore, the use of the bow would be contingent on the aiming of the controller wand (likely with the use of an on-screen reticule). Being as the controller wand would need to be back by the person’s shoulder, it would cause the person to emulate the one-eye aiming style distinctive to the bow and arrow, further immersing the player in the game. It may look awkward to be weilding an imaginary bow, but I doubt it would feel awkward.

Or perhaps imagine wielding the Megaton/Skull Hammer with the controller wand. Hold your hands on the controller, both of them, as Link does, and start moving your arms back and forth to build momentum, until you’ve built enough to lift the hammer above your head and strike with it. Now imagine that sensors in the game cause Link to drop the hammer if you begin to lift it too high without first building momentum. The hammer will “feel” heavy to the person operating the controller because of the limits in the game. (Ok, this particularly example is rather far-fetched, just play along.)

Now, the downsides. No Japanese company would make their flagship title a first person view. The Japanese simply don’t like games with first person views, and it is somewhat well known that freneticly paced first person games tend to induce sickness in Japanese gamers. I see many negatives to coincide with the positives. While a complete first person game may give new chances, it would also abandon the revolutionary and wildly successful control style of the Ocarina of Time. And of course, battles are much, much different in first person view than in third person view. The game would have to be radically different.