As many may recall a year or two ago I was consistently arguing that Zelda U needed to go the direction of the tech demo, or something similar, in order to achieve mass success and a ton of sales. I still think that, if that style is used, that would in fact happen. However, as many pointed out back then sales shouldn’t really be my sole barometer in this type of debate. I mean, other factors matter too correct? Personally I like the tech demo style, but every time I go back and play old Zelda games only of them consistently draws me in with it’s timeless style. Yes folks, I’m talking about The Wind Waker.
You see, through all the cel-shading, the drama, and the kid-like sensation people attached to this underrated classic, it really could be the best of both worlds. Outside of the fact that with games like No More Heroes, The Walking Dead, and a bunch of other examples its become “cool” to use cel-shading in a serious game, it also gives Nintendo the ability to finally use a more grown up version Link as seen in The Wind Waker. In addition, what can’t be overstated is simply put: With HD out there we’re talking about a game that will forever be able to fit in the gaming lore as one of the “most timeless looking games ever crafted”. That, to me, holds a lot of value.
It all starts and really ends with the magic that was The Wind Waker. You see, it’s absolutely gorgeous. Don’t believe me? Here’s what the game looks like in HD:
Tell me that would not fit into today’s standards. Seriously, tell me. With a straight face. You can’t, and therein lies the beauty in this system. Sure, maybe that means it wont push the Wii U the way people would like to see happen, but don’t we have other series for that? What about Metroid? Heck, even a new Starfox game could be a nice graphical show. Nintendo keeps bouncing around with Zelda’s style and frankly I can’t deny that we deserve to see what they could do with HD cel-shading and all this power.
We’ve seen the industry use cel-shading for a copious amount of reasons, but chief among them is the wide range of stylistic choices you can go with that truly show of an artists best stuff. Seriously, you can have a game that attempts to mimic realism in a not so realistic way like The Walking Dead, No More Heroes, and Borderland, or you could simply go a full cartoon route and give us the simple joys of childhood magic all over again. Blended correctly, we could potentially reach the best of both worlds in a highly stylistic fashion.
Look, I don’t know if this is the best business decision… but I can’t help but look at this go “yeah, that’s what I want to see on Wii U”. Seriously, imagine a blending of photo-realism and cel-shaded styling.
Okay you can stop imagining. What you see above is a seriously great example of the possibilities.
As much as I would likely enjoy an advanced tech demo version of graphical fidelity in the next console release, the focus really shouldn’t be on showing off what the Wii U is capable of. That could lead to them losing sight of what truly matters with Zelda: the experience. If you go that route you not only begin to see direct correlations between Zelda U and all the other photo-realistic games on the market, there is always the potential that it could open the door to fans bashing the native console. Meanwhile, you could create a timeless experience that will still feel new in 20 years, when photo-realism might actually be possible.
In the end I don’t really have a lot of really strong arguments to go this direction, but I also don’t think I need them. In earnest, a picture says more than enough:
Make it happen, Nintendo.
What do you think is the best stylistic direction for Zelda?