For the second week of Hyrule Weekly, we are moving away from the resource of last week towards an editorial. This is what you can expect in the future, as well as pieces based on you, the reader, and your opinion!
A good deal of the coverage around The Legend of Zelda for Wii U has been focused on the time until release. When the game was announced back at E3 2014, it was with an initial “2015” date that seemed just about realistic. Given the delays popping up constantly in the gaming industry, including for Nintendo games, it was always an optimistic date. But riding high on the Zelda announcement wave, we rolled with it.
We were repeatedly given the impression that it would be a comfortable 2015 release, but the current mystery of the 2016 release timing shows that this game really did need more time. At The Game Awards 2014 (see the first Hyrule Weekly), Eiji Aonuma and Shigeru Miyamoto even talked about how 2015 would see both Star Fox and then Zelda come to Wii U… Looking back on that, it seems amazing that both games would be delayed out of the year (at least Majora’s Mask 3D came out before both in 2015, like they also mentioned).
The thing is, we shouldn’t be surprised or even worried about the delay of Zelda on Wii U (Star Fox is another matter, perhaps). The series is known for being consistently at or around the top of what gaming has to offer, but what isn’t always seen is the consistent delays the major releases go through.
… what isn’t always seen is the consistent delays the major releases go through.
For example, cast your mind back to 1997 and you see that Ocarina of Time was pushed back into the later stages of 1998. Or maybe look at The Wind Waker, which was officially delayed at E3 2002 (eventually releasing in March 2003 in North America). Again, for Twilight Princess – it was reported in 2005 that it was going to release at a later date after March 2006 (in the end, it launched with the Wii in December 2006). You can even look at Skyward Sword and claim it was delayed, given that after concept art was shown in 2009 a 2010 release might have seemed on the table; in the end, Skyward Sword got a 2011 date at E3 2010.
All these games may have got delays, but what people remember most in the end isn’t necessarily the extra time they waited. Ocarina of Time is lauded as the greatest game ever by many. The Wind Waker is a firm favourite amongst a good deal of Zelda fans. Twilight Princess – on the possible brink of an HD remake – seems to get more and more praise as it grows older (10 years next December! Wow, isn’t that something). Skyward Sword is an exceptional game too, which seems to be suffering latest-major-Zelda-game-syndrome in terms of gamer opinion (this usually passes).
Now, prepare yourself to be shocked by a quote you’ve never seen before:
A delayed game is eventually good. A bad game is bad forever. – Shigeru Miyamoto
I’m kidding, of course. But this well-known quote from Shigeru Miyamoto is so relevant here. I don’t think I am alone in thinking that while I was completely swept away by the E3 2014 trailer, The Legend of Zelda on Wii U wasn’t quite as impressive at The Game Awards. Don’t get me wrong, the world, characters and especially auto-pilot horse were amazing – and I have faith in Aonuma and co. to deliver a groundbreaking open-world Zelda next year. But that open world looked a little sparse at The Game Awards, with a lot of plain fields and trees filling the space. The game was, prior to the delay, expected to release within a couple of months of the time this article is currently being written. Looking back, I don’t think the year since that showing was ever – realistically – going to be enough. Don’t forget, this is the first time a major 3D Zelda has had a true open world in the way we are now accustomed to seeing.
Despite the slightly empty world I just mentioned, though, the same gameplay included some really promising moments. The angled screen in the video at The Game Awards didn’t really do it justice, I think, but the vantage points and natural lighting were stunning. For me, a really successful open world isn’t one jam-packed full of little items and collectibles like, say, an Assassin’s Creed game. No, a really effective open world – one I want to come back to – is one that is a delight to inhabit. One where you want to find out more about the history of the area, where you want to meet the other characters of that world. One where you can delight in the beauty of the world; an example of a world I love being in (even if it isn’t truly open world) is Dragon Age: Inquisition, which is full of amazing sights (which is why I keep going back to it for the DLC). The Legend of Zelda for Wii U looks set to be this kind of world.
… a really effective open world – one I want to come back to – is one that is a delight to inhabit.
Furthermore, there was an encounter with some enemies shown. This was a small battle, which showed off the super-cool slow-motion archery – again, an example of a really stylish world you want to play in. But as well as that, it was what seemed to be a random encounter (albeit a smaller scale than that one in the E3 2014 demo…). This kind of encounter is crucial for the feeling of a truly alive world.
THIS is what I think the delay is for, and what it is needed for – to fill the world with more unique and special moments that mean that the world is not only a joy to be in, but one that is brimming with unpredictable moments that keep you playing. If The Legend of Zelda for Wii U nails this, then the delay will be worth it. Just like the industry-defining Ocarina of Time was worth it. Just like the wonderful graphical style and sea exploration of The Wind Waker was worth it. Just like the epic adventure of Twilight Princess was worth it. Just like Skyward Sword was worth it for the realisation of what the Wii and motion controls could do.
From past evidence, The Legend of Zelda on Wii U will be worth the wait.
Credit to Kotaku for their compilation of Zelda delay news articles.