Reinventing Zelda

Polygon: Ken Levine on Zelda and the Terrifying Need to Demolish the Old to Make Way For the New

Nobody’s fully comfortable with seeing their children taken by new hands, shaped and altered into ways we maybe never intended. Why do they need to be changed, anyway? Aren’t they perfect the way they are?!

The urge to return to old successes is powerful. But the things we make can become the tombs we bury ourselves in.

How do you overcome the fear that changing a masterpiece can curdle its magic? And the worse fear, deeper down: What if the new people find ways to make it better?

That’s the fear of obsolescence. And that fear makes us rigid. And rigidity is the enemy of invention. While there is a world where they changed Zelda and eliminated or added something that upset the alchemical balance of the series, I’m happy to report we don’t live in it.

I love the Zelda series, but it’s a fair criticism that Nintendo has been in bit of a rut with the franchise. Every 2D Zelda has been a variation of A Link to the Past, and every 3D entry has been templated on Ocarina of Time. Some entries like Phantom Hourglass moved the mark a bit, but Breath of the Wild is the first truly unique Zelda game in decades.

All the more interesting is the fact that they didn’t really have to break the mold. A solid traditional Zelda game would have still been financially successful. Nintendo took a risk, and it paid off. That said, I would like to see the next entry return to its roots a bit with more expansive dungeons and the return of some classic items.