|Photo Credit: IGN.com|
Zelda 2: The Adventures of Link, is the most unique game of the series. The sequel integrated RPG elements and side scrolling for it's action sequences. The game was criticized for being too difficult and it was generally considered that the original format was what was preferred by fans. That goes without saying that Zelda 2 was actually a pretty good game but just scrutinized for being different. When Nintendo made it's jump to 16 bit, Zelda did too and returned to the overhead adventure of the original title. A Link to The Past hit a home run and took everything that made the first games great and enhanced them. Better visuals, sharper gameplay, and more intense dungeons, it was how this series was meant to be. Additionally, A Link to the Past gave a life to Hyrule that we haven't seen before. The player got a chance to speak with the various townsfolk and see the different destinations across the land.
The series wasn't limited to consoles and gave people a chance to play the game on the go. Link's Awakening was the first handheld game for the original Gameboy. Link's handheld journey was a hit and created a new medium for the series and found titles and every new handheld. Gameboy Color had the Oracle games that coincided with each other. The GBA had a port of A Link to the Past that was packaged with Four Swords and also seen the Capcom developed Minish Cap. The DS even successfully used it's touch screen gimmick for two titles, The Phantom Hourglass and The Spirit Tracks.
Nintendo made it's jump to 3D graphics with the Nintendo 64 and set the bar with how 3D games should be with it's marquee title Super Mario 64. Inevitably, the other head of it's two headed monster, Zelda, would have to find it's mark in 3D. Ocarina of Time made more than a successful conversion from 2D to 3D and is considered by many to be the greatest game ever made. Whether you agree or not, no doubt that Nintendo released one of their masterpieces. The same way A Link to the Past brought a personality to Hyrule, Ocarina of Time enhanced that personality even more. N64 would see another 3D title with Majora's Mask. The game would have the daunting task of being overlooked in the shadow of it's predecessor, but make no doubt about that it would certainly deliver another gem for Nintendo.
When the Gamecube was set to be released, Nintendo showed off a tech demo of what it's visuals were capable of. One of the sequences show a mature Link fighting with Ganondorf. Fans excitement hit the roof thinking about playing a full Zelda game with the advanced graphics. A curve ball was tossed however when screen shots for it's next title showed a cartoon and child version of link. The colorful, cel shaded style of the Wind Waker ruffled the feathers of the series faithful. When the game was released, all of the criticism of the new style went quiet when the game was met with high praise, proving despite the artistic style that the elements that made the series great remained intact. The Wind Waker is considered on the best games of that generation now. Four Swords Adventure was also a Gamecube release, that used a 2D overhead style. It wasn't your typical Zelda adventure as the game focused on a multiplayer aspect.
The Gamecube was going to have another Zelda game before it passed the torch to the Wii. This time with the mature art style that initially got fans excited. Nintendo then made a big announcement that not only with their next title, Twilight Princess, would be on the Gamecube, but it will also be a launch title for the Wii. The Wii version of Twilight Princess would showcase it's new motion controls. As usual the game was met with positive reviews, and it's been argued that Twilight Princess would be the best launch title ever. In the end, the Wii's version of Twilight Princess with just a port of the Gamecube title with motion controls being the only difference. The game wasn't built from the bottom up specifically for the Wii and that's what fans wanted. E3 2010, Nintendo gave those fans what they wanted with the Skyward Sword. Skyward Sword will use the mature Link but with cel shaded visuals.
So for 25 years, Link has slashed with way through journeys in every era. With the Skyward Sword, we only are going to get more Zelda bliss. Additionally, Nintendo's new handheld, the 3DS, will have a remake of their N64 masterpiece, Ocarina of Time, with enhanced graphics and the 3D gimmick. Today, I salute our favorite silent protagonist, Link.