By Andrew Mathieu / April 19th, 2016
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect oprainfall as a whole.
E3 2016 is less than two months away, and as usual the industry is abuzz with several anticipated game and hardware reveals. One game that’s more or less a given to make a splash at the upcoming show is undoubtedly The Legend of Zelda Wii U. After first being revealed at E3 2014, the game has been one of the most anticipated in perhaps series history. We’ve gotten a few sneak peeks at the title in a short teaser during the 2014 E3 Digital event, short off-screen footage from the 2014 Game Awards, and a gameplay snippet from the November 2015 Nintendo Direct.
That’s not a whole lot to go on, but remember back when Nintendo showed off that piece of concept art for Skyward Sword showing Link from behind with Fi? That was all people had to go on until Nintendo officially unveiled the game at a later E3. The point is, we have a basic idea of the game on a graphical level, more or less how Link plays with the few items shown, and the vast world he’ll explore. Between all that and the latest rumored information that came out last week, it puts the Skyward Sword concept art to shame.
With all that said, I’d like to present my final theories about Zelda Wii U. The game is close to a full reveal, and this may be our last chance to speculate on what the game might be. I’m going to focus on five points that I believe are key aspects for Zelda Wii U. This is all my opinion, and I hope you will all share speculations of your own in the comments below.
One of the common questions when a Zelda game gets announced is where the game falls in the series’ infamous timeline. Of all the information we do know about Zelda Wii U, we know next to nothing about the story. Considering this game’s subtitle is currently unknown as well, this mystery will most likely be left to the game’s full reveal. Most have put it sometime after the events of Skyward Sword, since Link is seen using the Sailcloth in the 2014 Game Awards gameplay reveal. The item, however, works more like the Deku Leaf in The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.
Speaking of Wind Waker, I’ve actually been playing through the game on Wii U, and I encountered this dialogue sequence with the Great Deku Tree in the above image. He talks about planting saplings throughout the Great Sea and one day the world will be one vast landmass. We know this eventually comes to past thanks to Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks taking place years after the events of Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. It might be a stretch, but I think it’s very possible that Zelda Wii U could take place near the end of the timeline. It would explain the mechanical-like enemy seen in the debut trailer, as well as the fancy arrow Link shot it with at the end of the first trailer. Technology would be more advanced later in the timeline; hence trains being around in Spirit Tracks.
Whatever the case, the timeline question, while interesting, isn’t really going to affect gameplay. However, considering the Zelda timeline is such a point of interest for the series, it’s just fun to think about what we’ll see from the entry and how it will relate to the other games.
When Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma first showcased Zelda Wii U, he highlighted the original The Legend of Zelda game to explain the game’s influence on the open world gameplay. He also highlighted The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker as his last attempt to make a seamless world within the Great Sea, but there were still limits to how players interacted with the world. It seems clear that Aonuma wants the next Zelda game to feel like a vast world, one the player explores at their own pace without being led by the ear. While you’ve had certain levels of freedom in Zelda games, you really can’t go off the beaten path too often without the help of cheats and glitches.
Aonuma tackled this with the game A Link Between Worlds. Harkening back to the world of A Link to the Past, the player had access to pretty much every item in the game from the get-go, provided they had the rupees necessary to buy or rent them. This also meant that the theme of finding items in dungeons was no longer a thing, and dungeons could be tackled in any order. It’s unclear how this will influence Zelda Wii U, if at all. If dungeons can indeed be tackled in any order the player chooses, there must be ways the player can progress without being stopped from progress for one reason or another. This is another issue that may remain a mystery, since we have yet to see the inside of any dungeons in the available gameplay footage.
Zelda Wii U was originally scheduled to come out in holiday 2015, but Aonuma shocked hopeful fans with a video announcement revealing the game’s delay. Not only that, but the game was also absent from Nintendo’s 2015 E3 Digital Event. Fans wondered what had become of the title, and some even speculated that the project was cancelled entirely in order to move it to Nintendo’s next platform, the NX. Nintendo quashed those fears with the reveal of the game at the end of its Twilight Princess HD announcement during a November Nintendo Direct.
A recent rumor has recently surfaced suggesting that the next Zelda game would be coming out on both the Wii U and NX. This makes sense to me. While we admittedly have no concrete information as to when the NX will launch, most seem to believe it will happen before the end of this year. If that’s the case, and Zelda Wii U indeed launches in 2016 as well, I don’t see Nintendo releasing the game on Wii U alone. Considering this is the 30th anniversary of the series, it seems fitting to have it be both the potential last hurrah for Wii U and opening gambit of NX. As some may remember, this was also the case for the original launch of Twilight Princess back on GameCube and Wii. Whatever the case, it’s a great move in my mind for fans who want to experience this long-awaited entry in the series.
The aforementioned rumor also revealed the possibility that, for the first time in the Legend of Zelda series, you will have the option to play as a male or female Link. This goes back to the original reveal of the game where players speculated that Link might be a girl, as Aonuma teased that the revealed hero may not have been the well-known Hero of Time. Aonuma later went back on that comment, revealing that he was fascinated by the reaction and the theory that Link might be a girl. It makes me wonder what Aonuma may have been thinking at the time.
I remember how excited some people got on social media when Linkle, the “female Link,” was revealed in Hyrule Warriors Legends. I can’t tell you how much awesome fan art I saw in the next few days. Despite being a spin-off, the idea of a female Link gets people excited. Also keep in mind that the last year’s new Zelda game, Triforce Heroes, did not feature a female Link among the multicolored trio, even though you could wear Princess Zelda’s dress! Maybe the developers didn’t want Triforce Heroes to feature the first female Link?
Besides that, Link’s appearance in these trailers has always got me wondering. Remember the first trailers for Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword? In all three, Link was always seen in his green tunic, despite starting each of those games in a different outfit. Most haven’t made much of it, but since the green tunic is so synonymous with the character and other early looks at the Zelda games have featured Link wearing it regardless of what else he wears in each game, it seems strange to me. Have they not finalized the design, or is there something more going on?
There’s also the cloak Link is wearing throughout all three game videos. It looks like it’s not just a one time thing that Link will have in the game, but a piece of equipment. Is it the only piece of its kind, or will players be able to find other pieces to further customize Link’s look? Also, why would Link need a cloak to begin with? One really wild theory I had was that this wasn’t really Link, but actually Princess Zelda in disguise. She wore a cloak in Twilight Princess, and she would have a bigger reason to disguise herself more than Link. I really don’t know, but I’m looking forward to finding out!
Despite all we know about Zelda Wii U, the game remains shrouded in mystery. Even with the recent rumors, we still don’t much about the game’s world, mechanics, story, items, dungeon count, area diversity, landmass size and so much more. It’s like we’ve barely scratched the surface of this allegedly massive game, but that’s what makes it so exciting to me. We really don’t know that much about the game at all, and that’s a massive feat for any game less than nine months away from release. With E3 fast approaching and nothing shown off of the game this year so far, expect this June to be a massive blowout of information, gameplay, and more.
We really are within the final months of speculation for the game. Even though we might know get everything we need to know from its E3 reveal, Zelda Wii U will be more in focus than ever before. For a series that has been around for 30 years, hopefully it has a few more secret chests here and there.
Legend of ZeldaNintendoNintendo NXWii UZelda Wii U