Now I won't say that I offered inspiration to the latest Call of Duty… because I obviously didn't. What I did do was suggest a change to the game franchise that kind of, sort of, made it into the game. Which I think we can all agree is still pretty impressive… if you're easily impressed. A year ago, I stated that Call of Duty would be improved by the Power Glove from The Legend of Zelda, and Advanced Warfare included exo-suits. That's basically the same thing (if you ignore all the differences). I've always known I was a visionary…
I began blogging just over a year ago. So far I've written about being a Gamer-Teacher, explored some of my Weird Theories about various videogames and generally talked about why games are good things. Yet the blog I began with was on this particular subject: Which Games would benefit from a Zelda Weapon? Because the conversation were so fun the first time, and I'm looking for a nostalgia trip for myself, I'd like to revisit this topic.
Below are examples of weapons from Link's arsenal, and the games I believe they might improve. Some are my own ideas, whilst at least one is inspired by the reader response from the previous blog all those one year ago. The last blog offered individual games that would benefit from a Zelda item, whereas these suggestions are a bit more general.
The Hylian Shield.
There were a couple of replies last year that called for this item of glorious gorgeousness to find its way into another game. The claim made at the time was that it would have livened up the otherwise murky landscape of the Gears of War franchise. It was also noted that the design and shape of this handheld barricade could lend themselves to the firefight.
The slanted edges at the top could allow the user to peer over whilst keeping the shield held high; the fact that it can be easily wielded in one hand ensures that the fighter can use a firearm one-handed; the colourful pattern would distract the opposition or focus them on you if your aim is to 'agro' the enemy away from your allies. Link's shield is often used to great effect at deflecting or reflecting enemy attacks, making it way more versatile than your average lump of wood or metal.
Of course, the shield itself does not need to carry the well-known symbols and imagery of the Legend of Zelda series. Keep the shield, but add a colourful design more relevant to the game in question. Why not make this a customisable feature? I'd love to see what patterns and visuals other players could create for their own shields. And by 'love to see', I of course mean 'dread to think' and 'wonder how phallic'.
The Flame Lantern.
When explorers like Nathan Drake or Lara Croft trip, slip or face-plant into a cave, they usually have two lighting options. Firstly, they may have remembered to pack a torch like good little adventurer. Alternatively, they can search for the nearest, most inexplicably convenient torch living nearby. In the Dark Souls games, the player's created protagonist/punching bag is sent down darkened corridors and crevices with the most meagre of lighting.
A simple light or lantern serves as illumination – and a striking atmosphere – but usually inhibits the player-character's ability to fend off foes. Not the Flame Lantern. Not only with this object light your way (and any other extinguished lanterns) but it can also set flammable objects ablaze. This little fire-starter can get you out of serious scrapes, or get you into areas that you though were impassable. Should your adventure game take you too close to a giant spider's web or a group of particularly dry Zombies, the Flame Lantern will burn right through them. It's not the most impressive weapon, but it makes all the difference when monsters get a little bit cuddly.
The Wall Merge ability.
In a recent edition to the franchise, but no less versatile, the Link of A Link Between Worlds is able to drop a dimension and fuse to smooth surfaces like a painting. At first this quirky feature allows Link to slink between tiny gaps in the stonework, or cross gaping holes in the floor. The game then reveals further opportunities to use the Wall Merge: it's quite useful for prising objects stuck to walls, and is really useful for sneaking up on other people.
I'm very open about my uselessness where stealth games are concerned. I have patience in spades, but lack the timing and forward thinking approach that more sneak-orientated games demand. I need all the help I can get, and the Wall Merge ability gives me hope. I rarely seem to reach the baddies before they about-turn, and my hiding places would make the average hide-and-seeker grimace, but if I could blend into the nearest wall… I might have a chance.
The ability to pass through barriers and bridge gaps offers a multitude of gameplay opportunities, but it's the sneakiness of the Wall Merge that appeals to me. Sidling silently past guards, watching there confused faces as they try to remember if that picture was always there, then suddenly barrelling over with the force of the dimension shift. This might take the serious, gritty feel away from most stealth games, but I think it would be worth it for the expression of the henchmen's face as they are 'surprise-glomped'.
Besides, there are very few stealth games where the Wall Merge couldn't logically fit. Whilst Assassin's Creed presents itself as historically accurate, we could imagine this new ability as the user of the Animus exploiting a bug in the system.
The Gale Seeds.
My opinion is completely torn on Fast Travel. On the one hand, I think a large game deserves to be personally travelled and appreciated. If I'm taking part in a Role-Playing Game, then I feel I should appreciate the whole experience. On the other hand, sometimes the only side-quest you have left for 100% completion is on the wrong side of the map and...well…
I am more certain about, is that Fast Travel often feels tacked on to the overall game. Whether you hold to a sense of immersion or not, blinking across the map via a loading screen feels somewhat dislocated. Unless I missed a briefing that explained that all open-world game protagonists suffer from serious blackouts, there is rarely an explanation for skipping chunks of game time.
I'd like to see Fast Travel made more 'included' within the games they are employed. A wonderfully ludicrous way this was achieved was with the Gale Seeds in Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages & Seasons. There are five different magical seeds that could be harvested from trees across both maps, and the Gale Seed had two attributes. If fired against an opponent the seed would summon a mini-tornado which enveloped the target, forcefully removing them from existence. However, when used on the player, the created wind storm would whisk Link into the air and deposit him at one of several locations across the map.
I'm sure there are gamers that would argue that this form of Fast Travel would contrast with the aesthetic of most open-world videogames, but I'm sure the more innovative game developers could find a way to make their own version of the Gale Seed fit the game design. What's more, the fact that the Fast Travel is now a consumable item means that players will, perhaps, rely less on the ability to skip the journey. Too much Fast Travel is wasteful, in more ways than one.
Think of a game where you could jump. That should be a fairly easy task to complete. Now think of a game that let you jump-glide. Slightly more challenging, but I'm sure you can think of one. Now ask yourself: did you prefer the jump or the jump-glide? The answer to that question is really easy.
There are already oodles of games that give more than just a traditional hop in the air. Videogames of all genres are fully aware that gamers enjoy gameplay that doesn't ground the player. Whether it's an unexplained double-jump or a rocket repelled boost jump or a broken-winged glide we can appreciate a big jump. It's simple, gleeful fun. Very few games make the jump-glide look as fun… and fashionable… as the Legend of Zelda, however.
Roc's feather imbues Link with the power to front flip with style across pits and enemies. Whenever this item is unlocked, the hero of Hyrule will spend every journey bouncing and tumbling through the air because walking is for squares. With Roc's Cape however, the front flip is combined with a swift glide through the air, clearing huge distance in one effortless leap. On top of this, each version of the Cape looks pretty stylish, which I think we can all agree is the most important thing when equipping your character for battle. Simple, elegant, cathartic and well worth sharing around.
Pick a game. Any game. Add a Hookshot. It's now a better game. Yes, even Tetris. No, I don't know how that would work. But you know I'm right.
This was a consensus reached in the ensuing discussion of this blogs first outing. There are so many games that employ a grappling hook or gun of some description, and they are always entertaining. Link's Hookshot is one of the best adaptations of this idea. This is partly due to the satisfying clinking of the metal chain as it launches from the handle, and partly due to the physics-bending way it pulls Link towards the target surface without any influence from gravity. The Hookshot serves as an excellent 'fetching' tool too, snatching dropped items from distant ledges or tugging the defences from an armoured enemy. Whilst the abrupt, swift motion looks painful at times, Link has never express any discomfort.
The Hookshot is simple, effective and versatile. The possibilities for this weapon in other games are vast, and the delight they would bring to each game would be tremendous. To prove this point, I refer to Team Fortress 2 and the recent decision to add a Hookshot-esque grappling hook to the game December 2014. I personally think Valve know I just bought a new gaming PC and heard how much I love Hookshots...
Link has a wide variety of toys to share with the other boys and girls, and each one would transfer beautifully into a wide range of games. Since last year I have seen numerous new games try new gameplay features that remind me of tools I've seen in Legend of Zelda. Whilst the inspiration is probably not drawn directly for the Zelda series, I've no doubt that the series will continue to offer inspiration for years to come. For now, why not leave a comment suggesting a game and Zelda weapon that should be combined, or offer an opinion on any of my suggestions?