Fans of the Zelda franchise will be no stranger to the series' habit of re-invention. From the infamous (and only) foray into side-scrolling in 1987's Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, to 2003's cel-shaded Wind Waker, a game which split the fan base down to the core for it's radical graphical style.
It seems that the up-coming instalment for the new Wii U console will see no change in Nintendo's constant efforts to re-invent the series, and is geared up to be no different in their ability to surprise even the most hardcore Heroes of Time.
In Eiji Aonuma's recent announcement video uploaded onto their UK Youtube account, the producer spoke in front of a blank white screen wearing a casual grey Zelda hoody from the 20th Anniversary merchandise and made some bold statements about the possibly future of what is arguably the Japanese game giant's second most beloved franchise;
"Our mission in developing this new Zelda game for Wii U is quite plainly to rethink the conventions of Zelda. I'm referring to things like the expectation that the player is supposed to complete dungeons in a certain order, or that you're supposed to play by yourself. The things that we've come to take for granted recently. We want to set aside these 'conventions', get back to basics and create a newborn Zelda game so that the players today can best enjoy the real essence of the franchise.We had actually worked on this kind of challenge with Skyward Sword but we weren't able to put effort into changing the linear-path structure of the game. I hope to be able to talk to you in more detail about how it will change after I see it come together a bit more."
Some of the more striking parts of that speech are obvious, yet cryptic - lines talking about the expectations of completing dungeons in a certain order implies a more non-linear game structure - but in a Zelda game, you collect new items and abilities as you go along, that you then use in the next dungeon as you couldn't have completed it without that handy Hookshot that you got previously, for example. How would a non-linear structure stick to the format of gradual progression? Perhaps this encourages you to frequent dungeons multiple times to find various hidden secrets and sidequests once you have the right tools? Next is the expectation that you're 'supposed to play by yourself'.
Now let's get this straight - Zelda did multiplayer back on the Gamecube's 'Four Swords Adventure'. Brilliant and fresh as it was, it's safe to assume that this isn't going to be another co-op 4 player game. And as it doesn't out-right state 'multiplayer', it's probably not going to have you running around with two Links, or anything else. My guess for what is going to come draws it's foundation from Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii. In that game, while one person was running as Mario, the other used a Wiimote to play as a little fella who acted as Mario's little helper, stunning enemies and collecting Star bits.
With Wii U's new GamePad controller, it makes even more sense to want to utilise and show off a new feature like this. Most Zelda games include a helper that speaks to Link during his journeys, which particularly helps as Link is the typical silent protagonist. These characters include Ocarina of Time's Navi the fairy, whose incessant 'Hey!' has become a long running joke in internet culture. Whether the one playing Link will be using the GamePad, or the theoretical 'helper' while player 1 uses a wiimote & nunchuk is anyone's guess at this point.
What helps this argument even more is the franchise has already had similar co-op interactions with Wind Waker's tingle tuner, a tool that gave Link extra help in the form of the strange man-fairy Tingle. Not everyone could use this feature however, as you needed a GBA cable to connect your handheld to your Gamecube, which most people only would have had due to one coming with Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles or the aforementioned Four Swords Adventure game.
But maybe players will get a new chance to use the Tingle Tuner with the GamePad as the announcement of a brand new Zelda game wasn't all that Aonuma had up his sleeves this January.
A HD-Remake of the controversial Gamecube classic Wind Waker is on it's way and, while only seeing a couple of screenshots, the finished product is no doubt going to look gorgeous. The fan base, however, is already splitting once again - forums around the globe are buzzing about the new remake, with the response from some fans stirring up yet more controversy by arguing that the new HD graphics are actually detracting from the original cel-shaded beauty the game was once criticised for having in the first place.
I personally embrace change as it'll be even more interesting to give it another well-deserved play through once it's released, but some people are always going to find adapting hard to get used to but with a series like The Legend of Zelda, it's clear to say that change will always be one of the series' staples.
With no official release date, Wind Waker HD is set to be released in the Autumn of 2013, with the new Zelda Wii U scheduled to be released even later.
Watch Eiji Aonuma's presentation here