by Carlos Gomez (aka The Lost Hylian)
If there is one thing that Nintendo loves to do with its franchises, it’s to re-release them. They do it over and over and over again. Yet each time they do, I find rupees falling out of my wallet at a speed that no amount of jar smashing can recoup. I’m sure some of the AZP readers are the same. For me, it doesn’t matter how many times a title I love is released: I am going to buy it.
For example, the original Zelda has been released nine times. From its original 1983 roll out to the special edition Game and Watch pending a November 2021 arrival, the “Big N” has found a way to make me pay for what I already have. I have spent hundreds of dollars on this series, and today I decided to ask, “Why?” Is it nostalgia? Probably. Is it because now as a parent I love watching my kids master the same games that I was so enamored with? Likely.
I must admit there is a unique joy while playing some of the newer re-releases that have been improved. The increased responsiveness in Skyward Sword HD is head and shoulders above the previous iteration. The original release was clunky and cumbersome, and I could not get those oddly shaped keys to work right to save my life. Another example of improvement that comes to mind is the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time. That temple, which has been long heralded as the most frustrating “dungeon” of the series, was “fixed.” When it was released on the 3DS, it arrived with some helpful hints to assist with adjusting water levels so that you didn’t wander aimlessly for hours. If you played the original as I did, you remember the never-ending tragedy that was the Water Temple. I spent many hours lost in the temple, struggling to make my way through. The new and improved version keeps puzzle complexity without being overly obtuse.
To be fair, not all titles have received refreshes. Some titles, like Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, seem to reappear on each system and be slapped with a fresh price tag, despite being a carbon copy of the original version. A minor reprieve to this comes with the game’s inclusion with the Nintendo/Super Nintendo Online service. Finally, Nintendo includes the title, along with myriad others, as a part of an online service. Nintendo also has a habit of re-releasing titles that coincide with a newer release (looking again to Skyward Sword’s release and the imagery of Skyloft being eerily similar to the trailer for the Breath of the Wild sequel on the Switch). Releasing Skyward Sword drives interest for the upcoming title and provides the opportunity for connections diehard fans cling to. Some of our team had some quick reactions to the new trailer to include that exact comparison in their blog post.
We must admit, however, that, in essence, each new title is simply a reinterpretation of the older ones. Breath of the Wild is the perfect example of that concept: Nintendo took the idea and spirit that made the original Zelda so amazing and then retold it. Different dressings, for sure. Graphics cards, art styles, and weapon sets are improved dramatically, but it’s still the same story with the same core spirit.
For me, it’s more than that, though. For me, the Zelda series is about connections. It’s a series that has grown and evolved as I have. It has been connected to me during key moments in my life. I remember receiving Link's Awakening while spending Christmas with my father as a young boy. It was a rare occasion when my entire family was together, and I will never forget sitting with my cousins on the couch in the living room trying to get all of the light from the nearby stand lamp just to see the screen. I remember hanging out with my best friend when the Twilight Princess trailer was released and the elation and disbelief at the quality of the title. I haven’t seen that friend in years, but that moment will always be one of my fondest memories of them. Just last week I watched my nine-year-old son defeat Waterblight Ganon for the first time. I silently lamented for him as he struggled losing over and over then cheered when he achieved victory (we only fist-bumped; he's too old for hugs). This was a moment we shared, and it was thanks to Zelda. As I watched him play, it reminded me of when I first beat Aquamentus, the dragon creature of the original title's first dungeon, and the elation of overcoming what felt like an insurmountable opponent.
Zelda is more than a game. It’s a part of the memories I hold dearest to me, and it’s woven into the connections I share with those I love the most. So, yes, I do buy each game over and over with each system release. I do it without flinching or hesitation. How could I say no to an old friend that’s come to visit me again after a time apart? How could I say no to reliving the magic of the adventures that I find so inspirational or pass the opportunity to share my enthusiasm with the next generation of gamers in my home? I can’t, and I won't. You can’t put a price on the heart.
What do you think?! Do you buy the re-released Zelda titles? Why or why not? Have I finally fanboyed too far? Please share your thoughts in the comments or by reaching me via Twitter, Instagram, or my Facebook page.