Would you play a Zelda game starring a non-playable character (NPC) from the series? Carlos explains why this could work for future titles.
by Carlos Gomez (a.k.a. The Lost Hylian)
I was playing Cadence of Hyrule a few weeks ago, and I found myself really enjoying the unique game mechanics and approach to Zelda the game offers. The game is so amazingly different but still so Zelda.
This made me really think about the different ways a Zelda story could be told–not just about Zelda or Link but about all of the lore of Hyrule we could explore. By using different game styles and characters, there are so many stories within the world of Hyrule that could be explored.
As fans, we all seem to gobble up everything about the series. I even have Link’s Crossbow Training because, well… it's a Zelda game. There are so many ways that Nintendo could really use the vast list of characters to tell stories of Hyrule, both big and small, from epic histories to quirky stories of daily living.
The series currently has 19 official games, which will soon be 20 when Tears of the Kingdom has its official release. That means that there is a lot of material that can be fleshed out to create new and immersive games.
I’m not talking about the way Nintendo uses Mario as a namesake for various titles like Mario Tennis or Dr. Mario, nor do I envision the franchise releasing a title like Metroid Prime Pinball (though, come to think of it, a “Bowling with Gorons” game sounds pretty interesting). Instead, I would want to recognize that there are more opportunities to create titles like Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. Released as a third-party title, it’s a prime example where Nintendo really made an effort to expand the lore of the series. Though the canonical nature of the game is in doubt and debated, the end result is clear: it provides a refreshing approach to expanding the world of Hyrule and gives the player a glimpse into what led the kingdom to its unfortunate demise prior to Breath of the Wild.
While I really love that level of exploration of Age of Calamity, not every title would need to be on such a grand scale. More importantly, they wouldn’t even have to have Link or Zelda as a playable character. Perhaps a game that simply takes several Ocarina of Time NPCs and creates various mini games for them, like the postman, Saria, a castle guard, or maybe even Epona. The game could be set up as chapters and like a book of short stories; it could be filled with small, self-contained adventures. These “Tales From Hyrule'' could not only provide fun game mechanics but also serve to flesh out the franchise and give insight to little-known characters.
Another small character who could tell an interesting Hylian tale is Agitha from Twilight Princess. She is a young rich girl who believes she is the “princess” of the Bug Kingdom. In the game, Link gives her insects in exchange for rewards and eventually can even earn the Giant Wallet. With her intense fascination with bugs, she would be a prime candidate for a Pikmin-style game. She could travel around Hyrule ridding the land of a Skulltula infestation and saving the native insects of her world. The fact that she seems a little crazy definitely opens the door for fun fantasy elements to include a unique art style, or perhaps she could even inhabit different insect bodies. This might even pave the way for a Minish Cap-style adventure.
Out of all of the characters in the series, the easiest to create a game for would be a Zelda character who already has four games of their own. Yes, that character would be Tingle. Many remember Tingle from his first appearance in Majora’s Mask; however, most people don’t know that he has his own titles on the DS, starting with Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland. He followed on with three more games and has somewhat of a cult following in Japan.
Not achieving the same level of success in the United States, he still offers a good sense of comic relief, and his uniqueness makes him versatile. Historically, he has been a map maker, and because of this, I see him as an explorer. Perhaps he stumbles on a mystery in Hyrule Castle and must search the grounds to gain useful items and clues to solve the mystery. Luigi’s Mansion 3 already has a game engine that could translate very well to this concept, and using the same cartoonish art style suits Tingle's personality very well.
Any of these games could be chock full of Easter eggs and bits of lore. The game wouldn’t have to have a direct effect on any particular timeline or impact in furthering any particular plot. These games could tell the stories of the NPCs we have come to love and enhance the game experience. Who wouldn’t want to know more about Groose from Skyward Sword or learn more about Medli, who assists the great Valoo in The Wind Waker? There is a treasure trove of adventures that can be had, and as a fan, I would gladly spend my Rupees on them.
With all these ideas and the many more that I’m sure you, the reader, have, it does cause some fears to bubble up to the surface. Like I mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t want the Zelda series to become like Mario with the characters slapped onto every title for the sake of making a game more marketable, nor would I want it to be like Metroid Federation Force, a game that, despite having “Metroid '' in the title, seems to lack the spirit or heart of what makes that franchise great. The point is if Nintendo did this right, it would be a whole new way to experience the world of Hyrule.
What do you think? Would you want to explore Hyrule through the eyes of an NPC? Would you see a game like this as a simple money grab?