Over the last couple years, Nintendo’s celebrated four major anniversaries for four of their biggest franchises: Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Kirby – legendary names, all. Of those franchises, only two saw celebratory game compilations – the re-release of Super Mario All-Stars and the recent Kirby’s Dream Collection.
Of all the anniversary gifts Nintendo gave for Zelda‘s silver year, Ocarina of Time 3D was the best gesture in this direction. I think, however, that Zelda fans saw in Ocarina 3D the promise for the series as a whole to live on in future generations of hardware and to be passed down to future generations of gamers. The Operation Moonfall movement for a 3DS follow-up that rebuilds Majora’s Mask proves it: Zelda fans want Nintendo to take steps to ensure that the best games of the series are given the same timeless treatment.
With Wii U, Nintendo has the opportunity to give fans one of the greatest gifts of all: an HD collection assembling all of the best Zelda games together in one convenient up-to-date package.
When it comes to older games, one of the first elements to show its age is the graphical presentation. Animation and modeling standards become obsolete, textures and resolution begin to look muddy – the visual updates in Ocarina of Time 3D were able to take an old classic and turn it into a new classic all over again. While I’m in the camp that would like to see Majora’s Mask on 3DS as well, I’ve always thought in the back of my mind that it’d be better for both Ocarina and Majora to be brought together in an HD compilation on Wii U, with all the same graphical updates but given the full HD treatment.
Of course, with the jump to Wii U, there’s one important Zelda game that’s now unplayable on current hardware: The Wind Waker. While I don’t think Wind Waker needs the same level of updates as the N64 games, adding widescreen and HD resolution support would repair its biggest signs of age while ensuring that those who missed out on GameCube get their chance to give the game a try.
I don’t think simply updating the graphics and presentation would be enough, however. The added touch and motion features from Ocarina of Time 3D would have to be present as well. With the addition of a second analog stick comes the potential for free camera control in the N64 games – a popular feature from the GameCube games, but one that hasn’t been implemented on any piece of hardware they’ve been released for so far.
Some may protest that they don’t want remakes, they want new games. But I don’t think the time spent on such a collection would be time wasted. Adapting Zelda gameplay to the Wii U hardware and bringing some of those old graphical engines up to HD standards could serve as groundwork for a new Wii U Zelda. Once they have a good system in place for a GamePad-based map or inventory screen, or gyro-controlled aiming, that’d be a system they could easily adapt for future games.
Of course, we couldn’t expect such remasters to look anything like the HD Experience demo from E3 2011, but we’ve seen from the 3D games’ previous generational jumps that Nintendo’s pretty skilled at taking old game engines and radically rebuilding them to accommodate better graphics and new gameplay ideas.
In that sense, an HD Zelda collection wouldn’t just be a look back at the series’ past, it’d be a glimpse at the series’ future. Given that it’ll likely be a couple years before we see our first original The Legend of Zelda title on the system, I wouldn’t mind giving the old N64 and GameCube classics a spin on the GamePad while I wait.