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What the 'Link's Awakening' Remake Means for the Future of Zelda

'Link's Awakening' for the Switch will change the Zelda franchise for the better.

I'm really excited for the Nintendo Switch remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening.

First of all, I have not played the original Link's Awakening, so this is the perfect time for me to give it a shot.

Second, the art style is beautiful, cute, and Link looks so adorable, I love it. I've heard some people that aren't a fan of the style because Link's Awakening has darker undertones, similar to Majora's Mask. But I think that this is likely a Wind Waker situation, and we just have to see the style in context of the final game. But hey, if you don't like it, that's cool. Whatever floats your goat.

I do think this new style is part of what makes this remake significant though. Past Zelda remakes jumped only a console or two, at most, translating a GameCube era Zelda to HD, so the art styles stay mostly the same, just in higher quality graphics. But because Link's Awakening is such a huge leap console-wise, jumping about five generations, the art style does have to be significantly changed. And I think this is one of the ways in which Nintendo is using this remake to test the waters for future top-down Zeldas.

Third, I think that this is really exciting for the Zelda franchise as a whole. We know that they're already starting to work on a new main series Zelda game, and that it will likely take a few years before we see anything. I think there is likely a few different possibilities:

  • We could see a, sort of, direct sequel to Breath of the Wild in the style of Majora's Mask where you keep the main core gameplay, but have the game set in a new location. Which would be cool, and I would play the heck out of it.
  • Or we could see something brand new that does something totally different with the Zelda series. Which is also likely. Nintendo is always trying to reinvent themselves and try new things, so I wouldn't be surprised if the next main series Zelda was totally unique.
  • Or we could see another top-down Zelda in the style of A Link Between Worlds. I think that with the Link's Awakening remake, Nintendo is testing the water for interest in top-down Zelda games on the Switch. And I think if this goes well, we will likely see original top-down Zelda games on the Switch in the future.

Which is good news! A Link Between Worlds is probably my favourite Zelda game after Breath of the Wild. It's really awesome. If Nintendo went ahead and did a similar game to ALBW on the Switch, I would crap my pants with joy. Top-down Zeldas used to only really be for handheld consoles post-Ocarina of Time. But the Switch is a home console-handheld hybrid, and it changes the rules of what's possible.

As I am writing this, Nintendo revealed the upcoming Cadence of Hyrule, a Crypt of the Necrodancer crossover with The Legend of Zelda coming to the Switch. Crypt of the Necrodancer is an indie action-rhythm game that sounds cool—though I have not played—and this new game, Cadence of Hyrule is in the Necrodancer style, but set within the Zelda universe. That's right, Nintendo is licensing their characters to be used by an indie developer. I don't really know what to expect from this title, but I definitely think it's worth checking out. And I think this proves my point that Nintendo is looking for a variety of different and new things to do with the Zelda series, including top-down style games. Now, Cadence of Hyrule isn't your typical Zelda, but stylistically it borrows heavily from A Link to the Past—and it sure ain't BOTW, I'll tell you that much. So I think it's safe to say that if this does well, we will see more of this kind of thing in Zelda's future.

So check out Link's Awakening when it comes to the Switch if you want a healthy variety of Zelda games in the future. Or don't. I'm not your dad.

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