While I doubt anything will stop Zelda fans from gathering their rupees for the November 22nd release of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, there’s news of a surprising wrinkle in the upcoming game. Turns out Ninty has decided to shake up the dungeon order in the game. Entirely.
According to Joystiq, Nintendo dropped Zelda’s traditional linearity in favor of enabling players to hit the dungeons in any order. Now, if you’re a longtime Zelda fan like me, you’re thinking, “Wait wait wait, what does this mean for obtaining items?” Well, it appears that Link will have access to all of his classic and new items via a special shop. So theoretically you’ll be able to get your hands on the hookshot, bow, etc. right after you press start.
My feelings on this are skewed, mostly negative. I do like the idea of Zelda taking a more nonlinear approach, but I’m hesitant about what it means for the storyline and difficulty curve. Wouldn’t it suck to to throw your mind against dungeons 7 and 8 first, then frolic through the easier dungeons like 1, 2, and 3? And what about puzzle techniques that are best learned in dungeon 1 or 2… if I started with #3, would I be able to solve it without slamming my 3DS off the floor in ire?
The aforementioned concerns are relatively minor ones. Ready for the big ones?
1) What happens the the magic of hunting down a dungeon’s exclusive item, then using it to solve the remaining puzzles and defeat the boss? I don’t know if I can live without this formula. Zelda dungeons gain their identity from their exclusive items. For instance, the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time was a pain in the ass until you found the Longshot (okay, it’s a pain in the ass, period). Now, let’s think in ALBW terms. How much of a buzzkill would it be if Link walked right into the Water Temple, his hand right on the trigger of the Longshot? You’d mow right through the place.
2) What about retreading old areas with new items? One of the best parts of completing a dungeon is exiting with a brand new item to help explore the world map. You know the feeling–using your spiffy new Boomerang to open new areas and unearth treasure in old ones. It’s addictive, just ask any Metroid fan. But now you’re telling me I’ll just rent [insert item here] to uncover [insert secret here] at anytime? No deal. That’s too easy. I want to salivate over secrets. I want to make mental notes about unreachable treasure. And then I want to leave a dungeon and point my shiny new Hookshot at a chest full of Nayru-knows-what.
I trust Nintendo when it comes to Zelda. They have yet to mail-in an awful game in the series. But then again, they’ve never deviated from the get-item-solve-dungeon formula like this. It’ll be interesting to see if A Link Between Worlds can create the same tension and mystery with all items rent-ready from the start.