Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma is going all-out to ensure that A Link Between Worlds has old-school, open-ended grit to it. He’s dedicated to the point that he spent a whopping three days arguing with his developer over removing a hint in the game. And you know what? They removed it.
Three days. Possibly 72-hours straight for all we know. And all to guarantee that the experience will cater to hardcore fans and usher newbies into classic-style Zelda exploration. Aonuma even insisted that he wanted to “make a game where it would be fun to get stuck and be lost.” Whether this will turn-off modern gamers remains to be seen.
Soon as I read the news, I instantly thought of the NES Zelda, which went skimpy on hints and let you discover dungeons at your own pace. Remember having to burn a random bush to locate a dungeon? I doubt A Link Between Worlds will have objectives that are that unclear, but at least the game won’t ride us from dungeon to dungeon on a magic carpet.
While I’m stoked for the new Zelda, the bigger issue here is a backlash against the gaming trend of hand-holding. The past decade-and-a-half has all but evicted the magic of exploration and challenge in favor of moving things along. Some games are simply linear (Final Fantasy XIII), while others spoil exploration by pointing you to the finish line (Metroid Fusion). Worse yet are the games that play themselves once they’ve determined that difficulty is bad for you. It’s awful, like a basketball coach urging you to pass the ball instead of refine your jump-shot. The New Super Mario series is the biggest offender here, and I was even appalled when Super Mario Galaxy 2 offered to complete a jumping segment for me.
This upcoming Zelda is a throwback in more ways that just its Link to the Past-inspired overworld. I was on the fence about the nonlinear dungeon order, but soon as I heard the game would go thin on hints, I was sold. November 22, my friends.