A Closer Look at the Trailer for The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

As this is a clip from the recent Nintendo Direct, in a different format from the Super Mario 3D World trailer seen yesterday, so too will this analysis follow a different format.

Here, Nintendo Company President Satoru Iwata explains a screenshot previously seen on Miiverse which displays a shop containing several items which series fans know to be key items– the type you normally find within dungeons, such as bows and hookshots. He points out that normally in Zelda games, the “unwritten rule” was that you would find an item within a dungeon, then use it to solve that dungeon’s particular puzzles. But now, he says that they are rethinking that particular convention.

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In A Link Between Worlds, there are various dungeons, just like in other Zelda titles. However, from a certain point in this new title, the order you approach each dungeon and how you do so is up to you. So, to a large degree, the player can decide how to progress through the story.

Now, the shop plays a very important role. It’s called “Ravio’s Shop,” and items are immediately available there near the beginning of the game. That way, the player can decide which items to rent and eventually purchase based on the dungeon they choose to challenge next. You have to consider your destination and how much money you have to make the most of your visits to Ravio’s Shop.

I hope you enjoy the flexibility provided by this unique Zelda adventure.

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This is very interesting to me. As you might remember from my review of the original Legend of Zelda, one aspect I truly valued in that game and some of the earlier installments in the series was the ability to more or less go anywhere you wanted and take on any dungeon you wished at virtually any time, save for the very last one. Even then, you could choose how you wanted to approach that final ninth level, with some people even choosing to conquer the entire game without even picking up a single sword!

Early on in my quest during one playthrough, I opted to go to Level 8 to get the Magic Key, just because I could. Funnier still, I completed the dungeon by accident, in that I didn’t even find the item I originally went there for the first time through.

But then you look at something like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which contained one portion which let you choose the order, and doing so in one fashion would actually break the game. To be frank, that seemed to show where the developers’ priorities lay, in allowing the story to dictate the gameplay and minimizing the degree of player choice that was so relatively prolific in earlier installments.

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That said, this new development rather intrigues me. If you asked me how to bring that freedom back to the series, something like this would probably not be at the top of my list of ideas. But the more I think about it, the more interesting it becomes. This is helped along by a post Producer Eiji Aonuma made on Miiverse:

You may be wondering what in the world we mean by “renting” items. Well, let me explain.

In Ravio’s shop, each of the items you can use in the game are on display from the beginning. But Ravio only has one of each item in stock, so if he sells them he’ll go bust! For this reason, he set the purchase price for each item at an outrageously high rate. Unfortunately, that means Link can’t move forward and Ravio can’t sustain his business, so he decided to start renting the items at reasonable prices. The rental period for each item is unlimited, so you can rent them for as long as you’d like, but if Link falls during his adventure and it’s game over, the items will be returned to the shop. If you want to continue playing, you’ll have to rent them again. After a while, you can eventually purchase the items, and once you do, you’ll be able to keep using them even if you game over.

He goes on to note how this seems similar to the three-day system in Majora’s Mask, but that if you have the money, you can rent every item in the game at the start of your quest. I didn’t note this in my preview, but Link has quite a few items in the demo; I thought this was just so people could play around with different items, but there was apparently a deeper reason for it all along.

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Nintendo is taking a roundabout way of getting there, but I’m glad to see they seem to have found a way to restore the sense of freedom which was so prevalent in the original Legend of Zelda, as well as this game’s predecessor, A Link to the Past. In fact, it’s possible that this will allow an even greater sense of freedom, but at the same time, one has to wonder what will become of the sense of accomplishment that comes with discovering which item is waiting to be discovered as you delve deep into the dungeons of Hyrule.

As for Ravio, Iwata pointed out the resemblance he bears to Nabbit from New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U, but explains that they have nothing to do with one-another, and that since the developers for both games share workspace, one team might have influenced the other.

I have to admit: I’m slightly disappointed by this. I’m not normally one to advocate any excuse for a crossover, a) this wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen Mario elements creep into Hyrule, and b) I can’t help but think that it would be downright awesome if the reason Nabbit was stealing all that stuff from the Mushroom Kingdom was so he could flip it in Hyrule for a profit. Not that it appears he’s selling the same items, but… details.

We haven’t long to wait, as The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds will arrive on the Nintendo 3DS in North America on November 22nd.

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David Oxford

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