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January 23, 2013

Nintendo vows to rethink its approach to the ‘Zelda’ series

Posted in: Games

A look at the Wii U edition of 'The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker." (Nintendo of America)

A look at the Wii U edition of “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.” (Nintendo of America)

Nintendo’s Wii U launched in November with a new entry in the “Super Mario Bros.” series, but missing in action were some of the game makers’ top-flight brands, namely “Mario Kart” and its “Legend of Zelda” franchise. Nintendo is quiet no more on its plans for each series, and in announcing today Wii U editions for each, the company pledged that it would completely “rethink the conventions of ‘Zelda.'”

What, exactly, does that mean for the series, which recently completed a 25th anniversary celebration? Nintendo offered a few hints, as producer Eiji Aonuma promised a game that would include some form of multiplayer option as well as more of an open-world design.

“I’m referring,” Aonuma said in the latest installment of Nintendo Direct, “to things such as the player is supposed to complete the dungeons in a certain order. That you are supposed to play by yourself, the things that we’ve come to take for granted recently.” His comments were translated for the American audience by Nintendo.

“We want to set aside these conventions, get back to basics,” Aonuma  added. He said Nintendo tried to implement such changes to the Wii’s 2011 title “Skyward Sword,” but the company struggled in finding ways to change “the linear structure of the game.”

No release date was set, and Aonuma  cautioned that it would “take some time to complete.”

A look at the Wii U edition of 'The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker." (Nintendo of America).

A look at the Wii U edition of “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.” (Nintendo of America).

In the meantime, Aonuma said Nintendo would be re-making GameCube title “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.” The game, celebrating its 10th anniversary, introduced a more cartoonish look to the “Zelda” series, and Aonuma said the title was studied closely in plotting the feel of a brand new entry in the franchise for the Wii U.

“We continued to experiment with converting past ‘Zelda’ art styles into HD as we continued to consider graphical styles for the new game, but in fact felt as if it had been transformed into something entirely new,” he said.

“Wind Waker” is due this fall. Nintendo President Satoru Iwata cited the game’s “whimsical and endearing cartoon style” as being a good entry point for those new to the Wii U or “Zelda” universe. The game will be entirely playable on the Wii U GamePad.

Nintendo also unveiled that there will be a new Wii U edition of “Mario Kart,” as well as a Wii U take on the 3-D “Super Mario Galaxy,” but no details were offered. Both will be shown at the 2013 edition of E3, which is set for June 11-13 in Los Angeles. Also announced today: The team that created “Kirby’s Epic Yarn” was deep into a game featuring Mario pal Yoshi.

Nintendo has said consumers in the U.S. purchased 890,000 Wii U units from the system’s launch through the end of 2012.

January has been a relatively quiet release month for Nintendo, save for the launch this week of Ron Gilbert’s download title “The Cave,” but there are plenty of notable games on the horizon.

Among the most anticipated perhaps, is superhero title “The Wonderful 101.” Nintendo showcased a new trailer for the game, which boasts a Saturday morning cartoon look and a host of goofy superheroes, including Toilet Bowl Man and Vending Machine Man.

Nintendo still hasn’t unveiled a release date for the game, which was promised within the Wii U’s “launch window.” Nintendo has stated that the launch window closes at the end of March.

– Todd Martens

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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