The Legend of Zelda is one of the most recognizable names in all of video games. It is easily one of Nintendo’s biggest brands, if not the absolute biggest. While details are largely under wraps regarding the next entry in the long-running franchise, we already know that Nintendo is planning to release an HD remake of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on the Wii U. Regarding a new adventure, the company stated that it’s looking into new ways to reinvent the series. What that entails is a total mystery, but perhaps what Zelda needs is some new blood at the helm. Maybe, just maybe, the treasured series should be developed by a third-party studio so it can get that reinvigoration that it so desperately needs.
Skyward Sword was the last Zelda game to appear on a home console, and while it was certainly a good game, it lacked that energy that was so prominent in classics such as Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and Wind Waker. It was a new adventure, and it was captivating, but it was hardly exciting. What developers could Nintendo entrust the Zelda name to? What studios would be able to take Nintendo’s prized epic and make it feel special once more? Here are seven developers that would probably get the job done in prime fashion.
7. Team Ninja
The Zelda series has always offered a nice mix of combat and puzzle-solving. While the puzzles continue to evolve and test players’ wits, combat has been mostly the same since Ocarina of Time. The action parts of Zelda are in dire need of a change, and Team Ninja could be the studio to bring about that change. While we can’t expect Nintendo’s fantasy series to ever be as bloody as Ninja Gaiden, Metroid: Other M proved that Team Ninja can work within the boundaries of Nintendo’s family-friendly appeal while still offering plenty of fast-paced combat that’s both satisfying and entertaining.
6. Retro Studios
After working on the Metroid Prime games and Donkey Kong Country Returns, it’s extremely evident that Retro Studios can take a well-known Nintendo franchise and fill it with new life. What’s so impressive is that the developer was able to make these particular IPs feel familiar, yet completely new at the same time. That’s exactly what Zelda needs, and Retro may be the studio that can pull off that feat successfully. When you take the dev’s close relationship with Nintendo and its ability to work well with established brands into account, Retro may be the ideal studio for reinventing the Zelda name.
5. Former Vigil Games staff
This console generation, Vigil Games was responsible for delivering two of the greatest Zelda games in recent memory: Darksiders and Darksiders 2. Sadly, no one purchased the studio when THQ went under, forcing it to dissolve. While most of the employees have found work with other developers, it would be wise for Nintendo to pick up any remaining ex-Vigil staff members. What we would get is a Zelda game with plenty of input from folks who are fans of the series and know how to make good games. Also, the aforementioned Retro Studios reportedly picked up some former Vigil employees, so that suggestion stands.
4. Monolith Soft
Xenoblade Chronicles managed to go down as one of the greatest games on the Wii, and it still stands as a true testament to the RPG genre. The game offered a lush, sprawling world and seemingly countless hours worth of gameplay. Perhaps Nintendo should employ the studio’s skills to create a Zelda game with a world that matters. For as lovely as Skyward Sword was, its setting left much to be desired in terms of side quests and exploration. Monolith Soft could no doubt create a Hyrule that’s exciting to behold and worth getting lost in.
If Nintendo would rather deliver a compelling story instead of a vast, open world, Mistwalker might be the developer for the job. The Last Story was an incredibly emotional ride filled with memorable characters and plot developments. Sadly, Zelda has recycled the same story for far too long, losing a bit of its mystique in the process. Mistwalker has the know-how to create a fantastical setting that’s fun to adventure in, as well multifaceted characters that you can care about. Coincidentally, Zelda needs both of those things in order to evolve into something bigger on the Wii U.
2. Platinum Games
While this suggestion is a little bit out there, it’s not too crazy when you really think about it. Okay, scratch that, it’s actually really crazy, but maybe that’s what Nintendo and Zelda need. Konami has already entrusted its prized Metal Gear brand into the hands of Platinum Games, and the result is the highly anticipated Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. While we couldn’t possibly expect a Zelda: Revengeance type of game, it would be cool to see Link engage in some hectic, over-the-top combat. Maybe we’d even get to encounter some crazy new weapons and bosses unlike any we’ve ever seen in a Zelda game before. Now that would be rad! Plus, Nintendo seems to have a pretty good relationship with Platinum these days.
1. From Software
While all of the previously listed studios would be great candidates and could potentially take Zelda in a fresh new direction, perhaps no developer is more well-suited than From Software. Both Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls managed to deliver remarkable fantasy experiences, offering a world that was both beautiful and terrifying. Is a tonally dark Zelda game something people want? It’s hard to say, but if From decided to undertake Nintendo’s massive franchise, it could undoubtedly go either way. The developer could potentially give us a more brooding Zelda game, or yet another brightly colored adventure. Hell, From would most likely be able to pull off a nice mix of both light and dark themes. Whatever the case may be, Nintendo should at least take into consideration lending its prized IP to an outside developer, and From could be the optimal choice.
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