When the first footage from the upcoming open world game The Legend of Zelda was screened back at 2014's E3 it seemed a bit like some impossible dream come true for those who had grown up alongside the series.
The Legend of Zelda games lend themselves well to adaption for open world mechanics, with a wealth of story, characters and locations to be explored. Each game in the series has always had some aspect of exploration involved, from dungeons to other worlds, but The Legend of Zelda Wii U is set to blow them all out of the water with HD graphics, side quests and an open world as big as the Wii U hardware can handle.
Whilst this is shaping up to be one of the most exciting iterations of the series, the ones that came before are by no means suddenly made redundant by it. So what can The Legend of Zelda for Wii U learn from its predecessors?
Get Rid Of Those Annoying Characters
We get it Nintendo, your brand is built largely on cute, quirky, cartoonish characters and for the most part this works. But then you get the man-child wannabe fairy Tingle who seems to continuously pop up through the series for no other reason that to make players uncomfortable.
Sure Tingle does serve a purpose, either as a quest giver or as a chart / map maker, but every interaction with him is painfully uncomfortable. Never mind the disturbing portrayal of whatever kind of delusion he's under, which surely isn't the best way to portray the mentally disturbed (though to be fair there's a few characters in the Legend of Zelda mythology that would fit that criticism).
And don't get us (or anyone) started on Navi. Go ahead and include a fairy, that's a central facet of some Legend of Zelda games, but it goes without saying that if we're going to be continually hit with a barrage of "Hey! Listen!!" whilst traversing the gorgeous Hyrulian landscape that expensive Wii U pad is going out the window...
Have A Cohesive Central Villain
As for the villainous characters, give us a clear and present antagonist throughout. Games like Ocarina of Time worked so well because Ganondorf was always there, mocking you from the shadows (or in the case of Phantom Ganon, from a painting).
In Twilight Princess he felt like more of an afterthought shoehorned in just in case the King of Twilight didn't cut it.
Ganondorf is to Link as Bowser is to Mario, so having him appear just as a background character just doesn't really feel right (the same applies to Link Between Worlds). If you're going to do Ganondorf, do him right.
Sort Out The Weapons
When asking someone their favorite Legend of Zelda game the likes of Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker will almost always rank pretty high on the list. These games had a more traditional approach to weapon collecting - you start small and gradually build up to bigger, better weapons and stronger shields.
The 3DS's Link Between Worlds, whilst a fantastic top down dungeoner in itself, employed an irritating take on the weapons system with the renting mechanic (yes you could eventually buy weaponry, but we're not made of rupees!).
True, this did provide the game with a more challenging dynamic in that if you died in a dungeon you lost your weapons, but this also added an irritating aspect in that you'd have to leave the dungeon and travel back to Ravio's store to get them back.
Similarly the one-off, dungeon specific weapons in Twilight Princess seemed to be a self defeating purpose. There's nothing more irritating that discovering a new toy and then immediately realizing that you've got no use for it outside of one specific dungeon. We're not asking for a Skyrim level weapon and inventory system, but the potential for upgrading and working through the game with a larger scope for weapon development would be wonderful to see.
More Detailed Maps
There's nothing necessarily wrong with the maps from the current run of Zelda games; but they're tailored to the smaller, more cohesive worlds that we've seen so far, and they're not exactly what you'll call detailed.
A game as large as the Wii U powered Legend of Zelda will need something a little more to keep track of the expansive world that we've been promised; so a more detailed, more involved map is something that's a must for the new game, especially if it's going to include a focus on replaying areas.
Of course there's always joy in not having everything pointed out to you, rather discovering it for yourself - that's the appeal of open world after all, and it's something that the Legend of Zelda games have stayed pretty true to up until this point. But it's handy to have some means by which to keep track of where you've been and what you've found there, so a discovery based marker system seems like a good map mechanic which we hope to see included in the upcoming game.