The magical Zelda formula: This is what makes the games so special!

The magical Zelda formula: This is what makes the games so special!

The magical Zelda formula

The Legend of Zelda is one of the most popular, important, and best video game series that the world has spawned. Particularly impressive is the fact that Zelda is one of those series that, despite recurring elements, rarely rests on its laurels and instead bravely breaks new ground. Of course, a creative process can never be completely squeezed into a mathematical formula, and the quality of the Zelda games is also due to the fact that Nintendo not only has the necessary funds, but is also happy to invest them to ensure the high standard of series production.

Table of contents

Page 1 The magic Zelda formula, page 1 1.1 The first ingredient 1.2 The second ingredient 1.3 The third ingredient Page 2 The magic Zelda formula, page 2 2.1 The fourth ingredient 2.2 The fifth ingredient 2.3 The total Page 3 Picture gallery for "The magical Zelda formula: This is what makes the games so special!" Only a fraction of the studios worldwide have comparable opportunities to achieve such a high level - but of course less pressure to meet the sky-high expectations of the fan community. But let's just start with that - now it's about the magical ingredients that make a classic Zelda so digestible, not only for the masses, but also for discerning critics.

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The first ingredient

Sometimes the tone is darker, like here in Majora’s mask, sometimes more cheerful. However, Link is always traveling to fight against evil. Source: Nintendo Zelda-Games (spin-offs and the unspeakable CD-i games from Phillips left out) can be classified as part of the action-adventure genre. As the name suggests, games of this type include elements from both action and adventure games - of course! The mixing ratio, the camera perspective, the number of players, the setting: all possible variants are conceivable and have probably already been implemented, which is why the action-adventure division is one of the most diverse in the entire video game landscape. While action adventure games, i.e. hybrid games with sections that call for quick reactions and moments in which you have to solve puzzles and have dialogues, emerged in the early 1980s, the first The Legend of Zelda added that year In 1986 new aspects were added to the genre, which was still young at the time, that had not been found there before: role-playing elements and the exploration of a game world away from a fixed, linear path -Play various means of transportation, here for example horse Epona in Ocarina of Time. Source: Nintendo So one thing is certain: it is impossible to pin down a Zelda game on the gameplay alone, the variance in the genre is simply too great for that. In any case, however, a Zelda game follows a certain rhythm, in which, on the one hand, responsiveness is required (in fights and dexterity) and, on the other hand, ability to combine (e.g. in dungeons). In addition, there is the exploration of a world that does not just consist of linear hose paths - but how big the explorer aspect is depends on the respective series representative. The Hylian Steppe may seem puny compared to the ocean from The Wind Waker, but both areas serve the same purpose. Last but not least, the genre and a typical Zelda game include dialogues and collectibles such as the Hereline, which, as a light RPG element, enhance the hero's characteristics.

The second ingredient

Quite sure the proven Zelda formula will also be used in the new part, the successor to Breath of the Wild. Source: Nintendo A Zelda game cannot be nailed down with the genre alone. This is where the second ingredient comes into play: design. Why the oldest game series in particular have the most iconic heroes and sounds is by no means only due to their age and thus the higher level of awareness compared to a series created in the 2000s. Back then, in the NES and SNES times, developers' options were more limited. For example, Super Mario owes his unmistakable mustache, overalls and cap to the enforced minimalism and the limits of the technology of the time: it was almost impossible to visualize and animate the plumber's mouth and hair in such a small figure, hence the mustache and the headgear.

If Mario were to be designed today, he would probably have full head of hair and no mustache, but it would not be so easy to recognize either. Link's exterior is also simple, but striking: sword, pointed cap, pointed ears. Whether the brave hero comes in a cel-shaded look, as a gray sprite on the Game Boy, as a little boy, as a teenager or in a cropped, ladylike gerudo outfit: the essence of the character remains and guarantees that the player will immediately know who they have in front of them.

Skyward Sword specifically integrated the Wii's motion controls. The revised new edition for Nintendo Switch will appear soon. Source: Nintendo Not only visually, but also audibly, recognition value is an important thing. And with the Zelda series, this applies not only to things that you hear, but also to what you don't hear - Link's voice! Unlike in a classic adventure or RPG, the player has no conversation options when he embodies Link. The hero is a blank canvas, and that was intended from the start. For this reason, the long-eared only makes sounds, for example in fights or when jumping. Nothing should stop the player from replacing Link's thoughts with his own. So far, Nintendo has remained true to this guideline. That can change in the future, of course, but there would have to be a really good reason for that - possibly in the form of a Zelda game, in which even more role-playing components come into play.

From the side view you can see Link in the second Part of the series, also in platformer sections in the old handheld parts - here in Oracle of Seasons. Source: Nintendo As of now, the silent link is an important feature of the series. However, the Zelda series is in no way doing justice to the audio theme if the terrific background music and the noise design are neglected. Both were the job of composer Koji Kondo in the first Zelda game. The basis for the sound concept in the Zelda games was determined here; Miyamoto attached great importance to the fact that the sounds sound a bit mysterious, which is why dissonant tone sequences often appear in them. The music, on the other hand, should sound epic and heroic, or depressing and scary, depending on the situation, appropriately for a real fantasy epic.

Almost every gamer can hum along to the iconic Zelda theme song, and Nintendo knows how important audio legacy is the series is. That is why the iconic sequence of eight notes, which sounds after solving a puzzle in a room, is heard in every Zelda game, even in a Skyward Sword, which was accompanied by a full orchestra, and in a Breath of the Wild, which relies on a rather spherical and dynamic sound backdrop with a focus on piano.

In summary: The design and sound in Zelda games can be broken down into very simple, simple elements, so that the developers do a lot with the decoration and implementation of both can change without losing the typical recognition value.

The third ingredient

We now know what Link looks like and how it sounds when he's in his next action -Adventure goes off. But for this he also needs a valid reason, which leads us to the next variable in the Zelda formula: the story, or the motivation for hero and player. In this regard, the plot can be broken down very roughly at first glance: a disaster must be stopped. Most of the time Link encounters it in the form of his archenemy Ganon (village). Basically, the villain's name is not that important, it embodies decay and bad luck. That seems simple and it is, at least when you compare it with moral paintings in shades of gray like The Last of Us.

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