The second Hyrule Warriors game, released in 2020, is based around the lore of Breath of the Wild. While it was a good game, Zelda as a series doesn’t traditionally have many spin-offs, especially compared to the Mario or Sonic series. The series retains almost universal respect due to the high quality of its games. But should there be more Zelda spin-offs, and if so, what genres would be the best fit for the series?
Franchises like Mario have multiple titles from various genres released each year, which is understandable since the games usually sell very well. However, Nintendo sometimes gets accused of putting Mario in too many games, which might devalue the franchise. Zelda is tightly controlled, although recently, we’ve had titles like Cadence of Hyrule, Hyrule Warriors, and some Tingle spin-offs. These titles have been well-received, but will we ever see a more consistent effort with spin-offs, and in what light will these games be looked upon considering the critical acclaim that the series currently holds?
Other Genres for Zelda
The one seemingly obvious route to take would be a Zelda JRPG. The medieval setting and rich lore mean that an RPG would be an easy conversion from a stylistic point of view. The thing is, would fans like the series to explore this kind of direction? In general, JRPG’s aren’t as popular as they once were and if an RPG spin-off wasn’t executed correctly, it could annoy a lot of fans. Nintendo’s second-party developer Monolith Soft released some concept art of a potential Zelda title a couple of years ago. It looked great and seemed to have a more mature style. As this developer is known for RPGs, it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility that this title is an RPG (if it’s still in development).
Another possible game we’ve recently heard about is a Sheik stealth game allegedly in development at Retro Studios. Sheik is a character from the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time who has an iconic look, and it’s inferred she is a stealth expert and is working just as hard as Link is in the adult portion of the game. In terms of the potential spin-off; there is some brilliant artwork of different sheikah characters, the environments looked dark and foreboding, and it would have been an interesting game if Retro Studios hadn’t canceled it. Retro Studios produces excellent content and take their time to make games, so it is a shame this title never saw the light of day.
Other genres that could fit within the Zelda series could be a Metroidvania or a puzzle-platformer. While the Methodvania genre, in general, seems to be limited to indie titles as of late, they are a popular type of game and could include some epic boss battles and cool tools/weapons. They could go the pixel art route, or, similar to the Shanties games use a 2.5 D type design. Although, I think if Nintendo were going to make a Metroidvania, they should limit it to being a title based on that genre’s namesake.
The fighting and racing genres are already covered as Link is a playable character in Mario Kart 8 on Switch and in Super Smash Bros Ultimate. While Mario Kart seems like it might evolve into a ‘Nintendo Kart’ series, a dedicated Zelda fighting game ala Soul Caliber would be great to see. Although I doubt we’ll ever see something like this.
Basically, Nintendo releasing varied spin-offs for the Zelda series depends on whether Nintendo is willing to gamble on devaluing the series if the spin-off isn’t well received. Metroid Prime: Federation Force was an absolute embarrassment for Nintendo, not even because the game was terrible. However, because people’s immediate reaction was one of disgust, this irrelevant spin-off was announced when people were eager for a ‘real’ Metroid for the whole console generation.
On the back of Breath of the Wild, which has sold over 20 million copies, Nintendo has the chance to take advantage of the success of that game by greenlighting more Zelda projects. The question is should they do this, and would it be good in the long run? What are your thoughts? Please reply in the comments.
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