Monday, April 16, 2012

Zelda 3DS: 2D or 3D? That is the Question.

Just a little sidenote: When I say 3D, I'm talking about polygonal 3D, not stereoscopic 3D.

It may be a bit early to start thinking about the next Zelda game, but I can't stop myself from imagining what it will be like. I find myself envisioning what Zelda 3DS will be like, since Zelda Wii U is still probably a few years off. When I try to imagine what the next handheld Zelda will be like, I find my mind flipping back and forth between a 2D game and a 3D game. It got me thinking, what should Zelda 3DS be?

Should Zelda 3DS be 2D or 3D?

Handhelds have long been the final platform for traditional 2D gaming. While there has been a renaissance on consoles this generation, the vast majority of 2D games have been on the DS. However, for the first time in Nintendo's history, they've put out a handheld that's capable of high quality 3D games. For this reason alone, there is legitimate fear that if a 3D handheld Zelda does well, most of the handheld Zelda games after it would also be 3D. After all, there's only been one 2D Zelda game on a home console since Ocarina of Time was released in 1998, and that was a game that involved the Gameboy Advance.

The same is true for other Nintendo franchises that made the transition from 2D to 3D. There's only been one sidescrolling Mario game on consoles ever since Super Mario 64, and there hasn't been a 2D Metroid game on consoles since Super Metroid on the SNES. Of course, the opposite is true for Donkey Kong, but it seemed like Nintendo didn't know what to do with the brown ape after Rareware left, resulting in a slew of gimmicky games that weren't all that popular. I think it's safe to say that Zelda isn't like Donkey Kong, and the developers at Nintendo know exactly what they want to do with their action adventure series.

Because of this, I'd prefer Zelda 3DS to be a top down 2D game, similar to previous handheld Zeldas. While I do love the 3D Zelda games, I also have a love for games like The Oracles and The Minish Cap. There are certain aspects about the classic 2D Zelda style that 3D Zeldas can't emulate and vice versa. For example, the 2D Zeldas have dense and content filled overworlds. The developers at Nintendo haven't exactly figured out how to create a 3D overworld that gives off the same sense of density as the 2D Zeldas. I fear that if we were to get a 3D handheld Zelda, we would only experience the special qualities of 2D Zeldas once every ten years or so.

I also feel like 2D lends itself to more creative items. I'm not saying that the 3D Zeldas don't have creative items. They do. The Spinner from Twilight Princess and the Beetle from Skyward Sword are probably two of most unique and interesting items in the series. However, I think it's much harder to create new and interesting items in 3D than it is in 2D. Items like the Cane of Somaria, Mole Mitts, and Magnet Gloves would be much harder to create in 3D than in 2D, just because of the way they're designed. You can even see this during Skyward Sword when using the Mogma Mitts. Digging underground results in a top down view, not a behind the back view like the rest of the game. On the other hand, the Beetle and the Spinner could be transferred to 2D games without much difficulty.

2D allows for more creativity in the items department.

There's also the size limitation issue.  I'm not saying that Nintendo would create some large, epic 2D Zelda game compared to what they would do with a 3D Zelda game, but the fact remains that 2D assets take up less space in memory than polygons do.  That would potentially allow more dungeons, more content, and a longer campaign than a 3D game.

I feel like we need options, and if the home console games are going to mainly be 3D games, then the handheld games should remain 2D. Moving the handheld Zeldas into polygonal territory would mean our only option for Zelda games would be 3D Zelda games. For people like me, that would be immensely disappointing. I love all kinds of games, and having one kind practically disappear off the face of the Earth wouldn't please me. The same thing happened with 3D platformers. Sure, there are still a few developers that make 3D platformers, but they're much rarer now than they were ten years ago, and it makes me a little sad to think about it.

I can see the appeal of a more console like Zelda game on a handheld though. Even though 2D and 3D Zeldas are part of the same series, they have a different feel to them, and some people may enjoy Zeldas like The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess more than Link's Awakening and A Link to the Past. To be honest, the thought of being able to experience something as large and epic as the console Zeldas on a handheld excites me too, but it really comes to down to one question for me: Do I want a console like experience a handheld, or more games like A Link to the Past? For me, the answer is the latter option.

What do you guys think, and why? Do you want the next handheld Zelda to be 2D and be more like Link's Awakening, or do you think it's time for the handheld Zelda games to enter the realm of 3D? Let me know in the comments!

Also, if you guys don't mind, would you click on the ads? I don't want to sound like I'm begging, but I feel like I am. Reason being, even though this blog is free to maintain, I'd eventually like to create my own domain and do this as my main source of income. Every click matters! Thanks if you guys do click!

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