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  • Results from Game Design Challenge: Save the Wii U

    [08.13.13]
    - Danny Cowan

  • Valeria Reznitskaya, Independent Game Designer, Legend of Zelda: Tomorrow's Guardian

    After the dynamic motion-based combat of Skyward Sword, it's difficult to imagine how the next entry in Nintendo's Legend of Zelda franchise could take advantage of the Wii U's GamePad without feeling like a step backwards. For this challenge, I decided to examine what the series would look like with a much smaller emphasis on sword fighting. I believe my solution can bring new life to both the franchise and the Wii U - by shining the spotlight on Zelda herself.

    As the wielder of the Triforce of Wisdom, Zelda has traditionally avoided direct confrontation, choosing instead to plan from a distance and use ranged weapons when necessary. These aspects of her character make her the perfect protagonist in a GamePad-centric Legend of Zelda game.

    In this hypothetical game, Princess Zelda once again sees premonitions of a grim future, but this time no one hears her warnings. Having no other choice, she takes up a bow and sets out to stop her visions from becoming reality.

    Rather than "Courage," the core of this game is "Wisdom". Instead of rushing into situations, the player must learn the environment and use it to avoid detection, set various traps and attack enemies effectively from afar. This game brings the series's tradition of exploration to new levels by turning the game world itself into Zelda's greatest weapon.

    Controllable with an analog stick, Zelda appears in the traditional third-person view on the main screen while the GamePad shows a first-person view through Zelda's eyes. This dual-perspective allows the player to stay aware of peripheral dangers even while using the GamePad's motion detection to aim ranged weapons.

    Aware of her own importance, Zelda will prioritize defense when a fight cannot be avoided. When Zelda equips a shield, the player can direct it by moving the GamePad. Using the shield to strategically redirect projectiles is key to surviving confrontations as well as manipulating the environment.

    The GamePad screen will also allow the player to see Zelda's premonitions. Occasionally, an image may appear over an object in the view, and tapping it will show the player a vision of the future. Depending on the image, the vision might be a glimpse into the future Zelda wishes to avert, an optional hint about a desired outcome, or a preview of an event about to occur. Looking ahead in this way is an important mechanic and theme throughout the game.

    As Zelda grows stronger, the Triforce of Wisdom allows her to "see" structural weaknesses, invisible platforms and fake walls. The player can use this information, visible only on the GamePad, to augment the third-person view and take even greater advantage of the environment.

    Games in the Legend of Zelda series sell systems, but both its fans and developers seem to agree: the formula is getting stale. A game that emphasizes its tactical elements would give the franchise a fresh, Wii U-appropriate interpretation without straying from its core.

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