Few games have been as historically wrapped up in their own mythology as The Legend of Zelda. Over the span of decades, very little has fundamentally changed about the experience. But this year, Breath of the Wild was a big shakeup and now the Wall Street Journal is reporting on a potential The Legend of Zelda mobile game. Based on Nintendo’s mobile portfolio, one has to wonder just what in the hell a mobile installment could look like. Let's take a look at some possibilities.
First, some criteria. We have to consider that The Legend of Zelda will be a single-pay experience, as Nintendo has gone on record as saying Fire Emblem Heroes’ free-to-play, in-app purchase model is more than likely staying put in that game. We also have to consider that, so far with its mobile games, Nintendo has made its experiences more or less conform with mobile gaming genre conventions. Fire Emblem Heroes was a gacha-style strategic-RPG and Super Mario Run was, well, a “runner” game. With all that in the table, here's what I'm thinking:
This would be weird, but it could totally work. Nintendo has ventured into this territory before with The Legend of Zelda in its My Nintendo Picross game based on The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. A puzzle game could be anything from a Puzzle Quest-style match three with RPG elements to a mobile version of Picross. It would be weird and potentially alienate some people, but almost every other big IP has a mobile puzzle game. Nintendo is making one eventually.
I have no clue what to call this genre, but remember the Infinity Blade series? These games and others within the same space are on-rails action games reminiscent of Punch-Out. You play from a third-person perspective and all your actions are based on attacking and defending, rather than movement. It's less complicated than a console-like experience, with virtual buttons all over the screen.
From Clash of Clans to whatever other military-themed flavor of the week is released, you can't stay away from tower defense games in app stores. The Legend of Zelda would lend itself very well to this genre, with its laundry list of characters, weapons, and situational tools.
With the success of The Legend of Zelda-like games, such as Oceanhorn, Nintendo could absolutely be ambitious enough to make its own mobile, 2.5D The Legend of Zelda game. Sell it for $10-15, probably make it a bit more digestible than the standard isometric entries, and take in the nerd dollars. The only concern here would be the budget, as something on that level could be more than Nintendo is willing to put into a mobile game.
This one seems a bit uncharacteristic for Nintendo, but it could work. After all, Link has been in a fighting game before (Soul Calibur II). Something along the lines of Injustice or Marvel’s Clash of Champions could really work with the colorful cast of The Legend of Zelda. Roster updates and the like would also be great for longer-term support.
So what do you think? Will Nintendo continue to make similar experiences to Super Mario Run? Will The Legend of Zelda mobile game, assuming it actually exists, bring something unexpected to the table? Let us know what you think in the comments.