The Legend of Zelda or the importance of reinventing oneself

All the Zelda games are based on the same idea, but at the same time they are different. This somewhat generalised observation conceals one of the reasons why, more than thirty years after Link’s first adventure, the hero of the fantastic world of Hyrule, each new instalment of Nintendo’s revered series is a big event in the video game world, even when it’s a remake.

The Japanese company recently announced the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch, a game that aims to return to the adventure enjoyed by owners of the Game Boy portable console 25 years ago. When the first trailer of this new version came out a few days ago, the aspect that caused the most debate on social media was the upgraded visual finish. Link is no longer a tubby country bumpkin and is now a small hero with an oversized head!

Zelda per Nintendo Switch

Some people may consider that the artistic design of this new instalment doesn’t live up to expectations, but in reality it’s a touch of genius. The trailer begins with an animated sequence in the traditional style that appears to be inspired by the Manga creations of the renowned artist Shotaro Ishinomori, who drew the Manga adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: A link to the past, but, a few seconds later, the video changes radically in style to display the true appearance of the game, an aesthetic with lively colours, bright textures and almost toy-like modelling. In fact, these two sequences couldn’t be more faithful to the black and white pixels of the original game.

The new Zelda game’s visual finish may not be to everyone’s liking, but it’s undeniable that there’s an artistic team with extraordinary talent behind it. As a matter of fact, each time a new chapter of this franchise is released, more or less the same occurs. It happened with Wind Waker, Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild… behind a good artistic design there’s not only a certain aesthetic intention, there’s also a concept, which, in the case of Zelda, always seeks to reinvent itself without neglecting its roots.

In ENTI’s “The History of Video Games” subject we analyse the evolution of the great classics in the world of electronic entertainment from different points of view, including their artistic design. It’s important for future game creators to rely on references to help them to obtain a global vision of this cultural sector and to enable them to continue innovating with their own creations.

Albert García López

“The History of Video Games” professor