Monday, April 27, 2009

A new Zelda at this E3? Don't count on it.

The folks at Nintendo love taking their sweet time with their heavy-hitters, and The Legend of Zelda is no exception. In the 23 years since The Legend of Zelda first graced the Nintendo Entertainment System, only six other games in the series have hit home consoles. Six games in 23 years. That works out to roughly one game every 3.83 years, and it's been less than 2.5 years since Twilight Princess was released.

Of course, an average is made of numbers both higher and lower than it, and, going by that alone, it's entirely possible that we'll see the new Zelda at E3. Also, going purely by that, it's equally likely that we won't. An average is good for getting a rough idea of when the next game will be out, and works well when compounded with other factors, but it's nowhere near dependable on its own.

That being said, I bring up this matter: A new Zelda on the Wii would most likely require a brand new game engine. Twilight Princess was a Gamecube game ported to the Wii that still ran on Gamecube hardware. This new Zelda will be a true Wii game made exclusively for the Wii and will run on Wii hardware. It will utilize far more resources than Twilight Princess, and Nintendo is sure to push the console to its limits in every way, just as they always do with their big-name games, and will more than likely be running on a brand-new engine. Granted, the Wii's architecture is quite similar to that of the Gamecube, but that doesn't mean that this new engine can just be made up overnight.

But hey, I'm no game developer. For all I know, the entire previous paragraph could be wrong, wrong, wrong. So what else is there that points to a new Zelda not being at E3? Well, how about Miyamoto himself? In April 2008, the man himself was quoted saying "The Zelda team is forming again to work on new games!". Keyword: Forming. As in, at that point, they'd not begun any real work on the game. They were probably still brainstorming back then. A year later, they may have made some progress, but enough to show off even a teaser? I don't think so. With them just beginning in 2008, I'm guessing the game won't be out until 2011 at the soonest. I somehow doubt they'd show their hand a full two years before playing them. Twilight Princess was a unique situation, in that it was delayed to coincide with the Wii's release. This next Zelda will most likely not be delayed by such an event.

What's that, you want even more reason why a Zelda probably won't surface at E3? Well, in the December issue of Official Nintendo Magazine (No source available; Information comes from Wikipedia), it was said that "the teams [are] still in the planning stages", and that "we wouldn't expect to see or hear anything more until the E3 event next summer at the earliest", and "even that may be optimistic". Words such as these are hardly encouraging. Of course, the magazine also says "we WILL know something in 2009 [about the title]", but there's a whole five months between E3 and the end of the year. Chances are, we'll only see a preview of it at some other convention in the fall.

Finally, as of late, Nintendo has begun only announcing games closer to their planned release date. We learned of Punch-Out in October, and it's out next month. Heck, Excitebots was only officially announced in February, and it came out last week! Chances are we won't be waiting two and a half years from announce to release like we did with Twilight Princess.

So then, here are the reasons I've pointed out:
  • *The average amount of time between console Zelda games' release dates is 3.83 years, and we're currently not even at 2.5 years since Twilight Princess.
  • *An entirely new game engine will probably be utilized in this new game, and that can't exactly be whipped up overnight.
  • *Miyamoto himself said the development team was only even beginning work on the game just over a year ago.
  • *Official Nintendo Magazine has said that the game was still in the planning stages a mere six months ago.
  • *Nintendo has taken on a new trend of only announcing a game when its release date is determined and close at hand.
While some of these factors may not stand up well on their own, when lined up together, I feel they create a compelling argument against a Zelda game being revealed at E3. What's your take on the situation? Will E3 bring solid information on a new Zelda, or will we be waiting longer before we get a glimpse of Link in the first true Zelda game on the Wii? Also, what do you think of my points? Are they solid and convincing, or flimsy and weak? Please, feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comment section, or this forum thread.


Kyle said...

Nice article. Another thing you should add is that a DS Zelda was just announced making it more unlikely to see something about a Wii Zelda at E3.

Though I should mention, I don't think Nintendo will pull the one/two months before release announcement with Zelda and Mario games. I'm pretty sure I heard (or I could just be pulling this stuff out of who knows where) that this strategy was only for smaller first party titles such as Excitebots. I don't particularly like the idea myself, but I don't think they'd do the same for something as big as a Legend of Zelda game.

Either way, great post PsychoDuck.

Anonymous said...

Y'know I think nintendo is getting lazy. I think they will take Sprit Track throw in some motion control and call it a day just look at what they did to Pikmin.

SpinachPuffs said...

Great post!

I agree - the chances of seeing Wii Zelda this year are negligable, especially now that Spirit Tracks is on its way. I think the most we can hope for is a lot more info on Spirit Tracks.

The Video Game Addict said...

I like that it's 3.8 years between games; keeps it from being a crapfest, if you have to put some time into it.