A Gap in the Timeline
By Jake Galiano
Take a look at the official Zelda timeline. Should the Hero be successful following the events of Ocarina of Time, the timeline braches off into the Child Era and the Adult Era, the latter of which contains the events of the Wind Waker saga. After Phantom Hourglass, we see a significant time gap, followed by the dawning of a new era – the Era of Hyrule’s Rebirth – in which a ‘New Continent is discovered.’ Nintendo may as well have written ‘Insert New Zelda Game Here’! Again, look which branch of the timeline we are on, and it almost seems obvious that this ‘new continent’ is simply the old Hyrule – after the Great Sea has disappeared. Hyrule’s Rebirth could be the world of Zelda U.
There are some clues that strengthen this idea, although they may simply be coincidences. Firstly, Link’s blue garb in the E3 2014 video could be a nod to Link’s blue outfit at the beginning of Wind Waker. Next, the vastness of Zelda U’s open world could be analogous to the vastness of Wind Waker’s open sea. And finally, both games utilize a bright color palette, with a cel-shaded art style.
A 2016 Release – Just in time for the NX?
Nintendo has recently confirmed that information on its intriguing Wii U successor will be revealed next year. This keeps in line with the five/six year cycle of Nintendo consoles, should the device be announced in 2016 and released in 2017. However, what if the console makes its debut at the end of 2016, alongside the release of Zelda U? The Big N has acknowledged the error of their ways regarding the 3DS and Wii U launch lineups, so it follows that they would have something big planned for the release of the NX.
During last year’s Game Awards, Eiji Aonuma was adamant that Zelda U would definitely be finished and released in 2015. What could cause a change in scope so great, despite the game being on track to being released at its announced time? It’s entirely possible that this could be a repeat of the Twilight Princess situation, and the game is being developed for both the Wii U and its successor.
Time Shift Arrow?
The mysterious, plasma-esque arrowhead fired by Link at his high-tech, monstrous pursuer seems to have special significance, due to it being the main focus as the E3 2014 video draws to a close. We know what this arrow won’t do – which is blow the mechanical beast into pieces – as this was attempted by Link prior to its use, using bomb arrows. Analyzing the monster closely could reveal some clues – for example, the fact that it has what looks to be ancient patterns adorning its outer rocky shell, which is covered by moss. It is reasonable to think that this behemoth has been lying dormant for quite some time, awakened by some sort of evil presence that would no doubt shadow the story of the game.
During an Iwata Asks session back in 2011, Skyward Sword’s developers reflected on what they thought to be sheer brilliance in gameplay design – the concept of Time Shift. They liked the idea so much that you’d think they intended to bring it back in a future game! It’s entirely possible that this arrow utilized by Link uses some form of blue Time Shift energy – perhaps extracted from the blue Time Shift stones of Zelda U’s predecessor. Link would use this arrow to send his aggressor back in time, back to when it is nothing more than a dome-shaped rock sticking out of the ground, in order to make his escape.
This arrow appears to be a last resort tactic, and may be in limited supply. The player must therefore become extremely familiar with the world map, in order to scour their surroundings and plan the best route for escape. What better way to encourage players to explore the vast world, than to kill them if they don’t?
Despite the huge, looming delay that we are all about to endure, and uncertainty as to when this game will be released, the next iteration of the epic Zelda franchise is looking to be the best yet. The last couple of console Zelda games have divided the fanbase to a certain extent, and it’s fair to say that the scope of the main console series hasn’t changed too drastically since the N64 and Gamecube days. Part of the reason why Ocarina of Time was met with such universal acclaim has to be how much of a step up it was compared to the previous console entry to the series, A Link to the Past. Zelda U looks to be stepping it up in much the same way – the sheer size and scope of the world presented in this upcoming masterpiece causes any other Zelda game to pale in comparison. And that alone is worth the wait.