I was talking with some friends a few weeks ago about Nintendo and this idea just came to me. So I wrote down some thoughts. Hope you like it, and let me know what you think!
We've all heard it. "Nintendo rehashes their ideas." "They release the same games with minimal innovation." "Mario Kart 8? More like Mario Kart ONE!!!" "That doesn't even rhyme!" "Shut up!" For the most part, I agree. The Wii U is struggling with an identity crisis; most of the casual gamers who purchased the original Wii don't even know if the Wii U is a fancy new controller or an entirely new console. The fact that its library consists largely of sequels and remakes, with minimal third-party support (hi EA), isn't doing Nintendo any favors either. A consistent first-party lineup isn't the worst problem you could have, but variety is the spice of life. Sometimes you have to mix up the foreplay a little, right? However, there is one series that stays fundamentally the same with each iteration, and yet is still considered one of the best of all time.
The Legend of Zelda is a tale that has existed since the beginning of time (read: 1986): a young boy must become the hero of legend, vanquish an evil intent on destroying the world after acquiring the mystical Triforce, and save the princess. Pretty standard stuff. And yet, with each passing entry, developers manage to craft unique and memorable experiences by tweaking small but key aspects of the franchise.
I've played damn near every entry in the series, and yet each one remains etched in my memory. That's in part because I'm a giant nerd, but also because each game has a unique feature or mechanic that can usually be described in one word. Ocarina of Time? 3D. Wind Waker? Sailing. (Also acceptable: Boat.) Skyward Sword? Flying. Link Between Worlds? Paintings. Each one, no matter how you feel about the games as a whole, is unique. Each one tries something new that spices up the formula. That's not to say that those singular things make each title unique on their own… but they're a big part of it. It's what Nintendo does with them that makes the difference. They build the games around these core concepts, and are rewarded for their efforts with special games each time.
Nintendo already has a stellar handheld with many exceptional titles on the 3DS, including the aforementioned Link Between Worlds. Now they just need that killer app to make people perk up and say "Yes, I will be buying a Wii U today kind sir and/or madam."
I fully believe that will be the next new Zelda. I know it will be for me.