Game Franchises Part 2

On N'Gai Croal's Level Up blog, they posted the final Vs. section where Croal and Totilo finish talking about Zelda, and I'm still thinking about why I look forward so much to the next installment of Mario or Zelda. Totilo's problem with the Zelda series now is largely this:

And so, you know, clearly where I'm at is at a spot where I'm just saying, "Look, I've played the ideal Zelda." I was able to play it in 1998 when, at the time, it was running on technology that blew my mind so my memory of that Zelda will always be a bit as an ultimate experience.

So for Totilo, Ocarina of Time was as close as Zelda will get to perfection, so the others feel like pale imitations or incomplete versions of that perfect one. I think to some degree he's right, but I've been thinking more about my own feelings towards franchise continuation. Since Ocarina of Time, I think most of the Zelda games I've played have been different enough that they felt fresh and different. I haven't played Majora's Mask, although I want to, but Wind Waker, set in a nearly endless ocean, felt completely different from previous entries. The Minish Cap felt a little similar, but the gameplay and story were extremely tight and well-crafted on the GBA. I think my strongest feeling is that Twilight Princess, which I just completed on the Wii, was overall slightly disappointing because it felt like it was just trying to be Ocarina, which everyone's already played. If that's the case, just update Ocarina with better graphics and a few new elements, rather than making a Zelda game that's pretty similar to a previous one. Although I had a blast playing it, especially with the Wii controls. So I'm super excited about Phantom Hourglass on DS, much like Croal, because of the unique touch controls.

Similarly I can't wait for Mario Galaxy, because it looks like a big departure for the Mario series, while maintaining many of the elements that make Mario so much fun. So maybe for me, that's the difference between movie and Nintendo sequels. Movie sequels are typically the same exact thing, just flashier and louder. Nintendo, though, often puts a great deal of effort into making follow-ups that are unique and different enough from their predecessors. A new Mario game still feels like Mario, but it brings a lot of new stuff to the table too. And it's good that a new game of a major franchise like Mario or Zelda isn't released every single year (mm-hmm, Madden). At any rate, within 1 or 2 days, I'll finally have Mario Galaxy, and will disappear with my Wii for several days.

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