How many times have you been here? Having navigated maze-like dungeons with a compass in one hand and map in the other, defeated towering bosses that spewed lava just inches from your face and overcome puzzles that required some serious manual labor, you’re now standing in front of the legendary Master Sword. Only this time it’s different. This time it’s you, standing there, and you need to reach out and grab it with your own two hands. The thin beams of light from the Temple of Time’s windows dances off of the blade’s flawless edges, making you squint. You reach out, place your fingers around its ancient hilt, and pull.
If there’s any series that knows how to get the best out of Nintendo and its technology, it’s The Legend of Zelda. From pioneering classics such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past to technology-defining milestones like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the iconic franchise always has something to say about contemporary development. Imagine, then, what this iconic series could do with virtual reality (VR). Think of the meticulous dungeon designs and ingenious puzzles that could be reinvented for this new style of play. There are plenty of videogame franchises VRFocus would like to see come to VR, but this series is second to none.
In fact, we’re not the only ones that have pegged the series’ potential for VR. There have already been numerous The Legend of Zelda-influenced projects, the most notable of which being the upcoming ZeldaVR conversion of the original title and Project Ocarina that translates some of the iconic settings from the N64 classic to the tech.
The franchise is filled with iconic settings that we’d love to get the chance to visit with a headset. Imagine setting foot in Hyrule castle’s colossal halls for the first time, galloping through the sun-licked fields on Epona, or sailing across the breezy Great Sea in the King of Red Lions. And it’s not just the settings but the moments too. Everyone recalls the first time they opened a chest and peeked inside with the unforgettable tune chirping away in the background. Being able to lean into that shining casket and dig out your prize by yourself is an idea that should grab even the most jaded of fans.
As for gameplay, it would likely be the series’ staple puzzles that would stand to benefit the most from a VR conversion. Nintendo is certainly capable of concocting devious designs and meticulous tricks that we couldn’t hope to think of, but the idea of having VR’s sense of depth aid where you throw bombs and aim arrows is a pretty good start. We recently saw the company play with this idea with The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds on 3DS, but here the effect could be strengthened tenfold.
The improvements could also extended to the many, many iconic items the series has let us play with in its time. Throwing a boomerang and catching it, throwing flames out in front of you with the fire rod, or zooming through the air as a hookshot carries you higher, there’s not a gadget in the series we wouldn’t like to try in VR. And that’s without giving thought to all of the new devices that Nintendo could cook up.
Not to mention that any The Legend of Zelda title worth its salt will be littered with time-devouring mini-games. Target practices, agility challenges and more could all benefit from the added immersion provided with VR.
Combat could also reach new heights. Before The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword introduced us to near 1:1 motion control, the series had been restricted to a very specific ruleset when it comes to swordplay. That could all be thrown out with the introduction of VR and even greater integration with motion controllers. The Legend Of Zelda could be the first franchise to deliver truly satisfying swordplay, the kind that has been dreamed of since the series’ Nintendo Entertainment System beginnings. Going toe-to-toe with Ganon, locking blades and dodging his attacks is just one of many battles that VR could bring to life.
Above all, we have faith that The Legend of Zelda would offer a complete VR experience. There isn’t a single aspect of the series that begs for a VR conversation, but instead the prospect of living and breathing that entire, rich world as if you really were Link. The series has been there to punctuate every chapter in videogame’s history. Let’s hope Nintendo doesn’t miss the chance to make its mark on this latest story.
‘Make it a (virtual) Reality’ is VRFocus’ weekly feature that takes the videogames we already know and love and looks at how virtual reality (VR) could enhance them. From retro classics to modern blockbusters, we examine the pros and cons of bringing a franchise to VR headsets.