The Zelda games most deserving of an HD update.
This month marks the 35th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda series. Over the past decade or so, we’ve seen Zelda’s history celebrated with a pretty regular trickle of remakes and remasters. While Nintendo will almost certainly do something for Zelda’s big three-five, Justin Berube and I decided to come up with our own personal list of five Zelda titles we’d like to see Nintendo revisit. These could be straight remasters such as Twilight Princess HD, or more wholesale updates such as Link’s Awakening on Switch.
Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link
Over the years we’ve heard plenty of people demand a remake of the very first Zelda, and Nintendo themselves have even explored the possibility of a remake with Capcom in the past. But the Zelda game that perhaps deserves some much delayed attention more than any other, is Zelda 2. This ambitious follow up to the genre-defining classic, released in Japan in 1987. It introduced full-on RPG systems such as experience points and level ups that altered Link’s stats. Like the original it was entirely open world and largely non-linear. In fact, it would be the last Zelda game to be this open until Breath of the Wild returned the series to the classic design. Zelda 2 also placed an increased focus on story. The map was littered with towns full of villagers who could be spoken with for hints and lore.
When it comes to bringing this game back, Zelda 2 would require a full overhaul, much like Metroid 2 received on 3DS. The original NES version was hampered by the limitations of the platform. Hints and objectives were often vague, and moments of the game were annoyingly obtuse. A full remake that brings Zelda 2 up to modern standards while maintaining its combo of top down, and side scrolling gameplay, could finally get this game the attention it deserves.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Skyward Sword was a somewhat divisive Zelda game, as is seemingly any Nintendo game where complex motion controls are introduced for the first time (no, Twilight Princess on Wii doesn’t count). For our money, however, Skyward Sword was incredible. Motion controls made for new and interesting gameplay mechanics and puzzles. The story is one of if not the best ever told in the entire series. Not to mention Skyward Sword originally released as a celebration of Zelda’s 25th anniversary. An HD version ten years later feels very fitting.
Visually, Skyward Sword honestly wouldn’t need much. This could be a Twilight Princess style remaster with updated textures here and there but mostly just a boost to a full 1080x1920 resolution. As for those motion controls, you bet we’d want them preserved on Switch. In addition, we’d love a left-handed mode to finally give the option to put Link’s sword back in its rightful place. As for handheld mode, an alternative control option could be made available which would map sword and other motions to the right stick, as Skyward Sword never offered full camera control anyway, so that stick would be otherwise unused.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Seasons
Alright, this one is kind of cheating because yes, they’re two seperate games, but in our imaginary remake they both share a single cartridge. Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons were the first two of three Zelda games developed by Capcom. Like Link’s Awakening DX, they helped to continue the 2D line of Zelda as Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask forged a new path into the 3D future.
The Oracle games made use of the assets from Link’s Awakening and likewise, the Switch remake could use assets from Grezzo’s Switch remake of Link’s Awakening. Packaging these together would also allow for easy access to the Ganon fight previously only available by linking completed versions of both games. Perhaps they could even reintroduce some elements from the cancelled third Oracle game that never saw release. Like the adorable Link Amiibo for Link’s Awakening, Oracle of Ages and Seasons animal friends would make great additions to anyone’s Amiibo library.
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
If ever there were a Zelda game that plenty of fans didn’t realize existed, let alone played, Four Swords Adventures would be it. As a sequel to a side mode in the Gameboy Advance port of Link to the Past, Four Swords Adventures was always a bit of an odd sell. With optional multiplayer for up to four people, Four Swords Adventures is probably the best multiplayer Zelda game ever made. It is also the most recent original, non-remake, 2D Zelda to ever be made for a home console. That’s right, there hasn’t been a brand new 2D Zelda developed for a home console in seventeen years.
As for a re-release, Four Swords Adventures should maintain its 2D sprite work because, to be blunt, it's absolutely gorgeous. All Four Swords Adventures needs is to have those sprites redrawn at a higher resolution. The biggest change for this version would be the addition of optional online multiplayer. Better yet, an option to let players download a free version so they can play with their friend who owns the game. And hey, maybe if we want to get real crazy, allow people to use the GameCube adapter to plug in their GBAs and play just like the old days.
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
The final Zelda game made by Capcom, Minish Cap is, in my (John's) opinion, the best 2D Zelda ever made. It takes everything that worked about A Link to the Past and just does it better. Then on top of that it adds tons of new items and a shrinking mechanic that makes the overworld a fascinating puzzle to explore. While all the Zelda games are great, Minish Cap is a masterpiece.
So how do you improve it? Well, you don’t. Much like Four Swords Adventures, Minish Cap should remain entirely 2D. Clean up the art with crisp new HD sprite work and backgrounds, and perhaps introduce the more dynamic camera used by Four Swords Adventures and Link’s Awakening on Switch. Of course, the audio could use some cleanup, too, given that the GBA didn’t exactly output the highest fidelity sound. The main reason to remaster, remake, or otherwise re-release Minish Cap, though, is not because it needs a makeover, but simply so that more people can play one of Link’s greatest adventures of all time.