March 10, 2018
Last week I counted through my top five favorite and least favorite ideas for a spinoff in the series. While I decried the very notion of a mobile game in that article, I do think the concept has some merits, and if done correctly I think it could be awesome. With the history of mobile games’ success, however, I have no hope whatsoever that this would be the case. Simply put, mobile games make more money when they focus heavily on microtransactions, loot boxes, and the like. I think this has a drastic negative effect on the gameplay; I hate feeling like less skilled players win over me because of their financial investment in the game. I quit Clash Royale, Pokemon Shuffle, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Hearthstone for this reason. If by some miracle we get a mobile Zelda game without any such nonsense, I will be eternally grateful. Today I’ll be going through my ideas for a good mobile game featuring our favorite franchise.
What games do incredibly well in the mobile space? Time wasting puzzle games, of course! Zelda is clearly no stranger to puzzles, so I think this is an avenue that Nintendo may be quick to explore. It could easily copy any number of other jewel/candy-smashing puzzler with its vast array of colored rupees, however I personally have never liked such games, and I think the series has so much more potential. If this game is going to take on the task of being a great mobile puzzle game, I think it would be better suited to building its own mechanics, just as the series has always done.
My idea for a mobile puzzle game would be the classic block-slide. Seriously, they could make an easy time-waster where Link needs to cross rooms for some reason, and the only thing in his way is blocks to slide! Taking this idea from a top-down perspective, you could simply slide Link through the path to clear the blocks in your way. To shake things up, levels could have elemental themes or wandering enemies that could damage you, a time limit or a restricted number of moves. I think this would be a fun way to bring the series into the space without going too far out for the mobile game scene. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but I think it would be unique within the moblie market, and it wouldn’t lose too much Zelda-ness in the process.
Other than puzzles, Zelda has always had a healthy dose of action. Could this translate onto the touch screen? Well that would probably be pretty easy considering the series has two totally touch-based titles. Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks proved that you could translate the entire Zelda experience to a series of stylus swipes. Using similar controls, an arcade-style game could do well by sending wave after waves of foes at you to defeat with limited health and items.
Would that be good, though? As much as I like the series’ combat mechanics, I think if that were all the game had to offer, it would inevitably get boring after a few short hours and leave me pining for “real” video games.
You may be thinking “Man, this dude is hard to please.” With the mobile market, that is true; the only mobile games I have ever returned to for a significant length of time are Words With Friends and Pokemon Go. I attribute this largely to the social aspects of each game. The former let you compete head-to-head with your buddies at your leisure for vocabulous glory, and the latter encourages you to work with other players to discover nesting locations of different Pokemon species, and battle Legendary bosses to capture them.
Is a social aspect possible in a Zelda game on mobile? Maybe, but this is a thing I believe most people would be nitpicky about and if it felt forced, or at all reminiscent of another game’s social aspect, I feel it could get easily lost in the crowd.
Okay, sorry for not really addressing the point I brought up. I’m hard to please with mobile games, so how can Nintendo bring my favorite franchise to the platform in a way that will make me happy? Easy. Don’t treat it like a mobile game.
Every point I have made so far has been assuming this hypothetical mobile Zelda would be a “traditional” mobile game. I believe that when the series inevitably crosses this barrier, it is highly likely that it will be just that, but I want more, dammit. Mobile technology is incredible these days, and it’s only getting better. My phone has a more powerful octacore processor and more RAM than my (admittedly somewhat dated) PC. Mobile phones and tablets are replacing traditional PCs at an alarming rate. In fact, if I did not write for TGPZ, I would almost never use my PC. It’s basically a giant word processor that I wish I had the time to game on, but I don’t.
Point of my story is simple; I want full-scale games on my phone. There is no reason they could not make a fully 3D Zelda, or for that matter, Kirby, Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros., or any other series for mobile phones. They have the power, why not bring them the games? There’s even a tablet out there that proves it’s possible; the Nintendo Switch. Switch is running almost the same architecture as the NVidia Shield. Both of these tablets are customized for gaming, however they are nigh on identical to other mobile tech in every other regard. Moreover, I think there is more profit in it for Nintendo. I would be a hundred times more likely to pay a full sixty dollars for a real Zelda game on my phone than I would be to pay ten dollars for Super Mario Run, and I know I’m not alone. We have the tech, just give us the games.
I’ll step down from my soapbox for a moment to turn the conversation back to you. What do you think of the mobile market in general? Is it a good place for a Zelda game? Am I a terrible human being because I want to pay more for better games and forget the simple time-wasters? I certainly think I am in the minority, at least for games on mobile platforms (Switch excluded), however I can’t help but think it would only take one huge success to bring other developers on board with this plan, and in the end that would just mean better games for us, the gamers. Feel free to denigrate my opinions on Twitter or in the comments below and we can keep the conversation swinging!