Trinest Talks: Zelda in a modern setting- is it possible?
With another Zelda gaming coming any day now, the series has become a topical buzz on the internet. The anticipation is growing for a title which sets its story back a few years to be a prequel to Ocarina of Time in a roundabout way. It has a nasty little problem with the introduction of possibly alien technology in a certain area which for a Zelda game is approaching on slightly a bit to advance, at least a bit to advance when you consider in a few more centuries Ocarina of Time happens. Ocarina of Time was a very bare and baron game technological wise, with the series also been centred especially in the early games as some middle ages quest, with latter titles such as Sprit Tracks and Phantom Hourglass starting to approach some sort of crazy middle ages industrial era hybrid.
So the question is, as Zelda games ever so slightly start to add technology which might seem alien in the early titles start getting added into the series- how could Nintendo create a Zelda game which is set in the 21st Century with our modern day laws, cities and organizations. I remember years ago reading a fan fiction which proposed this exact idea, while it ended up going a little crazy like all fan fictions do the idea was the same- how would a 21st Century Zelda title work?
The gameplay and core elements of the story would have to change slightly there is no arguing there, but is the abandonment of these values enough to make this title feel Zelda? Possibly no, however with the series been placed around many time travel elements, as well as magic I feel as if this crazy idea could work in some ways.
If the game could work with some magical elements and time travel, the next main goal is a ghastly one at that how would the main three characters be defined in the 21st Century? Who would Link be, or Zelda, or Ganondorf? Well one mistake would be to have the evil villain be an extensive rich monopolistic business man, that is defiantly going a bit too crazy. I believe the best way to protect the sanctity of characterisation in the series in a modern setting would be to make all three main characters; Link, Zelda, Ganon. As childhood friends who go to school together. As this is a Zelda game a modern setting the game would clearly have the multiculturalism and races which previous titles have. So the believability that these characters would find themselves drawn to each other in a modern setting isn’t that hard to believe. I also think that keeping the characters as children would benefit such a title then compared to having full grown characters. For one a full grown character would come off as a bit crazy and a bit depressing to be running around saying the end is near with swords. However keeping them as kids allows the childs imagination in describing areas and events to flow through the story. The locations can alter without having to physically of altered, just because this kid believes that this ledge is a high unsalable wall, doesn’t mean in the real map that it is. The world can be altered and changed without much effort. What I’m saying is the kids are just playing, yes possibly they are really saving the world- and it might come off a bit corny or unbelievable in that regard, but I believe the only way to make a serious attempt to try and latch onto a modern day Zelda would be to explore this option. As for where time travel comes in, the characters could find themselves taken back in time through portals created by the series gods to allow them to obtain spiritual stones which would have long been gone.
Moving on to the map, the location would be a small country city which has become the capital of the land. I believe that the land around this city would be walled off but still easily accessible for children, with the surrounding areas to be ruins of times gone by where only monsters sprawl the land. Or maybe not, maybe the land is vast but baron, the point is that the ruins in these areas would be the dungeons and it would be up for the kids to travel to these locations to find the various stones and magical artefacts which would bring back the Triforce.
Centring back to the adults in this world and how they would react to the kids (specifically Link) running around in town. The elements of most Zelda games is the town is a centre for bustling shops and interaction. In this idea I feel as if this could still happen, with the Adults just been aware of what Link is doing (at least to them, he is obviously a kid been a kid, playing around etc.) so they would humour him and that wouldn’t change any of the core elements from previous series in that regard. Another angle which could be explored could be if Link comes home with certain elements or ancient stones that he gets grounded, or they get taken off him. Also when Link gets the legendary green tunic, he is a boy after all which means closed minded people in the town might react differently to Link then. Remember in this idea he is still a kid and in a modern setting over parenting is quite the common scenario, it could be an interesting angle to explore even in a title which isn’t set in modern settings.
Also I think at this point many of the old ways would have dried up, even the royal line if it still existed wouldn’t have a clue as to what they once believed in, basically the whole world has become atheists. The only problem is if a game did exist with these elements when the Triforce is reunited and everyone goes back to believing in the Gods this is basically saying atheism is wrong and I believe in this day and age that could be some tricky footing to be on, even though currently more people are religious then others I believe any “this is right” or “that is wrong” in regards to religion in a title would be a bad move. Despite that I believe that a modern day Zelda would have many avenues to explore, especially with how it interacts back with the previous titles and lore. I for one wouldn’t mind a title which explored these elements in the future.