As The Legend of Zelda has ventured into the open-world formula with Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, the complexity of the games has increased along with the development time. Remakes have been going above and beyond recently with fantastic releases like Dead Space, Resident Evil and Final Fantasy 7, with some remakes taking the story to wild new places. Today I’d like to look at the prospect of Nintendo remaking Ocarina of Time, and pulling a Final Fantasy 7 twist and playing with the story for our next Legend of Zelda adventure.
Nintendo are likely to release their new Switch 2 console in 2024, and having just released Tears of the Kingdom in 2023, it’s not likely we’re going to get a new open-world Zelda anytime soon. Breath of the Wild’s development time was 5 years, and Tears of the Kingdom was 6 years. Following that logic if Nintendo wanted to release another open-world Zelda game then we’re not going to see that before 2028/29. I doubt Nintendo want to leave a big gap between Zelda releases, so I think it’s highly likely the team are busy working on something to tide us over until the next mainline Legend of Zelda Adventure. We have a few options in terms of what they could deliver. A Remake, Remaster or an original 2D Zelda.
First of all, let’s have a look at the Remake or Remaster. There has been plenty of talk about Ocarina of Time recently. The 25th anniversary has just passed, with fans putting together Unreal Engine 5 character models and Studio Ghibli-esque fan projects. Ocarina of Time has seen a couple of upgrades since it’s original release in 1998. In 2003 it was re-released on GameCube packed in with Wind Waker with the extra Master Quest levels. Then in 2011 Grezzo gave it the remake treatment and released it on Nintendo 3DS. The original is also available to play on Nintendo Switch Online as part of the N64 collection of games.
If you haven’t played Ocarina of Time, perhaps you were introduced to the Zelda series through Breath of the Wild or Tears of the Kingdom, then it’s well worth going back to Ocarina of Time to play through. Even though the game feels dated to modern standards, the magic is still there, and the dungeon design still wows to this day, beating most temple designs from the modern Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom. The Forest Temple as Adult Link is iconic, and has to be experienced.
While the original 1998 version of Ocarina of Time feels dated, the 2011 3DS remake had a look at some of the major pain points in the game offering an updated experience. Graphics were updated, the inventory was improved, The Water Temple saw gameplay improvements, Navi was gave more helpful advice and the animations were overhauled. A remaster of the 3DS version of Ocarina of Time with updated visuals, similar to Link in Smash Bros Ultimate would be incredible.
Grezzo brought us an updated version of Link’s Awakening with it’s gorgeous and unique art style to Nintendo Switch in 2019. Then we had a HD version of Skyward Sword brought to Nintendo Switch removing the need for motion controls and bringing one of the best stories in the Zelda series to the masses via Nintendo Switch. Could Ocarina be next? It’s certainly high up there on the list.
You could argue it’s difficult to remake a classic like Ocarina of Time, and given it’s playable on Nintendo Switch today what would be the point? There is inspiration out there from another Japanese company which could show the way, and that’s the Final Fantasy 7 Remake from Square Enix. They have turned their classic Final Fantasy 7 game into a multi-part release, and everything has been updated, including the story.
With Final Fantasy 7 Square Enix are going into much more depth with their characters, plus creating a new story which is more a Final Fantasy 7 sequel than a remake, with a branching story taking the game in new directions and rewriting history. What if Nintendo did the same thing with Ocarina of Time? Perhaps Link did something new in the past which could change the future, and the Zelda timeline is forever changed? It could be more interesting than a straight remake, although it’s a risky one for Nintendo playing around with the arguably one of the best games ever made.
Final Fantasy 7 significantly changed the story in the first part of their remake, which had led fans to be hugely excited for the sequel coming early next year. In the original game Cloud and Barret blow up Shinra’s Reactor, but in the Remake Shinra do it themselves. War is more profitable than energy, and it shows the more sinister side of the corporate giant. Sector 7 has a new hidden lab, with Shinra flexing their evil muscles even more by conducting secret underground experiments. Then we have the Whispers of Fate, hooded spirits who seemingly prevent Cloud from dying after he falls in Sector 5. There’s also changes to Sephiroth’s role, but that’s too much of a spoiler to go into.
Could Nintendo employ a similar tactic with an Ocarina of Time Remake? Given Link has the ability to travel through time, Nintendo could go above and beyond a simple remake, and significantly alter the story. If it goes well it could be a master stroke, although it it goes poorly it could be a huge mistake. I have faith Nintendo could pull it off, and it could have implications for the Zelda timeline overall. Nintendo hasn’t outright said Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom are a story reset, this could be a chance to make some changes, given Ocarina of Time sits at the point where the story branches off into paths.
Another option for the next Zelda game could be an original 2D Zelda game. We’ve seen Nintendo go back to 2D Mario recently with Super Mario Wonder, with great success. It’s in the running for Game of the Year and is currently sitting at 92 on Metacritic. The last time we got a 2D Zelda game was Triforce Heroes back in 2015, although Cadence of Hyrule was released in 2019 by Brace Yourself Games in partnership with Nintendo. Having recently played through A Link to the Past and Link’s Awakening, these games still hold up today and a brand new 2D Zelda game created by a younger Zelda team could be the perfect way to bring some fresh ideas to the series. Nintendo employed a similar tactic with Super Mario Bros Wonder, blending a team with new and older members, allowing younger developers step up to the plate and present their ideas. Super Mario Bros Wonder is full of new ideas, and that same thinking applied to Zelda could be magic waiting to happen.
As always, let me know what you think in the comments.