In the build up to Tears of the Kingdom, many fans were hoping there would be other playable characters in the game, with Princess Zelda being a focus for the fan base. It turned out Zelda wasn’t playable, but that doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen. Today I’d like to look at the potential for a Princess Zelda-focused game, plus if the upcoming Princess Peach Showtime game will have an influence on Nintendo.
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In the build up to Tears of the Kingdom, much of the focus was on Princess Zelda and the potential for the player to take control of the Princess in a mainline Zelda game. The first trailer shown in 2019 had Link and Zelda exploring the catacombs below Hyrule Castle. This first trailer later transformed into an early cutscene where Link and Zelda discovered Ganondorf. We all jumped on a Princess Zelda design change, which saw her hair cut shorter, and we speculated her hair was shorter, because she was going on an adventure and we’d be in control of that action.
Other AAA games have gone down this path recently, with God of War Ragnorok being one that comes to mind where the player has the ability to switch between Kratos and Atreus, plus other characters throughout the game. Unfortunately, this turned out to not be the case, and while we did have companions throughout Tears of the Kingdom, plus we could take control of Mineru’s robot, a playable Princess Zelda passed us by once again.
The Legend of Zelda has stuck to the same template for a long time, allowing players to play as Link. Breath of the Wild broke the mould from a gameplay point of view, giving players much more choice in where to go and what to do, and in which order. The linear story, traditional dungeons and item progression was left behind in favour of an open-world with breakable weapons, allowing the player to tackle dungeons in any order, or just simply go straight to fight Calamity Ganon immediately. However, one tradition remained, that Link was the only playable character in The Legend of Zelda.
Princess Zelda doesn’t have a great record of being playable in games. Spirit Tracks is probably the notable exception in the mainline Zelda games with Phantom Zelda. Much of Spirit Tracks followed the tried and tested model of a linear Zelda game. In the Tower of Spirits you could play as Phantom Zelda, and only she could get through the puzzles presented to the player. She would have to carry the boss key, or help Link navigate over lava. Nintendo has explored the ideas of Link working in tandem with companions in past Zelda games, including the recent Tears of the Kingdom, but full on control of Princess Zelda to explore, fight, cast magic and have her own adventure has thusfar eldued us. Yes, we’ve had the chance to play as her in Smash Bros and Hyrule Warriors, but I’d love to see this woven into a mainline Zelda game.
I do wonder if the relative success of the upcoming Princess Peach Showtime will influence Nintendo on their decision-making process related to a Princess Zelda focused game. In March 2024, Peach is going to star in her own game. This is an action adventure game, which includes transformations into different outfits including Swordfighter Peach, Detective Peach, Patissier Peach, Kung Fu Peach, Ninja Peach, and Cowgirl Peach. These costumes grant unique abilities and will affect gameplay, plus it’s all played out on a stage, similar to Super Mario Bros 3. I would love for this to be a huge success, and then maybe Nintendo would have a second look at Princess Zelda starring in her own game.
I would like to think Nintendo doesn’t need that motivation of Princess Peach Showtime sales. Zelda had a much larger role in Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom. While Zelda was trapped for much of Breath of the Wild, she communicated with Link fairly constantly and was cruical to the final battle. Zelda then starred in Tears of the Kingdom, travelling back through time to the Impriosioning Was, playing a part in sealing away Ganondorf and then delivering the Master Sword back to Link years later.
Zelda could offer up different gameplay mechanics compared to Link. While Link is melee focused with Swords, spears, and shields, Zelda could be more focused on magic. She could have a range of spells, which could either be given to her at the start of the game (similar to Link’s abilities in Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom), or she could earn new spells throughout Dungeons, similar to a Metroidvania where new abilities or spells could open up traversal and comnbat options.
For much of the series Zelda has been one of the main objectives for Link. ‘Find Princess Zelda’ is one of our clear instructions early in Tears of the Kingdom. Previous to that, often we’ve had to save Princess Zelda. However, now I feel Zelda has out-grown these potentially outdated objectives. Zelda is a powerful magic-user, and she doesn’t need saving, she could easily spearhead her own adventure, complimenting Link or drive the narrative on her own.
Both Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom give us the opportunity to fight alongside Zelda. In Breath of the Wild we take on Calamity Ganon together, then in Tears of the Kingdom Zelda appears as The Light Dragon as we take to the skies and battle The Demon King dragon-incarnation of Ganondorf. Much of the narrative is focused on Zelda, with her traveling back in time and offering much of the story exposition through cutscenes, but the next step surely is to embark on an adventure playing as Princess Zelda and offer up more than a character to be saved, she could be the main protagonist and drive forward the story and narrative in her own game.
I asked the Triforce Times community “Nintendo are releasing Princess Peach Showtime this year, but do you think this could open the door for Zelda to star in her own game? Do you want to see a Princess Zelda-focused game, if so what type of gameplay / story do you want to see?”.
Here’s what you had to say
I’m going to say no because , the Mario characters get to have wacky adventures, Luigi often visits haunted buildings, Peach did go to an island once, filled with different vibes. The thing with Mario characters has been the diverse places visited and set personalities, With Zelda games, it’s all set in this medieval era, even with robots around. I’ve played the spinoff games with Zelda, and she plays so badly, I would end up playing as Impa instead of her. (The first time I ever failed a mission in Hyrule Warriors age of Calamity was when Zelda unlocked her sealing powers, I struggled a lot with her timed mission.) I like characters like Samus, as she is easy to control, I like the powerups she uses, like the screw attack, missiles, bombs etc.
The Princess Peach game looks to be an amalgamation of Warioware and Mario party, Nintendo’s playing things pretty safe using a tried and tested formula, and I think the same could work if they took the same approach to a game with playable Zelda; the core story, gameplay and mechanics should still feel familiar to players even if there are slight changes to how her style of combat works compared to that of Link… realizing just now that I’m basically describing Hyrule Warriors.
Peach has had her own game before and it didn’t open the door for a Zelda game so no.
YES!!! They could call it “The Legend of Zelda!” In all seriousness, I thought this exact thing when I saw this game announced. They should call it “The Legend of Sheik” and place it in the 7 year gap! It could be more stealth based about sneaking around and trying to learn about how to determine what the sage system is and setting the stage for Link’s return.
Let me know in the comments what you think.