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How Old Zelda Items Might Work Within the New Zelda Formula

by Kyle Rentschler

As a series, The Legend of Zelda has always maintained a high standard, but Breath of the Wild is a reminder that Zelda is at its best when it breaks its own mold. Just as the games have seen several changes, the numerous items introduced throughout the series have also been altered, updated, or jettisoned entirely to best suit each entry. While Breath of the Wild sees the return of several key items, such as the Master Sword, Hylian Shield, Bow, and Boomerang, dozens of items have been left by the wayside. While some may no longer be relevant, such as the fast-travel bell from A Link Between Worlds, or Ocarina of Time’s area-of-effect attack, Din’s Fire (which is more or less made obsolete by Urbosa’s Fury), below are some items from past entries that could make an interesting return in the next open world Zelda.

Bunny Hood/Pegasus Boots

Although this long-eared headgear is technically also in Ocarina of Time (where it protects against stalchildren) and The Wind Waker (where it tantalizingly hangs on a wall behind a counter), the Majora’s Mask incarnation would best suit the wide-open spaces of a Breath of the Wild sequel. In any massive world, many players might opt for fast travel over on-foot when going from place to place. Though fast travel is a time-saver, it also disincentivizes players from exploring their dense, vast, beautiful surroundings. However, an item like the bunny hood, which enables Link to run about 70% faster, would be a good middle ground between Link’s relatively slow running speed and riding horseback. Either that, or the 2D-Zelda-staple Pegasus boots would also certainly give players a helpful boost.

The Wind Waker

The titular instrument of The Wind Waker grants Link several useful skills, but changing the direction of the wind might be the most helpful trick in the bag. Although the wind might not play as central a role in Breath of the Wild as it does in the Zelda with “Wind” in its title, being able to shift the breeze when gliding off a tower would be a useful boon to aerial travel. If the Wind Waker could affect the weather in other ways as well, it could be bright skies ahead for those troubled by Breath of the Wild’s seemingly perpetual monsoon season.

Zora’s Flippers/Zora’s Mask

Sprinting across the new Hyrule is incredible, but the rich architecture and gorgeous natural surroundings of Zora’s domain beg the question: what lurks deeper in Hyrule’s lakes, rivers, and ocean? While fans might not necessarily be hankering for the next water temple, consider how stunning an HD Lanayru Sand Sea would look from underwater with the speed boost of Zora’s Flippers or the underwater agility provided by Zora’s Mask. While manipulating water with Cryonis can be a useful way to cross larger bodies, it can also be occasionally frustrating in its tedium. In those instances, I would have preferred to be in control of a Link who is more Michael Phelps, and less a grown man in need of floaties.

Mole Mitts/Digging Mitts/Mogma Mitts

Though these three items – the first from Minish Cap and the following two from Skyward Sword – are slightly different from each other, they all enable Link to dig, and as the last section mentioned, most of the exploration in Breath of the Wild takes place at a surface level. Under-earth navigation could be a welcome change of pace if implemented correctly, as a means of traversal, item discovery, and perhaps a viable combat strategy. Given the massive size of the latest Zelda, I would be willing to sacrifice some breadth for some earthly depth in the future.

Sand Wand/Sand Rod

While cutting down trees or starting a brushfire can be a useful diversion in the wooded areas of Breath of the Wild, the desert features little environmental manipulation in comparison. The Sand Wand from Spirit Tracks or the Sand Rod from A Link Between Worlds could be used like a super-powered Cryonis on a sand ocean, allowing players to dig up burrowing enemies or travel quicker across the sand by creating raised platforms. The desert in Breath of the Wild is wonderful as it is, but more ways to manipulate the environment (Quake Medallion, anyone?) in a future title could allow for an even greater diversity of interaction and puzzle-solving.

Mage’s Cap/Gnat Hat/Giant’s Mask

While the first two items from The Minish Cap shrink Link down to a peewee, the Giant’s Mask balloons him up to roughly ten times his normal size. In both cases, a size-changing ability could be useful for puzzle solving and interacting with the world from a wide variety of perspectives. Imagine pulling a tree out of the ground and dueling a hinox eye-to-eye; old concept art for Breath of the Wild shows Link in a Gulliver’s Travels scenario surrounded by people of pint-size proportions – might this be on the table for the next Zelda? Along similar lines, an item like the Mask of Truth, which allowed players to read an animal’s thoughts in Majora’s Mask, would be a welcome addition to the next Zelda, bringing it further into the weirdness of the franchise that was missing a bit from Breath of the Wild.

Power Bracelet/Power Gloves/Titan’s Mitt/Silver/Gold Gauntlets/Grip Ring

This slew of hand adornments all give Link the ability to pick up exceptionally hefty objects. Although a Giant’s Mask might render these moot, being able to pick up and throw boulders could be an empowering ability. Who wouldn’t want to finish off a Stone Talus by tossing a Stone Pebblit at its weak spot?

Magnetic Gloves/Gust Jar

Similarly, Link’s magnetic gloves from Oracle of Seasons could return in the form of a souped-up Magnesis that enables Link to forcefully attract and repel items, like a Hylian gravity gun. Combine that with the Minish Cap’s Gust Jar’s potential ability to catch bugs, pick up light items like tough-to-see arrows, or direct the spread of a wild fire, and Link could have a major pull over his environment.

Bug Catching Net

With the addition of a bug net, certain creatures like insects, lizards, and small birds could be less irksome to photograph, and slightly easier to obtain without having to switch into your sneaky clothes. As far as bug-catching goes, an item like the Magic Cape from A Link to the Past would also be a welcome addition. Although I frequently donned the full Sheikah armor set to receive the stealth boost, it would have been nice to have some extra invisibility for snapping pictures of skittish critters and that kind-of-annoying Lost Forest side quest.

Hookshot/Clawshot

The definitive Zelda item not in Breath of the Wild, the erasure of the handy hookshot from Link’s tool belt was a personal blow to countless series devotees. Since A Link To the Past, the hookshot has been one of the most satisfying items to use, both offensively and as a form of movement. Its translation into 3D in Ocarina of Time was so brilliantly implemented in dungeons and the overworld that the layout and architecture of several arenas seemed designed around it. The hookshot-on-steroids clawshot from Twilight Princess also provided one of the most satisfying means of getting place to place in any video game. In an open-world Zelda, either of these items could be an interesting option in combat, especially with the metallic enemies of Breath of the Wild, but it would reach its full potential in traversal as a means of scaling the environment efficiently and purposefully. Imagine grappling from cliffside to cliffside like Batman scaling buildings in the Arkham games. In a sequel potentially even larger than Breath of the Wild, a quick, fun, empowering mode of transport could be central to player experience, and the trusty hookshot is right there waiting to get the job done.

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With nearly one hundred items from Zelda’s past absent from Breath of the Wild, there are plenty more that could make a return, but sometimes the best items are those made from scratch for a specific title, such as the masks in Majora’s Mask or the ocarina in Ocarina of Time. With that in mind, it’s exciting to consider how forgotten items might return, but even more exciting to anticipate the new ideas Nintendo will inevitably cook up for the their second rendition of open-world Zelda. If past experience is any indicator, expect the unexpected.

 

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