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General Zelda Gimmicks

Best Gimmick

  • Time Travel in MM

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Four Person in Four Swords (both games)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Trains in Spirit Tracks

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Unsure

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


The Fierce Deity
Jan 16, 2013
Inside the Moon
Spoilers Ahead:
Gimmicks are strange strange concepts or gamplay mechanics that are used to make a game unique. They are generally well-advertised with the game and, one usually dominates a game from beginning to end. There are many notable gimmicks in Zelda.

You've got the 3-day cycle in MM; which forces the entire game to be played in short bursts. The gimmick also allows for interesting stories that follow days and times, and a million other gameplay mechanics I won't go into. It should also be noted every add for this game used the moon looming over Termina like it was going out of style. I find people either hate this system to death or love it with all their hearts.

Then there's the Four Swords games. These games feature four people playing a game using cords. I've never played these games, but I do know the four-person play dominates the whole game and is generally well-received. I can only imagine that these games could be a pain to play and pretty expensive if not done properly.

Then there's the trains from Spirit Tracks. This gimmick works out better than I thought it would. The whole game features you travelling around Hyrule in a train while blasting foes with your cannon. It's used for some challenging combat and excellent level design. The travel get's tedious at times, but the train feels like a welcome addition to the Zelda formula. I love it.

These are the only games I feel are dominated by a gimmick. The sailing in WW and the Twilight Realm in TP feel like nice touches to what is essentially a traditional Zelda game. Please tell us which gimmick is the best, and by all means suggest future gimmicks Nintendo may include.


Gardener of Elysium
Jan 21, 2013
Academia de Hyrule
For some reason I always think of gimmicks as a technical or gameplay aspect that dominates a game, not really an idea that dominates a game, but I just that's just from playing too much Zelda, which Nintendo uses to showcase their consoles' little gimmicks.

I'd say that as far as my definition goes, PH and ST are dominated by the stylus gimmick, SS is dominated by the Wii Motion-plus gimmick, and FSA and FS are dominated by the multiplayer gimmick. I suppose the three day cycle and train from MM and ST count too.

I would love for a multiplayer mode, not a entire game set around it, but just a mode to be available, kind of like a very toned down FSA or FS. The Wii Motion-plus is probably my favorite gimmick, and I would love to see another game with the Wii motion-plus motion control, but I know a lot of people don't want that and Nintendo is unlikely to use it.

The Jade Fist

Kung Fu Master
Jul 17, 2012
3 day cycle easily.
I hated the trains:
1 the trains were annoying, and 2 the trains had demon trains that forced you to do stupid things just to get where you were going, 3 a wild animals instinct when they see a train is clearly to run into it.

Four Swords, can't even be played, because of its gimmick. If you don't have game cube/ gba link cables you simply couldn't play either game. The game cube one was still possible single player but you felt like you were only getting a half a game, because you couldn't play it with any one else and it was clearly designed to be co-op.


Mad haters lmao
May 26, 2010
Hylian Champion
I feel I should explain my choice. Of all the gimmicks available, I believe the 3 Day Cycle manages to pull off exactly what it aimed for: urgency. I've always felt compelled with the system because I had to micromanage my time both past, present, and future. By reminding me that I had XX hours remaining to the Fall, it kept me shaped up and privy to the main quest, but it also served its purpose by allowing me to complete certain sidequests as well. The cycle also makes ample amounts of sense without being too restrictive; it's explained using Zelda's craptastical Time Logic, but you can also stop time, slow it, fast forward it, or have things play in real time. It's great stuff.


Smash is Life
Sep 23, 2012
Beijing, China
The 3 day cycle, as well as the rest of the time stuff. It was just the best. No questions asked. Venti also explained it pretty well already.

Although, I feel the poll could use more options. Especially the Wii Motion+ thing from SS. That whole game was pretty much based around that one gimmick. It wasn't always a bad thing, either; I liked how they used it on the Deku Babas (or whatever they're called now) and the Stalfos, as well as some boss battles like Ghirahim, but it could also get really annoying at times, like with the Bokoblins. So I think that an option for Wii Motion+ should really be on the poll as a gimmick, although I would probably never choose it.


The Quiet Man
Three little things are what I have:

-The train for most unobtrusive. You go across a set path with some degree of freedom, doesn't sound to different to me from what you'd do in any other Zelda, other than the (sometimes necessary) restriction being more visually obvious because of the rails. I think it added more than it removed and is possibly the most straightforward of the recent games.

-The 3 day cycle for most effective. Like Ven said, it does what it sets out more effectively than others. I think that even for its more annoying implications, it adds meaningful attachment factor to the characters and the world for seeing it from its calmer moments to the more desperate ones. It's not something I can say I see often done in a way that allows it so in depth in a game that short, but you may chalk that up to my relative inexperience with any other games that may have done it. Still effective if you're one of those who gets attached to pixel characters. (I'm clearly one)

-And last, the size change in Minish Cap (not on the poll) for my favorite one. Turning a library into a mini-dungeon's entrance, a sidequest that involves stepping on a giant book to make it fall and making some of the least threatening enemies in the whole game into bosses (one of them actually turned out to be one of the hardest bosses for me in the game, in fact) has that quirky "appeals to my inner 7 year old" charm for me. It's also a clever way to make the most out of the game's environments. Best gimmick in the series, IMO.

Random Person

Just Some Random Person
Feb 6, 2010
For some reason I always think of gimmicks as a technical or gameplay aspect that dominates a game, not really an idea that dominates a game, but I just that's just from playing too much Zelda, which Nintendo uses to showcase their consoles' little gimmicks.

I'd say that as far as my definition goes, PH and ST are dominated by the stylus gimmick, SS is dominated by the Wii Motion-plus gimmick, and FSA and FS are dominated by the multiplayer gimmick.

I have to agree with this. While there is a lot of train usage in ST, there's also a good chunk of the game where you don't use the train at all. Though it technically could be counted as a gimmick, I'd more quickly point to the stylus.

Anyways, I guess my choice would have to be the 3 day mechanic. Despite the hate this gets, I love it. Players complain that it made them feel rushed and they hated that they couldn't simply save, but that was the point and I think Nintendo pulled it off quite nicely. By making the player feel rushed, it helps them to feel what Link is feeling in that he only has three days to get it done and he can't make a mistake or he'll have to start all over. People make good arguments that this is putting Personal preference above gameplay mechanics but I just don't see it as a bad gameplay mechanic, just one that's not convenient. It's similar to a very annoying character that's supposed to be annoying. If they annoyed you, that doesn't make them a bad character, it just makes them annoying, in fact, it makes them a very good character as they are doing their job.


Rock and roll will never die
Jun 15, 2012
London, United Kingdom
I voted time travel in MM, though I don't really think of that as time travel, more like rewinding and fast forwarding the same sequence. I just thought the Spirit Track train sucked and the four player thing was just not for me.
Personally I prefer the time travel gimmick of OoT to that in MM, as I liked being able to change between childhood and adulthood rather than rewinding and fast forwarding the same three days. Nevertheless, it was pretty cool, how one little action can affect the entire game. I think that was the coolest part of Majora's Mask, really.
I also liked the timeshift stone parts of Skyward Sword. I actually might make a theory thread about those...

Mellow Ezlo

Spoony Bard
Dec 2, 2012
My favourite gimmick is actually one that is not on the poll. My favourite is Wolf Link from Twilight Princess. I know this isn't really all that unique, since other games have had transformations. Wolf Link is just my favourite of all. I like Wolf Link because It is exactly what I always expected Link's "dark" form to be. I find the Bunny Rabbit transformation in A Link to the Past to be quite funny, but I also thought it to be really cheesy. Link just doesn't seem like a bunny at all. The wolf is far more realistic.

I also really like wolves in general. I've seen wolves in the wild around my area a few times, and although they are quite aggressive, they truly are beautiful animals. I've always been a bit of a dog person though, so I naturally got overjoyed when Link turned into one :P

In terms of why I like Wolf Link as my favourite gimmick, since one may think that it is not actually all that unique. Well, it is. The concept of transformations is not unique to this game, but the way it is played and introduced is. I rather like the gameplay of Wolf Link. The biting can getting a little bit awkward sometimes, but I hardly ever use the "B" Button attack. I usually target and press "A" for a more powerful, and more cool-looking, jump attack. I also like how Wolf Link can defeat hordes of enemies in one shot by using Midna's energy field. Yes, it makes battles easier, but it can be difficult to pull off the attack whilst avoiding getting hit because it has to charge up.
I also like WL's ledge jumping mechanic a lot.

But possibly my favourite thing about Wolf Link is its role in the story. When Link gets transformed into a wolf, you cannot help but pity him since everybody thinks he's a monster. And then you feel this moment of gratitude when you become Hylian again, just to realize (for me anyway) that you miss being a wolf.
As for how WL contributes to the story, that is perhaps the best part of all. Link became a wolf as punishment for attempting to rescue his friends, because he could not survive as a Hylian whilst in the Twilight (another gimmicky I like). And then there's that part when Link finally gets the Master Sword, and gains the ability to transform at will. Well hey, might as well take advantage of that!
I also like how Wolf Link was used in the final battle as a beast-vs-beast fight. I just wish it were more involved and at least a little harder.

So ya. Wolf Link is definitely my favourite gimmick.

If I had to pick one on the poll, it would probably be the 3 Day Cycle, because I loved having a time limit to challenge the game, even if it was quite easy to accomplish tasks withing the given time

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