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Modernization in Zelda

Big Octo

Jul 2, 2011
One of the many unique traits of Zelda is that it's a dynamic series. Because it's so open to change, we've seen many interesting and risky ideas. Modernization is no exception, as we have come to know.

In the earlier titles if the series, it appears as only a basic Medieval theme, with swords, shields, bows, etc.


Especially when compared with other titles, there isn't to much to be seen here. However, it's a good place to start building up and comparing technological advancement in the series. With the first few ideas, they can be easily built upon.

When traveling further through the series, there have been only hints of slow modernization, such as the crane game in Link's Awakening and robotic-like enemies in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. Though further in, we begin to see new innovations, such as cannons. Playing an important role in the Wind Waker, it seems to spark an interest in mechanical ballistics in the series.

Skipping ahead of a few titles, we begin to see huge advancements. The first may be the steamboat from Phantom Hourglass.


This simply goes to show how dynamic the series is. But shortly after this game, we've seen another change in technology, the trains of Spirit Tracks.


Now this sparks an interesting correlation with the steamboat. In reality, trains have existed longer then it, so what else could we see.

The Future in Modernization

I'm sure many new things can happen. The first thing that comes to mind are guns, which are of course older than both trains and steamboats. Don't get me wrong, I'm thinking of old guns. I can easily see Link with one. It could work.

But what I'm also sure about is that the series can't completely modernize, as dynamic as it is, it would ruin the feel of the games.

Your thoughts?


Viceroy of Area 11
Dec 24, 2010
Gosh no guns. No. No no nononono. Other than that, modern-ish transportation is good. The train was pushing it but since there were no guns, it's OK.

Big Octo

Jul 2, 2011
You may have missed my point; I was speaking of old, single-shot guns that take a long time to reload. Not more reliable than a bow.

Ruby Link

He who started the fire
Jun 28, 2011
I have no idea...
I'm actually quite surprised that we haven't seen guns in a Zelda game yet, we've got cannons, trains, steamboats, and apparently airships (Beedle's shop in SS). I don't see why Nintendo hasn't made it a weapon especially since there have been pirates in the series, and flint-lock pistols were pirate weapons. Maybe we'll get a Zelda were Link is a pirate or something of the sort... That's the only way I could see Link with a gun.
Sep 17, 2011
These games mix up medieval setting with some modern elements. I think that in a universe where magic is possible development could never properly correlate with the development of the real world. Like you mentioned, steamboats before trains.

But we can see the effects of modernization especially well in Spirit Tracks - train is only proper way to move around, population has grown dependent on new technology. Having guns, even some old, stylish ones, could actually change a lot. And magic being integral with Zelda - would you get "light" bullets? (I'd like some fire bullet cucco sniping.)

Modernization would follow a certain logic, old is replaced by something better (once again, ST, every non-monster uses a train to get around and only Bulblins ride anywhere), and having a gun could in the long run change the combat and warfare permanently. (Though I would not complain if we got an arquebus...)

A lot is possible with modernization, but I think certain basic elements (magic, myths...) limit the development from going too far. As making it too much a mix of futuristic weapons/mechanisms and medieval swords and magic would make it a bit too Final Fantasy-like.
Aug 25, 2011
Being a fictional fantasy world with an independent history not necessarily the same as our own I do not mind some bits of tech here and there..

Telephones and cameras in Links Awakening

and Neon Lights in Ocarina and Majora's

Guns though? I guess I would be OK with them as long as Link didnt use them, they were not prominent in the story or at all common, and if they were very eary types like muzzleloaders, and blunderbusses... Something either a boss or NPC could have...

It may interest you to know there actually were early forms of firearms during our worlds medieval times in fact its these hand cannons that gave the modern gun their name they were called Gonne..

The Camera and the phone were invented in the 1800's some 400-500 (depending on where you were :p )years after the middle ages ended both of these things are in Zelda games... so in some ways guns would make more sense than those things.
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An Hero of our Time
Sep 19, 2011
Right behind you in a camo suit ;)
I wouldn't want any non-fictional guns in a Zelda game no matter how primitive they are, it would just ruin the Medieval/Magic feel that the series has. Some fictional gun-type weapons might be ok to have, though. I don't have any ideas of my own for this, but I think some type of made up, primitive firearm might be kinda cool.


Mad haters lmao
May 26, 2010
Hylian Champion
Guns could work; there was an entire thread almost completely dedicated to that. I would hate for the game to be so modern, so I say no to trains and steamboats. I think a Zelda game could run on magic (meaning MAGIC BAR, NINTENDO), horses, swords as well as older guns, and still manage at most a T for Teen rating by ESRB. Modernization is just a risky topic to talk about, because some things are preferred by some and other things to others.


An Hero of our Time
Sep 19, 2011
Right behind you in a camo suit ;)
I know I'm contradicting myself, but after I made my last post, I kind of realized something- we don't need guns in the series. We already have a long-range weapon- the bow- and we don't really need another one like a gun for anything. replacing the bow would be kind of stupid and for Zelda, I can't picture anything a gun can do that the bow and bombs(for power) can't do; unless a gun is put in at the end of a game as an really good-but-not-necessary-to-finish-the-game unlockable weapon like the boomerang in Link's Awakening, it would be pointless.


The Unknown
Jun 19, 2011
Well, that is quite the interesting point. IMO, the transportations blend pretty well in the series, and you can barely see it as a modern tool. The design helps a lot on it. Anyways, you forgot the vacuum (Gust Jar) which was pretty modern to me. Also, if TLoZ was later into the series, how come the technology in the game is far more primitive compared to the first (chronologically) game in the series? Was there some sort of huge extinction between the games? I don't know, just getting my thoughts out, I guess.

Majora's Cat

How about that
Sep 3, 2010
The Legend of Zelda is certainly not shy toward technological development. The Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks have already proven that Nintendo is not afraid of advancing the Legend of Zelda’s technology as far as little items go. I must admit that Spirit Tracks was a few leaps and bounds more than fans are used to, but it was received rather warmly by audiences eager to get their grubby hands on a copy of the game.

I believe that modernization in the franchise has limitations. There are only a finite number of feasible possibilities in the way of modernization that could appeal to hardcore fans of the series and still give players something completely fresh and innovative to experience. It’s all a balancing act, but it seems that Nintendo knows its boundaries. I’m assuming that most gamers would consider adding heavy artillery and fighter jets to Zelda stepped way over the line, while adding old-fashioned guns that are just a tad bit more effective than the bow and arrows isn’t as much of a stretch.

The thread shown below is one I typed up back in January, but I think it suits the topic of this thread very well.

Majora's Cat (A New Approach to Zelda Games Thread) said:
The Legend of Zelda series has always stuck to the same style of gameplay and that same old medieval/simplistic setting. I’ve been thinking - will Nintendo ever dare to take the series in a direction so radically different it could either make or break the series? Chances are the answer is no, but I would like to reflect on the idea of changing the series a bit.

We’ve seen so much variation in video games over the past years. A game series originally focused on the modern age can easily jump ahead to the year 2100 or go back in time, perhaps to the medieval era. Many franchises that have taken these measures are quite successful and keep gamers on their toes. We wonder “what will they do next?”. One good example of this is the Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions game. Spider-Man video games have not had much success in the past, and Shattered Dimensions really changed the fans’ perception of the franchise. Instead of shooting for that same old Spider-Man game, Beenox (developer) decided to take Spidey to the next level. There existed a futuristic Tron-like 2099 universe, a 1940s style dark Noir universe, a more classic Amazing Spider-Man universe and the ever-thrilling and strange Ultimate Universe. Each provided a different look, different gameplay and different atmosphere. It proved to be a smashing success compared to previous Spider-Man games, proving that changing up the old formula can prove to be beneficial.

I really like the idea of a utopia Zelda game. Perhaps like BioShock Infinite. BioShock Infinite takes placed in the utopia-gone-wrong city of Columbia that floats in the sky. A story like this can inspire a deeper storyline and seamlessly threads the gameplay into the plot. This is something that has yet to be seen in a Zelda game. Or maybe the Zelda game could be set in a location similar to that of Cocoon in Final Fantasy XIII and the 2099 universe of Shattered Dimensions.


[The 2099 universe of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions features illuminated futuristic buildings, somewhat reminiscent of those in the original Spider-Man comics.]


[Final Fantasy XIII's Cocoon is pretty different from the 2099 universe but still provides a vivid image for what a futuristic Zelda game could look like. While this might not be so appealing to hardcore fans, some may find the idea fascinating.]​

I’d like to make one last comparison to a video game. This time, I want to focus my attention on God of War III. Like the Zelda series, GoW is epic and features puzzles and huge bosses. Although the two franchises don’t seem to have much in common on the outside, they both have similarities as well.

God of War III – blood and gore – huge set pieces – ridiculously oversized bosses = Zelda. Essentially, GoW is Zelda with a glossy overcoat (by that I mean the amazing visuals, violent and epic cutscenes, etc.). That being the case, a radically different Zelda game could come to resemble a God of War game with elevated difficulty and more focus on puzzles rather than mindless violence.

While every idea is exciting, only a few could possibly fit a Zelda game. I’m doubting that the Zelda series could ever spawn a Western or a First-Person Shooter. Link in cowboy boots with the little circular blades? Or Link holding a magnum? Such things are probably unimaginably horrific.

So maybe Zelda could take a different approach? While a Noir Zelda or futuristic Zelda sounds unpromising, maybe it can be one if elements of these newly invigorated games harkens back to the old days. It can be done, but can only be successful if done the right way. Let’s ask ourselves this: what exactly is the right way? In my eyes, the only way to please longtime Zelda fans is to take classic Zelda items and concepts and implement them into the new game. Fans are usually angered because of too many unnecessary changes to the formula, so I believe that the gameplay, items and feel of the game shouldn’t be completely wiped away. Instead of having that Zelda touch being replaced entirely by a whole different genre, I believe that only little dabs of change should be placed here and there.

So, do you think that Nintendo should take a step in a different direction for a change? And if so, how do you think Nintendo should approach this? Discuss.

Boundaries were discussed in that thread, but I went into more specific detail concerning two popular games at the time. In the last paragraph, there was a small bit about how a Zelda game needs to uphold the classic Zelda feel. It’s not an easy task to put this magical feeling into words, but we all know it when we play a Zelda game. The magic is always present; no matter how realistic the game is (like Twilight Princess) because it still includes most of the imperative elements that form the groundwork of every Zelda.

As for that medieval theme the poster of the thread mentioned – the medieval setting is not a constant in every area. Take the Desert Colossus and Gerudo Valley for instance. The technology and architecture in the area clearly resembles ancient Egyptian culture and the buildings/structures even look rather new. This may be an indication that the whole area in general is not as old as one may think. Another example I would like to bring attention to is Termina Field of Majora’s Mask. Ocarina of Time essentially set the precedent of a medieval milieu for Zelda games to come. Strangely enough, Majora’s Mask does not strictly follow the established standards.

One can take a gander at any of the four entrances to the four major areas of Termina and tell that Termina does not necessarily have a grounded time setting. Stone Tower, Great Bay, Snowhead and Woodfall seem to represent several different cultures during various periods of time. It just goes to show that Nintendo can stray from the beaten path a little in ways other than technological progress.

Not to say that Nintendo hasn’t made mistakes in developing Hylian technology. The Dominion Rod and Spinner from Twilight Princess were clearly items of little usefulness in the game. Coincidentally, those two items are perhaps the two most modern (or even futuristic) of items in Link’s possession. It’s not that Dominion Rod and Spinner do not suit the setting and time period of the game, but rather that they are not put to good use. The player will probably use the Spinner twice throughout the duration of the game outside of Arbiter’s Grounds, and the Dominion Rod is only beneficial when completing menial quests previous to City in the Sky. Most of Zelda’s modern items cannot be considered “out of place”, but they certainly can be identified as unnecessary and useless.


There you are! You monsters!
Forum Volunteer
Feb 8, 2011
I see only the continuous hints of advancement in Zelda as essential. Looking over Temples such as Great Bay or City in the Sky, it's simple to say that there is evident technological improvement in the series. There's even a speedboat in Skyward Sword, along with other things such as the that "amusement park" found in its desert province. Hyrule was developing even since near the beginning, which possibly devolved from its magical elements.

But Nintendo has remained ever-faithful to the main fantasy theme of the franchise, so that it doesn't come to look too much like a Final Fantasy world. They've only stuck to the fringe of modern and midieval, using puzzles always caught in between them. The cannons in the Snow Mansion required bombs to fire their balls; the Dominion Rod animated immobile statues; water-wheels caused geysers to erupt in Great Bay Temple, and so on. Each of these suggests contemporary puzzles that Nintendo continually innovates in their stalwart faith to every release, new and old.

In concluding, Zelda will always stay a fantasy series, "current" things made possible only through magic, and pry at our imagination as new qualities are added and improved throughout each game. It will ever be this, so long as people such as Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma preside over it.


Jan 10, 2011
On the midnight Spirit Train going anywhere
I personally don't think adding a gun to Zelda would work out, and it has nothing to do with modernization. It has to do with the gameplay. If one gun is put into the game, more then have to follow. It's not like with the Bow or Slingshot where it can remain the same the entire game and not matter. One gun throughout the entire game wouldn't feel right. We'd need to have more out of it, for it to be stronger. Now, I know an upgrade system has been added in Skyward Sword, and I think that's going to stick with the Zelda series, so that could be used with the gun. But it still wouldn't feel right without there being a pistol and then a rifle, then shotgun, and so on and so forth. With Zelda, there's never multiple versions of an item, and having one item in the whole game that's an exception to that wouldn't make much sense, as we'd be having to purchase the different guns rather than finding them in separate dungeons. Plus, we already have the Slingshot and Bow. What's the point of adding another weapon to that? The Slingshot provides a quick-fire tactic and the Bow allows for long-range shooting. Adding another projectile weapon would be quite redundant and would probably make the Slingshot and Bow obsolete, something fans would not be too appreciative of (including me). How so? Guns are quick-fire weapons as well as long-range weapons. Put those two things together and the Slingshot and Bow would have no purpose anymore. I don't know about you, but I don't like the sound of that. That would make the Slingshot and Bow even being in the game pointless. And we all know how fans felt about the Slingshot having no real purpose in Twilight Princess after the Bow was introduced. How much more do you think they'd react if that same thing were to happen to the Bow?

All that said, again, I really don't think adding a gun to the Zelda series would be a wise choicel. It's just overall not a good idea from a majority of standpoints, each of which matter tremendously. In theory it could work out OK, but in reality it would just cause damage.

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