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Zelda on mobile - What might Link look like on iOS and Android?

Linking the pieces
Product: Nintendo news | Publisher: Nintendo | Format: Android, iPhone, iPad
Update 15/5/17: Well whaddaya know? It seems Nintendo is working on a mobile Zelda game, according to a recent report.

We don't have any details as yet, but we thought it would be worth re-running our related speculative piece, which was written ahead of Super Mario Run's initial release.

We're a few months on from Nintendo's surprise announcement of Super Mario Run at Apple's iPhone 7 launch event.

We now know that Nintendo is open to bringing across its biggest franchises to mobile, but that they will be built from the ground up (more or less) for the new platform.

Which raises an interesting question: what would a mobile Zelda game look like? Excuse us while we speculate wildly.

Zelda goes rogue

Super Mario Run looks like a little bundle of joy, but strip away the unmistakable Nintendo aesthetic and one thing strikes you - this is another auto-runner. Nintendo isn't reinventing the mobile gaming wheel by any stretch of the imagination.

So which established mobile genre could Nintendo plunder for Zelda? Assuming the company will stick with the whole single-handed, portrait-view philosophy it adopted with SMR (which is far from a given), might Nintendo go the roguelike turn-based strategy-cum-puzzler route? Think Enyo or Hoplite.

Such a choice could facilitate a return to the top-down, flip-screen exploration of the 8-bit and 16-bit Zelda eras while with the player swiping to move and attack. Link's famous selection of weapons and items would come in handy for traversing levels

Of course, the whole roguelike concept kind of comes unstuck when you consider Nintendo's famously crafted approach to level design - procedurally generated stages might be out of the question. Rather, Nintendo would probably want to place every last chest, special item, and boss character. Not that we'd be complaining.


Of course, unlike with Mario, the Zelda series already has a touch-driven entry to act as a potential precedent. Two, in fact.

We're referring to The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and its sequel The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks on the Nintendo DS. Might Nintendo pursue a more traditional course and create a sort of sequel or spinoff to these games for mobile?

These games, in case you missed them, were a lot more in keeping with classic Zelda games, with colourful worlds to wander around in and kinetic real-time combat. The key difference was in its touch-driven control system, though let's not forget that there were still a bunch of buttons involved too.

It's for this reason, and the evidence that Nintendo is treating mobile as a distinct platform with very different parameters to its previous handheld work, that we don't think this is a likely path for a mobile Zelda to take. Much as the Zelda fan in us would rather like it to be so.

Link's Wind Wakering

With Super Mario Run, Nintendo is using an art style it first established with New Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS back in 2006. With a mobile Zelda, it would make a certain amount of sense to follow suit with those aforementioned DS Zelda games.

Of course, their art style originated in 2002's The Wind Waker on the GameCube console. But its cute, cel-shaded style scaled particularly well to a small-screen format.

It's also far more appealing than Link's more recent handheld outing in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, despite the latter being a brilliant game.


So, what would a mobile Zelda look like? Will it be the cel-shaded, single-handed roguelike experience we've thrown about above? Will Nintendo stick with a more traditional Zelda experience? Or is there some other approach we haven't thought of?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy 15 May 2017
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