Let’s face it, the next year is going to be an uncertain one for Nintendo and their fans. The 3DS and Wii U are having a software drought when compared to their rivals, and rumours of a Nintendo NX announcement and even release are on everyone’s lips at the moment. For those of us clutching our Wii U’s, there is little to be excited about, especially when it was announced that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will not be released until 2017.
The wait, is quite frankly agonising. So, in order to stave off that hunger for some more adventuring with Link, you could do a lot worse than play some other games while you wait a little longer. Despite the success of the Legend of Zelda series, very few developers have dared attempt their own versions of these classic adventures. However, some have, and I think you could do a lot worse than pick up and play these games that succeed in translating the feel of Nintendo’s much-beloved games.
Okami (PS2, Wii, PS3)
First up, is Clover Studio’s Okami. A beautifully crafted adventure through a historical Japan, it has been highly regarded due to it’s beautiful sumi-e inspired, cel-shaded visuals, an incredibly soundtrack, an excellent narrative and the Celestial Brush mechanic, used to solve puzzles as well as to defeat enemies.
This is a simply breathtaking title, and very few gaming experiences can match the beauty of galloping through this watercoloured interpretation of Japan. Over time, you’ll learn new techniques, collect new items and increase in power, allowing you to go back to previous areas and follow previously inaccessible paths and find even more useful items.
Released almost a decade ago, this PS2 classic was ported to the original Nintendo Wii in 2008, introducing some superb motion controls, while in 2012, a HD version arrived on the PlayStation 3, taking advantage of the PlayStation Move controller and further improving the visuals. Despite reportedly poor sales initially, a sequel was eventually released on the Nintendo DS in the form of Okamiden, although this wasn’t quite as well-received as the original game.
No matter how you experience Ameratsu’s adventure, this is a truly magical game that pushed boundaries in terms of visuals and mechanics. It’s a classic and there should be no excuse for not playing this game for yourself. If you liked Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, this should definitely be up your street.
Secret of Mana (SNES, Wii VC, iOS, Android)
Well, it’s been a couple of months since I last mentioned Secret of Mana on this channel, so it’s about time I did so again. I did an entire video about how great this game is, so you should totally check it out. But why it this JRPG on this list? Well, it’s an action-based JRPG, complete with hacking and slashing, puzzle solving, and general adventuring, that’s more than a little similar to The Legend of Zelda’s brand of questing, albeit with more numbers.
For that reason alone, this game is a nice change of pace from your average JRPG, and it’s not a bad way to transition between the action adventure of The Legend of Zelda, and the more tactical, statistic-based gameplay of JRPGs like Final Fantasy. It’s a brilliant game in it’s own right, so forgive me for giving this title yet another well-deserved mention.
As well as the original SNES version, which is also available on the original Wii’s Virtual Console service, the game has also found its way to Android and iOS devices, in a slightly wonky, but more than playable port.
Darksiders I & II (PC, Xbox 360, PS4, Wii U, Xbox One, PS3)
Want something a little dark, gritty and mature? Well, you could do a lot worse than Darksiders and its ambitious sequel. Set after the fall of mankind thanks to a pre-emptive apocalypse, these two games put you in the big boots of a Horseman of the Apocalypse (War and Death respectively) as they battle all manner of forces to clear War’s name over accusations of starting the end of all mankind as we know it.
Featuring combo-based combat, Metroidvania-esque exploration and incredible enemy design, the now defunct Vigil Games created two games that in my opinion are two of the best releases of the last generation. The original game came out of nowhere and quickly gained a cult following through word of mouth, and impressed all who played it with this very different take on what a Zelda-style game could be. It’s sequel, was a worthy followup, adding a greater emphasis of RPG style loot and levelling.
Both are excellent alternatives to Zelda, and are well worth checking out, especially since they’re very easy to get hold of. The original game can be found on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, while the sequel is also on PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U and in an improved Deathinitive Edition on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Oceanhorn (iOS, Android, PC, OSX, PS4, Xbox One)
Take a glance at a screenshot of Oceanhorn, and two things spring to mind: 1: That it’s very rare for an iOS game to look so gorgeous, and 2: This game bears more than a passing resemblance to the Wind Waker. But, while it does take many cues from Link’s seafaring adventure, Oceanhorn is a fantastic game that somehow translates the Zelda formula to a touchscreen device.
It’s an extremely polished game that plays like a classic Zelda game, only with 3D graphics – But the gameplay feels very much like 2D entries such as A Link To The Past. With a great soundtrack featuring tracks from Seiken Densetsu’s Kenji Ito and Final Fantasy’s Nobuo Uematsu, a ton of dungeons and islands to explore, filled with puzzles and baddies to fight, it’s well worth checking out – Especially as the game is already out on iOS and Android devices, plus PC and Mac, and soon it will be coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as well.
BONUS – A Zelda You Haven’t Played Before, or….All of them!
OK, so it’s a bit of a copout, but I bet we all have a Zelda game that we haven’t played in a while, never finished, or in some cases, never even touched. So, you’ve got a lot of time between now and next year – Why not fill in those gaps. Maybe you’ve avoided some of the handheld Zelda titles like Link’s Awakening and the Oracle series. It could be that you struggled to get past the slow early hours of Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword and gave up – Now’s your chance to gives those games another shot. Hell, why not grab a 3DS and play most of the Zelda games ever released, via Virtual Console? Whether it’s discovering a potential new favourite, or rediscovering an old one, there’s a lot of Zelda games out there, and a lot of adventuring to be had.
That is quite a lot of games to keep you occupied for the next year, and I would be incredibly impressed if you have played and finished them all. All of those titles offer a slightly different alternative on the Legend of Zelda formula, and are all worth checking out, if you haven’t done so already. More importantly, that little list will keep you busy while you wait for the next instalment of the Zelda legend.