Andrew wants to turn the hero aspect upside down, if only just once.
The storyline in the Zelda series is a convoluted mess, with Nintendo having both confirmed and denied the fact that each and every game is connected in some overlaying timeline. Some events in certain games clearly identify key moments in Hyrule's history, and some games make direct references to other games in the forms of ancient legends, oral history, and even flashbacks. Fans have developed several theories surrounding the overall plot.
Still, whether you're an avid believer that the games follow an intricate order of events that could fill an epic Hylian Bible, or you think that the games are all retellings of the same story over and over with different twists, or you're simply of the “They're all just games, stop thinking so hard about it and just play the damn thing” crowd, there is but one constant in every game.
Link. The appropriately-named connection between player and Hyrule. He is the stalwart hero who never speaks but goes where you want to go. He feels what you want to feel. He acts the way you wish him to.
Almost every game features a new "Link," who is undeniably a completely different entity from the Link in other games. These Links exist in other times, yet all share the same destiny: become a hero and save the land. It is as if they are all descended from the same bloodline.
It's a proven fact that games can be awesome and enjoyed by people of both genders, even if the protagonist is a girl. Samus isn't about sex appeal or pony riding or hair styling, she's about exploring dangerous alien worlds and kicking ass.
Surely once, in the multitude of possible chronologies of the Zelda universe, one of Hyrule's heroes was in fact female. Would she still be named Link? Sure, why not – the series encourages you to name your character as whoever you want anyway. She could even be a descendant of Aryll or Tetra, two cute yet feisty lasses in Wind Waker.
By now I'm surely sounding like some kind of weirdo, but I assure you this idea isn't due to some fixation with girls in green tunics or gender-swapping characters; I simply think it would be a refreshing change to the series and would let us see a different side of the hero figure. The rest of the world need not evolve for the sake of one character; there's nothing saying Zelda should hence be reincarnated as a male character or Ganon (or Vaati) as a female. There has never been solid representation of a romantic relationship between Link and Zelda, so the gender of her character need not be altered.
The Master Sword and Hylian Shield are still a must, they're part of the core gameplay and without them it's simply not a Zelda game. But I imagine a more athletic, light on her feet Link who approaches each situation in a slightly different way. Jumping could be more featured, though I'd never want to see Mario-style platforming in a Zelda game – it's just too different.
Perhaps this Link was raised by Gerudos or a similar warrior clan, and she has the ability to balance on the top of wooden poles, temporarily run along walls, or perform kick-jumps off walls to maneuver behind enemies.
the ruins of an old temple, deep in a jungle. Its moss-covered cobblestone
walls set into a muddy cliff face dotted with foliage and a canopy of
trees above, their branches reaching down at you. A raging waterfall
in the background crashes into a foamy torrential river that splits
the scenery into a gaping chasm far below. Exotic-looking birds swoop
between trailing vines before fluttering away into the setting
A male Link would likely whip out his Hookshot, grapple an overhanging tree across the gorge before tromping along a narrow outcropping path that crumbles away beneath his feet. He'd then take out a bomb and blow up a portion of the wall, unleashing some kind of Moblin or Stalfos that must be defeated on the precarious ledge before pressing deeper into the ruins.
Now, imagine a nimble, female Link in the same scenario. She braves the raging rapids below, balancing her way across a trailing vine like a tightrope. After blowing open the wall from afar with a well-placed bomb throw (or bomb arrow), she tiptoes up and stealthily takes out the Moblin before it's even aware of her presence. Sneaking about in Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker was a lot of fun, a more abundant return of stealth gameplay would be welcome.
Physics-based puzzles and situations would be a nice new addition. Imagine enemy fights or even boss battles on rocking teeter-totter platforms – let the enemy advance over to your half of the platform and the whole thing topples over. If the enemy suddenly charges at you, carefully flip over its head and plant your weight on the opposite side before your footing tips too far, perhaps landing a blow on its back in the process.I'd also like to see more elemental challenges beyond "burn this web to pass through the tunnel" or "freeze this enemy and it can be easily shattered." For example, clever use of traveling flames could light fuses or vines, which you then must race to its source before a cannon fires.
The increased battle moveset in Twilight Princess added some depth and customization to battling enemies. This is one evolution that the series could see taken to new levels. For example, the snowboard segment in Twilight Princess was unique enough to the series that I feel it could be used more often in imaginative ways. Rather than limiting it to a set minigame location, Link could hop onto her own shield to zip down a mountainside or grind down a rocky slope, sparks flying in all directions as she careens between boulders and slams enemies out of her path. Furthermore, picture Link's downward stab first seen in Adventure of Link, but instead she crouches in the air, holding her shield beneath her feet and putting the full force of her momentum and weight behind the impact. This attack could be used to bash enemies into a dizzy stupor, slam rusty switches down into the floor or, given a running start, temporarily surf across the surface of lava or toxic substances before sinking.
Essentially, I'm looking at a more action-based Zelda title with less emphasis on item necessity.
That said, there will still of course be equipment to find for new abilities in each dungeon, but Link will not be helpless in battle without them.
One of my favorite Zelda items was Wind Waker's Grappling Hook, which could be used not only to latch onto branches and swing across chasms, but it could also swipe secret items from enemies and yank things about. Multipurpose items like these are a thrill to experiment with.
Perhaps a musical baton could be used to control enemies' minds and turn them into assistants, similar to the Bremen Mask in Majora's game, or the Capture Styler in Pokémon Ranger. Link parades around the room playing her song, and when enemies come within range they're lulled into obedience and follow her around until she commands them to smash this wall, cut that rope, clobber that enemy, etc. They could even be used as distractions during stealth segments, allowing Link to slip by undetected.
Magic power has been something mostly unexplored since Zelda II. Sure there was a warp spell and a few element arrows in Ocarina of Time, but perhaps a set of spells could make do in the place of several items. Sending out a mini tornado with the wave of her hand to collect items and rupees could replace the boomerang, which - let's face it – is getting old in the series. Maybe the bow could be less on the physical plane and more of a magical, spiritual power that calls forth spikes of energy in place of arrows.
Who knows, maybe her entire arsenal of weapons no longer exists in the Hyrule of her time, and instead she has to call on the powers of her ancestors to pull out ghostly, spell-based manifestations of the usual arrows, bombs and trinkets from the netherworld. Maybe she could even, at times, summon the spirit of past Links to assist her.
Seeing the clear difference between the Links of Ocarina of Time, Link to the Past and Wind Waker, all represented in a modern, realistic art style, could plot out an official timeline of past events and stop fans guessing once and for all. Let's give some of the Links some story closure. "Thus the Master Sword was passed to the new generation, and the Hero of Time was honored as a legendary savior for the rest of his days."