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When Will We Get A New Top-Down Zelda Game?

Before "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" revolutionized the series and thrust it into the 3D age, the top-down perspective was a major part of the "Zelda" series' identity. And thankfully for old-school fans, the series has continued to embrace its roots, even as "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" marked major changes in the "Zelda" formula as a whole. Entries as recent as 2019's "The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening," which embraced more of a "2.5D" style, have demonstrated the series' commitment to continuing the top-down lineage of "Zelda" games.


But that "Link's Awakening" remake has also begged the logical question: When will fans see a new top-down "Zelda" game? Entries like the "Link's Awakening" remake and "The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds" sold decently, even when compared to other games in the series (via Game Design Gazette), meaning the market potential for these titles has persisted. By examining some past interviews with "Legend of Zelda" producer Eiji Aonuma and the timelines of reveals and releases for previous top-down "Zelda" games, fans may find an answer for when they can expect another game in that style.

On top of top-down

In a 2017 interview with Game Informer, Aonuma talked about the development team GREZZO, which recently worked on the top-down Nintendo Switch adventure, "Link's Awakening." Notably, the producer acknowledged that many fans clearly still yearn for the classic "2D" style of "Zelda" games –– seemingly referring to the "2.5D" top-down variety seen in "Link's Awakening," which stood in contrast to the 3D open world of "Breath of the Wild." He also admitted to seeing the value in more retro-styled "Zelda" games, noting, "there are definitely good things about the 2D world and the play styles." Aonuma described wanting to take this style and "evolve" it even further.


In an IGN interview preceding the release of "Link's Awakening," the producer provided another tidbit that might disappoint fans hoping for a new top-down "Zelda." When asked if he would consider making a new (non-remake) "Zelda" using the art style of "Link's Awakening," Aonuma stated he had no plans at the time, but that he would consider it.

That could signify a dead end, if not for the history of past Zelda releases and the simple fact that plans can change in a few short years. Aonuma expressed seeing some value in continuing to update the 2D style of classic "Zelda," which would seem to suggest that the series isn't done iterating on this formula. In addition, new "Zelda" games in the top-down style have typically followed a fairly consistent release schedule over the years.


A Link to the future

Modern top-down "Zelda" games have historically taken two to three years of development time (via RadioTimes.com), with some four-year exceptions like "A Link Between Worlds." If Nintendo were to follow that schedule, it would make sense to see a new classic-style "Zelda" game in 2023 or 2024. It's also worth noting that Nintendo has typically announced these top-down "Zelda" games a year or less away from release. For instance, the Nintendo Direct in February 2019 revealed the "Link's Awakening" remake to the public, and it was released the same year. Nintendo Directs have served as a reliable stage for unveiling games, with the gaming giant mostly spacing its presentations no longer than four months apart. While there are no immediate plans to release a new top-down "Zelda" entry, hopefully the turnaround from any future announcement to release would be swift. 


Given Aonuma's commitment to top-down "Zelda" titles and the history of Nintendo reveals relative to release, it wouldn't be completely out of the question to expect a new top-down game to be revealed within the next year. Of course, the untitled "Breath of the Wild" sequel may take priority over just such a game, but Nintendo does love to surprise fans.