I'm reviving (and updating) a thread I made for IGN long ago so that I can say what my ideal Zelda is before we see the real thing next week (knock on wood).
The Overworld of Legend of Zelda
My favorite game ever and the overworld is why. No game has ever had a better sense of excitement and exploration. Zelda overworlds since have felt a little more boxed in, mainly because you can't fully explore the world from the start. What I love about the first game is there's nowhere you can't go because you don't have the hookshot or the hammer. Instead, when you enter a new area, you find out the hard way if you're not supposed to be there yet, with a centaur handing you your ass. This is important to me because when you finally are ready to explore that area, there's a sense first of caution and nervousness, knowing that you've met nothing but death there in the past, but also a sense of real accomplishment when you finally overcome.
The Difficulty of Adventures of Link
Terrifying enemies (like the one above who I'm sure I will see in hell) and just getting through the lava-filled areas to the final temple is one of the most daunting tasks in gaming. When you die, you go back to the beginning of the dungeon, not the beginning of the room (although not before boss battles, I think? I'm not remembering exactly). When you use a continue, you go back across the entire world map, leaving you to trek past stone throwing lizard men and perilous mountain caves. As such, when you finally get to the final temple with all your lives, you get one of my favorite sensations in video games: where you take a deep breath and think, ok, this is it.
The Dungeons of Link to the Past
Wrote the book on Zelda puzzles and using new items in clever ways to get through dungeons. Nowadays, a Zelda fan could accurately predict with a certain deal of success what some of the puzzles are going to be like before ever playing a game. Even in recent Zeldas with really great puzzles like Twilight Princess and Spirit Tracks, you still can bet that there's going to be a spot where you have to move blocks around or use the boomerang to hit multiple things before it comes back to you. That's not a knock, but it reminds you just how fresh Link to the Past was at the time. Everything was new. Nothing could be done on autopilot because you were in uncharted waters. Here's hoping a Zelda built from the ground up around motion controls can capture that sensation again.
The Storytelling of Ocarina of Time
My favorite storytelling in gaming, not because the story is very new and exciting but because of the brilliance with which they laid it out. In a time when games like Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid were inundating the player with dialogue, Ocarina of Time mastered the quiet moment. Saria on the bridge. Zelda looking back at Link from Ganondorf's grasp. Sheik at Lake Hylia. Everyone has their own moments that they found poignant, but I'd find it hard to believe that anyone was left cold by the story of a young boy's journey to manhood and back again. And I'd be remiss not to mention here the soundtrack which still remains one of, if not the best in video game history, each tune providing a sense of atmosphere that easily made up for the now primitive 3D graphics.
The Side Quests of Majora's Mask
The first thing people think of when they think of Majora's Mask is inevitably Clock Town. The jaunty music that boils to a frenetic pace as time goes by and it's fate becomes imminent. Children playing in the squares, bankers, traders, innkeepers. These types of characters are nothing new to fantasy, but rarely do they seem to have a life of their own. A life that seems substantial enough that you want to make a difference in it. That's the reward for these sidequests, not a mask or stamp in your book, but the feeling that you've helped, in whatever way you could.
The Graphics of Wind Waker
Contraversial to some, but as time passes and the games continues to look beautiful, it seems that more people realize what this game accomplished. It captured the down to earth humility of a seaside village and the sense of wonder of an expansive ocean, yours to explore.
I just want an overworld that I can explore at will. None of this stuff about how an area is "locked off" until I get a certain key or item before being able to get up a mountain or whatever. Just let me go wherever I want whenever I want. If I run across an enemy than can PWN me, then I know I've "gone too far" and need to beef Link up with some Heart Containers/new weapons.
I want the exploration/adventure back in my premiere adventure game.
Haha! I heard it somewhere recently..and its a person. Maybe its fresh in my mind from the horse "downtowncharlybrown" that ran at the Belmont Stakes. But yeah, Julie Brown was on MTV, or something. Weren't there two Julie Browns? There was a black girl with an English accent, and then a really white girl with red hair?
*Wikipedia...* YES! What a fantastic memory. Updated with links! Thats the best I can, man, haha.
Not geared entirely towards GameDadGrant, but all of the Zelda games have been locked off from the getgo. Even Legend of Zelda  had the little one-square stream you couldn't cross. You needed the stepladder to get across that to reach the later levels. If you want to go past that, there were only a few Dungeons you could reach out of the box: 1, 2, 3, and 5..but you can't do anything in 5 because you again need the stepladder. I think 8 is maybe accessible? I don't know what you can do there though.. I'm a "do it in order!" kinda guy.
I know what you guys mean though. My non-Julie Brown memory is somewhat hazy; where are some areas in Ocarina of Time that you CAN'T go from the minute you leave the woods? I don't remember that being too closed off... Maybe the Gerudo Valley?
My perfect Zelda hybrid is the gameplay of LOZ, the overworld of ALTTP, the difficulty and side quests of MM, the presentation of TP, the dungeons of OOT, the graphics and art style of GOW, and features the Fierce Diety Link.
I think voice acting would be amazing for Zelda, just because Nintendo has put so many moments in the last couple games where the gameplay either has to stop for people to talk, or the text actually gets overlaid on top of the gameplay. Sands of Time did an awesome job of having Farah talk to the Prince WHILE the gameplay was going on.
To be honest, I think in general there's too much reading, period, in the past couple Zelda games, especially towards the beginning.
Then you look at something like Shadow of the Colossus, which for the most part is just a pure gameplay experience, and it is able to convey so much.
If they're not going to implement voice acting, at the very least they need to let us skip dialogue, QUICKLY. There were some real bonehead decisions in SS in that aspect.
At some point I may have to do a painting that illustrates what kind of art style I'd like to see Zelda have...though honestly I think the E3 WiiU Zelda Experience would be fucking amazing to have throughout an entire game.
ill be honest. I can't stand toon zelda games. which is unfortunate because i have an obsession with zelda. My first video game was Zelda II. I know, cruel right? I've beaten all of them, and I did think windwaker was fun and querky, but Gosh, the graphics annoyed me constantly. Graphics of Twilight Princess Music and Story of ocarina of time SideMissions of Majoras mask Difficulty of Zelda II. kidding, why would i do that to myself again? I dunno tho, let myamoto do what he does best.