As you may have heard, the Legend of Zelda franchise will finally see its own smartphone game. According to Wall Street Journal, the app — presumably for iOS Android — will arrive after Animal Crossing's likely release window of "the latter half of 2017".
Considering the renaissance-level revamp the series recently saw in Breath of the Wild, it's hard to imagine team Zelda wouldn't bring over some of those new aspects to the upcoming iPhone game. In fact, one specific aspect of Zelda: Breath of the Wild already feels primed for the way we play mobile games.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild smartphone game: Shrines are mobile-sized puzzles already
Previous Zelda games presented players with dungeons. The sprawling areas contained numerous puzzles that would take an hour, if not hours, to solve. Each dungeon would also task you with finding a major item, which you needed in order to complete the dungeon, and one or two giant enemies to conquer.
Breath of the Wild changed all of that.
The latest game in the series vastly reduces the number of proper dungeons down to four and places the majority of its puzzle-energy into shrines. Instead of numerous puzzles, the shrine only contains one or two. Instead of a boss and a mini-boss, a shrine presents one boss fight as the entire shrine challenge.
Shrines are condensed dungeons, and they make for the perfect smartphone experience.
The Zelda smartphone game could offer a new shrine each day to complete
With the releases of Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem Heroes, Nintendo is slowly learning what it takes to make a successful mobile game. Both games showed the company that players would rather spend money on a free app with tiny purchases tucked inside rather than a full game that required $10 all at once to unlock. Just look at the sales.
The rules of making a successful game on mobile are more nuanced than on console. The two games above are indicative of a larger trend in smartphone gaming. Mobile players expect low-cost games that require less of a time commitment. Phone-owners want something low cost that they can fire up while waiting in line or killing time on the bus. One new shrine per day would give players a good reason to check-in with the Zelda app on a daily basis.
How the Zelda: Breath of the Wild smartphone game could handle touch controls
There is one aspect of a Legend of Zelda smartphone game that's more puzzling than any shrine: controls. Every Zelda game has been released on a machine branded Nintendo with an ample amount of physical buttons. How will the Zelda iPhone game work without proper tactile controls?
Specific shrines in Breath of the Wild make use of the Nintendo Switch and Wii U's motion-sensing abilities. With accelerometers in most smartphones, we could expect a shrine-based game to work similarly. As for puzzles that aren't motion-based, we're hopeful that the development team can pull a Super Mario Run and figure out how to best bring the game to a touchscreen world.
Perhaps the answer lies in stripping Zelda of its third dimension, which means that we may see Nintendo release that 2-D Zelda: Breath of the Wild after all.
Check out more Zelda: Breath of the Wild news and coverage
Find out all there is to know about Zelda: Breath of the Wild, including if the giant world of Hyrule even has any people of color. Learn how to preserve your items, how to beat bosses like the Stone Talus and Lynel, the best recipes for Link and how to take on the game's shrines. If you're looking to snag a giant horse with little stamina, here's you accomplish that. You'll also want to find out where all the great fairies are in the game, how to use amiibo with your version of Zelda and what went into making Breath of the Wild.