Nintendo just announced their best quarter in years, and they pulled it off, at least in part, through creative licensing. Our good friend Jason Michael Paul, who produced rePLAY: Symphony of Heroes, has begun touring with The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, the latest Zelda-themed orchestration.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Nintendo is currently in talks to bring Link and Zelda to a new venue: Netflix. If this report turns out to be correct, it would mark a pretty major diversion for the company from its long-standing avoidance of live-action. The unwritten policy has been in effect since the very odd film interpretation of Mario and Luigi, Super Mario Bros. in 1993. Since then, the company has smartly avoided anything live-action stemming from their IP.
In addition to their own bad experiences, there is the issue that videogame adaptations are traditionally terrible. Resident Evil has turned out some mediocrity, but in general, live-action videogame content has not been successful. The tides could be turning, with films based on the Warcraft and Assassin's Creed universes in the works, but those are franchises with well-established characters and stories - Link and Zelda don't have that.
As much as we all may love the games presented in this universe, I don't think many of us can attribute it to deep character development or loving stories. Instead, our love for the games comes from incredible gameplay, unique visuals, carefully considered level design and unmatched music. Our main character Link hasn't really spoken, outside of nonsense grunts, in what would seem like decades. Zelda hasn't done anything remarkable, outside of becoming Sheik. Even Ganondorf, our bad guy, seems to have very little driving him under the hood.
Now, the other side of this coin is that this could give the series developers full control over where these characters go and, more importantly, where they come from. It would give the series the ability to create stories from nothing, giving characters backstories who have, until now, had nothing but a goal. With full control, we could see the Zelda universe turn into something truly beautiful.
However, we are still dealing with the modern Nintendo, who has not had a great track record of letting things go recently. A company once known for their open acceptance of fan art and production, has begun cracking down on footage and music used on YouTube and Twitch. The Nintendo of 2015 might not let Netflix or their how runners have full control; in fact, they might not let them have any control. That could shoot this project in the foot before it even gets off the ground. This is a case where you let people work on the parts of the industry they are talented in, but Nintendo is unlikely to let that happen.
If the project does make it into production, it would certainly be interesting to see the final product. The good news is, even if it is a Bloodrayne-quality disaster, it is unlikely to do any lasting harm to the franchise. If Phillips was unable to sink the franchise in the 90s, Netflix is unlikely to accomplish it today.