I've created a Slashdot account just to post this comment in a proper way. It really matters to me, because Zelda is one of those games that I grew up with and I've played every single iteration of it.
It is not true to say that there was not enough innovation going on in Twilight Princess (shape shifting, horse back fighting, cinematics). I like the game a lot. Having said this, Twilight Princess really made want to go back and play the original Legend of Zelda once again. Here are the reasons:
- Exploratory gameplay: In early Zelda titles (mostly in Legend of Zelda and A Link to the Past), it is left up to the player to decide in which sequence to complete the game. Especially in the Twilight Princess this has been dropped in favour of having a proper storyline. Having a storyline is great, but only if it doesn't imply that "we need to put some big rocks over here, otherwise the player will advance too much". In the original Legend of Zelda, the only thing that kept you from moving around freely in the world (I'm simplifying things a bit), is that fact that you just didn't go to some regions because the enemies were too dangerous over there given your current skills. Current Zelda titles are lacking behing on this. In all titles after A Link to the Past, the map felt just very small. My recommendation: Make the map huge and allow the player to freely explore the world -- only limited by his own skills -- in a non-linear gameplay.
- Sidequest nonsense: Newer Zelda titles have too many sidequest. In the original Legend of Zelda, I actually cared for finding all heart containers, but with the inflation of fractions of pieces of hearts in current games, it's just a pain. Things get worse when you have to find 100+ spiders or ghosts. It doesn't add to the game and the reward that you get out of these quests is never worth the effort. My recommendation: Integrate sidequest into the storyline and have one single meaningful artifact as reward.
- Difficulty: Zelda has gotten too easy. Without even going through the pain of getting all bottles, I only died once before completing the game for the first time. Especially the dungeon bosses were too easy. So much for the combat, but it's also true for quests. In current games, you just always know where to place a bomb in a dungeon because it's really obvious from the looks of the wall. Solving riddles has come to the point of just doing the obvious. My recommendation: Make the game harder, both in terms of combat and in terms of riddles. Beating a strong opponent is it's own reward, just as working two hours on finding the correct way to solve a riddle is.
- Lack of combat: Zelda has been shifting its focus from pure combat to RPG. This is OK. However, especially in recent titles, there is a distinct lack of good combat. This is partly due to the fact that in 3D, it's harder for the player to focus on multiple enemies at the same time. I assume that for this reason you never have to face more than two or three tough opponents at the same time in Twilight Princess (same in earlier 3D titles). My recommendation: Rework the user interface to allow for improved combat against multiple strong enemies; allow the player to use interesting strategies against them.
- Don't reinvent the wheel: It's true that fans of the Zelda series don't want to see everything changed. So new items are always fine, but not too many. Instead, how about bringing back some items from the previous games: sword throwing, magic wand, rings, etc. Many of these old items or features can be reused in new and interesting ways on the Wii. Think Wii controller + magic wand. My recommendation: Only come up with new items, that are truely new. Reuse existing items (many of which still need to be adapted to 3D gameplay) where possible.
Thanks for listening (hopefully).