Since before the Gamecube, gamers have talked wistfully about a semi-realistic looking Zelda game with amazing graphics.
Nintendo teased a tech demo for the Gamecube before the console's launch, showing Link and Ganondorf in such a style. Many were then hugely disappointed when the system's first Zelda game, Wind Waker, adopted a toon style. This approach scared off the gamers who thought of themselves as "cool" and "hardcore."
Then Twilight Princess was announced, giving these gamers what they'd been longing for; a dark and mature looking Zelda game. The hype and excitement for it was far beyond Wind Waker, and sales followed suit. The only problem was that by the time it launched, the arrival of the PS3 and 360 had left its graphics, pretty as they were, technically outdated.
And so the dream then became of a "HD" Zelda, which would follow Twilight Princess's lead except with more advanced graphics. Once again, this dream seemed to be granted when, at E3 2011, we saw a Wii U Zelda demo showing a semi-realistic style with high-end graphics.
But the announcement of Wind Waker HD and Nintendo's recent history with the franchise rings alarm bells, warning that history might repeat itself with a cartoonish Wii U Zelda destoying the hopes fired by the tantalising tech demo.
Here's the thing; surely Nintendo must be aware that many, many gamers would run out buy a Wii U immediately for a Zelda game in the style of the tech demo, yet wouldn't touch a toon Zelda, HD or no, with a ten foot pole?
It's the hardcore gamer's wet dream; a dark looking Zelda game with HD graphics. They'll be cutting off a chunk of their potential audience by making it toon, yet they'd lose almost nobody by making it semi-realistic.
It's no coincidence that the two highest selling Zelda games, Twilight Pincess and Ocarina of Time, boast (for their time) sophisticated semi-realisic graphics.
From a business perspective it makes perfect sense to go non-toon, but frankly Nintendo's business decisions often baffle me these days, and I would not be surprised if they let this opportunity to win back a bunch of the core gamers they've lost.
See "about me" for my currently running bets