Nintendo crafted something truly “breathtaking” in the way of Breath of the Wild.
The Wild Ride
During the early hours of January 13, 2017, Nintendo went ahead with their Nintendo Switch Presentation. The Japanese company hadn’t spoken much about their next-generation console up until this point. It was a difficult situation for the big N. The Wii U didn’t do so hot in terms of sales even with Breath of the Wild. Compared to other consoles on the market, Nintendo lacked the third-party support necessary to boost sales. That isn’t what we’re here to talk about today though.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the culmination of blood, sweat, and tears. It was announced in 2014, with the tentative title of Zelda U. As someone who followed this game’s development from said announcement. There’s no denying the long-winded road to release. Breath of the Wild headlined E3 2016. Let me rephrase that, it was the only Nintendo game at the conference that year. Other developers saw this as an opportunity to bring expansive triple-A games to the show floor. However, they didn’t know how big a punch Breath of the Wild packed.
Fans and critics loved it. For many, Breath of the Wild cemented itself as their most anticipated game. There was one issue. Where was the release date? Originally planned for release that same year, Nintendo inevitably delayed the game for a suspiciously good reason. At the time, that reason was sheathed with secrecy. Rumors began to spread like wildfire – something called the Nintendo NX was apparently imminent. In October 2016, we finally got a glimpse of the now released Nintendo Switch.
Now we are back to where we started. January 2017 was judgment day. The trailer for Breath of the Wild from the previous year was very impactful. Nintendo then said, ‘Hold my beer.’ Zelda fans were in for a revelation and they didn’t know what was coming. We already expected to see information on Breath of the Wild. Throughout the October teaser trailer, Breath of the Wild occasionally made an appearance.
Director Yoshiaki Koizumi took center stage for most of the presentation’s run time. The hardware being presented looked promising. That isn’t our main focus here but there’s no denying Nintendo’s dedication to finding new ways to play. Nintendo ended with Breath of the Wild. There was a cute little skit involving Reggie Fils-Aimé, Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma. It was charmingly playful but infuriating at the same time. They knew what we craved, and then it happened.
Vast oceans, sandy beaches, and a beautiful landscape. From scorching deserts to an icy wasteland, the trailer starts off calm and collected. This is combined with a musical score that showcases the natural beauty of the world. You could even say that Breath of the Wild is simply breath-taking. Zelda did it before Keanu Reeves, well not really but that isn’t the point. The trailer takes us on a tour of the revamped kingdom of Hyrule. Someone really needs to cut the grass though…
After drooling over the setting, we are shown a familiar scene. One weapon has become synonymous with the Zelda series. You might’ve heard of it, a little something called the Master Sword. Breath of the Wild‘s iteration resides in a familiar location, The Lost Woods, but seriously someone needs to really cut all that grass. The camera zooms in, you take a deep breath. Music begins to become more intense. Then he appears, our beloved protagonist Link staring into the horizon. The build-up to this moment is pure fanservice at its finest. Zelda has always been a series about adventure, this small 12-second segment emphasizes that.
Musical compositions in Zelda are pure genius. This trailer utilizes said music in a tactical way. It all culminates into a heart-stopping moment. After a string of events focusing on the main threat, Calamity Ganon, we are finally shown the titular Princess Zelda. Not only does she look great, her character is clearly an emotional one. There she lies. In Link’s arms. Zelda cries and so do we. Goosebumps begin to develop and then the music does something that other trailers should learn from.
A familiar tune begins to play. All those hours spent listening to the main theme of the Zelda franchise has led up to this moment. Yep, it’s a rendition of the iconic song itself. Breath of the Wild rapidly fires fanboy bullets into our brains. Zora’s, Goron’s, the Great Fairy and much more are here. This is the moment that stuck out to me. Breath of the Wild’s trailer ends with a motivating sentence. “You must save her, my daughter.” Or that’s what we thought, the logo appears and it fades to black.
A release date was out of sight. Did Nintendo trick us into thinking we would know what was actually going on with this game?
After a small window of a screen of blank nothingness. Link appears, with the iconic line “Open your eyes.” March 3, 2020, looms over us before the trailer ends. That’s all over and what a breathtaking ride it was.
Impact of the Wild
That was a summary of the trailer. It clearly tells a cohesive narrative from beginning to end. While it is clear that this trailer affected Nintendo’s future reveals, it also left an impact on the industry as a whole. Other developers follow a similar format nowadays. Look at the more recently released, Borderlands 3. It was no stranger to fanservice, especially in the first trailer reveal. All the fan-favorite characters were there, Brick, Mordecai, Lillith. This doesn’t mean that Breath of the Wild directly influenced these decisions, but there’s still potential that it did impact them in one way or another.
Fan reaction is always something you must look at when it comes to video-game trailers. They can go one of two ways. Fans adore and love it, or they accept defeat and loathe it. Breath of the Wild hit the higher part of the spectrum. It caused tears, anticipation and emphasized Zelda’s hold on the lives of gamers. The Legend of Zelda is a flagship franchise, so it’s interesting to witness the reactions with each new entry. Some minorities were outspokenly negative, hating the transition from linearity to the open-world. Zelda benefits from a vast-landscape. This was Shigeru Miyamoto’s original vision after all.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild went on to sell over 18 million units across both versions of the game. It received critical acclaim upon release, becoming one of the highest-ranked games on Metacritic. For some, it replaced Ocarina of Time as their favorite video game. Although I’ll personally rank Majora’s Mask higher than Breath of the Wild, there’s no mistaking the game’s impact. This trailer is the definition of a love-letter to fans. From the music and action-packed sequences alone, this trailer is utter genius and is perfect. They just had to throw in that emotional scene where Zelda started crying. It doesn’t take much to make a grown man cry, and Nintendo did just that.
Breath of the Wild perfected the art of video-game trailers. Now open your eyes and see that for yourself. Just be prepared though, watching that thing now still causes Niagara Falls to occur.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Tell us below!