I still remember my dad’s old office very well. It was a modestly sized room, overstuffed with a desk and computer, shelves of books, sheet music, cardboard structures, and a medium-sized piano. The space left for me was a small, dinky little desk, filled with toys and books for my little sister. For hours at a time, that dinky little desk in that cramped office would be the place where I would work, read, and play. As my dad would be composing and playing music, on the phone, typing, or meeting with a student, I would largely keep to myself, aside from the occasional chess match with my dad, which I always lost. In that office, I remember finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the first time, beating Ocarina of Time for the first time as well, and working for hours on a Summer project for school that I eventually realized I didn’t actually have to do.
This article was supposed to be written in March for Switch theme week(s), but I’m only just getting around to it at the
very end of April beginning of May. Oops. Anyways, this article will be taking a look into my personal journey from the initial announcement of Zelda U to the day when I held the game in my hands. Enjoy!
But the biggest moment from that office that will forever be etched into my memory is the morning of June 10, 2014. Having recently fallen in love with The Legend of Zelda a few years earlier with Skyward Sword, I was exceedingly excited to learn more about the next entry in the series. I scoured the internet for every sketchy rumor I could find of the game. I read interviews and went to online forums, and got the idea that, for the first time in a long while, Zelda would be a truly open-world game, on a scale never before seen from the franchise. When Eiji Aonuma appeared in front of a white background, I knew what was about to happen. With bated breath, I listened intently as Aonuma explained his new, revolutionary vision for this new, revolutionary game.
Then, with a snap of his fingers, Aonuma introduced to us the lush, cell-shaded, seemingly infinitely expansive world of a new Hyrule. An explosion burst not too far from a hooded figure on a horse, and without changing the camera angle at all, a robotic being, the likes of which had never been seen before in a Zelda game, came into view. As I was internally screaming with excitement, the scene shifted to a short chase between the figure and the robot before it destroyed the bridge with a flick of its tentacle. With no other options, the figure threw of its cloak to reveal a surprisingly feminine Link, hoisted off the horse and firing a singular high-tech arrow before the screen faded to white, with nothing but the year 2015.
I immediately ran the trailer again, and again, and again. I shared the trailer with all of the people at the music camp I was at, even at times when I was supposed to be focusing on something else. The first video by GameXplain that I ever saw was their analysis of the trailer, which only fed my deep hunger for more information on this game. I’d practically memorized each subtle chord on the piano, the position of each goat and villager, and the way each blade of grass rustled in the wind. At 13 years old, 2015 seemed a lifetime away, but I was willing to wait as patiently as I could to get my hands on what I fervently believed, and told anyone who would listen, would become one of the best games of all time.
Little did I know just how much I would have to wait.
Not terribly long after the initial trailer, I was getting back in the car from being tutored in geometry, when I found that there was more footage of what was then referred to as “Zelda U.” It was hard to see from my tiny phone screen to the tinier television screen Miyamoto and Aonuma were looking at, but this simply let my imagination run wild with how everything would look once the game was on our large television, running on my Wii U.
“Are you sure this game will be out by 2015?”, Miyamoto asked Aonuma. “Of course,” said Aonuma. “Our team is working very hard.”
Well, 2015 came and went, but before the year was done, Aonuma appeared yet again in that same white void Nintendo keeps him in for a much less exciting announcement: Zelda U was being delayed until 2016, but because of this, it would be even more special. As I watched the announcement on my phone in the car going home after getting pizza, I was understandably upset, but was willing to wait if it meant that the end product would be worth it. What was harder for me to accept was the fact that Nintendo had released next to nothing about the game in the entire course of 2015.
Even as I was blown away by the expansiveness of Xenoblade Chronicles X over my one-year playthrough throughout 2016, it was impossible to ignore the fact that Nintendo was in a rough place. The Wii U was floundering harder than any previous console Nintendo had put out (not counting the Virtual Boy), and this showed not only in sales figures, but in the dearth of games that came out for the system in that year. Even the bright face and brilliant mind of Satoru Iwata was lost, as the Nintendo president had unexpectedly passed away due to cancer the previous year.
In this dark period for Nintendo, it was announced that there would be no traditional E3 presentation from them that year. Instead, they would be unveiling one game; one game that was so big, it was the only one they needed that year to win E3: Zelda U, which would be launching not in 2016, but in 2017.
I wasn’t there to watch the trailer live. I was at summer gym, forced to roll a fake bowling ball into fake pins across a mat, doing math to manually keep track of the score. It was short of agony to do such an asinine activity when I knew that right at that very moment, the gaming world was probably losing their collective minds over whatever Zelda U would end up being called.
I got home, put the stream on our Apple TV, and started from the beginning. After a short speech from Reggie, the screen faded not to white, but to black, as for the first time in a Zelda game, somebody spoke:
“Open your eyes.”
As my eyes darted to every corner of the screen with each new breathtakingly beautiful locale, Link finally appeared, running off a cliff and paragliding into whatever lay beyond. As the music swelled, my eyes started to water, and as the penultimate shot rested on the Master Sword, it all came out: I was actively sobbing out of pure elation that Zelda U, now called Breath of the Wild, was shaping up to be all I hoped it would be, and more.
In the following hours and days, Nintendo and gaming journalism sites put out hours upon hours of footage of the game on the Great Plateau, and I watched all that I could find. I memorized each detail about the game that I could, from cooking to the physics of the game to the layout of the six shrines shown, to each line of dialogue from Zelda and the old man.
From then on, information on the game was a lot less scarce. There was the famous two-hour analysis on the game from GameXplain yet again, exclusive (dare I say a bit too revealing) coverage from Game Informer, and the Game Awards’ new trailer and gameplay segment.
We knew that the game was no longer exclusive to the Wii U, as it would also be launching on Nintendo’s next console, code-named the NX. The evening before it was announced, Nintendo sent out a tweet saying when the announcement video would drop, which just so happened to be during the school-day. I’d be darned if I missed this, however, so I excused myself to use the bathroom a few minutes before it was supposed to go live. I’m not exactly sure what the other people in the bathroom thought as they heard my stifled exuberation. They were likely either very amused or distressed for my well-being, but all I cared about was the impossible revelation that I would be able to play one of the biggest and most mechanically complex games ever wherever I went.
Before I knew it, it was January, and Nintendo had their big Switch event. I was of course very impressed by all of the new games announced for the system, but it was of course the final trailer for Breath of the Wild that sent me, for the final time, into a sobbing fit of joy in pure excitement for this game.
I could have bought Breath of the Wild on Wii U, and I likely would have loved it just as much. But I was not going to play Breath of the Wild on anything but the best system for it, and didn’t want to have to stop playing it whenever I left the house. Not only that, but the collector in me required the five amiibo that came out with the game, as well as the limited edition . Add the Wii U version that I had bought to lend to my girlfriend at the time (although she’s now taken full custody of it after we broke up, and I don’t want to fight for it), and we’re looking at about $550 after taxes.
I immediately gathered all of the money I had and dumped it on my mom’s desk, and we subtracted that from 550. Over the next few months, I would do every possible chore I could, sell many of my old amiibo, games, various merchandise, and even my old Wii in order to have enough to buy everything, until I had all of the money I needed to pay off that debt before “Switchmas.”
March 3, 2017-
I was the only person in my group of gaming friends that was planning on getting a Switch that day, and the excitement was in the air. Most of them were nearly as excited as me, asking if I had the Switch yet. Only one of them took a more reluctant approach, reminding me that Nintendo had a rough track record recently and saying that Zelda would likely be fun only for young kids. I brushed the comment aside. He would know soon enough.
Even though I was 16, I still was unable to drive, so my mom offered to pick me up early from school after I was done with my most important classes. She had picked the Switch up before (God bless her), and as I got into the car driving home, I waited for a few minutes before realizing that I didn’t have to wait until I got home to start the system up. I had most of the settings up once I got home, leaving only stuff such as the WiFi and the dock.
Almost the second I had everything set up, I heard a knock on the door. There were two packages: One small package containing the Wii U copy, and one big package containing the limited edition Switch version. I dug through the large box, put the goodies in suitable places from them, and finally extracted the tiny game cartridge which I had been waiting for for three years.
I opened up the tab on the Switch, clicked the cartridge into place, and began the longest, and most magical, journey I have ever taken in a video game.
Stay tuned for part two, where I go into said long journey from March 3, 2017 until April 28, 2018, when I finally (kinda) completed it!
ThePickyGamer actually isn’t that picky about games, or anything really, but that’s his handle. He started writing for TAY back in January of 2017, and really started writing a bunch for the blog when Kirk Hamilton of Kotaku challenged him to write and publish one article a day for 60 days. He currently writes reviews for Keen Gamer, and you can follow him on Twitter. He will be attending Ohio University with a major in journalism starting in August of 2018.