- Written by Stephen Powell
- Gaming reporter
When Nintendo finds itself under criticism for getting a little outdated, it can usually rely on its back catalog of much-loved heroes to the rescue.
Cue 2023 as brave Link, the blade-wielding blonde hero of the Zelda series, arrives on a glider to please fans.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom tends to become one of the best-selling games on the Nintendo Switch.
Dear critics, it will likely calm the chorus of fans and analysts asking questions about plans for a new console, which to 2024.
The Nintendo Switch was originally released in 2017. It’s incredibly popular, with 125 million units shipped, but its sales numbers are starting to falter.
Can Nintendo follow up the success of Breath of the Wild?
For software host, gaming content producer, and big Zelda fan Mr. Midas, Nintendo is under hard pressure to get Tears of the Kingdom right in order to prove that they’re still on top of their game.
He explains that “Nintendo isn’t great at a follow-up” and argues that they “make some of the greatest things we’ve got in gaming”, but when it comes time for what’s next it “rarely works out well”.
“The Wii is a great example,” he says. It was incredibly popular and sold out in droves, but its follow-up, WiiU, was, as he says, “trash”.
“Nintendo is very creative and always willing to push the envelope, but sometimes that just doesn’t work for them. These previous missteps are why Switch 2 hasn’t been announced yet in my opinion, because I honestly feel like they’re petrified of what that follow-up is going to be.”
Being able to prove its repetition potential, Midas argues, by making a stellar best-seller sequel, is very important to the Japanese game giant.
A free-roaming role-playing experience with a massive storytelling canvas, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom allows players to explore the vast, vibrant, and stunning lands of Hyrule. We encourage you to use your imagination to solve puzzles, craft weapons and battle to defend the land from Ganondorf – the chief of the tribe and the villain.
The overwhelmingly positive critical reaction will be a relief to Nintendo bosses. Especially since it legitimately shifts the focus of coverage in the gaming press away from potential new hardware to the game.
It’s the perfect timing to put out a title of this magnitude, scope, and importance. The coming months will be full of clues, tips, and hot spots about Kingdom Tears.
The sheer size of the game might put some casual gamers away from it, but critics were rave.
Initial reviews of the game were positive. “Tears of the Kingdom is a triumph of open-ended game design that pays homage to the best parts of the Zelda franchise’s written history – and sometimes even surpasses them” Gamespot’s Steve Watts wrote.
There were five star reviews from empire Watchman, metro, daily mirror, And Radio Times Its critic Rob Lane said, “We’re thrilled to report that, oh boy, Tears of the Kingdom is a really great game. If Nintendo wanted a show-stopping, what a coronation celebration for this generation, this is all of that and more.”
NintendoLife’s Alana Hagues added: “It takes everything its predecessor did, improves in every aspect, and gives you more freedom, a bigger world, and tons of secrets to uncover. It’s honestly amazing and makes for an absolutely incredible experience.”
“I took a day off to play.”
Known for the freedom it gave players to explore at their own pace, Breath of the Wild has sold an estimated 30 million copies. It has become so beloved by Zelda fans that you can often hear some get very heated about whether it should be considered the best Zelda game ever made – rather than the 1998 remake, Ocarina of Time.
Journalist Mary Lou Conte bought her Switch during lockdown and poured 250 hours into Breath of the Wild.
Of her love for it, she says: “There are a million different ways to approach any situation in the game, and intellectually I think it’s very satisfying.”
Really proud of her achievement of completing the game without dying (a permanent death challenge), she has now booked a day off work to fully immerse herself in the sequel.
“I’ll sit in my pajamas and play all day. I’ll have to take a short break to participate in Eurovision, and then I’ll be back at it on Sunday.
“Back to basics, I’m excited because I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.
“I want to know what they did with it. How different would it be? I know there will be a lot of new game mechanics and new gameplay and weapons and I want to see it all.”
Although premium game releases are particularly expensive (Tears for the Kingdom sells for about £60 in the UK) Mary thinks many people, like herself, will be happy with the investment because the expectations are so high: “The disadvantage of gaming as a hobby is that it can to be expensive.
“Occasionally I’ve spent £50 or more on a game and then found them to be hard work and not enjoyed. It can be very annoying and a waste of time when that happens.
“However, I have faith in the developers and that is not always the case.”
Stick to a winning formula
The Zelda franchise in the past has seen dramatic shifts in time, location, and visual style between releases (here we’re looking at you Wind Waker).
However, this time around the story picks up where it left off – something Mr. Midas thinks is “a very smart move”.
“The Zelda games are beloved, but they’re not best sellers. They don’t sell as well as Grand Theft Auto or even Mario but the way fans have connected with the latest Link and Zelda is on another level.”
Nintendo is making the most of it. Building on the legacy of a game that, as Midas explains, “captured the imagination of people who aren’t traditionally Zelda fans,” is a deliberate decision. Not alienating new converts to the franchise gives this version a chance to outpace the hit performance.
Midas says Nintendo “understands the formula and can now advance it.”
expect it? For Nintendo to surprise us, because it “always does”.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom releases Thursday, May 12th.
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