The only thing that moves faster than light is an E3 Nintendo Direct presentation. They're absolute murder to cover if you're in the press, but the excitement brought on by all those rapid-fire announcements helps you push through the pain. And I think it's fair to say most of us will take the literary equivalent of a sledgehammer to the face for reveals on par with "A sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is coming."
Nintendo typically tops off its Direct presentations with a surprise, and this year we got one heck of a surprise with a one-minute teaser assuring us The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is getting a sequel. Someday. I don't know when. But it's happening. In fact, the brief teaser indicates the game's story is well in place—and it's looking like it might be Majora's Mask levels of dark. More than that, I get the impression we might play through at least part of the game as Princess Zelda.
I could just be hoping beyond hope about Zelda being a playable character in Breath of the Wild's sequel, but there are signs the role reversal are more than a wish. The trailer shows Link and Zelda (who I'm presuming are a couple now, OTP) wandering through a deep cavern that seems to be situated under Hyrule Castle. We see lots of the corruption known as Ganon's Malice still seethes in this warren, and said corruption wraps around one of Hyrule's mummified monks. Unlike most of the peaceful-looking Sheikah monks you find in Breath of the Wild's shrines, however, this hidden monk writhes in frozen agony, possibly due to the ghostly hand clutching his chest.
After that, things get wild (so to speak). Bits of footage flash by so quickly, it's hard to get a grasp on what's going on. There are a few frames that indicate Link might be possessed by the ghostly hand, and its power overwhelms him. He might have to fight through Breath of the Wild with a handicap, or he might be out of commission entirely. Either way, that means Zelda has to pick up the slack.
Note how the trailer's establishing shot—the shot that confirms we are, without question, looking at a new Breath of the Wild game—puts Zelda front and center. We also see her right before the agonized mummy at the end of the trailer comes to life and fixes its gaze on her. Link is nowhere to be seen in this crucial moment. In the actual game, he might jump in front of Zelda and resume his role as her protector. Or it might turn out she can handle herself just fine. If the two hooked up after the events of Breath of the Wild (not impossible: Link and Zelda are blatantly a couple in Skyward Sword and they settle Hyrule together), Zelda likely asked Link to give her some space on the battlefield. After all, she's proved herself as a powerful magic-user. Maybe Link taught her a bit of advanced swordplay, too.
There's another strong argument for Zelda being playable in Breath of the Wild's sequel, and if you're a fan of RPGs or anime, you might've spotted it already: Zelda has short hair. Royal women cutting their hair is a powerful trope in anime, and especially in JRPGs. The symbolism behind the act goes back to the Samurai of Edo Japan, but in JRPGs, it usually signifies the shorn woman is done with the pampered royal life and is ready to hit the road. Garnet cuts her hair in Final Fantasy IX before joining Zidane on his adventure. Cecilia does the same thing in Wild ARMs. If you want a more mainstream example, Mulan cuts her hair before joining China's Imperial army. She does it to help disguise herself as a man, but the cutting scene is heavy with symbolism of her growing up, severing ties with home, and rejecting the "ideal" version of what a woman is supposed to be.
Breath of the Wild's Zelda is likewise conflicted about her role as royalty. In the game's story flashbacks, she clearly resents being forced onto Hyrule's throne when she'd much rather be out in the field catching hot-footed frogs. She (and possibly Link) might be Hyrule's reigning monarch(s) in the Breath of the Wild sequel, but her cut hair and dive into the bowels of Hyrule Castle indicate if she is ruling the realm, there have been compromises. Maybe she leads on the condition that she's also allowed to adventure with Link, and her snipped coif might be a symbol of that contract.
Finally, Nintendo knows Zelda fans have been asking to play as a female hero for ages. There was a rush of excitement when the first Breath of the Wild Trailer for Wii U revealed a feminine-looking Link, followed by a sigh of disappointment when Nintendo confirmed Link is male in Breath of the Wild. For a lot of fans, playing as Zelda would be a dream.
Maybe Nintendo is on course to grant that dream. Maybe the sequel to Breath of the Wild is as topsy-turvy as Majora's Mask (it certainly looks as dark as the popular follow-up to Ocarina of Time), and it falls to Zelda to rescue Link. The mere existence of a sequel to Breath of the Wild is enough to get the hype train rolling out of the station: If we can play as Zelda, it'll start chugging fast enough to ignite.
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