Nintendo has released a new advert for Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and on my first watch through I had my video game news reporter hat on, looking closely at the gameplay moments for fresh clues.
My efforts didn’t really bring up much new. I now know that for your Ultrahand-made raft to not topple over in the water, you need to make sure it is balanced by some support logs on either side. But that really is about it in terms of gameplay analysis.
Then I watched it again, and this time my mind was drawn not to Link gadabouting through the sky, but to the real life, “everyday” man the advert actually focuses on. It is quite clear what (or who) Nintendo is trying to paint a picture of here.
He is a tired, 40-something man, run down by the mundane trivialities of his normal and uneventful life. He feels like a cog in the machine, getting up and getting dressed for a job he perhaps once had a passion for, but that has gone now. His morning interactions with others are saved for a few polite half smiles at fellow bus passengers, before his only company is his own reflection looking back at him from the window.
His day goes on, and he returns home with a sigh. It is late, his wife is already ready for bed. As he hangs his weary head low, filling a glass with water, she gives him a cursory rub on the arm before leaving him alone in his (rather palatial) kitchen/living area. He sighs again.
But then, what’s this? The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom! A smile begins to form on our everyday man’s face. Soon, he has thrown off the blanket of sadness, he has shunned the greyness of his world, and embraced the colour of Hyrule. He is alive again, and has a new purpose, all thanks to Zelda.
This is not the usual Pixar/Disney-flavoured advert we are used to seeing from Nintendo, aimed at families with young children, or carefree young adults joyously manipulating objects with Link’s new abilities from their bedroom or the laundrette.
Nintendo is trying to market its game at a different demographic here, and the overall result is rather… depressing. My once excited self, momentarily buoyed by the arrival of another Tears of the Kingdom trailer, was soon left feeling rather devastated for this poor soul. I truly hope this trailer is not indicative of what many middle-aged man feel.
Others clearly feel the same, and this advert has already be reshared with the Donnie Darko version of Mad World layered over the top, as you can see below.
According to someone behind the marketing campaign, via Kotaku, this advert was inspired by inspired by a Japanese Amazon review for Breath of the Wild. While the publication isn’t 100 percent sure, it has surmised it is this, Google translated, review:
“He is a member of society called a so-called businessman. He was hit by the commuting rush hour, bowed to his customers and bosses, Overtime work every day while doing various things while being forced to train his juniors. I get annoyed by mountains I don’t even know the name of that I see on my way to work. When I come back home dizzy, I don’t have the strength to eat, so I drink and sleep. If you have time to play games, you have to go to seminars and get married. Days when I honestly wonder why I’m still alive…
“Yesterday, when I was at work, I saw a mountain I didn’t even know the name of from the window of the train. The moment I thought, “I think I can climb it,” tears overflowed and I couldn’t stop. The businessmen of the same generation who were beside me must have thought, ‘What the hell is this guy?’
It certainly does sound a lot like this Tears of the Kingdom trailer, that’s for sure.
Also, in the words of our Wesley: “Can’t believe Nintendo is promoting people playing switch on a bus with the sound on. You’re better than this.”
Can’t believe Nintendo is promoting people playing switch on a bus with the sound on. You’re better than this https://t.co/5DrkO7mwWf
— Wesley Yin-Poole (@wyp100) May 10, 2023
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