“I am not Link, but I do know him! Even after 18 years, the Legend of Zelda never stops changing and this game is no different. We are now taking you to a world where Link has grown up – a world where he will act different and look different. In order to grow, Link must not stand still and neither can I.” – Shigeru Miyamoto at E3 2004

An Unforgettable Moment

Nintendo’s press conference at E3 2004 is arguably the best they ever had. Nintendo was dead last in the console race. The Gamecube was not doing well, but Nintendo had big plans for their next console and their next handheld.

The conference began with an unfamiliar face taking the stage. “My name is Reggie. I’m about kickin’ ass, I’m about takin’ names, and we’re about makin’ games.” It was a bold statement that was completely unexpected coming from a Nintendo executive. Seven years later, Reggie Fils-Aime is the president of Nintendo of America and a face almost as familiar to Legend of Zelda fans as Shigeru Miyamoto.

The conference continued in typical Nintendo fashion: game trailers and announcements followed by some relatively boring sales talk. After that, things got exciting once again. Reggie took the stage and pulled the first Nintendo DS from his coat pocket, and Nintendo president Satoru Iwata first referred to Nintendo’s next gaming console as a “gaming revolution.” Today, we know that revolution as the Wii.

Nintendo wasn’t done. Before dismissing an already excited audience, Reggie took the stage one last time: “Before you leave I’d like you to step into one more world for Nintendo Gamecube.”

The trailer that followed easily makes lists of the top moments of any E3. A lot of fans had expected a new Legend of Zelda game to be announced, but no one expected what was shown. I remember talking about it on various forums and heard all of the arguments. “Nintendo doesn’t have time to make a whole new game engine to make the new Zelda game realistic. The new one must have cel-shaded graphics like The Wind Waker.” “Nintendo won’t make a realistic Zelda game because that’s what everyone else is doing.” Suddenly every argument was shattered when Nintendo did show a realistic Zelda game for Nintendo Gamecube.

Shigeru Miyamoto takes the stage while the audience cheers.

Following the trailer, Shigeru Miyamoto took the stage with a Master Sword and Hylian Shield and gave an inspiring speech about the future of the Legend of Zelda series. Seven years later, I believe that Miyamoto has lived up to his word. Link hasn’t stood still. You could argue that the series has moved forward more since 2004 than any other time in its history.

No matter what you think about Twilight Princess now, the moment when it was announced was pure magic. Unfortunately, we’d have to wait two more years to actually play the game, but there was plenty going on for Zelda fans while they waited.

Completing the Four Sword Trilogy

In 2002, we were introduced to Vaati and the Four Sword. In 2003, the story of Ocarina of Time was continued in The Wind Waker and the Four Sword was all but forgotten. In 2004, Nintendo revisited Vaati and the Four Sword in Four Swords Adventures and The Minish Cap. When grouped together with Four Swords, the three games complete a trilogy telling the story of the creation of the Four Sword, the sealing and release of Vaati, and Vaati’s eventual destruction.

Originally introduced in the form of a monster, The Minish Cap introduced a human version of Vaati.

Vaati is the only recurring major villain in the Legend of Zelda series other than Ganon, and in Four Swords Adventures he actually plays a part in Ganon’s plans.

Unfortunatley, Nintendo fell into the connectivity trap again with Four Swords Adventures. Like Four Swords, it’s difficult to play with multiple people. This time, you only needed one game, but you still need four Gameboy Advances and you need four GCN/GBA link cables.

Fortunately, Nintendo did include a single player mode this time around.

Four Swords Adventures plays differently from the other Legend of Zelda game (other than Four Swords) because it is entirely stage based. Even so, the stages are huge and have a lot of variety. You’ll find yourself in just about every environment imaginable. A lot of the areas are designed to be similar to their counterparts from A Link to the Past, so there is a great nostalgia factor in the game as well.

When I first played the game in 2004, I absolutely would not put it down. It was summer break, and I had all the time in the world. I played the game for four days with minimal breaks before finally completing it. When it was over, I was completely satisfied. This was a great Legend of Zelda game.

The last 2D Zelda game?

Not so long ago, I wrote an article about the influence The Minish Cap has had on the Legend of Zelda series. In 2004, Legend of Zelda fans in Japan and Europe experienced those changes first hand. The series began moving forward just as Miyamoto had promised at E3. Dungeon design was different. The items were different.

Looking back, probably the most obvious change the series has undergone is that no 2D Legend of Zelda games have been released since The Minish Cap. Even so, it is amazing when you realize just how much influence the 2D games still have over the series. Seven years later, the influence is still apparent in Skyward Sword.

If you have not picked up The Minish Cap, I highly recommend you find a way to play it. I sincerely hope that The Minish Cap is not the last 2D Legend of Zelda game, but it is possible that could be the case. Even without the other important changes to the typical Legend of Zelda formula, The Minish Cap’s status as the last 2D game in the series makes it among the most important games in the series.

2004 began a season of change.

E3 2004 was a major shift for Nintendo. It was the beginning of their recent dominance in the video game industry, and it was the beginning of major changes to the Legend of Zelda series. Take a good look at the games in the Legend of Zelda series and you’ll notice the shift in the design of the games. Some people, especially older fans, may not like the changes to the series, but the changes are an opportunity for a new generation to discover the Legend of Zelda.

 

  • Justin

    Really well written 🙂 Good work, good sir, Twilight Princess is NOT my favourite Zelda… My favourite is between Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker.(For now). But this game is second to these…. I am very picky with video games xP

  • A lot of excitement during the E3 trailer. I think I saw a Moblin in there, which I would've loved to fight in TP.

  • Gerudude

    …….

    .

    Well. Despite of what everyone says. I think TP is the best Zelda ever. Most of you like OoT better. But why? The form changing from kid to near adult? There are form changes in TP.
    The side quests? TP has sidequests (like the blockpuzzles and cave of ordeals).
    The fishing? TP has fishing, (even more fun since you use the mote). And the tp graphics are much cooler too.
    I just hope SS can match up to it, though it seems it wil crush TP. AND OoT.

    • Justin

      TP has many IMPROVEMENTS over OoT. While OoT was a one of a kind. TP continued the Zelda formula. SS while end it. 🙂

      • Oxling

        OoT also continued (at least part of) the Zelda formula.

    • Prince

      The reasons most people (like me) still prefer OOT over TP are the very ones you pointed out, but in reverse. OOT was the first 3D game in the franchise to implement those characteristics, and TP simply cloned them with advanced graphics and nothing more. Some parts were even worse: the limited, automatic use of the howling was poor compared to the possibility to play the Ocarina or whatever instrument. The exploration was sooooo limited by the twilight walls. Enourmous areas empty. Monstruos amount of pointless rupees. Anonimous NPC running around. Short and cheap sidequests (carrying a barrel of water for half an hour just to receive a discount in a market? Seriously?). Plot holes (the corruption theme introduced by Lanayru…). And so on.
      OOT is simply a better experience, TP exaggerated too many points and lacked depth in others.

      • Ashmic

        you do realize it wasn't that much graphics, I studied the 3D models, its a blank gray model with a picture on it lol

        IMO not that advanced

        • lord-of-shadow

          That's what 3D graphics are. "blank grey models" with some textures on top. Every 3D game ever made could be described that way.

      • eklfjklajl

        I agree. horrible plot and a very long beginning… I wish they did more battles in the field. The bridge fight was awesome!

        The game it self seemed rushed and not complete in places. Right now, I am trying to play TP a second time. Just to see why people like it so much. Right now tp is on the very bottom of my list.

        • Pretzelman

          I am also playing Twilight Princess for a second time to see why some people think that it is the greatest Zelda game of all time. (Ocarina is my favorite, followed by Majora's Mask.) However, I don't see how it could possibly be at the bottom of your list, unless you haven't played, Zelda I, Zelda II, or Phantom Hourglass.

          As much as OoT is my favorite Zelda, Twilight Princess has, in my opinion, the best sword battle system thus far. The combat skills that you learn are phenomenal, as well as the epic sheathing of the sword that follows whenever you make a particularly awesome victory.

          The story kind of drags on and kind of sputters out a bit in the early second half, but it still remains one of my favorite Zeldas for the complexity and majesty that it brought to the series.

  • Ashmic

    i saw the picture and i didn't know who it was for 5 sec. nice job :3

  • The Dark Tribe

    Ah the year of TP good times good times

  • Minish cap was the last 2d zelda game… i never noticed that. I guess we will all be expecting 3D zelda games from now on… it does make me sad however … and HAPPY!

    • Joshua Lindquist

      I truly hope we get another 2D Zelda game some day. I'll be talking more about how much I love The Minish Cap tomorrow. 😉

    • TTL

      If Nintendo is any indication (not to mention Miyamoto often talking about 2D Zelda) I wouldn't think it impossible to see a new 2D Zelda.

      Hey, Mario got two and half, so there you go. 😛 (the half is Super Mario 3D Land, btw)

    • Game Lord

      Just because Nintendo has the capability to leave 2D games behind doesn't mean they will. It wasn't that long ago that we had Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, which were 2.5D (Ha Ha). I think Nintendo will just keep doing what they do best, making good games in any form that they can think of.

  • pololmejor

    My felleings about TP are so mixed up! GAH!!!

    • SlashingHorse

      I know how you feel.

  • MDH

    I can't help but notice that Twilight Princess contains few of the things shown in this first trailer, particularly those gorgeous, sprawling plains and forests in the first half of the trailer. Don't get me wrong, the game has grown on me immensely over the years (one word: Midna!), but the first thing I noticed was that the game, despite its somewhat empty fields, was not nearly as wide-open as what this first trailer showed us.

  • TTL

    The reaction to that trailer to this day still gives me chills. True enough, the game we got was quite a bit different, but still it speaks so highly of how much love there was and is for The Legend of Zelda.

  • Bingo

    An absolutely unforgettable trailer. After what was shown there at E3, the hype for the next 3D installment surely was upon us, even up to the release of the game. It's just a shame that the game really didn't deliver, and is probably the worst of the 3D Zelda canon.

  • rookie

    I wish I could have been there. I wouldn't be able to stop shaking with joy…
    Vote for the next biggest advancement as game of the year! http://www.spike.com/events/video-game-awards-201

  • A_LINK_IN_TIME

    The E3 2004 Twilight Princess announcement was the greatest moment in Zelda history.

  • Gromalomalom

    Did you hear that guy in the audience when the trailer was playing? He must be a HUGE fan…

  • veeronic

    the twilight princess we were shown, is not what we were given, a great game, but if they kept themselves from straying too far from that trailer… it would have been the best.

  • aeolus

    I do wish some of the things from the trailer came through, including the difficulty the trailer seemed to imply, BUT, Twilight Princess is still a really beautiful game in my opinion. Sure it had problems, but so did OoT and WW, probably the most beloved games in the series overall (until next week anyway, haha). WW was amazing, but its enemies were mostly…. extremely boring. And while exploring the sea was exciting at first, by the end of the game you realize basically all of the islands are tiny barren and insignificant rocks that you don't ever need/want to revisit. I'm not sure why people pick on TP the most. I guess they expected something way different and couldn't accept that it just didn't turn out that way, which I guess is understandable. I just kept my mind open, lol

  • Sanity's_Theif

    Definitely the best Zelda trailer ever, the hype is well deserved, the Zelda franchise always delivers good material

  • Ulises

    OMG!!!! OMG!!!!! jajajajaja

  • Ray

    Minish Cap was the last 2D Zelda? I don't know, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks are pretty much 2D Zeldas run on a 3D game engine. Fixed overhead camera and all that.

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