I have a confession to make, and it’s not an easy one to make either; upon their announcements, I had zero interest in either the Switch or Breath of the Wild. “Oh great, yet another franchise going open world just like all the rest.” I remembered thinking. I was so convinced the game wasn’t going to meet any expectations and it was gonna be a flop of an experiment. I also had similar thoughts about the Switch, though I was a bit more interested in that. In truth, I was trying not to be excited for either of these things because I wasn’t going to have enough money to buy either of them anytime soon, so I may as well quell any desire for either of them early on and make reality a little easier, right?

Celebration of the Wild is a month-long celebration of the anniversary of this beloved game. All month long we will be picking our favorite songs, fan works, places, memories, and more of this wonderful addition to the Zelda series. Breath of the Wild has revolutionized the franchise all for the better and it’s only suiting we take this month to celebrate its achievements.

One of my best friends is an online friend I met about seven years ago now at this time of writing. He’s the kind of guy I could talk to about anything and everything, and for a long while we’d voice chat every single day about anything and everything. From deep philosophical talks about life and humanity to our love or hate of a game we played recently or even just some stupid joke video we’d find on YouTube, he’s a real friend and one I’m very thankful to have in my life.

He’s also a lover of Nintendo like so many others, and I remember he was quite excited for the Switch. Truth be told, I was now very excited for the Switch but I wanted to keep my expectations of it low, and I told him all of this like I tell him everything. At some point though, the dam broke loose, and I let him know how absolutely excited I was for everything. Of course, there was that tinge of sadness that overtook the call as I remembered I wouldn’t be able to afford this, what with being in debt and needing to save for a car and other adult responsibilities. I had considered at one point maybe selling my stuff to get a Switch, and for a while, I was pretty keen on the idea too.

As fate would have it, around this time my real life best friend was planning a trip to visit her boyfriend at the time. She mentioned to me she wanted me to tag along since it was a long distance and of course, I jumped at the opportunity to go with her; not only to be there for her but also just to get out of the town I lived in for just a short while. I inquired as to where her boyfriend lived. And it just so happened to be the exact same place as where my online friend lived. Plans were made, and I was suddenly planning a trip to visit this friend I’d known for so long and to meet him in person and help out my best friend traveling with her to visit her then-boyfriend. Everyone wins!

At the launch of the Switch, my friend was playing it obsessively, along with Breath of the Wild of course. He told me he didn’t wanna tell me much about the game since I had to experience it myself, and even told me to avoid videos if possible. A bit late on that one, since I wasn’t planning on getting either of them soon, so I had been watching a bit of a playthrough. He seemed oddly insistent that I didn’t watch anymore though. That’s fair. I guess when I finally get the game it’d stink if I knew everything about it.

The day of the trip finally came and long story short, we drove halfway across the United States in about 14 hours. Along the way we met many people, got stuck in large city traffic, realized that our phones’ GPS didn’t work most of the time, had to learn how to navigate roads and highways, and learned that even really loud music and energy drinks can’t help you when you do nothing but drive. It was an adventure for sure, and the last hour is still a huge blur and the only thing I can remember is darkness and bright colors of the streetlights and other vehicles. We both vowed never to drive that distance in one sitting after this ever again.

I arrived at my online friend’s house and there’s a certain power behind meeting people you’ve only known online, like a sudden realization that they are in fact a real person and not just a disembodied voice. Of course, that magic was worn down by pure exhaustion and a desire to eat some food and go to sleep, but it was still there. We made our way down to a restaurant, got me some food, and headed back to his house. After some much-needed food, I headed for the guest room he prepared for me and I fell into the bed and slept.

The next morning, I wanted to wait a bit before I asked about the Switch, maybe even just watch him play it for a bit, but to my surprise, he egged me on to start playing the Switch myself. Inside, I was giddier than a kid at Christmas because I was about to play the newest Zelda game and the shiny new Switch — and I was trying so hard to hold it back. I started up the game and played for a bit through the opening of Breath of the Wild and I looked at him and said, “You know, it’s gonna suck making any progress this weekend! I almost don’t wanna play just because of that!” and gave a small laugh. He seemed a bit gleeful and didn’t really respond to that, but instead said he needed to go get something. While I was fiddling with the controls and trying not to throw Link off a cliff with this new jump button, he came back with a bag. “You have no idea how hard it was to keep this a secret this whole time!”

Inside that bag was a Nintendo Switch and a copy of Breath of the Wild. Both of them for me.

I didn’t know how to react or respond. I was pretty sure I was in some kind of dream or something. But there it was, plain as day. He and his family had all saved up together to get me a brand new Switch and the latest Zelda game. It’s a memory that even still to this day I can hardly believe happened. That he and his family had cared enough to just let me, some guy they only knew online to stay at their house was a crazy thought in itself, the knowledge that they went a step further to do something like this was a great kindness, and even now when I look at my Switch and recall all of these things, I remember how fortunate and lucky I am to have friends like this. They didn’t have to get me this. Things would’ve still been great because I was getting to spend time with a dear friend, and yet this happened too. It took my entire being not to just break down in tears.

and even now when I look at my Switch and recall all of these things I remember how fortunate and lucky I am to have friends like this.

The rest of the trip was spent playing Zelda, talking with my friend about stuff like usual, and touring the area around him. Of course, all things must come to an end sometime. We said our goodbyes and I went back home, playing my Switch in portable mode the whole way home with a giant grin on my face. This strange and unexpected journey is a strong reminder that you can never know what will happen in your life, good or bad. Part of that excitement of living is never knowing what you’re going to expect and trying out new things. To take the plunge despite the fear and to move forward.

Breath of the Wild had such an impact on me that when I happened to spy a retweet from Bill Trinen from this website called Zelda Universe that they were looking for columns writers that I said “I have a lot to say about Zelda and I love writing and the series so why not” hey, who knows what’ll happen?

And well, here we are.