I didn’t get the chance to play Soulcalibur II when it first came out back in 2003, despite the fact that I was inundated with all manner of promotions for it. Ads and articles that I saw in Nintendo Power made it look so enticing. All the images and screenshots I saw on the official Nintendo website didn’t help, either. There was so much hype for this game. Link was going to be playable, and the Nintendo fans were rejoicing.

Yuga’s Art Gallery is a series in which we highlight our favorite artwork from The Legend of Zelda community, as well as some official artwork from the franchise from time to time. Zelda is a series that is constantly changing its style, and after over 30 years of evolving and shifting its visuals, it continues to inspire endless ways for artists to interpret their favorite characters and moments.

There’s honestly a lot going on in this seemingly uneventful promotion. It’s this subtlety that makes it worth analyzing.

First, the peaceful grassy field as a background can be seen as a reflection of Link’s nature. I know how pretentious that sounds, but it really does work when you considering Link’s history of being, well, linked to nature’s peaceful state of being. This idea of reflection also works due to the fact that Links’ image in the ad is a reflection itself.

Next, the peaceful scene is a contrast to the constant conflict seen in Soulcalibur II. Link’s goal is and always has been the quest for peace, and yet he must always fight. That’s where the screenshots come in, to show what the game is all about. Once again, Link must defeat opponent after opponent to fulfill his duty.

Lastly, back to Link’s reflection, shown in an ax. There’s something interesting about the idea of his image being shown in this particular way, especially since Link has never used an ax; Link’s primary weapons have always been swords. This means the ax had to have come from someone else, and given the nature of the game, that person was probably a warrior who challenged Link. The ax is now on the ground with Link standing over it: a clear sign of Link’s victory. This is a simple yet effective way to demonstrate Link’s character, skill, and effectiveness as a fighter. He is serious, focused, and wants to win. Perfect for a fighting game.

It’s always fun to study ads like this one. Using a single image to tell people so much about a game in order to make them excited to experience it for themselves is an essential part of any marketing strategy. Also, this particular ad makes Link look really, really cool, and that’s what matters most.