2015 was a monumental year for The Legend of Zelda series. After a solid year of no main-series Zelda titles, fans could hardly expect the change that was about to come, especially when Link changed into a dress! With the return and departure of many cherished things, I’m positive that every fan would agree that 2015 was a wild ride from start to finish.
Early in the year, audiences worldwide were treated to the third season of Symphony of the Goddesses, “Master Quest,” which featured many of the same beloved renditions of iconic Zelda themes as well as a few new ones. For something that was originally designed to celebrate the 25th anniversary, the Zelda Symphony has continued to breathe new life into the music of Hyrule and remained relevant year after year.
Majora’s Mask 3D, at last
Majora’s Mask was easily the most talked about subject among the fandom. With many ambitious campaigns from fans, it was clear that demand for a remake of the exotic title had reached Nintendo’s ears. Fully aware of its popularity, Nintendo released the Majora’s Mask Pack DLC for Hyrule Warriors to keep fans pacified until the long-awaited release of Majora’s Mask 3D. On top of a whole new map of Termina for Adventure Mode and a special Skull Kid costume for Lana, this DLC pack included two new characters to the already impressive roster of warriors: Young Link and Tingle. With new battles before them, players could dominate the battlefield with Young Link‘s Fierce Deity transformation and daze enemies with Tingle’s bombastic balloons.
Even crazed collectors had something to tap into their wallets while waiting for the return of Termina, with Toon Link and Sheik amiibo appearing on shelves just one week before Majora’s Mask 3D’s debut. But finally, in February, the long-adored adventure returned to fans eager to save the world from a terrifying lunar collision. Majora’s Mask 3D brought new life to the troubled land of Termina. Shortly thereafter, fans were treated to the release of a Ganondorf amiibo as well to round out the Zelda cast in Super Smash Bros.
With expertly refined mechanics and a fantastic new system for the Bomber’s Notebook, fans could once again go back in time and race the clock. Whether it was to reunite tragic lovers so they could greet the morning together or to track down the dear friend Link set out to find, Majora’s Mask 3D proved to be full of adventure that always managed to feel just as fresh as the first time fans experienced it 15 years prior.
But even after the game’s release, the Majora’s Mask hype was far from over. Fans took to expressing their love through incredible works of art to celebrate the game. Even Nintendo’s non-Zelda teams celebrated the game’s release as Masahiro Sakurai released DLC for Super Smash Bros. Fans could download both a Link Mii Fighter-themed outfit and two pieces of headgear, one being Link’s cap and the other being the titular Majora’s Mask. Of course, that wouldn’t be the only Zelda DLC to be added to Smash Bros. this year as Super Smash Bros. for Wii U would get the Pirate Ship level based upon based on Tetra’s seafaring vessel from The Wind Waker.
However, Majora’s Mask 3D wasn’t the only game in the series that was inspiring fans to create. Zelda Universe released Hyrule Warriors: The Movie, an ambitious project to provide voices to the game’s characters and present Hyrule Warriors as if it were an animated film. The project followed the plot of the Dynasty Warriors-inspired crossover with stellar voice acting work from talented members of the Zelda community. In its wake came further movie projects through the Zelda Universe’s own YouTube channel, such as Skyward Sword: The Movie. These collaborative productions are remarkable and show just how amazing the Zelda fan community can be. Times when fans absolutely gush with creative prowess are what inspire me to be a part of it, and we can be sure to look forward to more dedicated projects!
After this awe-inspiring period came the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3. Fans eagerly awaiting Zelda Wii U news were instead met with the announcement of two promising 3DS titles: Hyrule Warriors Legends, an enhanced port of Hyrule Warriors, and Tri Force Heroes, a charming game from the beautifully eccentric mind of Hiromasa Shikata. Fans were abuzz: they finally had evidence that Link could rock that dress better than Princess Zelda. But as always, they were met with the crux of E3 announcements: excruciating waiting periods.
Goodbye, Mr. Satoru Iwata
The weeks following E3 offered more solemn news, however. Nintendo officially closed down shop for Club Nintendo, the rewards program that allowed Nintendo loyalists to earn free games and paraphernalia for registering their games. They promised a new loyalty program (later revealed to be My Nintendo) in its place.
Even more tragically, the world took a direct blow with the untimely death of the late president and CEO of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata. For those who didn’t know of him, Iwata had early beginnings in his tenure with HAL Laboratory, where he helped bring to life the cult classic Earthbound. He later went on to assist with the Pokémon and Super Smash Bros. series and became a prominent figure in Nintendo, becoming its president in 2002. Iwata was featured heavily in the long-running Nintendo interview series “Iwata Asks,” giving his venerable insight into the games that we love. In more recent years, Iwata frequently appeared in Nintendo Direct presentations, introducing fans worldwide to upcoming content with his characteristically humorous personality. Satoru Iwata helped to mold my childhood with unmatched sort of innovation that tremendously influenced the gaming industry. Iwata’s vacancy would later be filled by Tatsumi Kimishima, known for being a powerhouse in financial management.
After such a harrowing loss, a comedic tributary manga to the Zelda series Link’s Hijinks, released earlier this year in Japan, was localized and released to American audiences in August, perhaps in an attempt to bring some much-needed levity to the community.
Tri Force Heroes
After a long wait, Tri Force Heroes hit shelves in October, giving fans a delightfully fresh take on the multiplayer Zelda scene. Utilizing the 3DS’ wireless communication ability, Zelda fans could team up in a fashion similar to the Four Swords titles while showing off their joint battle prowess and sense of style in the name of the fashionable kingdom of Hytopia and its chic inhabitants.
Tri Force Heroes met the inevitable ire among fans (something that seems to befall all true Zelda titles) following Nintendo’s announcement that it was a sequel to A Link Between Worlds in the timeline with no apparent relation to its predecessor and no inherent consequences for the absent land of Hyrule. It was effectively an echo of The Wind Waker’s announcement: a goofy, cartoony title in lieu of the highly-anticipated sequel we were teased with a year prior (the SpaceWorld 2000 GameCube tech demo and the as-of-yet unrevealed Zelda Wii U respectively). Yet despite how divisive it might have been, Tri Force Heroes managed to push the Zelda series forward in unique ways: expanding on the concept of magical outfits and even creatively reenvisioning enemy behavior. Shikata’s brilliance shone through on this quirky title, and the Zelda series as a whole could stand to incorporate some of its ideas for future titles.
Tri Force Heroes Met ire among fans following Nintendo’s announcement that it was a sequel to A Link Between Worlds with no apparent relation to its predecessor.
Through harrowing loss and unexpected surprises, 2015 was a complex and exciting year for the Zelda series. We collectively celebrated the revival of one of the best The Legend of Zelda games and grieved the loss of the late Satoru Iwata. Now we stand just a couple months into 2016, and we’re set to face adventures of equally proportioned amazement and splendor.