Give Me a Crash Course in ... The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has even more compelling gameplay

Tears of the Kingdom? Is this to do with Kerry coughing up the five-in-a-row to Dublin a few years back?

It does feature a nippy guy in green and gold taking on a bulldozing foe with overwhelming resources in their favour, so I can see why you’re confused. But no, Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is a video game. The only video game anyone is talking about right now, as it happens.

Who is Zelda? And what’s so legendary about him anyway?

Zelda isn’t the main character. She’s the princess the hero spends most of the game attempting to rescue. The little dude in green and gold I was referring to earlier is an elf named Link.

Link? I thought elves all had to be called Legolas or Tanis Half-Elven? Link sounds like they spent five minutes thinking up a name and took early lunch.

Nintendo, which developed the game, has a track record with strange names. Mario from Super Mario Bros. was named after the landlord of an early employee at Nintendo Of America. “Donkey Kong” – one of their first games – makes no sense in English or Japanese.


But there is some logic to Link – in an early Legend of Zelda game, his quest was to connect two parts of a magical object, the Tri-Force.

He was the ‘link’. I get it. Makes you wonder why Tolkien didn’t just name Frodo Chuck – given that he was supposed to chuck the ring into Mount Doom.

Anyway, why all the excitement over this new Zelda game?

Because it’s a sequel to what many regard as the greatest video game of all time: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Greatest of all time? Better than Jet Set Willy, Manic Miner, Doomdark’s Revenge?

Steady on Grandpa – gaming has moved in a bit in the last ... erm, 40 years. Breath of the Wild was acclaimed because it was set in a giant open world where you, as Link, could do whatever you wanted.

Whatever I wanted? Leave my pants on the floor all day? Tell my boss where to stick their performance review? Let my kids drive themselves to camogie for once?

Maybe you should open a window. No, the idea was that, within the Middle Earth-esque Kingdom of Hyrule, you could roam wherever you wanted and interact with the landscape as you saw fit. It also looked amazing. Short of travelling to New Zealand and buying that village where they filmed Lord of the Rings, it’s about as close as you could get to exploring a real fantasy kingdom.

Speaking of kingdoms, what’s up with the new game?

Zelda and Link are exploring Hyrule Castle when a demonic force from the past – to be clear, not the Dublin footballers – escapes and blasts the fortress to smithereens. Link wakes on an island floating high in the sky with a metal arm grafted on, Luke Skywalker-style.

Sounds ... like the premise of every video game ever?

Sure, it’s generic. But the gameplay is even more compelling than in Breath of the Wild. The new innovation is that Link can graft together random objects strewn around Hyrule. Take some plywood, four wheels, an engine ... Baby, you’ve got a car going!

Sounds great. I have a shiny new PlayStation 5, so I will buy Tears of the Kingdom today!

About that. Nintendo only makes games for its own consoles – in this case, the Nintendo Switch. The Switch is regarded as “underpowered” compared to the latest PlayStation and Xbox. But, because Nintendo creates the hardware and designs the software, its games tend to squeeze the maximum from the technology.

The public is on board anyway: the game was released last week but has already sold 10 million copies. That’s a lot of elves on a lot of shelves. No wonder Tears of the Kingdom has Nintendo executives grinning from ear to ear.

Ed Power

Ed Power

Ed Power, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about television and other cultural topics