On the Brink

Can you feel it? That palpable sense of excitement, so thick in the air that you can almost reach out and caress it? I can practically taste it everywhere I look. I surround myself by Zelda, and I always have a hand on the lifeblood of the Zelda community, always feel it ebbing and flowing with the news and the release of new games. And right now the collective heart of not only Zelda fans but the gaming community as a whole is racing at breakneck speed.

This is an unprecedented time for Zelda fans. Never before has a Zelda game released with the launch of a console. Never before has said release coincided with the introduction of a revolutionary new control method, a new way to immerse us into the game experience. Right now, when people think of their first experiences with a 3D world, their thoughts tend to gravitate towards Super Mario 64, the first game that gave us a sense of an open, 3-dimensional world. This time, Zelda is in that position, the flagship game for a new dimension of control that I believe will be just as important to the growth of the industry as the introduction of 3D environments was ten years ago. In ten years, people will look back on this upcoming release (less then three weeks away, now) in the same way they look back on Super Mario 64 and the advent of 3D gaming: with memories of awe and excitement, overpowering nostalgia and the knowledge that gaming is where it is today because of the trail blazed by this game and this system. A new generation of young Nintendo and Zelda fans will wake up on Christmas morning this December, open their new Wiis and Zelda, and be transformed in the same way I and many of you were by your first Zelda games. I almost envy them the upcoming experience, because nobody can get as lost in a game as a kid.

Zelda is poised to take the gaming world by storm, riding on the wave of the Wii to alter the course of gaming forever, and I love it.

Am I perhaps giving Zelda too much of the credit that is rightfully owed to the Wii? Probably. Am I being overly dramatic? Hell yes. Am I being realistic? Only time will tell. But that is the feeling I have now, the same thing I feel coming from the heart of the Zelda community: This game will be amazing, it will be a success, and it will propel the Wii to heights that Nintendo has not dreamed of since the days of the mighty Super NES. It is hard not to get caught up in such excitement, and why shouldn’t I? One of the best parts of being a fan of something is that overwhelming sense of anticipation, that feeling that you are balanced on the edge of your seat, about to take the plunge into the world of Hyrule once more. That feeling that always comes before a new game in the series is released.

The first game I ever experienced such excitement for was Majora’s Mask, six years ago. A lifetime ago, it seems like. I was 12 years old, and it was going to be the first Zelda game I got at release. I had, at this point, finished Link’s Awakening, A Link to the Past, and Ocarina of Time, my three favorite games (and they’ve remained that way ever since, and probably always will), and the thought of a new Zelda game sent shivers down my spine. I preordered it online, from Amazon if my memory serves. I had already downloaded and listened to the complete soundtrack from Zeldapower.com, and I was as psyched for the experience as it’s possible for a person to be. It took almost a week for the game to arrive at my house, and I think it was the longest week of my life. I spent the entire time outside in my family’s hammock, enjoying the fall weather and reading while I watched the road, just waiting for that UPS truck to stop at the end of our driveway. It was a beautiful fall, if I recall correctly. And I do; that week spent out on that hammock is branded into my mind. Hah, I just remembered something I always thought was hilarious: Majora’s Mask was released on the same day as the Playsation 2, Nintendo’s defiant message that they could combat the PS2 with just Zelda.

Zoom forward a bit, and you’ll find me waiting for the Wind Waker. I preordered it online again, but this time I wasn’t willing to wait a week! I paid for 1-day mail, at some ungodly price. Once again, I was consumed with excitement, the feeling that a new Zelda game was coming and the future of the gaming industry was bright. Then my Dad told me that we were going on a two week vacation to Florida in the beginning of March. Right when the game was released. Oh, woe was me. I think I take it back, the week I spent waiting for Majora’s Mask wasn’t the worst week of my life… That vacation in Florida was much worse. I eased my pain by spending the entire two weeks, except when I was forced to go out to the beach, on Zelda forums. I think I got almost two thousand posts at Zelda Universe alone during that time, and something similar at Zelda Legends, solidifying my future as moderator and more at both of them.

And here we are again. Time has worked it’s horrors on me; I am no longer an excitable kid of twelve, or even of 15. My sense of excitement is more sluggish, harder to call up, and I will never be as excited for a game as I once was for Majora’s Mask. But it’s still there, and I am determined to enjoy it.

Savor this excitement, because in a scant month or two, we’ll all have finished the game. Hopefully we’ll all have loved it to death, and with any luck I and the other webmasters will be working our asses off trying to appease everyone who wants TP content. If there is one thing I have learned over time, it is that there is one terrible thing about a Zelda game’s release: The excitement, which has been boiling over for so long, keeping us on a Zelda-induced high, leaves us. It takes quite some time to get used to normality again, and the knowledge that we now have a few more years to go before the next big Zelda release. When I finished the Wind Waker, after a scant two weeks of purposefully drawing the game out longer so that it didn’t have to end, I was a very sad person. It is a bittersweet joy, to finish a new Zelda game, to face reality and know that the magical experience, however complete, is now over. And one I will have to taste once more, soon.

So for now, my friends and fellow fans: enjoy this time, and pay no overdue notice to the melancholy ramblings of this old fan.


Link_08 says:

yea, i cant wait for this game either. I remeber when i was told that TWW was ganna come out i felt very excited for. I waited long for that game, then when it was time to pre-orederd it i did it but then the day after that one felt like they where going to take forever (expecially with the bones disk with master quest) but when i got it the time i waited was worth it and now i feel the same but a little bit more excited becuse im ganna get the wii and TP the same day. Right now the days that are going by feel like they are taking forever but when Sunday November 19, 2006 comes by im ganna wake up at 7 a.m. and go to Funcoland with my little bros DS with ALTTP in it to wait untill they open. That will be my best morning ever.

star_breaker says:

I can't even play TP because my brother had the complete idiocy to BREAK his Gamecube! I nearly cried at the news. So I'll have to wait longer for TP. I'm not pre-ordering again, last time I ordered WW it was American version, which wouldn't work on my British Gamecube. Again, almost tears. But if I'm good, I might get a Gamecube, or at least a repair guy to fix the old one. biggrin.gif So, all I can do is wait....

Prodian says:

I'm a child of OoT. I was 11 when I got it and it had been out for awhile. I was vaguely into gaming and I had seen ads on TV for Zelda, though it never occured to me that it would become my life. I began to play the game slow, still not an expert with the 64 controller and was immediately caught in the game. I didn't progress fast, was stuck on Dodongo's Cavern for a week and Jabu Jabu's Belly even longer. It took me 3 months approx. to finsh and when I did it felt like a great accomplishment. But like L-o-S, I felt the magic was over and I craved more. Thats when gaming became my life, searching for the perfect experience. Majora's Mask came and that was over and done with too quick, being much more accomplished now. Then Wind Waker came out. I waited to buy this one but when I finally got it I was done with 3 days. OoT got me hooked on gaming, made me crave more, but there is one thing I crave; to play Ocarina of Time for the frist time again. It was so much bigger, so much more magical, so much more evocativce. Now, after a much long winded story I bring you my point; I think TP will gives us all that feeling. And the world will stand still for those long moments we are lost. You sure captured the feeling in your article L-o-S.

Psithurism says:

It seems that often Zelda fans lose themselves in evaluating the series. We’re so obsessed with factions within the fan community (over timelines, critical interpretation, shipping, etc.) that we lose sight of what really unifies us. This is an excellent example: the shared cultural experience of the anticipation at a Zelda game’s launch. Your hammock anecdote reminded me of the delicious anxiety my friends and I felt as we played Zelda in the woods, waiting for A Link to The Past to finally be released.

"On the Brink" is a particularly apt title for this essay. In one hundred years, when computer and video game studies is as prevalent as film studies, people will look back and try to piece together how we felt the first time we played these classic games. They’ll never understand how amazing it was for our generation to discover video games, just like when our ancestors first saw a motion picture or spoke into a telephone.

Cheers, all! Enjoy this game, because it looks to be a work of art.

Person says:

Fear not! Only 17 meager days remain before Zelda and the Wii descend down into game stores everywhere, so that their magic can be played upon television screens all over the world. Gaming history is about to be made, and we are ready for it!

Kairu Hakubi says:

Yeah, umm, it's not even a Wii game though. If gamecube was released with the zelda collectors' edition game, we wouldn't call OoT and MM "zelda games released with the launch of a console" would we? TP's a gamecube game that had a Wii-compatible-version released first.. but when further Wii games are released, I'm sure TP's going to "have gamecube graphics" by comparison, whereas no Gamecube games ever 'had n64 graphics'