The new “Legend of Zelda” game, “Breath of the Wild,” is a masterpiece — a truly fantastic launch game for Nintendo’s brand new Switch console.
It’s a massive, open-world, third-person adventure game set in the storied land of Hyrule, where you control the Hero of Time, Link, as he wrestles control of the kingdom from long-time antagonist Ganon.
If that description sounds familiar, that’s because it could be applied to much of the last 20 years of “Zelda” games. But this one is special for a few important reasons:
- It’s a truly open game, with little hand-holding, and a brilliant sense of discovery.
- The world of Hyrule feels remarkably real and alive, despite its emptiness.
- It feels like a truly modern game set within the trappings of a beloved franchise.
That last reason is especially important for what this post is about. But first, before I get into that…
BEWARE! THERE ARE STORY SPOILERS BELOW FOR A MAIN STORY MISSION IN “THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD!” IF YOU DON’T WANT ANYTHING SPOILED, TURN BACK NOW!
Still with me? Great.
When I say that “Breath of the Wild” feels like a modern game, I mean it in two ways. First, the game’s systems and scope stand up to (and surpass) the competition. It takes something tinged with nostalgia in the “Zelda” series and mixes it with 20-plus years of modern game design.
The second way that “Breath of the Wild” feels modern is in its cultural ambitions. Take, for instance, a mission set in the Gerudo Desert region of Hyrule, that tasks Link with becoming a lady.
Above you see Link in the foreground, with what appears to be a lady in the background laughing. That’s because Link, who needs to get into the main Gerudo town, needs her help to blend in among the female-only population. She’s laughing at Link’s predicament.
Except, that isn’t a “her” in the strictest sense of the term:
Indeed, this new friend of Link’s is a crossdresser who can help him get where he needs to go.
And how is that?
By crossdressing himself, of course!
Fans have been pushing for a female version of Link for years, and it looks like they have got it in “Breath of the Wild” — albeit indirectly. Alternatively, another group of fans has pushed back against changing the gender of their favourite series’ main character. For these folks, this mission might ruffle some feathers.
Let them be ruffled — the mission is a tongue-in-cheek poke at the demand for a strong female protagonist in the “Zelda” series.
In creating a crossdressing Link, Nintendo gets to appease those fans while keeping the “traditional” version of Link.
And players get to hilariously fight enemies dressed as bellydancer Link!
Better yet, the clothes are actually functional in-game as a means of beating the heat in the arid, sun-soaked Gerudo Desert region. Part of what makes “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” such an incredible game is this attention to detail — you’ll need a warm coat for the more frigid mountain regions of Hyrule, for instance, while this three-piece silk number is a better match for the desert sun.
Lest you think this is all utilitarian, don’t get things twisted: there are plenty of options to expand your wardrobe that are purely aesthetic.
Now all we need is accessories that aren’t swords.