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Things Only Adults Notice In The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom

Since its debut in the mid-'80s, "The Legend of Zelda" series has drawn in players of all ages. The consistent story beats make it easy to follow, with almost every entry featuring a magic-wielding Princess Zelda, a swordsman named Link, and a power-hungry king in the form of Ganon and/or Ganondorf. Meanwhile, the expanding lore and branching timelines add some complexity for those who want to delve further into the world Nintendo has constructed.

"Tears of the Kingdom" offers its own spin on the tried and true formula, while also picking up the story threads and mechanics established in "Breath of the Wild." Link has some new abilities to experiment with, while many of the supporting cast sport updated looks and goals. Thanks to the addition of sky islands and the underground, Hyrule has more to explore and take in than ever. With this expansion have come even more details, moments, and implications likely to escape the notice of younger audiences but which are hard to ignore for adult players.

Ganondorf: The hottest undead since The Mummy

After sitting out "Breath of the Wild" and several other titles, Ganondorf returned to the "Zelda" franchise in "Tears of the Kingdom." As many fans were quick to notice before the game even released, the Demon King has a different look this time around. He traded in his more restrained, armored attire for lots of bare skin, strategically placed tattoos, and gold accessories. He also clearly hit the gym during his absence, with chiseled muscles on display everywhere players look.

When Zelda and Link first encounter Ganondorf during the sequel's opening act, he appears as little more than a (surprisingly well-accessorized) desiccated corpse. Of course, he doesn't stay in this guise and later faces Link in his proper "rehydrated" form. This turn of events puts off some real "The Mummy" vibes. The first two films in the reboot series feature the cursed Egyptian priest Imhotep returning from the dead to take over the world using dark magic. When he first revives he doesn't look so great, but by the end of the film he fully regenerates into a complete hottie sporting flowing robes with his bare chest on display.

Imhotep was a confusing crush for "The Mummy" viewers in the late '90s and early 2000s. Now Ganondorf has turned up to make players question their views on the undead all over again.

There's no escaping customer loyalty programs

Modern businesses go to great lengths to collect customer information and make more sales. These tactics take many forms, ranging from opting into text messages or emails in exchange for coupon codes and enrollment in loyalty programs that allow buyers to earn points and redeem rewards whenever they shop. Simply enter some information and watch your inbox fill up with promotions and your wallet overflow with rewards cards for every store you've ever visited.

It seems players can't get away from this seemingly inevitable reality even in "Zelda" games. As soon as Link registers with the network of stables, the local owner opts him into the Pony Points program. While he earns free points by simply visiting the different stable locations, he has to register horses or shell out money for beds to continue moving up the tiers and unlock more rewards.

The Pony Points setup is nice for those who already planned to go horse hunting or take advantage of the lodging. However, it's also one of a few jarring ways that the real-world bleeds into the setting. Nothing helps you forget your everyday troubles quite like carting around a rewards card or stopping to take a bunch of photos with your tablet while exploring ancient ruins. Now if only Nintendo would add Hyrule's take on Instagram.

Tears of the Kingdom ... more like Hotties of the Kingdom

When the developers at Nintendo set out to create a follow-up to "Breath of the Wild," they clearly had a core objective in mind: make players as thirsty as possible. Ganondorf may be the entree, but the studio has served up plenty of appetizers and side dishes.

Zelda has a new haircut and gown, complimented by tasteful but eye-catching accessories. Link continues to flirt with androgyny, and the team made sure to reduce him to just his undies again for the start of the game. Sidon, already a complete catch, features once more and is as elegant and supportive as ever (though it seems he's now off the market).

Then there are the research characters. Purah, who accidentally de-aged herself into a child in "Breath of the Wild," got a major glow up for "Tears of the Kingdom." Rather than a kid, she appears as a young adult for the sequel, complete with fitted clothing and high heels. Which, you know, doesn't inspire any weird feelings at all. The entry also introduces Tauro, a ripped Hylian researcher who just loves fieldwork. Presumably, he pumps iron while translating Zonai. No wonder so many people have developed a sudden interest in the ancient language.

The Rito have clearly never heard of child labor laws

When players finally follow up on the wealth of hints from multiple NPCs and head to Rito Village, they find the settlement in dire straights. A supernatural blizzard has rendered the area nigh unreachable and inhospitable, cutting it off from its usual supply chains and leading to a food shortage. Link strolls in to learn more about the situation, only to discover that nearly all of the adult Rito have flown the nest, leaving their young children to manage the settlement and its businesses.

The tiny Rito run everything from the store to the inn without any form of supervision. Teba and his wife seem to be the only fully grown Rito left, and they stand together on one of the higher platforms, presumably basking in the glow of all of that free child labor. Meanwhile, the fledglings scurry around in the lower levels, trying to figure out how to keep the village running while the other adults scavenge for food or search for clues regarding the origin of the blizzard.

This situation feels like walking into a mall and finding a bunch of eight-year-olds manning every store, not a security guard or manager in sight. While their parents later commend them for their contributions, it's quite heart-wrenching to see the fledglings carry such a heavy burden without protection, comfort, or guidance.

Sidon deserves a better support system

As Link moves between the central locations in Hyrule, he collects battle companions from the major tribes. This process involves each combat partner learning a foundational lesson before they can assist the protagonist in solving the region's big problem. For fan favorite Prince Sidon, Nintendo decided to drive home a concept that seems simple enough on the surface: Don't let fear stop you from living your life. Unfortunately, the way the developer decided to handle this issue raises some red flags.

As part of his quest, Sidon's newly introduced fiance confronts him after he spends a significant amount of time holed up in one area of Zora's Domain working to fight off the sludge that has contaminated the local water supply. While her words seem to come from a place of concern, she tells him that he's letting the fear of losing someone important to him stop him from going with Link to investigate the cause of the sludge. Rather than acknowledging the validity of his experience or the toll of everything the prince has been through (like losing his sister and almost losing his father), she insists that the Sidon she knows wouldn't behave that way. In response, he plasters on a smile and agrees to go with Link.

This scene echoes a common situation that many people experiencing mental distress encounter. Faced with a change in their demeanor, those close to them may insist that they aren't acting like themselves and suggest that they simply decide to be happy instead. These moments, much like the scene with Sidon, falsely suggest that only some of their feelings are valid or that people can simply decide to stop feeling a certain way. In the Zora royal's case, the game seems to hint that he only has value when he's chipper and supporting those around him. But the moment he needs support, he's basically told to get over it and go back to acting normal because it's more convenient for everyone else.

Players still can't pet the dogs

While players of all ages can appreciate the opportunity to express their love for a virtual good boy, dog petting (or the lack thereof) has become a major point of contention for more seasoned gamers in recent years. A Twitter account with over 500,000 followers exists solely to document whether players can properly interact with animals in-game, and the question makes the rounds on major news sites every time a new title releases.

Unfortunately for "Zelda" fans, "Tears of the Kingdom" does not allow players to pet the dogs they encounter around Hyrule. Like in "Breath of the Wild," feeding the dogs can earn Link their canine affection. Properly appreciated pups may even lead the swordsman to hidden treasure. However, this doesn't make up for the fact that he can't interact with them – an especially heartbreaking realization when the dogs in question roll onto their backs and present their bellies for rubs. Sorry, pooches. Nintendo just didn't see adding this feature as a priority.

How soon they forget about Link

Link meets a lot of people on his travels — and that's even if you ignore the series' canon, which states that there have been many versions of Link over the millennia. It would make sense for the hero to forget a few of the faces he's encountered while facing down the forces of evil (there have to have been thousands), but it makes a bit less sense for the people he's saved to forget him.

Still, that seems to be what's happened for many of the NPCs Link encounters in "Tears of the Kingdom." Despite the fact that players spent a lot of time helping out the Koroks in the previous game, most of the little guys here don't seem to have any knowledge of Link. You'd think he'd be a legend among Koroks! 

But even stranger is the fact that many of the citizens of Tarrey Town don't appear to recognize him. A bit of time has passed since the events of "Breath of the Wild," during which Link essentially bought the land and founded the town. There's a whole quest line devoted to the creation of this village, but Link is essentially a stranger there now. Granted, the town has grown a lot since then, but are there no records of him there?