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How Nintendo Disappointed Fans On Zelda's 35th Anniversary

The year of Mario has ended, and although the internet braced for the iconic plumber's death, gamers only experienced good times throughout the celebratory 12 months. Another legendary game series celebrated a milestone anniversary on the heels of "Super Mario Bros.," though. "The Legend of Zelda" turned 35 in 2021, and players believe it should be celebrated in style. Perhaps as beloved as Mario, Link and friends remain representative of Nintendo's influence on the gaming world.


As of March, "Breath of the Wild" had sold more than 22 million units, making it one of the Switch's bestselling titles. While fans have definite ideas about what "Breath of the Wild 2" needs to fix, Nintendo hasn't released any of the finer details of the game. Without a release date for the anticipated sequel, gamers have been left wondering how Nintendo will celebrate the anniversary of "The Legend of Zelda."

It turns out Nintendo disappointed fans by kicking off the "Zelda" anniversary with lackluster offerings. Many felt "Zelda" didn't receive appropriate attention for such a beloved series, and were upset by Nintendo's lack of "Zelda" love for a multitude of reasons.

Mario's anniversary celebration eclipsed Zelda's

For the 35th anniversary of "Super Mario Bros.," Nintendo pulled out all the stops and spent an entire year celebrating its flagship character. 

Nintendo chose to remaster and bundle "Super Mario Sunshine," "Super Mario Galaxy," and "Super Mario 64," three favorite "Mario" titles, in "Super Mario 3D All-Stars." For its part, Nintendo held firm on its promise to make the game a limited time title, and it removed "Super Mario 3D All-Stars" from the eShop one year after it debuted. "Super Mario 3D World" also appeared during the Year of Mario, bringing with it an all new "Mario" adventure, "Bowser's Fury." 


In addition to the remaster of classic "Mario" games, Nintendo collaborated with LEGO to produce "Super Mario Bros." playsets, Puma released "Mario" themed shoes, and Nintendo unveiled a nostalgia-inducing "Mario" portable game. In other words, Nintendo went all out to celebrate the Italian plumber's impact on video games. Given the precedent set by the Year of Mario, fans felt disappointed when they saw what the company had planned for "Zelda." 

Skyward Sword HD earned mixed reactions

In a Nintendo Direct, Nintendo announced that to celebrate the anniversary of "The Legend of Zelda," it would go back to the beginning of the timeline and release a remastered "Skyward Sword." Unfortunately, fans did not share Nintendo's enthusiasm for "Skyward Sword HD," and Twitter reacted accordingly.


Some fans were happy to play the groundbreaking Wii game again, or to experience it for the first time without its notorious motion controls. Still, gamers mostly seemed disappointed that "The Legend of Zelda" didn't receive a big celebration in the same way that "Super Mario Bros." did. If "Skyward Sword HD" had been accompanied by other titles, a la "Super Mario 3D All-Stars," reactions might have differed.

Critics generally saw the good in "Skyward Sword HD," but many felt cautious about endorsing the still-problematic control scheme. Ultimately, "Skyward Sword" didn't satisfy "Zelda" fanatics' desires, and instead only served to irritate them more.

Game & Watch isn't enough to satisfy Zelda fans

Nintendo also announced a Game & Watch version of the first three "Zelda" games. Some commenters on Reddit pointed out that the "Legend of Zelda" Game & Watch was a much better deal than the Game & Watch released to celebrate the "Super Mario Bros." anniversary. Instead of one game, "Zelda" Game & Watch owners received the first three titles in the "Legend of Zelda" series. Value doesn't amount to much when the rest of the year is devoid of "Zelda" material, though. 


One Redditor stated that the whole situation seemed unfair, saying, "I don't know about most people but I'm extremely disappointed with what we get for Zelda's 35th while Mario got so much. I get that other franchises got nothing but this is Zelda, it should get more." The writer also explained that they'd love ports of older, harder to play "Zelda" games, like "Majora's Mask" and "Ocarina of Time," which were last updated for the Nintendo 3DS.

Is there more Zelda content to come?

Though Nintendo hasn't announced additional "Zelda" content for its 35th anniversary, some people continue to hold out hope that the gaming giant will properly praise one of its most popular series. 

In a Reddit post from early 2021, one gamer speculated that Nintendo would save "the big guns" for later in the year. The poster guessed that Nintendo is "worried about getting the most from each and every new Zelda product going forward" and that it wants to maximize profits by doling out one big "Zelda" release at a time.


Another commenter noted that Nintendo had created a pattern with its celebration of the 35th anniversary of "Super Mario Bros." The developer may plan to announce more "Zelda" celebration tie-ins in September, which is when the Year of Mario began. Still, there's no guarantee that the company has further "Legend of Zelda" plans. Fans can only hope that Nintendo hears the pleas for more "Zelda" content.