That Time A Zelda Trailer Supposedly Made Grown Men Cry

That Time A Zelda Trailer Supposedly Made Grown Men Cry
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Few game reveals are more anticipated a brand-new Legend of Zelda game, but nothing touches the intense reaction Twilight Princess generated at E3 2004.

It’s common for game companies to stuff their press conferences full of employees. These are the people who are happily clapping for every announcement, big or small. But at Nintendo events, that’s not usually the case — the reactions tend to be genuine. And when the first trailer for Twilight Princess was shown, the screams from those in attendance were deafening.

Yes, that actually happened.

That Time A Zelda Trailer Supposedly Made Grown Men Cry

Twilight Princess was developed in reaction to the extremely divisive Wind Waker, a game that’s fondly remembered today — but that wasn’t always the case. Not everyone thought the cartoonish look was attractive, and to some, it signalled the franchise was moving in the direction of children, not adults. What did adults want? Something “mature”, and this lead Nintendo to Twilight Princess.

At the end of Nintendo’s E3 2004 press conference, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said he’d “like you to step inside one more world for Nintendo GameCube”. As his voice trailed, the trailer for Twilight Princess rolled.

Video Credit: ericy0

It wasn’t immediately clear this was a Zelda game, either. The trailer was deliberately edited to mask the game’s drastic new shift, perhaps a subtle nod to critics who thought Nintendo would never take the series in a direction like this.

And look, I enjoyed Wind Waker when it came out, but I’m willing to admit the idea of a “realistic Zelda” was enough to make the seven-year-old in me freak out.

As a horse gallops across a field, people begin to put things together.

That is not the sound of people politely applauding a new product announcement, that’s a group full of Nintendo fans collectively losing their shit.

The most telling reaction is pretty subtle: a guy throwing up the devil horns.

That Time A Zelda Trailer Supposedly Made Grown Men Cry

After a few snippets of gameplay, Nintendo had another trick up their sleeve: Shigeru Miyamoto. As the trailer concluded, Miyamoto appeared on stage with a Zelda t-shirt and swinging around a sword and shield. People were in a frenzy.

When’s the last time you saw a standing ovation at a press conference?!

One of the most popular myths about this reveal is that people were crying. You’ll see this claim made pretty often whenever people talk about this moment, but I haven’t found evidence that anybody literally burst into tears.

That Time A Zelda Trailer Supposedly Made Grown Men Cry
That Time A Zelda Trailer Supposedly Made Grown Men Cry
That Time A Zelda Trailer Supposedly Made Grown Men Cry

One of the more endearing memes from Twilight Princess‘ announcement, however, was the reaction of a few IGN editors. If you were following games coverage in the early 2000s, you were definitely familiar with this photo:

That Time A Zelda Trailer Supposedly Made Grown Men Cry IGN editors Matt Casamassina, Craig Harris, Chadd Chamers, and Peer Schneider

This candid shot of several very bored games writers was taken while Nintendo was chatting up Pac-Man Vs. for the GameCube at E3 2003, one of the company’s “big” pieces of news that year. (To be fair, Pac-Man Vs. turned out pretty cool.)

“Clearly, we weren’t ready for Nintendo’s premature turn to classic and ultimately more casual gaming,” wrote Schneider in a blog. “A friend snapped this picture of the IGN team’s reaction to the awkward and uneventful conference. […] The expressions you see are genuine — each capturing the impact of Nintendo’s announcement in a subtle, yet moving fashion. We liked the picture so much, we used it to illustrate our take on the show on the site.”

IGN actually knew the Twilight Princess announcement was coming at E3 2004, so the group staged a new photo that was meant to hype fans up.

“With the disappointment of E3 2003 still on our minds and the same crew assembled,” he said, “we sat down and staged our confidence and excitement over Nintendo’s 2004 press conference in image form. We knew Miyamoto was going to bring the goods.”

Know Your Meme has a bunch of examples of how this joke virally spread.

Twilight Princess was supposed to be a GameCube exclusive, but as development needed more time, it bumped into the release Nintendo’s next hardware, the Wii. The game was ultimately ported to both platforms but released a few weeks apart from one another in late 2006. On Wii, players could use motion controls for a few different actions, from swinging Link’s sword to more precisely aiming arrows.

It was hard to imagine a trailer ever generating the kind of reaction Twilight Princess did, but you know what? Final Fantasy VII came pretty close last year!


  • You know what I love about cell shaded games like windwaker vs realistic games? They barely age.

    Unfortunately still never played twilight princess. Never enjoyed the wii’s motion controls and actively avoided the console and games that used them.

    • Yeah, Nintendo shunning gritty realism is what makes its games age so well. TP Waa a rare moment of capitulation in response to WW’s aesthetic.

      I’m fairly sure they came to their senses after that, and went back to the notion that people don’t know what they like.

    • Shame I think Twilight had the best motion controls of any game in the system. Cause they worked. Cutting grass for money has never been better.

      But hey it’s coming in button form soon!

      • HD or Virtual Console? I haven’t even plugged my motion sensor into my Wii-U. More for the fact that to buy enough Wii Plus controllers to even play Mario party would send me broke haha.

      • I don’t about best motion controls. The Trauma Center games were pretty darn good on the motion control front too

        • Well I mean. I didn’t own a Wii or played all the games. But I thought TP did them well. I’ll probably pick up the HD remake. But I’m curious to how the combat combos will work now. I was rather happy with them on the Wii U. So guess I’m curious.

          Still my favourite call of duty though.

      • Shame I think Twilight had the best motion controls of any game in the system.Whoa whoa whoa, let’s not get too carried away here.

        Cause they worked.Ok go home CJ you’re drunk.

        • I can assure you that comment was written in one of my brief moments of sobriety. SO please, counter argument me.

          • Well I’d start by saying that I separate pointer controls from motion controls. There’s no debate about that, pointer controls are great and work great. And I believe they’re distinct in the same way that you don’t class a mouse as a motion controller. And secondly of course there’s the hyperbole that goes into any argument, so I tend to shit on TP Wii more than it actually deserves 😛

            But essentially what TP had was only the most base level of motion control possible, and it is eclipsed by fellow launch titles Wii Play and Wii Sports (which were actually *designed* for motion controls), let alone Wii Sports Resort which genuinely improved motion controls across the board. Punch-Out!! was another good one pre-gyros, too. The only thing TP Wii had over the GCN version was its pointer controls, everything else was a step down – including/especially that waggle control for the sword, it was a million times better just using the button instead.

            To this day the only game I’ve played that was actually improved by the whole waggle-in-place-of-a-button-press was de Blob. Shake the controller to make him jump, a feature they removed when making the sequel. Which was noticeably less enjoyable because of it.

          • Valid points. But those games had only a single control system. TP had multiple systems you used throughout the game. Fishing fighting mini games snow boarding etc. they all worked and showed how a big game like TP could be done with motion controls.

          • To be fair, I didn’t get far enough into the game to get to those points, think I only got the early fishing part in the village. But with how much better I found the Cube version to be, I wouldn’t have even if I didn’t take forever to get back to the game at all 😛

    • Unfortunately still never played twilight princess. Never enjoyed the wii’s motion controls and actively avoided the console and games that used them.That’s what the GameCube’s for!

    • Yep, I don’t think Windwaker HD even needed any model work done – Just HD res with better lighting iirc.

  • When’s the last time you saw a standing ovation at a press conference?!

    At pretty much every E3 conference in the last decade? Except maybe the Sony 2006 and MS 2013 fiascos. To be honest I find it pretty embarrassing the way supposed “journalists” lose their shit at these things. Seems pretty unprofessional to me for these people to be carrying on like a bunch of squealing fanboys instead of viewing these advertisements (which is what they ultimately are) with a bit of healthy skepticism.

    • Considering organisers, publishers, journos and editors push for and want that response, I would say it is professional.
      The skepticism always comes after the events because as you say, it’s just an advertisement.
      It’s not like they completely avoid controversy and criticism, they just enjoy a few moments of positive review on a teaser.

      (And who wants to watch some suited up robot reporting on a game reveal like it’s a mass genocide or Greek plumber who ripped off an old woman)

  • I can imagine a few tears in the eye from this, getting all caught up in the moment. But not bursting into tears.

  • I loved the Wind Waker art style but was still pumped for this one because it was a new Zelda.
    I think I was disappointed by it at the end because of all the jaggies and I didn’t take to the motion controls too well. So I’m looking forward to the HD release on WiiU so I can enjoy the game properly.

    The new WiiU Zelda coming out looks to be a good middle ground, with realistic character models with added cel shading.

  • I like twilight princess but dumb waggle gimmick ruined most of it for me. I’ll consider buying the wii u version if it’s pro controller compatible.

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