Ever since “rehydrated” Ganondorf appeared in the third The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer, people have been going a bit crazy. It’s understandable, to some degree. The character is an icon, after all. But there’s so much Ganondorf fan art out there and such incredible reactions. However, when you think about everything happening here, it’s easy to understand why this is a big deal. Yes, part of it is because of his appearance this time around. But there’s a lot more to it than that.
First of all, the reception and reaction stems from how long it’s been since Ganondorf properly appeared in a The Legend of Zelda game ahead of this Tears of the Kingdom debut. Yes, a variant of him appeared as the villain in Breath of the Wild and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. But at the risk of splitting hairs, that was Calamity Ganon. He was more of an entity than anything and not really his normal, Gerudo self. We last saw him like this in Twilight Princess in 2006, not counting cameo appearances. It’s a big deal when we get to see “actual” Ganondorf, and people are responding accordingly.
Speaking of seeing actual Ganondorf, it’s understandable to see this sort of response because it’s so different from the original The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom teaser. During the E3 2019 trailer, Zelda and Link happened upon remnants of what was left of him before Calamity Ganon. It essentially looked like a mummified version of the character. Even back then, people joked about “rehydrated” Ganondorf and imagined how he might look. So with the third Tears of the Kingdom trailer, dreams essentially came true for people. They “called” it. Getting a chance to do that is satisfying, as is getting to compare the actual designs to Ganondorf fan art ahead of time to see how close artists’ imagination brought them to “reality.”
There’s also the appearances. Yes, let’s all admit that The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Ganondorf is pretty traditionally handsome. He’s strong, but not in an unhealthy way where the muscles seem untoward or unrealistic. There are some elements that indicate he’s a villain, but those honestly are a bit downplayed in the official art. Though he’s got long hair and a beard, he’s not disheveled. He’s designed in such a way that, in the right circumstances, someone could see him as charismatic and charming, rather than just an ominous, evil villain. That he’s voiced by a popular voice actor like Matthew Mercer only serves to enhance the overall aesthetic.
But there’s more to his appearance that’s worthy of such attention than just “rehydrated Ganondorf is hot.” It’s the other accents and details. We can see his diadem and jewelry match the ones worn by Riju and Urbosa. The way he wields his sword is fascinating and differs from past portrayals, leaving people to wonder how he might execute attacks. There’s the way Ganondorf’s new garb more greatly resembles the Gerudo tribe in Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, compared to his past portrayals that involved far more armor. It leaves people wondering what next and what he can do.
It’s the sense of anticipation and opportunity to reunite with someone we either love or love to hate. Ganondorf is a commanding force in The Legend of Zelda canon, and the way Nintendo teased and introduced him is both exciting and leaves an air of mystery. His design is not only attractive, but it suggests details about his past and what we may be able to expect from him in the game. It’s an exciting opportunity, and everything surrounding the character shows he deserves the attention he’s getting.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom will come to the Nintendo Switch on May 12, 2023. Its themed OLED Switch model will launch on April 28, 2023.