The Legends of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a great game, by any measure one of the greatest ever made, but the final instalment of DLC inflicted the most egregious assault I’ve ever seen on a video game. At the end of an uneven extra quest Link is rewarded with a motorbike. I invite you on a personal journey with me to learn about why the bike is so bad, how it came to this, and the personal toll it inflicted on me.
What’s wrong with it?
The motorbike is awful because it thematically clashes with the rest of the game and it’s not fun to use. It is just so outrageously out of place.
The whole game – even the name – has this wholesome, primitive, camping like feel to it. You’re in the wilderness, you have to cook these old homey recipes, everything around you is broken down and falling apart as nature reclaims a landscape scarred from a war. And then you rock up in this motorbike, with a headlight, and it needs fuel and it’s just so jarring.
The games explanation for the whole thing is that it’s long lost Sheikah technology, the same ancient race attributed to creating all the complex mechanical bits of the world that are beyond the understanding of the Hylians. And I suppose it’s not impossible, within the very broad realm of possibilities, for such an instrument to exist but it’s still outlandish compared to it’s contemporaries. Other ancient Sheikah technology is all oversized and uses mechanical legs and tendrils to move around. This is a little motorbike with wheels and a headlight and it’s not under the corrupt and evil control of Calamity Ganon.
It’s also not fun to use. Compared to the horses it’s smaller, it’s slower, it makes an irritating noise, it wont follow the paths and the game wasn’t built around it being there. Check out this torturous video of some slob who has hacked the game to build ramps for the motorbike to do sick jumps off but -spoilers- it’s not very impressive and he gets shit all air.
How did it come to this?
In 2014 the Legends of Zelda x Mario Kart DLC was added to Mario Kart 8. The headline of this new DLC was that Link, and a horse inspired motorbike, would be joining Mario Kart. I remember seeing it and a little shudder went through me, like a premonition, but I shrugged it off. It’s Mario Kart right, it’s wacky and fun and it’s good to see Link in there. The DLC was well received and we all looked forward to the upcoming Zelda game.
Two and a half years later, Zelda: Breath of the Wild is on the cusp of release and the directors Fujibayashi, Dohta and Takizawa presented their development story to the 2017 Game Developer’s Conference. This is where they revealed, seemingly as a joke, concept art of Link in a more contemporary setting, playing guitar and riding a motorbike.
A friend shared the picture of the offending bike to a discord channel I’m in and taunted me by suggesting that Librider got a job at Nintendo. I’ll get to what that means but rest assured it’s horrifying. As for the general populace, you can click through to those tweet to see people’s reaction. It’s generally negative but a few disgusting imbeciles excitedly said they’d pay money for the motorbike…
A season pass for downloadable content was also made available alongside Breath of the Wild. Details of what was coming were fairly scant. Perhaps they really were still working on the creative aspects of this new content. Or maybe they didn’t want to tell us we’d be paying for a motorbike and would rather keep it vague, taking our money and wounding us later. In any case by December 2017 the DLC came out and it was now Zelda canon that Link acquired an ancient motorbike. It can never be undone. Librider really did get employed by Nintendo.
So uh, I also have an ancient past where things were different. I wasn’t always this cool, sexy, unemployed video game blogger, I was once an awkward teenager with an internet connection. And when I was an awkward teenager with an internet connection I occasionally role played in Zelda themed message boards. For those of you who are well adjusted and perhaps unfamiliar with the concept, role playing on a message board is a kind of collaborative fanfiction project. You have an original character and play out little adventures with other people and their original characters, all within the creative bounds of the intellectual property and posted publicly on an internet bulletin board.
So I had a Zora character named Amniali I played as him on a board that I was an administrator on. We took our role-playing very seriously, perhaps too seriously as I would limit myself out of fear for producing material that wasn’t good enough, but seriously enough that new people who wished to join our community had to submit their original character for approval before joining in the story. This approval process could be pretty brutal and sometimes our assessment of a submission would be less constructive than it should’ve been. But most people were fairly receptive to feedback and tweak their application accordingly. Even the sort of people you can imagine would sign up could understand that they weren’t the first tormented teenager whose Hyrule inhabiting avatar is an angst ridden, orphaned mercenary. So they’d make some adjustments or come up with something new, like a former Goron miner who put his shoulder out and is now exploring Hyrule looking for alternative means of living after losing his job. Or they would say fuck you and leave, and that was fine too. But then there was Librider.
Librider submitted what was by far the worst character we had ever received. It was clear he hadn’t read any of the character submission guidelines or suggestions and just shat out emo goth Link. I wish I could find a record of it, or screenshot it, because in my mind it was basically just Coldsteel the Hedgehog, Link edition. This bastard, Librider13, wanted to join our board as an emo, motorbike riding Link. “You need an original character!” “You can’t ride a fucking motorbike in Hyrule!” we yelled at him. But he wouldn’t listen and then he brazenly went ahead and posted in a bunch of ongoing stories as his bullshit character. So we just banned him of course, but he kept coming back under new usernames, wailing about how badly we mistreated him and how he must have a motorbike and it just became a joke. We changed the overarching storyline to allude that Librider was an evil force directing a cult from the shadows and “No motorbikes” became the first rule of the site for a while. In a weird twist of fate though I would become the real calamity behind the old role playing site, but that’s another story, for another time.
Anyway where was I?
I need to improve at wrapping up articles. Yeah, so I hate the dumb motorbike, probably because it reminds me of a shithead from my awkward youth. The only theory I can offer for it ending up in Breath of the Wild is that said shithead infiltrated Nintendo to unleash this final insult onto us all. Fuck you Librider, you destroyed Zelda forever.