Has Nintendo been building the Zonai influence for years?
By Nicole Carpenter on March 29, 2023 12:15 pm
The Floria River meanders gently around the Faron Grasslands, a watery gorge that must be crossed before reaching the Zonai Ruins. Said ruins are hidden in the dense forests of the area, where monoliths built by the Zonai still stand despite the centuries that have passed. Maybe they were built before Hyrule existed.
For most The Legend of Zelda: Breath of Wild players, it’s nothing more than a patch of land on Hyrule’s vast map with a few structures, mysterious runes, and a few quest lines. You may also have picked up Breath of the Wild’s barbarian armor in Faron – the item description once again refers to the “ancient warlike tribe” that lived in the area – and moved on.
But there’s a group of Zelda theorists who expect the Zonai to play a bigger role in the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. And they finally have their undeniable proof.
The mystery of the Zonai ruins and the prehistoric tribe separate from the Sheikah who inhabited this area has fascinated Zelda fans for years. Twitter and Reddit have been inundated with analysis, and YouTube creators have been jolted awake by every nod from Nintendo promoting the theory. Some believe the Zonai are connected to the powers of the Triforce and their gods: might, courage, and wisdom. There is also a possible theory hinted at in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, another game believed to be connected to Tears of the Kingdom. Zonai theories have been talked about so much that the tribe has almost become a meme; Where there are Zonai theorists, there are always naysayers telling analysts to shut up right now.
As of Tuesday, however, the Zonai enthusiasts have been confirmed: while some fans thought there was Zonai symbolism in previous trailers, March’s gameplay presentation with producer Eiji Aonuma confirmed the connection for the first time. It’s really a small moment. Link is on top of a sky island fighting a construct with several sticks; Once he’s defeated the new enemy, he collects a few of his leftover pieces, one of which is dubbed the “Zonai Charge.”
The inclusion of these two little words lends credibility to earlier theories of more esoteric references to Zonai influence; Breath of the Wild contains many ancient architectures depicting various creatures such as snakes and dragons with specially designed rune carving. Some theorists thought they recognized these carvings in Tears of the Kingdom’s marketing material, including the game’s logo.
However, the Zonai Charge item doesn’t really answer all questions about the Zonai. Who are you? Where did you go? Are they really extinct? Are they connected to the gods? What are zonai fees used for? But it does suggest Tears of the Kingdom might have some answers. Personally, I think the Zonai Charge might be connected to those little green flasks hanging from Link’s belt – maybe even powering some of his new abilities. The construct was specifically shown in the Sky Isles, and perhaps there is a connection there.
Or maybe these aren’t important details at all, and Nintendo has thrown us a red herring. Tears of the Kingdom’s release date is May 12th, so we’ve got a little over a month to stew on it.