Robot-building in Tears of the Kingdom: a short history so far

Ever since the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, players have been creating all kinds of robots and mechs in the game. It started with simple ones that could stand up and move around, but recently players have been creating rather menacing mechs, possessing high-tech functions. In this article we will trace the advancement of mech-building technology in Tears of the Kingdom during the two weeks since the release of the game, based on the mechs players have created and shared via social media.  

Please note that this article contains details about many Zonai Devices. 

Tears of the Kingdom, the latest title of the Zelda series, introduces a number of new abilities, one of which is Ultrahand, the ability most players are likely to obtain first. Ultrahand allows you to lift and move objects from the field and attach them together in any orientation. A contraption made in this way can be further given power and various other functions by using Zonai Devices, items left behind by the Zonai civilization. The ability of Ultrahand, combined with a variety of Zonai Devices allows players to engage in a wide range of crafting, which is one of the things that makes this game unique.

Players have been using this characteristic of the game not only to clear challenges but also in order to let their imagination run wild, resulting in a variety of creations. The way robot and mech-building have evolved up to this point is particularly worth noting.

One such creation, that gathered attention as soon as the game released, was the Divine Beast made by Twitter user @hideyopo by assembling wood into a humanoid shape and attaching Small Wheel Zonai Devices to its feet. The Divine Beast also brandishes a Fan Zonai Device between its legs. When activated, it stands up straight and majestically traverses the land. However, perhaps due to it being weak on uneven terrain, it loses balance and falls down face-first after about 10 seconds. As it falls to the ground it extinguishes the life of an unlucky bird that happened to be there, demonstrating its ability to provide Link with meat. 

Tweet translation: I have perfected the new Divine Beast, which shall be guardian of the new age Hyrule. It has the ability to hunt birds and harvest their meat.

Another creation that became a hot topic immediately after the game’s release was the Divine Beast (?) equipped with a flamethrower in its crotch, crafted by Twitter user @ZAKUYA_BOTW. Assembled with wood, the crotch is fitted with a magnificent log, a Flame Emitter and two Time Bomb Zonai Devices. The smiling expression on the Divine Beast’s face, the flames shooting up from its crotch, and the ephemeral disintegration of the two “balls” that explode with such force that only its face is left behind have captured the hearts of users worldwide. 

Though these plywood mechs are put together in a simple manner, it’s impressive how they were created using only the limited Zonai Devices available in the early stages of the game. Players saw the chance to make their own mechs in the game and took it. 

Next, as players advanced further into the game, they discovered new Zonai Devices with various new functions that can be implemented into their creations. For example, players used the Steering Stick Zonai Device to make vehicles and enjoy drives all around Hyrule. 

On the other hand, with the discovery of the Cannon and Beam Emitter Zonai Devices, a variety of combat machines started being created in Hyrule. Among them were not only vehicle types but also flying types and humanoid mechas. The mech can be seen entering enemy territory and obliterating the enemies with its powerful Zonai Device armaments. 

Furthermore, one player attempted to create a mech that is not only humanoid, but also able to properly walk on two legs, as opposed to running on wheels. However, the walking mecha prototype ended up lifting both of its legs at the same time as it walked, making it seem as if it’s hopping rather than walking. A “Failure…?” the inventor himself questioned. 

On the other hand, recently there’s been a successful attempt at making a bipedal walking mech. Two Big Wheel Zonai Devices form the driving part of the mech, and its torso and joints are equipped with Stabilizers. The Stabilizer is a Zonai Device that stands upright relative to the ground, so it helps this mech keep its balance as it walks. The series of mecha that have been crafted as weapons are being called “Macross” and “Weapon to surpass Metal Gear” by their creators and other users, which tells that a lot of the mecha-building inspiration comes from other media. 

There have also been examples of autonomous mechas that do not require a pilot and can carry out attacks on their own. The following mech made by Max Blumenthal of GameSpot, is one such example. His mech drone takes off into the sky and then deploys a ground drone mid-air. This makes it possible to attack the enemy from the air with Beam Emitters, while also pursuing the enemy on the ground using a drone equipped with the Homing Cart Zonai Device. It is the ultimate technique to destroy enemy bases without dirtying Link’s hands.

During the two weeks since the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, there has been a tremendous range of inventions by players, with the level of complexity of mechs and contraptions rising from primitive plywood assemblies to next-generation autonomous combat mechs. What allowed the players to realize their imagination was no doubt the variety of Zonai Devices. More inventions are sure to follow as players let their creativity run loose in between battles and puzzle solving. 

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is available now for Nintendo Switch.

Written by. Amber V based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2023-05-27 16:18 JST)