I was a little perturbed to see a number of ‘big’ gaming outlets reporting on an Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) rating for ‘Zelda Universe’ overnight. With Nintendo’s E3 Media Presentation looming, instead of actually fact checking, a number of sites immediately drew speculative conclusions such as heralding the arrival of a Zelda MMO or a more plausible 25th Anniversary celebration for the series.
The ESRB listing was made many moons ago, and isn’t even listed within ratings issued by the board during the last month. That in itself should give you enough of a clue…
In truth, ‘Zelda Universe’ is actually a ten-year old browser based Flash game that dates back to March 2001, that saw the player control Link through the use of your trusty PC mouse as you traversed the lands of Hyrule. Unsurprisingly Nintendo, always keen for parents to know exactly what their children are playing, sought an ESRB rating for the browser based experience – receiving an ‘E’ for Everyone classification, and a ‘Violence’ description due to the fact that Link runs around waving the Master Sword at anything that even attempts to grumble at him.
Players were able to stumble upon iconic locations and characters from Nintendo 64 classic The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, such as the Temple of Time, and engage in simplistic games like a Knowledge Challenge alongside other services including the Hyrule Message Board and competition Sweepstakes. It effectively acted as a hub, albeit a confusing one, in which fans could explore the history of the series and even have a go at placing the much debated The Legend of Zelda timeline in order.
Of course, being over ten years old now the site no longer exists. Yet through the powers of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine (Beta) you can still relive it in basic form – although the cache doesn’t quite work as smoothly as the original did. You can play it here.
So, there you have it. Surprises for Nintendo’s E3 Media Presentation remain to be ever so tightly sealed, and Zelda Universe has nothing to do with them. With just 11 days to go, I for one certainly can’t wait.