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Zelda fans translate Breath of the Wild’s fantasy language and discover a hidden message

Is Nintendo suggesting what they seem to be suggesting?

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild screenshot gallery Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has only been out for three days, but rabid fans are already tearing into it and dismantling all of its secrets. One intriguing tidbit was revealed yesterday over on the Zelda subreddit.

A small spoiler warning before we get into details: Most of Polygon’s staff (including the author of this piece) have not finished Breath of the Wild. While this post does not reveal anything explicit about the game’s plot, it does have some suggestions via fan speculation that may or may not be proved by the game. If you’re worried about the risk of even potential spoilers, you may want to turn away.

On to the goods: Reddit user sparkthedarkness posted an image yesterday showing off a full translation of all of the symbols that make up the strange Sheikah language in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It seems these keys can be found at different places within the game, but sparkthedarkness put them together into one helpful image that includes letters, numbers and a couple of other important symbols.

Here’s the full translation:

Reddit user sparkthedarkness

While this is intriguing in and of itself — and can be used as a handy key to help translate certain things in the game that can provide useful hints — another user took this list and discovered something even better. It turns out one of the boxes for the Breath of the Wild special edition has a bunch of Sheikah writing on it, and it translates into a surprising hidden message.

According to Reddit user CompC, the special edition features the phrase “The Hyrule Fantasy” written in a repeating loop of Sheikah text. And what is The Hyrule Fantasy? None other than the name for the original The Legend of Zelda in Japan.

“Huh. I guess this game is a reimagination of the first game,” speculates Reddit user Raxa724.

Of course, there’s a lot of possible ways to interpret that. Is it a reimagination of the first game’s story, which, being on the NES, was not particularly complex or fleshed out? Or does it signify a return to the roots of the classic Zelda’s gameplay — difficult, open-ended and with minimal tutorials?

It’s worth noting that, as revealed at GDC, Nintendo created a 2D prototype to test out Breath of the Wild ideas. And wouldn’t you know, that prototype looks an awful lot like the original The Legend of Zelda.

Or, hey, maybe the secret message it’s just a winking nod to the past for any fans dedicated enough to do the translation work. Either way, it’s a cool surprise.

For more on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, check out our full review, or take a look at our growing collection of guides.