One of Link’s new powers in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is an homage to one of Nintendo’s oldest toys, the Ultra Hand. While the Ultrahand ability in Tears of the Kingdom will let Link pick up and move far away objects, Nintendo’s nearly 60-year-old Ultra Hand toy, well, did the exact same thing. It just doesn’t have the added function of building a functioning hovercraft, the way Tears of the Kingdom’s Ultrahand (combined with the Fuse) ability does.
The original Ultra Hand was developed by the late Gunpei Yokoi, the creator behind Nintendo’s Game & Watch, the inventor of the cross-shaped D-pad seen on Nintendo gamepads, and the original designer of the Game Boy. Yokoi created the Ultra Hand in 1966, at the behest of then-Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi after seeing Yokoi play with a similar device in one of the company’s factories. The low-cost plastic toy was a hit, selling more than a million units.
The blog Before Mario has a great write-up on the Ultra Hand, which was pitched as a toy for kids that let them grab things from far away — or hand something to someone across a table. Part prank tool, part skill toy, the novelty device was manufactured by Nintendo for at least seven years.
But Nintendo has never forgotten the Ultra Hand, and the device has made numerous appearances in video games throughout the years. Nintendo’s WarioWare series has featured multiple Ultra Hand-inspired microgames, and the device has made non-playable cameos in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Splatoon 3, and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D. Nintendo even released a dedicated Ultra Hand video game in 2010, Grill-Off with Ultra Hand! That game was a downloadable WiiWare title that was exclusive to Club Nintendo members; players used the Ultra Hand to grab pieces of meat cooking on a barbecue grill.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom may give players a similar experience this spring, when the forces of Hyrule’s Ultrahand and that mysterious meat arrow are combined.