It’s no surprise that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a huge success. Releasing early last year to critical acclaim, the game went onto become one of Nintendo’s best selling games in the franchise. It also helped that it was a launch title for the Nintendo Switch, which boosted huge sale numbers for Nintendo’s newest system. It was a huge win for the company, something that they desperately needed after the flop of the Wii U. However, the game has passed yet another milestone.
As of last week, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has now sold more than 1.25 million units across both the Switch and Wii U versions. This makes it the best selling 3D Zelda game of all time in Japan, an already impressive distinction if not for one important factor. The game that it beat out for the best selling crown was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and not any of the remakes mind you, the original, Nintendo 64 release way back in 1998. Thats right, Ocarina of Time was the best selling 3D Zelda game in Japan for 20 years. That’s nothing short of astonishing.
To put this in perspective, Ocarina of Time held onto the crown with 1,257,205 units sold up to this point. Nintendo stopped production of the N64 in 2002, some time after the Gamecube launched. This means that Ocarina of Time had to fend off all of the other future releases to keep its number one spot in Japan, including popular titles such as Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword. All three sold very well in Japan, with Wind Waker being the closest at 837,391 units sold.
Breath of the Wild released on March 3, 2017 and would go onto break numerous sales records for Nintendo in multiple regions. The anticipation, hype, and attention that Nintendo had garnered for the title only helped it along its path of dominating the market for the remainder of the year. It would eventually go onto sell more than 9.32 million units for the Switch and 1.5 million for the Wii U worldwide, making it the best selling Zelda game of all time. In Japan, the sales numbers rose steadily, and just last week it crossed 1,258,611 units sold, barely beating out Ocarina of time.
In short, Ocarina of Time was the best selling Zelda game in Japan for 20 years despite new and upcoming titles in the series. It took Breath of the Wild just over a year and a half to outsell it, quite an amazing feat considering the competition that Ocarina of Time had during its run. Perhaps it was the willingness to finally go outside of the “safe zone” for Nintendo, opting for an open-world, non-linear approach instead of the Zelda standard that we are all used to, or maybe it was the fact that this was a make it or break it moment for the company. Either way, this is a huge triumph for Nintendo all around, and it also speaks volumes for how much people in Japan loved Ocarina of Time. The top selling Zelda game in Japan finally has a new king, the real question now is, who will challenge for its title?