The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s gigantic open world is home to hundreds of secrets and Easter eggs for players to discover during their journey to defeat Calamity Ganon. Many of these hidden gems are references to beloved characters from previous Legend of Zelda games, familiar locations lost to the sands of time, or fans of the series who’ve been immortalized by Nintendo following their passing. These beautiful visions scattered throughout Breath of the Wild include references to Robin Williams (who named his daughter Zelda), the ruins of Lon Lon Rach from Ocarina of Time, and what many believe is a tribute to Nintendo’s late president and CEO Satoru Iwata.
Iwata first joined Nintendo in 2000 following his work on Kirby at HAL Laboratory, where he took on the responsibilities of president two years later when Hiroshi Yamauchi resigned from the company. Under Iwata, Nintendo began to develop the Nintendo DS and Wii platforms, which helped catapult the company forward in the industry where it remains a serious competitor to this year.
Iwata, however, was more recognized for his focus on interacting with Nintendo’s community directly through social media, in person, and by sharing insights from within the company on his own interview series called Iwata Asks. Essentially, he acted as the public face of the company, which is why many fans always looked towards him when it came to their passionate dedication to Nintendo through the company’s best and worst. This open communication with Nintendo’s fans, along with his belief in developing games on novel and entertaining ideas, catapulted Iwata forward to quickly become one of the most respected people in video games.
“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.” — Satoru Iwata
When E3 2014 rolled around, Iwata wasn’t present at Nintendo’s conference due to medical issues. Later, the company revealed in a public message to shareholders that he underwent surgery to remove a tumor in his bile duct which was discovered in a routine exam. After four months of recovery, he was back at the helm doing what he did best. Unfortunately, complications arose over the next year, and Iwata passed away in July of 2015.
Before he passed away, Iwata was involved in overseeing the development of Breath of the Wild as he had in the past with The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and A Link Between Worlds. Due to his involvement with each passing project, it’s clear that the development team behind The Legend of Zelda was very close to him. In an interview with The New Yorker Breath of the Wild’s director Hidemaro Fujibayashi said, “When he passed away, there were moments we’d come up with an idea which we’d be excited to talk to Iwata about. Then we’d remember he was no longer here.”
In Breath of the Wild, you may have encountered an NPC roaming around the world who bears a striking resemblance to Satoru Iwata named Botrick, wearing a similar set of glasses with the same haircut as Nintendo’s former president. When you first speak with him, he’ll encourage you to go explore Satori Mountain where he says the Lord of the Mountain appears to call to the souls of the animals to gather. Interestingly enough, Satori is a Japanese Buddhist term for enlightenment — which is derived from the Japanese verb Satoru, a name given in Japan to boys by their parents.
After you’ve spoken with Botrick on the road, you’ll need to keep an eye on Satori Mountain while playing Breath of the Wild at night for an eerie, glowing green light coming from the mountain’s tallest point. When you see the peak glowing in the distance, head over to Satori Mountain and climb to the top. You’ll find a small grove with a pond and a large cherry blossom tree. While beautiful on their own, you’ll also notice a bunch of celestial life sitting around the pond, including the large, horse-looking creature Botrick referred to as the Lord of the Mountain.
While it’s true that you can soothe the Lord of the Mountain to gain an epic mount capable of reaching high speeds with ease (although you can’t register it permanently), there’s much more to the story if you take a second to photograph him using the Sheikah Slate’s camera. Doing so will add the Lord of the Mountain’s data to the Hyrule Compendium which reads:
“This noble creature watches over all animals that make their homes in the forest. Legends say this holy creature is a reincarnation of a sage that died on the lands it now protects. It has an acute awareness of its surroundings, so it seldom appears before people. It’s sometimes known by its other name, Satori.”
Even though Nintendo hasn’t confirmed any of these details, this compendium entry clearly links the Lord of the Mountain directly to the name of the peak itself and thus Satoru Iwata by extension, giving what many players believe is a clear analogy to the legacy Iwata left behind.
Iwata could easily be described as the lord of Nintendo’s mountain based on his actions within the company, watching over Nintendo’s creative team and employees while protecting them from any sort of harm. It may feel like a stretch, but it’s a layered one I firmly believe is a beautiful tribute to one of gaming’s most respected individuals.
Don’t miss the opportunity to see this for yourself while playing through Link’s latest adventure.