During the recent gameplay demo for Tears of the Kingdom, Eiji Aonuma made a point to mention the trees with yellow leaves on the sky islands. Today I want to have a closer look at these trees with yellow leaves, why they are on the sky islands, why you can’t find them on the ground, plus look into where they came from. Did they come from another realm? Let’s find out.
Before we get into it today let me know in the comments what you think about these trees with Yellow leaves, and do you think they hold any significance to the story in the Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom?
It was a small detail in the gameplay demo presentation recently, one that could have easily been missed or overlooked. Eiji Aonuma was demonstrating Link’s new abilities, then he stopped to look at the trees and said “You won’t see many of those yellow trees on the surface”. Given he stopped and pointed this out, then there is most likely some significance to the trees on the sky islands. There were lots of trees on the sky islands, and they were big trees which would take many years to grow. Most, if not all of the trees down on the ground have green leaves, like normal trees, so the most likely scenario is the trees don’t come from Hyrule, they come from another realm all together.
The Legend of Zelda series has a history with other worlds, and other realms, and Tears of the Kingdom could be hiding something very significant to the story and also the gameplay in the upcoming adventure. Given Tears of the Kingdom is a sequel to Breath of the Wild, the Zelda team could look the past for inspiration and ways to expand Hyrule. We’ve been to the Twilight Realm in Twilight Princess, and Ganon’s Dark World in A Link To The Past.
In Breath of the Wild we explored this vast new open-world Hyrule, from the mountains to the deserts and the rivers. Majora’s Mask took Link to Termina, a world parallel to Hyrule. Link’s Awakening takes place on Koholint Island, a dream world in another reality. There are similarities between Tears of the Kingdom and past Legend of Zelda games from a design point of view, therefore it’s reasonable to assume that Nintendo may lean into parallel worlds once again. The reason I mention parallel worlds, is because this is where the trees with the yellow leaves may have come from. One possible source for the trees could be The Sacred Realm itself, often described as The Golden Land.
The Scared Realm was the spiritual home of the Triforce for much of Hyrule’s history. It’s first seen the A Link To The Past, referenced as the Golden Land of the Triforce. It was corrupted into the Dark World by Ganon. This concept was then later expanded upon in Ocarina of Time, which describes the Scared Realm as being created by three Golden Goddesses shortly after the creation of Hyrule itself and acts as the resting place of the Triforce. Ganondorf tries to enter the Sacred Realm to steal the Triforce. Ganondorf touches the Triforce, it shatters and he transforms into the Demon King. The Scared Realm then makes another appearance in Twilight Princess, which tells the story of how the ancestors of the Twili, The Dark Interlopers, attempted to break into the Scared Realm and claim the Triforce for themselves, which sparked a massive civil war, resulting in thousands of deaths. The Dark Interlopers were then banished to the Twilight Realm.
The Twlight Realm is another interesting point, another parallel world to Hyrule. While we’ve seen similarities between Skyward Sword and Tears of the Kingdom, there’s also plenty of similarities to Twilight Princess too. Dragon and Snake designs can be seen in the trailer, as well as the main logo for the game, and they look similar to the snake ornaments found in the throne room in the Palace of Twilight. Dragon and snake carvings are also notable in the Zonai Ruins in Breath of the Wild, which could provide a link between the Zonai and the Twili.
It’s said the Zonai vanished from Hyrule in the past, but we don’t really have many details as to who they were or where they went. One theory is the Zonai are from the same interlopers who attempted to break into the Sacred Realm and steal the Triforce, causing them to be banished to the Twilight Realm. If the Zonai and the Twili are connected, then Tears of the Kingdom is the perfect game to uncover these mysteries.
Another possibility is we see the corrupted Scared Realm return as The Dark World. Malice looks to be flooding Hyrule, corrupting and destroying everything that gets in it’s way. It’s entirely possible malice could bleed through into another realm and corrupt the Sacred Realm too. Tears of the Kingdom has shown us a couple of different designs of our hero Link, this could be a simple outfit change, or it could be time travel. Access to the Sacred Realm in Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess led to time travel, therefore to defeat Ganondorf once and for all, perhaps we have to travel back to an ancient time, a time when the Zonai are still around.
The trees with yellow leaves could also just be a simple design choice to show you are in the sky, rather than on the ground. Often the simple solutions are the right ones. However, that’s a much less fun reason. I like to think that the trees and the Sky Islands are from the Sacred Realm, and Tears of the Kingdom is going to tell us the story of the Zonai and how they connect to the interlopers, once banished to the Twilight Realm.
Let me know what you think in the comments.