Seeing as how we’re celebrating The Legend of Zelda’s 25th anniversary this year, I’ve naturally had the series on my mind a lot. Skyward Sword is coming along rather nicely, and Ocarina of Time has just seen a remake for the 3DS (which I’ll play as soon as I can afford one of them newfangled systems). In thinking about all that is Zelda, I started remembering all the things that people tend to get wrong regarding Link and his many adventures. So why not set the record straight? Here are 5 Things About The Legend of Zelda Everyone Gets Wrong.
5. Link’s Name Is “Zelda”
It’s pretty simple, and it’s mostly a relic of the ages, but for those not aware, The Legend of Zelda is a video game about a boy named Link on his quest to find all the pieces of the Triforce of Courage in order to defeat the evil Ganon and save Zelda, the princess of Hyrule. So to recap, Zelda is the princess, Link is the hero. In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, we actually learn the indisputable legend of the princess Zelda, the original princess, as she sleeps in the northern castle of Hyrule. Every so often I hear someone complain about the title of the series, saying, “Why is it Zelda’s legend if Link does all the work?” Simple, why is Sleeping Beauty titled after someone who spends the majority of the story unconscious instead of the prince who slays a dragon? The Legend of Zelda was a story about finding Princess Zelda, but with the sequel it only made sense to continue with the title for brand recognition, similar to what the Final Fantasy series has done.
4. The Games Are Too Kiddie
Throughout the GameCube’s life, thanks to The Wind Waker, I had to explain to people that the Zelda series was not in fact made for children. Sure, The Wind Waker was bright and colorful and filled with what can only be described as “whimsy,” but it also had a very tight story to it filled with some pretty tragic themes. Oh, and the ending where Ganondorf gets a sword to the face, but we already knew that. In fact, the Zelda games have always had a fairly dark undercurrent to them. The second game’s plot tasked Link with waking Princess Zelda, but Ganon’s forces were trying to resurrect their dark lord by way of using Link’s blood. Furthermore, check out Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask for some incredibly macabre stuff, such as the Shadow Temple or really the entire plot of Majora’s Mask (expect a list of some of the most disturbing things from Zelda games in the following months). Zelda games aren’t made exclusively for kids by a longshot, but people mistake content enjoyed by the whole family for being exclusive to the youngest members. Gus knows this all too well with Avatar. But just think, Toy Story was made for kids, yet is enjoyed by everyone. The Zelda series is just like that.
3. The Games Are Too Dark
Though that’s not to say the series is supposed to be all about dark, brooding themes and horrific symbolism. Far from it really as Miyamoto create the first game to reflect his childhood memories of exploration and pretending to be on adventures, a trademark that’s persisted throughout the games with heavy emphasis on leaving the beaten path to go find secrets. Beyond that though, silly things happen all the time in the games, even as far back as the first game where things were “a secret to everyone.” Strange things are everywhere but become far more noticeable as the games mature a bit. Ocarina of Time wasn’t without goofy, lighthearted moments, like Talon being woken from sleep and rushing back to Lon Lon Ranch for fear of making his 11-year-old daughter mad, or King Zora’s paaaaaaaaaaaainfully long scooching, just to let you pass so that you could be eaten by a giant fish named Jabu-Jabu. Serious games, really dark, brooding, “grumble-grumble no one understands me but the darkness” type games do not have moments like that. Fans need to remember, for as much as we loved Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and Twilight Princess, the series is still supposed to be about lighthearted fun and playful adventuring. This is never more clear than with the next thing on the list…
2. Nintendo Has a Plan for Where They’re Going
With how elaborate Hyrule has gotten and how much history the land has acquired, it’s just sort of assumed that Nintendo or someone close to the series like Miyamoto or Eiji have some idea what the timeline really is, where it begins, and where it will ultimately lead to. Coming up with timeline theories is a blast and really turns into a pastime I can get behind. But the fact of the matter is, Nintendo, as a whole, and especially Miyamoto, have no set timelines in place or any idea what’s coming next for the series beyond “exploration and whimsy.” It’s best to think of a lot of the games as a retelling of the core story between Link, Zelda, and Ganon. Miyamoto himself has said on multiple occasions that Ocarina of Time was essentially a 3D remake of A Link to the Past. If it really bothers you that much, Eiji has been making a conscious effort to tie each of his games in closer to the overall stories, anchoring them in the timeline by referencing previous games (usually Ocarina of Time). Just enjoy the games for what they are, though that does compound into the last item on this list…
1. Every Game Is The Same
The assumption is that every game is just the same game as before. A Link to the Past was just The Legend of Zelda on the Super Nintendo, Ocarina of Time was just A Link to the Past in 3D, and every game since has been trying to recreate Ocarina of Time. And I don’t think anything gets a Zelda fan riled up quite as quickly as when someone just handwaves every new game as being the same game. Naturally, this happens every time Zero Punctuation mentions the Zelda franchise, and, being a regular viewer, I have no choice but to keep my mouth shut and let Yahtzee do his thing with the expressed knowledge that he never liked the Zelda series and never will.
Time to break things down game-by-game. The original Legend of Zelda had Link go out and save Zelda, pretty bare bones. Zelda II is entirely different from any other title in the franchise partly due to it becoming a side-scrolling action game. A Link to the Past is a somewhat reimagining of the first game, but with a fully fleshed-out story involving Link’s uncle passing the task of saving Zelda on to him and introducing the Dark World. Link’s Awakening has Link shipwrecked on an island with the goal of waking the Wind Fish. Ocarina of Time has time travel with Link as both a child and then an adult trying to stop Ganondorf from gaining the power of the Sacred Realm. Majora’s Mask sees Link, a child once more, head to a land similar to Hyrule that’s moon is falling in three days, a mechanic the game plays with constantly. The Wind Waker places Link further down the timeline when Hyrule is covered in water and includes a lot of sailing. The Minish Cap is all about shrinking and size differences. Twilight Princess involves a Twilight Realm and Link transforming into a wolf. Phantom Hourglass has Link out on the open sea again trying to rescue Tetra (Princess Zelda) from a pirate ghost. Spirit Tracks puts Link in a train in order to fight a demon train. Every game is similar in theme (Link must go save someone or locate something in order to progress), and typically has the main three characters of Link, Zelda, and Ganon, but are they all the same game? Not even close. That’s like saying every game Valve makes is the same because they typically involve physics puzzles and those are always the same. Each Zelda game is unique in presentation and style. Saying otherwise couldn’t be further from the truth.
So there you have it, just a few things that people get wrong about the Zelda series all-too-frequently. But enough from me, did you have a few Zelda-related things that you keep having to correct people on? Or do you just disagree with what I’ve written up there? Go ahead and leave a comment to let me know. Besides, if I don’t like what you wrote I’ll just place it in Timeline B where you never existed in the first place.
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