I don’t want to let anyone forget for a second that The Legend of Zelda franchise has reached its 25th anniversary. I’m too pumped for it, getting excited for Skyward Sword thanks to a new trailer and the Ocarina of Time remake for the 3DS hopefully appearing later this year. All this Zelda talk gets my brain going with memories of better times, making me remember some of my favorites from the series. I’d already gone into My Ten Favorite Zelda Items quite a long time ago, and just yesterday I spent some time with My Ten Favorite Zelda Enemies, but today I want to talk about the good guys of the games, or at the very least the guys that don’t outwardly plot your death. But before I get into today’s list, you should know that Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf are all absent from the list since, well, Link would have easily topped it, and that’s not fair. With those three omissions gone, here are My Ten Favorite Zelda Characters.
10. Postman (Twilight Princess):
Ocarina of Time introduces us to the Marathon Man, a strange character with no real purpose to the game other than to race you from one spot in the map to the other in an impossible challenge. You cannot beat him to the goal no matter how hard you try, but he didn’t have much to him. Majora’s Mask comes along and shows the parallel universe version of Marathon Man with the Postman, rushing around delivering letters to Clocktown residents. But the Postman I most enjoyed appeared in Twilight Princess as a surprisingly comical character; in stark contrast to the overall serious tone every other character had taken in the game. He’d hum the “Item Get” tune when handing you letters, he could recognize you even when you were a wolf, and he could get to places he shouldn’t be capable of getting to, such as the bottom of the Hero’s Cave. How did he get there? I have no idea, but there’s more to this guy than just what we see in the game.
9. Tott (The Wind Waker):
Sometimes all it takes for me to never forget a character is an instant WTF moment when first seeing them. When you initially arrive on Windfall Island, you’re greeted by a number of strange sights and characters, but none stranger than Tott, a guy dressed in what looks like a disco outfit dancing to his own beat completely disconnected from the rest of the town. His only purpose in the game is to teach you the Song of Passing, a song that lets you jump directly to nighttime or daytime, but every time I came to Windfall I had to spend a few moments just watching him dance, hypnotized by the utter perplexing inclusion of something so strange in a game with enough strangeness to fill the strange quota for a while.
8. Kaepora Gaebora (Ocarina of Time):
A common belief is that the owl from Link’s Awakening is the same owl from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. I even believed such a thing until I put in a little time to think that through, remembering that Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask are in parallel worlds, making every inhabitant different than someone else, and Link’s Awakening is only a dream fabrication, so none of those characters are actually real (or are they?), meaning each owl is a different character entirely. All that just to have me get around to saying that Kaepora Gaebora is one of my favorite characters from the Zelda series. He’s frustrating in Ocarina of Time for having long monologues of relatively dull text, but he’s a huge owl that seems to always know what I’m doing and when I’m doing it. There’s something more to him than we ever learn, but one of my favorite theories implies that Kaepora Gaebora is either Rauru or a previous Sage of Light. Even if that isn’t explicitly true, it adds a whole new level to the experience that I really enjoy. Kaepora Gaebora, you may talk too much, but you’re still cool in my book.
7. Din (Oracle of Seasons):
She’s the reincarnation of the Goddess of Power and she’s a dancer. What’s not to like here? Din, as she appears in Oracle of Seasons, is probably one of the sexist characters the Zelda series has churned out, and you only really see her as an 8-bit representation of the image I have up for a reference point. While she gets kidnapped pretty early in the game, she’s still immensely powerful, having full control over the seasons just by dancing. If she really is the reincarnation of the goddess Din, which is debatable (I like to think so), then she’s responsible in at least some way for Din’s Fire, the crazy inferno attack in Ocarina of Time. Oh, and forging the land of Hyrule, I guess. That’s cool I suppose, but get back to the dancing!
6. Darunia (Ocarina of Time):
The Gorons were a fantastic addition to the Zelda universe when Ocarina of Time introduced them, but above all their leader, Darunia, stood out as a tough badass among badasses. The Goron people eat rocks and cultivate flowers that explode. They essentially live in a volcano and forge giant swords. When you initially encounter Darunia, he’s reluctant to let you help him as you’re just a stupid kid, but play Saria’s Song and he changes his tune, even going so far as busting out with some wicked sick dance moves. He could tear you in half if he wanted to, but he started dancing instead. Then, when you meet him again as an adult, he’s one of only two Gorons not to be captured by Volvagia in the Fire Temple. However, instead of just waiting for anyone to save his people, he heads right in to the boss’ lair to fight him head-on, even without the Megaton Hammer and knowing full well that Volvagia has been known to eat Gorons. That takes some stones.
5. Happy Mask Salesman (Majora’s Mask):
If the Zelda series does one thing better than any other series, it’s to present a relatively normal person or thing and tweak them just enough with some uncanny features that turns them into something creepy and likely to manifest as a nightmare at some point in time. The Happy Mask Salesman is a great example of this as he’s just a simple guy with a simple haircut and a perma-smile on his face and a backpack full of masks of all sorts. Until he’s thrown into a fit of rage. Then his eyes pop open and his animations jump-cut between themselves as he screams at you, shaking you violently to emphasize his point. Something I found really interesting is that the Happy Mask Salesman may be a caricature of Shigeru Miyamoto due to their similar haircuts and Miyamoto’s penchant for throwing epic fits when he’s unhappy. Also, the Moon Children have the same haircut, too, implying they may be connected to the Happy Mask Salesman in ways the game never outwardly explains. So much mystery! I love it!
4. Marin (Link’s Awakening):
Link’s Awakening was where I began the Zelda series as a kid, meaning I had yet to meet Ganon or Zelda, and I hardly knew who this Link character was. But I knew he was shipwrecked and that some wonderful girl named Marin had come to his rescue. She would create some intensely memorable moments for me as a kid, such as how she’d call me “Thief” if I stole from the shop in town, or when I convinced her to join me on a trip to Animal Village, causing Link to lift her over his head. Marin was my very first Girl Next Door. And she was all a dream. How very sad indeed. Or was it?
3. Salvatore (The Wind Waker):
All it really takes for me to love a character is a single moment that causes me to have an outburst of laughter so much so that I can’t wait to pass on the experience to someone else. While playing The Wind Waker, you can head into a little shop and find a man at a counter who offers to let you play a game of “Not-Battleship.” This man is Salvatore, an apathetic clerk that seems to hate his job, yet performs with such gusto that you can’t help but want to play his game again and again. You see, he sets the stage by holding up little paintings with the faces cut out over his own so that he can portray different people, such as a captain of a ship or children cheering you on. It all makes for one hysterical few moments that I can’t wait to get to every time I replay The Wind Waker.
2. Midna (Twilight Princess):
There’s a good chance people would have decapitated me if Midna didn’t show up, especially near the front of the list, but who doesn’t really love Midna? She’s like Navi if Navi wasn’t an annoying little fairy. Midna has tons of special powers, a lot of sass to hold her own in any instance, and of course when you see her real body you see that sometimes it’s good to be the Hero of Legend every now and then. Midna’s so popular that there’s a group called Want Midna Back (WMB) that’s dedicated to bringing her into another Zelda game. Eiji Aonuma has even said that they have no definite plans to have her in another game, but that if the cries are loud enough they’ll have no choice but to include her again since, really, Aonuma is just as much of a Zelda fan as anyone else that enjoys the series.
Midna’s pretty cool, but she didn’t make the top of my list. How can that be? Who could I possibly place higher than Midna of all awesome characters?
1. Tingle (Majora’s Mask):
Oh this is why I love having a list of my favorites. It’s so easy to troll Zelda fans like crazy, but I really do mean what I say here. Tingle, as hated as he is in the US, is probably my most favorite character from all the games, specifically the Majora’s Mask version. Tingle’s become somewhat of a joke to the series, like Slippy on crack or something, but originally Tingle was almost a pitiable figure of the world, a tragic example of the most devastating effects that broken dreams can have on a single person. In Majora’s Mask, Tingle is a character that floats around the world on a large red balloon making maps that he then sells to Link to help him around each area. When you shoot him down, you can get a much better look at him, letting you see that he’s dressed very similarly to Link with the forest green, though he looks a lot older. That’s because he’s actually 35-years-old and dreams of someday becoming a fairy, a wish that’s simply never going to come true. He seems innocent enough, but if you put in a little effort you learn that his father is the Swamp Tourist Center Guide and that the two aren’t exactly on good terms. Tingle never really started off as a joke by any means, but that first appearance always left me wondering so much about that one Tingle, even if future Tingles seemed to show up in Zelda games just for the lulz.
And there you go, another list concluded with a bang. But that’s enough out of me. Which Zelda characters are you favorites? Which ones can pull you back to an older Zelda game long after you’ve finished it, just so you can encounter them again? Leave a comment and let me know. In the meantime, I’ve got maps to make and sell. Kooloo Limpah!
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