The Legend of Zelda
- Developer: Nintendo, Capcom, Vanpool, Grezzo
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Genre: Action, Adventure
- Release Date: February 1986 – March 2017
The Legend of Zelda Preview (No Spoilers)
When games were just starting to become a thing, a curious title with great storytelling, adventure and puzzles came to consoles. The story revolves around Link, a normal guy (for the standards of his world) on a mission to rescue Princess Zelda and the land of Hyrule from the evil Ganon. What is a constant in each game, is the journey Link goes through to become a hero, the many obstacles in his way and some of the enemies and allies he meets. Created by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka, and counting with excellent music composed mostly by Koji Kondo, the many incarnations of Link’s adventures have consolidated The Legend of Zelda as one of the greatest video game franchises of all times. Part of that success is due undoubtedly to the game’s protagonist. In this article, we will talk a little about why. Proceed ahead with caution, as we have some spoilers!
Voice Actor: (Child) Fujiko Takimoto, Sachi Matsumoto, Yuuki Kodaira, Mitsuki Saiga; (Adult) Hikaru Midorikawa, Nobuyuki Hiyama, Akira Sasanuma, Takashi Ohara, Yuki Kaji, Kengo Takanashi.
Link was born three decades ago, otakus. To talk about such a character with several versions is a challenge, so let’s start with some basics about his creation. Link was intended to be the avatar of the game player. Thus, although inspired by Peter Pan and other adventure characters famous in Miyamoto’s childhood years, he rarely speaks neither shows extreme emotions in his face. As the Triforce (the source of power in the games’ world) was originally conceptualized as chips, Link got his name from being the one who would reunite its pieces together.
Link’s family is mostly not shown, although we have met his mother in Ocarina of Time. We also know he has an uncle (A Link to The Past), a sister called Aryll and a grandmother (The Wind Waker), a grandfather (The Minish Cap), and an ancestor (previous incarnation?) called the Hero’s Shade (Twilight Princess). There is mention of Link’s father in the latest game as well, Breath of The Wild. However, Link usually spends his time with close friends and allies. Anyway, despite being frequently silent, our hero is far from being a blank sheet of paper. Some of his traits are...
1. Link has the soul of a child
Especially in titles like The Wind Waker, The Minish Cap, The Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks, A Link Between Worlds and Triforce Heroes, we see the action through the eyes of a young hero. Mostly inexperienced at this age, Link has to start from scratch in several games, even wondering about his own past. However, even when the game is a follow up of another (like The Phantom Hourglass or Spirit Tracks), we notice that these titles highlight an adventure hungry and curious Link. It makes sense, because he will only be able to find the clues he is looking for if he thoroughly explores the world.
Link also has a playful and mischievous side. Who can forget how he interacts with the Kokiri in the forest of Ocarina of Time? Or how Link plays music in Majora’s Mask and becomes a cute Deku like creature? He has long discussions with his fairy companion as well. And who can forget Link’s enjoyment of the sea in The Wind Waker or his joyful train rides in Spirit tracks? Let’s not forget that the Triforce should be used by those who deserve its power. Who deserves the power more than a hero with the soul of a child?
2. Link has the courage of an adult
Talking about the Triforce, it is considered that the part that corresponds to Courage represents Link. Several games have his hand marked with the symbol of the Triforce too, which could be considered some sort of prophecy. We can see through Link’s adventures that, despite the long way ahead, he is always game for challenges (sorry for that pun :p). To take on enemies larger and more powerful than him is exhausting, so we must be careful to not spend all of Link’s life energy at once.
Heck, Link even travels through time and other worlds in complicated schemes to defeat his enemies and save the day! So far, the only time Link has fully transformed into an animal, he turned into a wolf (Twilight Princess). Cunning, sharp and hurled, there could be no better animal to represent witty and instinctive courage. Do we need more proof of his worth?
3. Link’s loyalty
There is another underlying characteristic of Link that makes him likeable. His braveness would not serve but himself if he was not loyal to his friends. One important aspect in the games of The Legend of Zelda is that, although our hero has a main task, he spends time helping others or defending them from evil creatures. That loyalty is reciprocated also. For example, we can mention when Link rescues Epona in Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. Sweet Epona recognizes him in Twilight Princess when he is transformed into a wolf. We can also remember Crimson Loftwing from Skyward Sword. Link and Loftwing have a long friendship and know how to work together, thus, they are able to win the Wing Race.
However, in no other relationship we find more proof of Link’s loyalty than with Zelda. It doesn’t matter if they are childhood friends (like in Skyward Sword) or if they met recently (like in Twilight Princess). When it is time to rescue Zelda or Hyrule (which happens too often), Link always answers the call. Although Zelda is more active as character in a few games (like Wind Waker and Breath of the Wild), the couple manage to work effectively as a team to defeat their enemies when it is required. For example, in Spirit Tracks, Link is one of the few capable of seeing the spirit of Princess Zelda when she is separated from her body, showing a strong bond between the two. So, who will keep our hero away from the Princess? Apparently no one, as Link is truly loyal!
4. Link is a legendary Hero
Regular heroes have one lifetime for their achievements. The name of Link, however, is tied to several epic tales. In The Legend of Zelda, A Link Between Worlds and Breath of the Wild, Link is known as “Hero of Hyrule”. In A Link to the Past, he is the “Legendary Hero”, while in Link's Awakening, he is called simply “The Hero”. In Ocarina of Time, Link is the “Hero of Time”. In Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons, he is the “Hero of the Essences of Time and Nature”. In The Wind Waker, we know Link as the “Hero of Winds”, in Twilight Princess as “Hero Chosen by the Gods”, in Phantom Hourglass as “Hero Chosen by the Ocean” and in Skyward Sword as “The Goddess's Chosen Hero” and “Hero of Legend”.
Ok, that was a tiring list, but we must remember that Link earns a new title in each adventure for a reason. He talks with gods and sages, saves kings and queens, defeats small and big evil doers. Link collects powerful artifacts and learns to use them, solves quizzes and still has time to be kind to others. And above all, Link is pursued by the curse of the first great evil he defeated in Skyward Sword: Demise. Which takes us to our last point...
5. Link always comes back
We don´t only say this because Nintendo loves a profitable franchise (je, je). Link is a companion of Princess Zelda who originally was the incarnation of Goddess Hylia. He also is the foe of Demise and his reincarnations (usually Ganon or Ganondorf). Thus, Link has a duty to serve every time there is a danger to Hyrule. His destiny is irremediably linked to these two characters and to the Triforce, so… Link always comes back!
Link also possess a very useful quality to accomplish his tasks: resilience! How many times has Zelda been killed in the games? How many times Hyrule has been destroyed and/or populated by monsters? How many times another loved one has been kidnapped, killed or injured during Link’s quest? And still, he persists. Even when he himself has been in danger or discredited, Link finally manages to save the day.
We find unsurprising that Link is one of those game characters that come quickly to mind, even to no hardcore gamers. In the eighties, he was voted as one of the most popular Nintendo characters, while he was considered best hero several times during the nineties and 2000’s. Link is one of those perfect avatars that have enough characteristics to be likeable! But do tell us, which is your favorite version of Link in The Legend of Zelda games? Don’t forget that we are open to all your comments and suggestions. See you soon!