Before we get started, there’s something I’d like to comment on. Recently, a book detailing the chronology of the Zelda universe was released. IGN has an article up discussing the timeline as we speak, so feel free to go check it out. So why am I still doing doing this? Well, for a few reasons. 1) The book is only in Japanese, meaning until it is released in English (IF it is released in English), the only way to get the details is if you can read kanji…which I cannot, sadly. 2) While this may be the final word on Zelda’s chronology (at least until a new game is released), there are still points of it worth a point/counterpoint look, just to present all facts and arguments, which I will be doing at some point. And 3) I’m already in this deep, might as well just ride it out. With that said, let’s ride the winds into The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
Released on the Nintendo Gamecube in 2003 (2002 in Japan), Wind Waker would take on a brand new cartoonish look as opposed to the darker look of Majora’s Mask. This was met with a fair bit of criticism from many of the fans, which at the time included myself, though I and many others have come to appreciate the beautiful and spectacular locations found throughout this game. Also, some of the animations are just a lot more polished, and Link’s emoting looks a lot better, which more than makes up for his lack of vocabulary, though I should note that this Link actually does talk more than any other Link seen thus far…save for one.
…Anyway, all that said I still personally prefer the darker look, and wish that the amount of polish given to Wind Waker had been given to the games before it. But hey, we’re not here to talk about the look of the game, are we? Let’s dig into the story, because believe me, while the artwork may be bright and chipper, the story starts of kinda dark…
This game takes place hundreds of years after Ocarina of Time, but NOT Majora’s Mask. As I said before, a theory broke out that after Ocarina of Time’s events the timeline split into two, which was later confirmed by Wind Waker’s director Eiji Aonuma. In this case, Majora’s Mask occurs in the past of Ocarina of Time after Link is sent back to relive his childhood, and Wind Waker occurs hundreds of years after the older Link had defeated Ganondorf and helped to seal him away in the Sacred Realm.
Here’s the short version of what happened: A while after Link defeated Ganondorf, he managed to free himself and pretty much picked up from where he left off, covering Hyrule in darkness. It seems that two Sages, the Sage of Wind and the Sage of Earth, were giving the Master Sword the power to destroy evil, so he quickly went about the job of killing both of them. The people hoped that the Hero of Time would come to save them, but that was impossible. Remember, since Zelda sent Link back into the past to relive his childhood, he no longer exists in this timeline. So the people of Hyrule were just left to pray to the Goddesses to save them. At this point in the game, we aren’t told what happened to Ganondorf or to Hyrule yet, but we discover the truth later on.
The main story picks up on Outset Island with this game’s version of Link (referred to in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as ‘Toon Link’) celebrating his birthday and being given a green tunic similar to that of the Hero of Time, indicating that he has become a man…and no, I’m not doing THAT joke, or Linkara would kill me. Anyway, he and his sister, Aryll, spy a giant bird kidnapping a female pirate and then dropping her in the woods. Link goes to save her, but when he returns, the bird returns and takes Aryll, mistaking her for the pirate, Tetra. After some convincing, Tetra lets Link onboard her ship to go save Aryll. A botched attempt to save Aryll from the Forsaken Fortress leads Link to meeting a dark man inside and being tossed into the ocean, left for dead. However, he’s found by a talking boat called the King of Red Lions (no, you’re not on drugs) who reveals the man to be none other than Ganondorf, and sets Link on a mission to find the one weapon that can defeat him, granting him a mystical…er, conductor’s baton called the Wind Waker that can play songs to alter the wind and other cool stuff. So, in typical Legend of Zelda fashion, you go through the dungeons found on the islands scattered across the ocean in search of treasures that when gathered up will reveal the way to the weapon you need.
After completing another dungeon, you find yourself taken under the ocean to a castle frozen in time. Inside is a room where the Master Sword is being kept. Drawing it unfreezes time, allowing the monsters that are roaming it to move again. REMEMBER THIS POINT. So you go back to the Forsaken Fortress, beat up all the monsters on the way up, save your sister, meet up with Tetra and the pirates who don’t do anything-
…Okay, more like the pirates who hardly ever do anything, and then whoop the giant bird from before. You then make your way to face Ganondorf, but whoops, it seems you can’t take him down. Why not, you ask? Well, remember how I said the monsters in the castle that were frozen in time became unfrozen when you pulled the Master Sword? Well, turns out the last seal on Ganondorf’s power was brought down when you pulled the sword from the stone. Also, remember how I mentioned that Ganondorf killed the Sages that were powering the Master Sword? Well, the dead didn’t figure out how to raise themselves in the last five minutes, so guess what? So yeah, Ganondorf beats you up, but Tetra gets involved revealing she has a necklace with a golden charm on it. The two of you manage to escape and return to the castle below the ocean where you meet a regal looking man who was pulling the strings behind the King of Red Lions all along: King Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule.
Yep, you probably figured it out already, but this is Hyrule. Apparently since the Hero of Time no longer existed in this timeline, there was no force on Hyrule that could best Ganon and thus the Goddesses had no other choice but to flood and seal Hyrule away, taking Ganon with it. Of course, the people were led to the highest mountaintops of Hyrule where they would be safe, the mountaintops now forming the islands you’ve seen thus far. Oh, and Tetra is Princess Zelda, the golden charm on her necklace being the Triforce of Wisdom… … …Wait, WHAT?!
Before you ask, no, she is NOT a reincarnation of the Zelda from Ocarina of Time, so apparently what this series is trying to tell us is that there are no girls in the Royal Family that don’t have the name Zelda. That MUST be confusing at family reunions. Anyway, the King sends you to find those descended from the two Sages and awaken them as the new Sages so that the Master Sword can be recharged. At the same time, apparently when the Hero of Time left for the past, the Triforce of Courage in this timeline was split apart and is now scattered across the sea. So you go through more dungeons and solve more sidequests to recharge the Master Sword and put the pieces of the Triforce of Courage back together. However, upon returning to Hyrule Castle, you find that Ganondorf has kidnapped Zelda and taken her to his tower in Hyrule, so naturally you travel there and make your way through the massive scores of monsters and solve the various puzzles to reach Ganondorf.
It’s at this point that Ganondorf sheds some light on his backstory. Apparently living in the Gerudo Desert kinda sucks, since the environment there can be pretty harsh, and supposedly fatalities resulting from said environment were pretty high. This apparently helped to instil a desire to take over Hyrule, as the environment there was vastly superior to that of the Gerudo Desert. What I like about this is that it helps us to understand this villain we’ve known for many years without making him someone we feel bad for defeating. Yeah, we sympathise with what he lived with, but he’s CLEARLY taken things too far, as he is directly responsible for the deaths of countless lives and the suffering of countless more. We feel bad for his life, but it doesn’t justify what he’s done with said life, and it makes him all the more wondrous a villain.
Anyway, after a battle with the monstrous Puppet Ganon (don’t laugh or he’ll kill you EASILY), you make your way to the roof where Ganondorf has taken the Triforce of Wisdom from Zelda. He then manages to obtain the Triforce of Courage after a brief fight with Link, thus re-assembling the Triforce and is prepared to make his wish: To expose Hyrule to the sun once more with himself as his ruler. However, it seems he forgot one important rule: He gathered the Triforce, but it is he who TOUCHES it that shall have their wish granted, and through no other possible explanation other than plot convenience, the King managed to make his way to the top of the tower unseen and make contact with the Triforce first.
Obvious issues with the plot aside, the King makes a wish on the Triforce: To seal away Hyrule for good, taking Ganondorf and himself with it, thus allowing the people above to eventually form their own land and create their own future. I would bring up why he doesn’t just wish Ganondorf sealed away again, but we’ve seen how effective seals on Ganon have been in the past. Anyway, Link and Zelda get back to their feet and a fight breaks out. In order to gain the upper hand on Ganondorf, they formulate a strategy where Link will keep Ganondorf occupied while Zelda shoots him with Light Arrows. Failing that, she instead aims Light Arrows at Link, who bounces them at Ganondorf with his Mirror Shield. After a while, Ganondorf is stunned enough to the point that Link jumps up and actually drives the Master Sword through his skull!
Ganondorf is turned to stone, essentially becoming the new pedestal for the Master Sword I guess, as Hyrule is re-flooded and Link and Zelda (now reverting back to Tetra) are sent back to the world above, the King opting to remain behind with Hyrule…I’m still confused as to whether or not he’s supposed to be a ghost or something, but whatever. The game ends with Aryll and the pirates who don’t-…Err, who hardly ever do anything, finding Link and Tetra, and they finally return Aryll home and decide to leave the islands in search for new lands.
So, does this game cause issues with the timeline? Well, nothing major, although that could depend on perspective. There are apparently people that have disliked and downright refused to acknowledge the existence of the split timeline, but I actually kinda like it, since it gives a lot in the way of whole new and unique stories to tell. Other than that, there’s really only a couple of issues I have, but I’ve already discussed them. This game had two sequels on the Nintendo DS, but I’ll get to them at another time. Next time, we look at my personal favourite of the 3D Zelda games thus far, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.