Zelda Chronology: Part 5
Before we get started, I have a certain redemption I need to obtain. While looking back on my previous installation of the Zelda Chronology, I made something of an epic fail on my part. As somebody who loves to take the sillier moments in the Zelda games and parody the crap outta them, I failed to mention the crowning achievement in silly moments in the Zelda games: The barrel scene in Wind Waker, wherein the pirates actually load Link into a barrel and launch him at the Forsaken Fortress. So, as penance, here are the Top 5 Jokes/References I Could Have Made About The Barrel Scene In Wind Waker!
…Let us never speak of that again. Now, onto today’s Zelda game, and my own personal favourite in the series’ 3D games, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. It was first shown off at E3 2004, just one year after Wind Waker was released. A trailer was shown for it, resulting in a reaction from the crowd that is widely considered to be one of the all-time greatest moments in the franchise’s history.
You know, as awesome as Miyamoto is, he looks like the king of all geekdom in this. Seriously, he’s got a 1-Up Mushroom t-shirt on!…Okay, all cruel jokes at Nintendo’s lord and master aside, Zelda fans were ecstatic, but then we had to wait a LONG 10 months of complete silence from Nintendo before a new trailer was released in March of 2005 at the Game Developers Conference, during which I was utterly terrified as to whether or not Nintendo employees might just be being tortured for information somewhere. Over the next few months, it was revealed that the game would actually be released on both the Gamecube and the Wii, one directly after the other. A lot of people have talked back and forth about which was better and whether or not it was a good idea, but we’re not here to talk about that. What I will mention is that the Gamecube version (since that’s the one I own) has some of the all-time best graphics and sound of ANY game released for that system. The game was also given the first T-Rating in the franchise’s history, which is generally attributed to the violence, blood, horrific imagery, and partial nudity seen in this game, that of course we have NEVER seen in Zelda games.
Oh, and real quick warning: Due to my own love of this story and just how involved it is, this is gonna be a long one FULL of spoilers, so just warning you now. The story starts off with Link, who is a young adult in this game, who works as a ranch worker and wrangler, which is quite different from most versions of the hero. During a series of events that occur over the run of just a couple of days, several strange beasts begin to appear in the forest around Link’s home-town. During an attack, Link is knocked out. When he comes to, his horse Epona and his friend Ilia are missing. While following after the monsters responsible, he’s pulled through a wall of darkness into a bizarre-looking world. As the monsters return, the Triforce symbol glows on his hand and his form is changed into a wolf. He’s then captured and held prisoner in Hyrule Castle, but is then freed by a mischievous imp named Midna. Midna agrees to help Link out, but in return, he must be her “servant”. Dominatrix/bestiality jokes aside, we’re walking, we’re walking…
So Midna manages to help him get to a tower where a cloaked woman is held captive, who Midna refers to as the ‘Twilight Princess’. She tells how the kingdom has become covered in twilight by invading forces, and reveals herself to be…
Nah, I’m just kidding, it’s actually Princess Zelda. Go figure, huh? Anyway, she tells you how Hyrule was invaded by dark creatures from another realm, Shadow Beasts, and that when given the choice of life or death for her people, Zelda opted to surrender. As a result, the kingdom was shrouded in twilight and anyone caught in it would become wandering souls that would remain unaware of what had happened to them. The only way to fix what has happened is to revive the Light Spirits, who govern over the various provinces of Hyrule, who can then banish the twilight from each province and thus allow Link to become human again while in said provinces. Also, Midna tasks him with finding the Fused Shadow pieces, of which she already has one. And guess what? Yep, gotta search through a bunch of dungeons scattered throughout Hyrule to get them. At first, all that’s known about the Fused Shadow is that it contains a massive amount of power inside of it. That is, until you awaken the Light Spirit Lanayru who tells you the story of the Fused Shadow in what is easily the single most fucked up scene in the entire series EVER.
…I warned you. Anyway, along the way Link takes the time out to help the various peoples of Hyrule, like the Gorons, the Zoras, and the townsfolk of Kakariko Village (which also includes an amnesiac Ilia, as well as some children from Link’s hometown) and being reunited with his horse. He also has encounters with a stranger that appears first as a golden wolf, but then teleports him to a different plane where he takes on the form of a skeleton in knight’s armour. This knight is actually, believe it or not, the Link from Ocarina of Time, who never got the chance to pass on the skills he learned and thus laments that, and so he teaches his skills to this Link.
So you find all of the Fused Shadow fragments and it seems that Link and Midna are on the path to setting everything right again when they’re confronted by the leader of the Shadow Beasts, Zant. Zant is kinda over-the-top freaky, but if you’ve followed my YouTube account, you’d know he’s not quite THE freakiest antagonist in the Zelda games. Zant manages to pwn Link and Lanayru with relative ease before taking the three pieces of the Fused Shadow you collected for himself and then cursing Link, forcing him into his wolf form even when he’s in the light. Zant asks Midna to join him, as she is of the same Twilight Realm as he, but she refuses, so he forcibly exposes Lanayru’s light upon her, nearly killing her.
Lanayru teleports Midna and Link near Hyrule Castle, telling Link to see Princess Zelda. Upon reaching Zelda, she reveals more about the situation: Link was first transformed into a wolf to protect him from becoming a wandering soul, or worse, a Shadow Beast. This was done by the gift of the Goddesses he bares within himself, the Triforce of Courage. However, this curse that Zant has placed on him has locked him into this form. The only way to break this curse is to obtain the Master Sword, which has been confirmed to drive away evil. Midna makes the last request that Zelda tell Link where he can find something called the Mirror of Twilight, but instead, Zelda decides to transfer her own gift, the Triforce of Wisdom, to Midna to save her life, though Zelda vanishes as a result. The duo make their way to Sacred Grove, during which Zant places a forcefield around Hyrule Castle, thus keeping them out for now. Arriving in Sacred Grove, Link must undergo a series of trials that includes moving gigantic statues and dealing with…SKULL KID??? Seriously??? Well anyway, you make it through the Sacred Grove and obtain the Master Sword which undoes the curse by removing a dark stone that had been embedded into your skull. Midna decides to keep it so that you can transform at will no matter where you are, and asks that you help her to find the last link to Zant: The Mirror of Twilight. You learn that it was originally somewhere in the Gerudo Desert, but that whole region is unreachable. To get there, you have to be shot there in a cannon that actually is pretty funny, rivalling the barrel scene from Wind Waker. Once there, Midna decides to spill the beans on what she really is, one of the Twili. The Twili are actually the interlopers from Lanayru’s story, having been banished to the Twilight Realm. Eventually though, they found peace for themselves, until Zant took over and turned the Twili into his Shadow Beasts through an evil power unknown by her tribe beforehand. The Mirror of Twilight is the last means of entering the Twilight Realm.
You make your way through the Arbiter’s Grounds (which is ANOTHER dungeon) and defeat a gigantic skeleton monstrosity revived by Zant to uncover the Mirror Chamber…except that the mirror itself has been broken, with only a single piece left. It’s at this point that you are met by the Sages…No, not Rauru and the others, though apparently they are known individually as the Sage of Forest, the Sage of Water, etc. They explain that Zant broke the mirror using the dark powers that he obtained by his ‘God’, though the true identity of this false God is actually revealed to be Ganondorf. It seems that after the child Link blew the whistle on him to the Royal Family, Ganondorf was arrested and sentenced to death. His execution was held at the Mirror Chamber by the Sages, who drove a sword of light through his chest, killing him…or so it should have been, except that through unexplained reasons described only as a ‘divine prank’ he had received the Triforce of Power, and thus broke free of his restraints and pulled the sword from his chest. He went on to kill the Sage of Water, but before he could do so to the remaining Sages, they used the only means of stopping him that was available and banished him to the Twilight Realm with the Mirror of Twilight. However, this has now led to the situation at hand.
Fortunately, as Zant was not the TRUE leader of the Twili, he could not destroy the mirror, merely fracture it and send said pieces to three different locations around Hy-Y’know what, if you don’t know where this is going, promptly remove your own shoe and beat yourself in the head with it! That’s right, it’s dungeon crawling time again, this time in search of the mirror fragments. You gather them back up and take them to the chamber where they are recombined and open the only path to the Twilight Realm. Midna laments what’s become of her world, and the Sages apologize for everything, as at last her true identity is revealed: The REAL Twilight Princess. Zant transformed her into the imp that she currently appears as, and with no other way to save her world, she sought to use Link to obtain the Fused Shadow for her, never once caring for the Realm of Light. However, having seen Link and Zelda’s courage, wisdom, and sacrifice, she’s had a change of heart and wants to save both worlds. Moreso, she wants to defeat Zant so that she can regain her original form and somehow work to revive Zelda.
Traversing through the Palace of Twilight (yep, another dungeon), Link manages to further empower the Master Sword with the Sols, powerful spheres of light that grant life to the Twilight Realm. With this light-infused Master Sword, Link goes to confront Zant one last time, who let’s them in on his backstory, that he once served the Royal Family of the Twilight Realm in the hopes that he would be next to ascend the throne, only to be passed over in favour of Midna. It’s during this explanation that his ruthless, bold, and domineering nature is revealed to have been a smokescreen for his real nature: That of a whiny brat that was told he couldn’t have what he wanted and threw a temper tantrum. Ganon, posing as a God, gave him some of his power, and with it, Zant went about taking over the world he believed to have been rightfully his.
The ensuing battle is…actually, kinda clever. Zant warps you to the locations of many of the previous boss and mini-boss battles, replicating their strategies and attacks while adding his own uniqueness to each, thus making this battle both nostalgic and brand new at the same time. But inevitably you kick his ass. Unfortunately, it seems that Ganon has already been reborn in Hyrule, and as long as he lives, Midna can never revert back to her old self. Having reclaimed the Fused Shadow pieces, she takes it about as well as you can expect, and kills Zant with a mere fraction of the Fused Shadow’s power, which actually manages to frighten even her a bit. With Ganon having taken over Hyrule Castle and Zelda’s body apparently being there, there’s no other path but to break through the force field and get to Hyrule Castle. Luckily, Midna’s got this one covered.
…YIKES…Anyway, you make your way through Hyrule Castle, which is actually the final dungeon of the game, until you reach the top to discover Ganondorf waiting for you, sitting in the throne like he owns the place while proclaiming himself to be the King of Light and Darkness. Actually, much as I talk about how I like this game more than Ocarina of Time, I will say upon reaching this room, I wished he had been playing his theme on an organ like in that game. Anyway, he reveals that he was just using Zant as a means to revive, and that he also has the body of Princess Zelda captive. Using her as his puppet, you engage in what is really just a rehash of the same tennis-style boss battle you’ve had in a ton of Zelda games prior to this. Still, I’ll give the creators of this game credit for making Zelda of all people a boss. Anyway, you beat her/him, and Midna uses the Fused Shadow to force Ganondorf out. However, Ganondorf isn’t defeated yet and transforms into Ganon, who in this game is a gigantic quadrupedal boar-like creature, which I believe is supposed to act as an evil counterpart to Link’s wolf form.
After defeating Ganon, the Triforce of Wisdom returns to Zelda, as does her heart and soul which apparently also went to Midna. Thus Zelda is restored at last, and all seems well again…until Ganondorf returns again as a floating head in fire and darkness. Midna teleports Link and Zelda away, resolving to sacrifice herself and use the Fused Shadow to finish Ganondorf for good. Link and Zelda watch on from Hyrule Field as the castle explodes…only for Ganondorf to AGAIN return, now on dark horseback and backed by not one but SEVERAL Phantom Ganons. Luckily, Zelda has one last trick to employ: Calling to the Light Spirits, she obtains the Light Arrows. So in an epic horseback battle, Link and Zelda ride around on Epona while Zelda shoots Light Arrows at Ganondorf, until finally he falls off his horse. All Ganondorf’s tricks, spells, and transformations having failed, but still being able to continue on, he and Link have one last duel, sword to sword, to finish the battle for good. In the end, using the skills passed down to him by the Hero of Time, Link emerges victorious. Ganondorf staggers to his feet, but the light of the Triforce leaves his hand, leaving him to die…standing up…Weird…Oh look, Midna’s alive, and she’s regained her true form which is…oddly sexy looking…
Well thank goodness for my sanity she decides to go back to the Twilight Realm. Having someone look that bizarrely hot wandering around is just not good for me at all. It’s a sad goodbye, though, as she knows she can never allow something like this to occur again. And so, with a single tear as she passes through the portal at the Mirror Chamber, she shatters the Mirror of Twilight completely, thus closing the only door between the two realms. Hyrule Castle is later rebuilt, and Link returns the Master Sword to its pedestal before leaving his village for destination unknown.
So that’s the story of Twilight Princess, and does it raise any questions regarding the chronology?…Yeah, unfortunately. The first of which that comes to mind is the Sages. I know that in Child Link’s timeline Saria and the others weren’t chosen, but I’m pretty sure Rauru was, and yet these guys claim to have been Sages for centuries. How does THAT work? And you can’t even say that they aren’t supposed to be the same Six Sages, they have the symbols of the Medallions gathered in Ocarina of Time on each of them.
Another issue is with the Hero of Time being in this game as a spirit, specifically in the form of a skeleton. If memory serves, wasn’t it stated in Ocarina of Time that anyone that got lost and passed away in the Lost Woods became a Stalfos, AKA a skeleton? And where was Link the last time we saw him? Why, in the Lost Woods, searching for Navi. This leaves me with the uncomfortable theory that Link died searching for Navi and thus became what we see in this game.
And then there’s the last issue, and that is the Triforce. In this game, Ganondorf received the Triforce of Power, Link the Triforce of Courage, and Zelda the Triforce of Wisdom. Now you could say that that’s because Ganondorf obtained his piece of the Triforce in Ocarina of Time and the Link and Zelda of that time period received the other two pieces as well, except that in the Child Timeline, THAT NEVER HAPPENED! From my understanding on the situation, Ganondorf was arrested BEFORE he could enter the Sacred Realm! The only way this makes sense is if he DID enter the Sacred Realm beforehand, and if that’s so, how the Flying Dutchman did they manage to place him under arrest?!
Anyway, while not perfect, Twilight Princess still stands as my personal favourite, and in my opinion the best of the Gamecube Zelda games. However, next time we’ll be talking about the other Zelda game on the Gamecube as well as a couple of Gameboy Advance games when we dig into The Minish Cap, Four Swords, and Four Swords Adventures.