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.
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.
Before I get started with Part 2, let me address something I kinda talked a little about last time, but probably not enough. I mentioned how, after killing Agahnim, you see this image of Ganon float out of his body, then it turns into a bat that you take off after. There seems to be some confusion about that, since you’d think that would mean Ganon had been possessing Agahnim all that time…but then when you face Ganon, he says that Agahnim was his “alter ego”…So then Agahnim WAS Ganon that whole time? But wait, in the Japanese version, Ganon calls Agahnim his “bunshin”, which means clone or replica… … …So what the flipping hey is he?! Is he Ganon’s replica, his follower, his alter ego, his other half that he split from himself to help further his own goals??? I don’t know, and frankly it shouldn’t really matter. Either way, Agahnim was a bad mother flipper that caused a lot of the stuff that went wrong in ALTTP. And really, figuring that one out is the least of my concerns today…
Oh, and one more thing: I WILL address the sequel to ALTTP, Link’s Awakening, at a later date. Just letting you know that while I am skipping it for now, I have not forgotten it. Part of the reason I’m not doing it now is because Ocarina of Time’s story is so involved and the continuity issues surrounding it are so vast that I honestly have more than enough to talk about without discussing that.
So yeah, in 1998, a whole 6 years after ALTTP came out in North America and Europe, the next major title in the franchise came out for the Nintendo 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This game proved to be one of the absolute best of the series, and many proclaim it to be THE best Zelda game ever. However, one thing it would make all the more complex and difficult to understand is the chronology, and it can really be summed up in a quote taken from an interview with the series’ creator, Shigeru Miyamoto.
“Ocarina of Time is the first story, then the original Legend of Zelda, then Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and finally A Link to the Past.”
…HUH?!?! There is no frigging way that ALTTP came last! Like I said before, the only way the chronology makes any sense thus far is if it occurred before Zelda I and II on the NES. Remember, the King of Hyrule had decided to keep the Triforce of Courage separate from the other two pieces. That would mean he’d have to have had all three to begin with. And how did he obtain them? Well, one could suggest that at the end of ALTTP, Link left the completed Triforce that he’d taken from Ganon with the Royal Family. Heck, you could even submit that the Zelda in ALTTP is the one who was placed under the sleeping spell and awoken in Zelda II, though that is debatable and I’m sure someone has evidence proving otherwise.
One thing that CAN be agreed on is that Ocarina of Time occurred before any of the games thus far. Satoru Takizawa, the Character Designer of Ocarina of Time, has gone on record as saying that the plot of Ocarina of Time is in fact the enactment of the Imprisoning War, where Ganon first obtained the Triforce. It’s at this point I should note that one year after Miyamoto said that ALTTP took place last in the chronology, he took part in another interview where he said that it took place BEFORE Zelda I and II and after Ocarina of Time. Whether he made a mistake during the first interview or changed his mind (because I have trouble believing he had all this planned out from the start) is immaterial. Bottom line, if you string all of this together, you can therefore come to the conclusion that Ocarina of Time is the first of these games. Oh, but don’t sigh yet, we haven’t even gotten into the story.
The game starts off in a forest filled with children who never age called the Kokiri, each with their own fairy partner (insert your own Peter Pan joke here). However, there is one boy who does not have a fairy, is generally not accepted by the others save for his best friend Saria, and finds himself having nightmares regularly about a Princess being pursued by an evil man in black. This boy is once again named Link, the Princess is another Zelda, and the man in black is Ganondorf Dragmire, the thief who will eventually become Ganon. Anyway, the forest’s guardian, a giant sentient tree known as The Great Deku Tree sends a fairy named Navi to Link and instructs them to come see him immediately. It seems that Ganondorf cursed the Tree, and Link goes inside him (gross) to traverse what is the first dungeon of the game and beat the monsters inside. Unfortunately, the Tree’s too far gone to be saved, but has enough time to tell Link a little more about Ganondorf, instruct him to go to Hyrule Castle, and grant him a green emerald called the Spiritual Stone of Forest before passing on.
Link leaves the forest, despite claims that any of the children that left the forest would die, and heads to Hyrule Castle to speak with Princess Zelda. Of course, since commoners can’t simply walk up and seek an audience with the child Princess, Link and Navi sneak into the castle and speak with Zelda, who has also seen Link her own dreams (aw, they dream about each other, how cute). We also learn that Ganondorf is in the castle, and thus are told a bit more of the back-story: It seems that Ganondorf comes from the Gerudo Desert, and is trying to gain enough favour with the King of Hyrule to obtain the keys necessary to cross over to the Sacred Realm and obtain the Triforce. So Link and Zelda come up with the plan to get the keys first, which turn out to be the three Spiritual Stones. Link already has the Forest stone, which leaves him to obtain the Fire stone from the Gorons and the Water stone from the Zoras. So he travels to the homelands of the two races, meets Darunia of the Gorons and Princess Ruto of the Zoras by travelling to new dungeons and helping out their races, and is thus rewarded with the Spiritual Stones, though apparently the Spiritual Stone of Water was given to him as a symbol of their “engagement”, much to Link’s lack of understanding (insert your own Goku and Chi-Chi joke here). That leaves one last requirement: The Ocarina of Time, an instrument held by Princess Zelda.
Link returns to Hyrule Castle, only to witness Princess Zelda fleeing with Ganondorf in hot pursuit, just like Link had seen in his dreams, but not before Ganondorf blasts Link down for fun and Zelda tosses the Ocarina in a moat for Link to obtain. With the Ocarina and the Spiritual Stones, Link goes to the Temple of Time, where he places the stones on a pedestal and plays the Song of Time on the Ocarina of Time, as instructed to him by Zelda via telepathy. This opens a massive door that leads to a sword sticking out of a pedestal, which Navi identifies as the Sword of Evil’s Bane, the Master Sword. So how did it end up having its pedestal in the Lost Woods in ALTTP? I…have no idea. Anyway, Link pulls it from the pedestal, but it locks him away in the Sacred Realm as Ganondorf shows up and passes him by, taking the Triforce.
7 years pass by in the game before Link finally wakes up in the Temple of Light within the Sacred Realm, now a teenager (and with one ear pierced for some reason). Anyway, here we meet the first of the Seven Sages: Rauru, Sage of Light (yeah, try pronouncing THAT one!). Apparently only the one true Hero of Time could wield the Master Sword, and since Link was too young when he pulled it, he was put to sleep until he was old enough. We find out that when Ganondorf touched the Triforce, it split into three pieces and he only managed to obtain the Triforce of Power while the other two went to people worthy of the divine powers of Courage and Wisdom. Why did this happen? I’ll cover it in Wind Waker. The point is, Ganondorf got all pissed and turned Hyrule into a Hell of its former self while hunting down the people with the remaining pieces. Rauru gives him the Light Medallion and tells him to meet the other five Sages to obtain the remaining Medallions in order to stop Ganondorf for good. And I know what you’re thinking, that only makes Six Sages, but we’ll get to that later.
So Link and Navi go around Hyrule, aided by a ninja-like ally named Sheik, and enter five temples that the Sages are supposed to be occupying but are now contorted into dangerous labyrinths filled with Ganondorf’s monsters. He also finds that he can travel back and forth through time by placing the Master Sword back in order to access certain areas. So once again, he has to go through dangerous puzzles and defeat horrifying monsters before awakening each Sage, who all turn out to be people he knew previously (The Forest Sage is Saria, the Fire Sage is Darunia, the Water Sage is Ruto, the Shadow Sage is Zelda’s nurse hand Impa, and the Spirit Sage is Nabooru, a Gerudo woman whom Link aided). Along the way, Link finds out that he’s NOT a Kokiri, but a Hylian, and that his dying mother left him under the care of the Great Deku Tree when he was a baby. But right now yer probably wondering who the Seventh Sage is. Well, upon gaining all six Medallions you are confronted by Sheik in the Temple of Time, who reveals his true identity to be…
…Princess Zelda! That’s right, this Zelda is both a cross dresser AND a ninja, and to top it all off, she’s also the last Sage, the Sage of Time. It’s also revealed that when Ganondorf claimed the Triforce of Power, the Triforce of Wisdom went to Zelda while the Triforce of Courage went to Link. Unfortunately, Ganondorf must have security cameras in the Temple of Time, since he snatches up Zelda in a pink crystal cage thingy. You go to Ganondorf’s Castle, which is in the ruins of Hyrule Castle and floating in the air above a moat of lava…Subtle. The other Sages form a bridge of rainbow light for you to go in, and you know the pattern here, right? Solve the puzzles, kick some ass, get to the boss. You fight Ganondorf, only in this game you don’t use Silver Arrows, you use Light Arrows. Why’d they change it? Well, the answer is: WHO CARES?! These things are frigging awesome!
Anyway, Link defeats Ganondorf and saves Zelda, but the castle starts caving in around you. The two escape as the castle somewhat comically crumbles down and flattens out PERFECTLY! However, Ganondorf emerges from underneath and transforms into that beast you love to hate, Ganon. A pretty heart-pounding battle later and Link emerges victorious as the Seven Sages proceed to lock Ganon away in the Sacred Realm, all the while he curses out your name and vows to kill your descendants. However, Zelda feels guilty for having gotten Link involved in all of this, and uses the Ocarina of Time to send him back to the past to relive his childhood that was taken away by these events. So you go back in time, Navi leaves you…for some reason…and Link goes to meet Zelda to tell her of all that’s happened. The end…kinda.
Okay, this is obviously a really awesome story that keeps you entertained from start to finish. The only downside? Well, it is FILLED with plot holes, so let’s go over them…
First off, in ALTTP, the Seven Sages were shown to be Seven Wise Men. Sure, Rauru fits that description in both personality and appearance, but there’s only one other guy in that group that really ain’t all that smart, and the others are all women that really aren’t that old! The only conclusion I can come to is that the accuracy of the details pertaining to the Imprisoning War could have been a bit off, but even that’s a stretch since we clearly see their descendants are all Hylian women. Well, Darunia was a Goron, Ruto was a Zora, Nabooru was a Gerudo, and Saria was a Kokiri. What, all of those races eventually ended up marrying and mixing genealogy with Hylians? That’s a little creepy to think of, especially since Gorons are essentially big rock people and the Kokiri are supposed to be children that never grow up…Gross…
Next issue: In ALTTP, when you defeat Ganon, he has ALL THREE pieces of the Triforce! Now how the heck did THAT happen??? Yes, he still has the Triforce of Power in the end of OoT, but Zelda kept the Triforce of Wisdom, and we’ll talk about what happens to the Triforce of Courage next time. Now I should note that there IS an event in one of the next games, Wind Waker, that sees the Triforce pieces brought back together, but trust me, the events of that game just muck things up even further as far as continuity with ALTTP goes.
There are other issues, like where did the Gorons, Kokiri, Zoras, and Gerudo go between now and then, but those do get explained…kinda. Also, note that the Zoras ARE in ALTTP, but they look less like the majestic humid amphibians of OoT and more like some kinda horror movie swamp monsters. Apparently there are actually two species of Zora, the friendly Sea Zoras and the hostile River Zoras.
There’s more to talk about in terms of how much Ocarina of Time changed the chronology of the games, but for now, there’s really only one thing to note: Remember that in the ending, we see Link go back in time, as well as see the characters of the future piece their world back to a state of normalcy. This, among a VERY lengthy list of evidence, has given rise to the popular theory (I personally think it’s a fact, but that’s my opinion) that from here on out, the chronology actually splits in two. And we’re gonna get to that in the next Jyger’s Rant, when we look at Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker.
…I’m not gonna have any hair left by the end of this, am I?
…I wasn’t going to do it. I really wasn’t. It seemed like it would be a fool’s errand to even try, and to be honest it still kinda does. But then I went back and I re-watched the Angry Video Game Nerd attempt to pull it off. That should’ve been the end of the debates right there, but really, I think it’s only made it worse. So I’m gonna try to put this sucker to rest. This is my take on The Legend of Zelda: The Chronology.
First off, lemme just say that I’m NOT a gaming historian of any kind, nor do I play one on television. I’m just a casual gamer who loves good games and has a tendency to pick on little plot holes in games that are story-heavy. So don’t freak out if I make a mistake or you don’t agree with my views on the subject. If I make a mistake, simply tell me what I did wrong without flaming the hell outta me.
Anyway, in this first part, we’ll be looking at the first two Zelda games as well as the SNES game, so to start off, let’s look at the original Zelda game on the NES, simply titled The Legend of Zelda. It’s a very simple story (especially when compared to the others) of a young elvish boy named Link who journeys to save the land of Hyrule from the evil tyrannical boar named Ganon (misspelled Gannon at the time), who had obtained the Triforce of Power and kidnapped Princess Zelda. The only way to defeat him was to obtain the shards of the Triforce of Wisdom, which was split apart by Zelda to keep it safe from Ganon, and then take him on in the labyrinths within Death Mountain. So you go through the dungeons all around the kingdom, you fight through an endless onslaught of monsters, solve ridiculously hard puzzles, reassemble the Triforce of Wisdom, go to Death Mountain, kill Ganon with the Silver Arrows, and save Princess Zelda. The end…right?
Well no, because there was a sequel the next year, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. In this game, Link turns sweet sixteen, but instead of a cake to blow out, he’s got a Princess to wake up. We learn that there was another Princess Zelda and another Triforce, the Triforce of Courage. Now the Triforce of Courage makes sense, since the name Triforce would suggest that there are three of them, but what’s the story on the new Zelda? And I’m quoting an article from the Zelda wiki here: “Ages ago, the King of Hyrule had hidden a third part of the Triforce, the Triforce of Courage, in the Great Palace to safeguard it from evil. Upon the death of the king, his son had searched eagerly for the missing Triforce, but its location had been imparted only to the king’s daughter, Princess Zelda. Angered upon learning this, the Prince tried to use the power of a wizard to force the truth from his sister, but when she refused the wizard cast a spell upon her to put her into a deep and unending sleep, the wizard died soon after. Only by uniting the Triforce of Courage with its counterparts could Link awake the sleeping Princess Zelda.” Oh, and apparently the Prince decreed that every Princess born from then on would be named Zelda, which explains a lot later on but then also confused a LOT MORE…
Anyway, Link finds out he has to defeat these Guardians to lower a binding field around the Triforce of Courage’s location. Making matters worse was that Ganon’s followers wanted to kill Link and use his blood in some kind of ritual to bring back their master. So Link went around, solved puzzles, defeated enemies, and switched back and forth from a top-down perspective to a 2D side-scroller before obtaining the Triforce of Courage and awakening Princess Zelda, and we see the end where it’s implied that she made out with him or something. Aw, isn’t that sweet?
4 years later, the SNES was essentially replacing the NES, and we got a new Zelda game: The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past. Now this is where things get a bit confusing, as once again we have a new Zelda, but also a new Link. According to the packaging for the game, these Link and Zelda are the predecessors of the ones from the original game. That would make sense, except that we now don’t know if this takes place before the Zelda from AoL was put to sleep or after, and believe me, it only gets worse from there, and continues to be made worse to this day…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
In this one, we learn a LOT more about the history of Hyrule. There was a conflict known as the Imprisoning War centuries beforehand, where an alternate realm of existance known as the Sacred Realm was invaded by a band of thieves led by a man named Ganondorf Dragmire-wait a minute, GANON?! Yeah, apparently he was originally just some thief. And what was he looking to steal from the Sacred Realm? An ancient relic left behind by the three Goddesses who created Hyrule known as the Triforce… … …Okay, NOW we’re officially running on confused, since the back-story of AoL said that the Triforce of Courage was kept separate from the other two pieces, but you could concede that the events of this game happened before all that…or so you would think, but again getting ahead of myself. Anyway, long story short, Ganondorf killed his followers, got the Triforce, and because the Triforce can apparently reflect the wishes of he or she that touches it, it turned the Sacred Realm into the Dark Realm, and turned Ganondorf into the boar-like creature we’ve known from day one. Thankfully, a group of wise men known as the Seven Sages managed to seal Ganon and the once Sacred Realm away, keeping Ganon from invading the Light Realm in which Hyrule existed in.
So what goes wrong? Well, one day disasters just kinda spontaneously start happening, until this wizard Agahnim (pronounced AY-gah-nim, by the way. I always used to pronounce it a-GAH-nim) stepped up and stopped the disasters, was proclaimed a hero, and was made chief advisor to the King at that time. But he wasn’t even close to being the hero people thought he was, as he used his power to brainwash the guards of the palace, and started kidnapping descendants of the Seven Sages in order to sacrifice them to open the way to the Dark Realm. Zelda was to be the last of the descendants to be sacrificed, but she uses telepathy to contact Link, who saves her and then goes on a quest to defeat Agahnim.
It’s in this game we’re introduced to a weapon that has existed as a major part of Zelda mythos ever since: The Master Sword. Link is sent to find obtain the sword as it is the only weapon that can defeat Agahnim, but the only way to pull it from the pedestal in the Lost Woods is to obtain three Pendants of Virtue, which are held deep within three dungeons scattered about Hyrule. So Link braves the dungeons, solves the puzzles inside, defeats the creatures taking up residence in each one, and leaves with the Pendants. He then goes to the Lost Woods, pulls the Master Sword, and goes back to Hyrule Castle to confront Agahnim…only in this game they pull the rug out from under us as we get Link up there just in time to see Agahnim, having kidnapped Zelda again, has just sacrificed her to release the seal on the Dark Realm. Naturally after seeing that you’ll wanna go and kick Agahnim’s butt, which you do, only to have him pull you into the Dark Realm.
This is where the second half of the game takes place…well, not really second half, because it’s much longer than the first half. Here we learn that Zelda and the others aren’t dead, and are merely imprisoned in seven dungeons throughout the Dark Realm that make the ones visited previously look really easy. So once again, Link has to traverse each of the dungeons, defeat the monsters inside, solve ridiculous puzzles, and rescue each girl. With each one you rescue, a bit more of the back-story is revealed, specifically revolving around Ganon who, spoiler alert, is the real villain having acted through Agahnim! Gee, what a shocker, huh?
But I digress: You save all the girls, ending with Zelda, and you go to Ganon’s Tower to put an end to it all, only for the game to once again trick you into thinking the end is here, and instead you fight Agahnim again, only this time he’s a lot harder. You beat him, and it looks like you’ve finally killed him, but then this transparent image of Ganon comes out of him and you chase him down to this temple where you first appeared in the Dark Realm, only the roof’s been blasted open so you can get in, where you face Ganon in the final battle. After a rough battle that can’t even technically be won unless you first went and got the Silver Arrows, you utterly destroy him and obtain the Triforce, restoring the Sacred Realm and putting everything in Hyrule back to the way it was.
So there ya go, a general synopsis of the plots of the first three Zelda games, and thus far everything seems to be in order as far as chronology is concerned…OR IS IT?! You see, all of this only works if you consider A Link To The Past to be the prequel to the first two Zelda games, but next time we’ll see how that theory may or may not have been blown all to hell when we look at a game considered to be the crown jewel of the Zelda franchise, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.