The Legend of Link: Link’s Quest of Linkness
January 25, 2012 § 3 Comments
Warning, very mild spoilers for Skyward Sword, and maybe a few other Zelda’s. Or major, I don’t know, it depends on your idea of what’s major or not. I consider them minor.
The Legend of Zelda. It’s a weird name, isn’t it? It really does imply that the game is Zelda going and doing legendary things. It’s not of course, we all know this. Some of us learnt it after opening up OoT for the first time, inputting our name as Zelda, only to find that we were meeting Zelda two hours into the tale. Others are just massive nerds who research everything, and knew a lot about the series before they even played a game. Maybe some people don’t know that your character’s name is Link(Or whatever you choose to name him, but he’s link). I don’t know, I just know that it’s not a story of Zelda. Yes, she’s a central character, but what has she ever really done? She achieved a fair amount as Sheik in OoT, that I’ll give her, even if her only role in the final battle is “oh hey, Link, you might want to hit him with the BANE OF ALL EVIL MASTER SWORD *cough*hint*cough*. In Twilight Princess she casts a bit of magic, but by the end, she’s essentially dead, and you have to save her. Guess what, Skyward Sword, which I just finished, you end up with her essentially dead again, while you battle to save the world. Hell, about the only time she’s had a real role is Wind Waker, and she was only a character while she wasn’t Zelda.
And this is the problem. The game relies on its name. If you see a Zelda game, you’ll know that it’s a top tier dungeon crawler, with graphics better than 90% of the games on the system, with combat that flows, but isn’t extremely difficult, and you know that at least one puzzle will cause you to spend twenty minutes running around the room, until you finally realise the solution, and hit yourself in the face with your hand. A Zelda game is quality, and that’s associated with the name. So Nintendo can’t ditch it. So, really, about the only options Ninty has, are to ditch the series(that will never happen), or to, I dunno, make Zelda a real character.
They don’t even have to make her a heroic character. She could be an antihero, she could be a little whingey princess, whatever. She just has to have a presence. I heard that Spirit Tracks has Zelda as a kind of spiritual character thing who’s present throughout the whole game. I don’t know though, I’m relying on my memory to say that. Did that help? Maybe, I don’t know, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
So, how about we keep the whole “Zelda’s a princess” thing? Good? Cool. Now, what do you expect from a princess? Pretty? Sure, she’s always had that, at least as far as the hardware allowed. Doesn’t know anything about the world? That’s not very hard, so she’s pretty and innocent, oh, and scared. We’ve just placed her in a world, filled with scary monsters, and she’s spent her whole life in a castle with a thousand servants looking after her. She doesn’t know what’s happened to her family, her father was sick, maybe, and her mother disappeared many years ago. Cool, good start, we have a character for Zelda.
What about Link? A coupla years younger than Zelda, but not so much as to make it creepy, he’s a bit more knowledgeable of the world. He grew up on a farm, let’s say with his uncle, everyone likes uncle’s, and Zelda games do tend to avoid having immediate family members. Maybe Link even has a crush on a girl from the village near where he lives. He sees her every second Tuesday, when they go to market to sell produce. Next to the village is an old abandoned castle, he’s also spent a lot of time crawling around there, worming his way through gaps, and fighting his mates from the village with sticks. BAM! We have a Link. He can fight, he’s strong from his time on the farm, he can kind of deal with women, but is generally a little shy.
Plot? Hmm, well. Ganon takes over the world, searching for the TriForce, yada yada. Zelda refuses to cooperate, so she’s sent off to a castle.
It’s a Tuesday, the sun is out, Link is trying to work up the courage to ask out his crush. Suddenly *BAM*! The sky darkens, people scream, and the castle he’s spent months exploring starts to pulsate. THe villagers all disappear around him, his hand starts pulsating, and he watches as the souls of everyone he knows are sucked towards the castle. With only a fair amount of hesitation Link heads towards the castle. He crawls through some side passages, up a wall, throws a stone at a pressure plate, opening up a secret way. When suddenly, he finds himself in the centre of the castle. In front of him is a girl, dressed in muddied whites. She’s crying, she doesn’t know what’s happening. He goes over to her, gives her a hug, and offers her his hand. She eventually quietens, stands up, takes his hand, and hands him a stick. As their hands touch though, a sudden change happens, the castle transforms. Suddenly resplendent in its former glory, like a snapshot through time it stands. Link searches for his old ways through it, only to find the holes repaired.
He’s goingto have to go the long way through. He grabs the girl’s hand, and leads her throughthe main doors, suddenly, a spectre appears in front of him, it’s his uncle. It lunges for Zelda, cursing in an ancient tongue. He doesn’t think, he beats it off. It falls to the ground, wisps floating up around it. He’s shocked, he may have just killed his uncle. After a minute of exploring the room though, the spectre bounced back up, heading straight for Zelda. Relieved that it survived, he beats it down again, channeling all his anger over all the hardships he faced from his uncle, no matter how much he loved him.
For the rest of the dungeon, the map is Link’s memory of what happened, he guides Zelda around, opening things, and using the spectres as a gameplay element to solve puzzles. There, Zelda is now a real character, you have to lead her around, holding her hand, until you can solve what’s happening, and finish it all. As the game goes on, Zelda gets braver and braver, needing your hand less, and even taking the charge at times. Your companion through everything you do, Zelda is always there, and always a character.
OK, so I realise that I basically just described Ico, with a slight hint of Zelda in it. But I’m cool with that, can you really say that that would be a bad game? I’d play it, that’s for sure.