The Legend of Zelda (Series)

As all great things come to an eventual end, so does our celebration of Zelda here at A Wink to the Past. We had some great contributions from friends of ours here and strongly recommend you go back to check out any you might have missed…

As much as we covered there are countless more stories of everyone out there and their time spent in the various lands of Hyrule. While I loved sharing what semblance of peace Link to the Past brought me, I could have just as easily talked about Link’s Awakening on Gameboy where I gleefully stole it from a classmate… only to return it guilt-stricken after stealing from the shop in the game and being renamed THIEF on my save file. Then there was how A Link Between Worlds was so engaging both my wife and I finished it within a week back to back for the smoothest 20 hours of gaming either of us ever experienced. The Legend of Zelda has been around for over 30 years now, telling it’s tale across 10 platforms and 18 games (or 11 platforms and 20 games if you count those which are not to be spoken in pleasant company). That’s a lot of opportunity to reach a variety of players across it’s 75 million sales in the series.

Legends always vary slightly, as does Zelda herself.

We’re usually not big on talk about numbers at AWttP though. Data is cool and all but that doesn’t really give an accurate idea if anyone gives a damn. Remember the record setting film Avatar? Yeah, no one does. The cultural impact of this series isn’t something you just can’t ignore with the Legend of Zelda though. Step into any retailer that sells pop culture apparel and you’re guaranteed to find something marked with a Triforce or Master Sword design. I’d put money on the chance that a quarter of all game related tattoos bear the mark of a Hylian Crest, a flit of light with wings for a fairy, or any of the dozens of icons found within the series that are instantly recognizable. As we explored with the stories we had here there’s a connection that’s made between the player and the game that’s intrinsic to the journey you take with Link. Yes, I realize there’s a good possibility that’s why they’ve named him Link. He serves as our gateway to the world of Hyrule, our avatar in this fantasy realm of prophecies, despair, altruism, corruption, destruction, hope, and balance.

Speaking of Hyrule, that in of itself leads to something miraculous Nintendo manages to do with each entry. Reinventing the world nearly every single time, even if it’s one of the few instances where it’s a direct sequel in the timeline. Each time we venture into the world of Zelda it starts with a shifting of that power. Normally Ganon plays his cards in an attempt to steal the entirety of the Triforce which sets the events into motion that begin our time in Hyrule. If the world doesn’t already start in a state of ruin, it will enter it shortly after… yet somehow the game remains wonderful the whole time. With Link being the carrier of the Triforce of Courage it’s nice to know your quest is one of hope and restoration after nearly all has been lost. Seriously, in any other franchise it would be an oppressive grueling test of willpower to just make it through the to the next story beat. You’d have meters indicating your stress level, have to reclaim areas of land in bizarre turf wars, or maybe even just have every NPC you come across remind you how miserable existence is. Somehow LoZ overcomes the hurdle of a sulking on a fractured kingdom and embraces a world of potential, a future to be saved, instead of beating you over the head on how god awful everything has become. Either a calamity has ravaged the lands, Hyrule’s… rule… has been overthrown by Ganon, the entire kingdom had sunken to the bottom of an ocean, or the land is gripped in a state of engulfing digital nothingness. Railing against that broken world you have lush colors, upbeat music, a jaunty Link traversing the fields and mountains fully content knowing we’ll all float on alright. Don’t worry. (yes I’m listening to Modest Mouse right now). I’m genuinely impressed with how contagious the joy can be bleeding out from it all. It’s hard not to walk away feeling inspired and uplifted after putting in a good session of play.

Perhaps that’s the point of it all? An eternal struggle of influence in our life will bounce us from our personal golden age to bad times that become eventual emotional ruin. Yet if we keep on with a perky overworld theme to carry us on, to not be afraid to ask for help when we need it. Maybe we have to work a bit to rebuild what’s been lost. To help others in need to help rebuild a better world around us. The Legend of Zelda’s origin comes from the idea of “saving the princess”, which itself is based in altruism. Link has nothing to gain from these acts beyond doing what’s right and a shared interest in the world he lives in. If that isn’t a point we can connect with and take meaning from I don’t know what is. When I sit back and think about everything that’s good about this series 18 games deep, it’s that there’s good in each and every one of us playing it. As much as we’re drawn to shoving fairies into bottles or chasing stupid monkeys, I honestly think every one of us playing has the desire to save the princess and make things right above all us.

I really hope you’ve had an adventure with Link, Zelda, and Ganon at some point in your life. If not, the time has never been better with the sprawling epic of Breath of the Wild having just released. Beyond the latest entry in the series you can look to Wii U where you have access to nearly every console release (and several portable titles) within the series, serving as the ultimate Legend of Zelda machine. If you already own a 3DS you’re in pretty good order too as it serves as a gateway to all the portable releases and the first fifteen years of console games. Any way you want to ‘hyah huh HYAH’ your way into Hyrule at this point you have plenty of options. We hope you find an your way there when you need it most, because that’s when the Legend of Zelda series shines brightest.