To me, Link is one of many ultimate heroes in video games – he rises to challenges with courage; he has the ability to play musical instruments; his sword skills are impressive and he always possesses an unbreakable spirit. But with the Zelda games, you don’t play as just one Link – you play as many that are different and yet not so different each time. Let’s take a look at the four incarnations of Link and see which one is my favourite.
Games: Skyward Sword, The Minish Cap, Four Swords, Ocarina of Time
This timeline contains the earliest incarnation Link with Skyward Sword being the first possible incarnation of Link. To me, this is possible the saddest timeline for Link – in Skyward Sword and Ocarina of Time, he loses his two best friends (Zelda and Saria, respectfully). Both of these games prioritise friendship, such as Link and Saria’s relationship of having a best friend from childhood that you eventually lose. And while Link deals with a lot of hardship in these games (besides losing his best friend, he also gets split into four and has to endure a talking bird-like hat on his head), he still manages to learn a lot of things. And as a player, I did too.
Fallen Hero Timeline
Games: A Link to the Past, Oracle of Seasons, Oracle of Ages, Link’s Awakening, A Link Between Worlds, Tri Force Heroes, The Legend of Zelda, The Adventure of Link
In this alternative timeline, Link was defeated by Ganondorf in the final battle, hence the title. Despite this, I believe Link to still be a true hero, despite his previous efforts. This timeline seems to be have a recurring theme of Link righting a lot of mistakes – in A Link to the Past, Link is able to restore the Dark World and Hyrule to their natural states before Ganon intervened through the power of the Triforce, as he does similarly in Oracle of Seasons and A Link between Worlds. Another recurring theme also seems to be collecting items, but then again, isn’t that every Zelda game?
To me, this timeline shows that despite the despair Link often faces and sometimes even encounters, he can still try his best to defeat it and succeeds. Also, I like the fact that there is an alternative timeline – many games, books, TV shows, etc., etc. share a similar storyline of bad guy wrecking everything so good guy stops him and is successful in doing so – but with this timeline, it has shown that sometimes even the best heroes can be defeated.
Games: Majora’s Mask, Twilight Princess, Four Sword Adventures
This timeline follows Link after he has been sent back in time after successfully defeating Ganon in the Adult timeline (which is the next timeline).
The recurring theme in this timeline seems to be light overcoming darkness – in Twilight Princess and Four Sword Adventures, this is much more prominent, earning Link the ingame and fan nickname “Hero of Light”. Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess are filled with despair and bizarre environments in which darkness thrives in. There are some disheartening moments, but naturally they are overcome. This is also the only timeline where Link is seen as an incarnation in a different game – in Twilight Princess, the second Link incarnation is taught from the previous Link incarnation – the Hero’s Spirit.
To me, this is most interesting and emotional rollercoaster of the timelines. There were many moments when I felt the end goal was not achievable, but I managed to come through in the end. It may contain some of the more darker Legend of Zelda games, but they are most definitely the most intense.
Games: The Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks
Despite Link’s childlike appearance in these games, this does not stop Link from being a true hero. I feel that these games are more aesthetically pleasing with the art style and fun to play because of the almost care-free vibe they give off (despite having to save people and the world) and some of the humour used. These are the games I play with not as much serious as I would play when I play any Legend of Zelda games, for example, Skyward Sword or Twilight Princess. In these games, I can explore my surroundings without feeling like the main storyline is my top priority. And this incarnation is by far the cutest.
Games: Hyrule Warriors, Hyrule Warriors Legends
OK, so I wasn’t being completely honest with you. Yes, there are four official incarnations of Link, but I’d like to think the Link in the Hyrule Warriors series is another incarnation, despite it not being an official Nintendo franchise. I mean, it follows a similar storyline to previous games and includes previous characters, so it should pass as a Zelda game. While it is a more strategic/hack and slash game compared to a story-driven series, I still feel like this could be a separate incarnation of Link. Besides, his outfit is by far my favourite.
So, which is my favourite incarnation of Link? Well, it has to be the Link from the Child Timeline. I have always thought of Nintendo games as happy and focused on sharing gaming experiences with others – even in single player games – but for Nintendo it almost turn it on its head with Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess make these games stand out for me. While I did feel more emotionally invested with Link in Skyword Sword and Ocarina of Time, I was still emotionally invested in the Child Timeline Link, just in a different way. And Majora’s Mask will always be my favourite Legend of Zelda game.
There you have it – Zelda Month has finished here on my blog. I’ve enjoyed it a lot and it’s certainly enflamed my love for these games again. Thank-you for reading and I hope you enjoyed Zelda Month too. I’ll be back next week with normal entries. Take care until then.