The following article is only a theory, and is not meant to be taken as anything more than that. It only reflects the opinion of the writer, and not ZeldaInformer as a whole. That said, enjoy the article!
Part I – Koholint
“I AM THE WIND FISH… LONG HAS BEEN MY SLUMBER… IN MY DREAMS… AN EGG APPEARED AND WAS SURROUNDED BY AN ISLAND, WITH PEOPLE, ANIMALS, AN ENTIRE WORLD!”– The Wind Fish
Koholint Island was the setting for the fourth installment in the Legend of Zelda series, Link’s Awakening. It told of Link washing ashore a strange island and his quest to wake the Wind Fish, so that he could leave that island. It is only near the end of his journey that he realizes that he is in a dream of the Wind Fish’s making. What is odd is that this dream is populated by many things that are associated with Link’s previous quest, as told in A Link to the Past*. This leads to the obvious conclusion that the dream is a shared one, with elements drawn from both minds. What this portion of the article is intended to do is point out the contents which specifically connect with Link, through the areas of geography, locations, and populace.
The first topic for examination is geography. While not initially apparent Koholint Island greatly resembles Hyrule, albeit distorted. Near the center of the island (though somewhat northeast) is Kanalet Castle, comparable to Hyrule Castle. At the west edge of the map is Mabe Village, akin to Kakariko. North of that is the Mysterious Woods, a representation of the Lost Woods. Far south of that is Toronbo Shores, comparable to the Desert of Mystery (its counterpart may also be Yarna Desert). All along the northern border is the Tal Tal Mountain Range, like Death Mountain. Located in the northeast are the River Rapids, which is comparable to Zora’s Waterfall (and the subsequent river). South of that is the Face Shrine area, which resembles the Eastern Palace region. Finally, southwest of that is Martha’s Bay, an analogue for Lake Hylia. The only major area that does not have a counterpart is Animal Village, which makes it unique to Koholint.
The next topic to address is location. While most locations were covered previously what is being referred to here are the places you can not fully see from the overworld map, dungeons. Two areas are of particular interest: Eagle’s Tower and Turtle Rock. They are similar in concept to two of the former game’s final dungeons: Tower of Hera (for the Pendants of Virtue portion) and Turtle Rock (for the Crystal Maiden’s portion). The similarities between Eagle’s Tower and Hera’s Tower are that they are both towers and both rely on crystal switch puzzles. The similarity between the Turtle Rocks (besides the name) is the unique aspect of having to create paths over gaps. In the Koholint version you had to push a block and control its movements over the gap, thus creating a path, while in the previous version you created a platform that rode on rails to different areas.
After that, we turn to the populace, the inhabitants of the island. One of the most considerable connections between Koholint and Hyrule exists in the form of Marin. Marin initially rescues you after you wash ashore, which is the reverse of your meeting with her counterpart, Zelda. Very soon after Link first wakes up, Marin says:
“What? Zelda? No, my name’s Marin! You must still be feeling a little woozy.”– Marin
This illustrates that Marin greatly resembles Zelda, but the similarities do not end there. Zelda is known all around Hyrule, as she is its princess. Marin is known all around Koholint (especially in Animal Village), as she is very skilled in singing.
“Aaaah, Little Marin… I want her to come back again… Her song is the best…”
– Animal Village Resident
Also, both Marin and Zelda serve as the main character (the second most important characters after Link in their respective games) and as a possible romantic interest. This is demonstrated in Koholint more clearly then in Hyrule.
“You got Marin! Is this your big chance?”– Link’s Awakening In-Game Text
“Hey, dude! What do you think of Marin? Uhh… I don’t know, I’m just a kid!”– Mabe Village Resident
Though delivered in a joking manner, these lines both hint at something more between Link and Marin than just a casual friendship. Meanwhile, the similar assertion that there is something between Link and Zelda comes mostly from the comic and manga adaption** (I am trying to avoid fans’ “shipping” as a basis, but I do believe the example given is viable). These two characters, while unique in their own right, are very similar.
The Nightmares, particularly the final one, also show a strong connection to Hyrule. During the final battle the nightmare takes on many shapes. One of the first forms is of Moldorm, a memorable boss from the Tower of Hera. Another of those forms is Agahnim, whom Link fought twice in his previous adventure. Lastly there is the form of Ganon himself, complete with the trident. Though it could be said that they were just reusing enemies, I believe they are specifically supposed to be drawn from Link’s mind.
There are also other, more minor characters that could be based on others. Tarin, for example, while possibly just based off of Mario, seems to resemble Link’s Uncle. There is also Grandpa Ulrira, who like Sahasrahla is an old man who will give you advice from a great distance (Ulrira through telephones, Sahasrahla though telepathy). Connections between minor characters and their counterparts is far less clear, leaving Marin as still the best example.
The more we look into the world of Koholint, the more evidence reveals connections to Hyrule. What I cover here is probably not even the half of it. There are other, smaller details that could be analyzed, but this is the best and widest-known evidence available. It demonstrates that though the dream that created Koholint Island seems to dwell within the mind of the Wind Fish, it clearly is based off of Link’s memories and experiences. It is not just through the Wind Fish’s awakening, but through Link’s awakening as well does Koholint finally vanish.
“COME, LINK … LET US AWAKEN…TOGETHER!!”– The Wind Fish
Part II – Termina
Termina was the setting for the sixth installment in the Legend of Zelda series, Majora’s Mask. It is a mysterious land plagued by the mischief of the Skull Kid. It seems to have inspired more theories then most other topics in the series. The two most accepted theories of its nature are that Termina is either a parallel world or a neighboring country to Hyrule. This article will pursue a third, lesser known theory. It will demonstrate that the events of Majora’s Mask were a dream. It was a dream shared by the two most important characters in the story: Link and the Skull Kid. To delve into the dream-like attributes of Termina four topics will be explored: geography, populace, masks, and events.
The first topic to address is geography. Termina seems to be arranged in a very simple, structured way. In the center is Clock Town, with the Clock Tower at in most central point. From that town, in every compass direction, lies a region with a completely different terrain with a very unique climate. Each of these four areas is a twisted, chilling version of a normal environment. The forest has become a poisonous swamp, the mountains have become a frozen wasteland, the ocean has become murky and untraversable, and the valley is overwhelmed by the undead. This combination of fear and simplicity could lead one to believe the formation of Termina to be the product of a frightened child’s mind, which is just what the Skull Kid seems to be.
The second subject to discuss is the populace. One of the strangest things about Termina is that most of its residents look exactly like those of Hyrule. The two most prevalent offered theories on this is that they are either mirrored versions of their Hyrulean counterparts or just recycled models. Assuming this is a dream, something like the first option applies. Though rather then direct copies they are new people, new characters with somewhat familiar faces attached. It is important to note that no one that Link was really close with is represented here. There are no analogues for Zelda, Saria, the Sages, or the Kokiri. This leaves Termina to feel that much more foreign to Link. It also stands to reason that they might be drawn from the Skull Kid’s mind, as he was a resident of Hyrule, and could have seen many of these people. He may have even known them prior to becoming what he was.
The next issue to examine is the importance of masks, more immediately examining their importance to Skull Kid, who would be the source of Termina’s love of masks. Skull Kid seems to believe that the mask one wears becomes that person’s identity. An example of this is in Ocarina of Time when Link sells him the Skull Mask.
“Wearing this mask makes me feel really tough and scary!”– The Skull Kid, Ocarina of Time
Another example would be Majora’s Mask itself. When he wears it he becomes the evil that the mask embodies, and seems to fully accept it. Within the realm of Termina, his logic applies to all. When Link dons one of the transformation masks, he takes on that other identity, be it Darmani, Mikau, or another. The same applies to the Giants. The masks they wear have transformed them into monsters, which is a reflection of Skull Kid’s attitude towards them. They angered him so he put them in a form that reflected how he thought of them, as the “bad guys”.
Lastly, and possibly most important, is the matter of the events. It is these specific occurrences that lend the most to this theory. Take the opening scene for example. After Skull Kid steals the Ocarina and Link gives chase, he winds up in a cave. In that cave is a deep chasm, and while Link is falling down it various images fly by him: masks, items, etcetera. After such a long fall Link falls softly on a flower, and is transformed into a Deku Scrub. He then continues to chase the Skull Kid through a twisted corridor until huge iron doors lock behind them. These strange happenings do not make sense in the context of traveling to another country, or even to another dimension. Such abnormalities are common in a dream world though, such as with Alice falling down the rabbit hole (which this part is frequently likened to).
The next example is what happens when Link fails. When the moon falls to the earth Link, like everyone else, is caught in the subsequent destruction. Yet afterwards he is somehow talking with the Happy Mask Salesman, and is given another chance.
“You’ve met with a terrible fate, haven’t you?”– Happy Mask Salesman
How is it possible he could have survived such a thing? It should not be possible in reality (in the context of the game), but it is in the realm of possibility for a dream.
A further example would be the event of the Giants stopping the moon. While aspects of this event can be explained away as the paranormal nature of the Giants, it definitely has a dream-like “feel”. The Giants appear from nowhere, and as they approach the center they effortlessly pass through objects on the ground. When they do reach the center they raise their arms and stop the moon, whilst never physically touching it. Again, while this might not be solid proof it does lend to the dream-like feel of the game.
The last example is possibly the best of the group: inside the moon. After the moon is stopped and Link enters it, something wholly unexpected happens. Link arrives on a plain during a sunny day. There is a lone tree in the middle and children play around, while one child sits alone. Talking to, and giving masks to the playing children causes Link to enter various dungeons, where his skill with his alternate forms is challenged. After completing these and talking to the lonely child, Link receives the god-like Fierce Deity’s Mask so that he may “play” with the child, with Link taking up the role of the “bad guy”. Link is then taken to a strange room, whose color and atmosphere seem to be always changing, for a final battle with the insane Majora. After which the moon disappears, and is replaced by a rainbow. No matter how you look at it, these past events were incredibly strange, and only really make sense if they are put into the context of a dream, as dreams are not restricted by logic. Endless amounts of symbolism are drawn from this portion of the game, and dreams are nothing if not symbolic.
Some of the darkest, strangest things to happen in a Legend of Zelda game happen in Majora’s Mask. Everything seemed to have some second meaning, and it always felt as though there was something more beneath the surface. Whether this theory is true or false, its intention was to open your mind to the possibility. Things are not always as they seem, and a perfect example of that is the world of Termina.
Part III – Connections
At first glance you probably would not see too many connections between Link’s Awakening and Majora’s Mask. Both games have a rendition of ‘Ballad of the Wind Fish’, but that is hardly enough to show any real relationship between the two. Yet the more it is looked into it, the more similarities reveal themselves, and the more these two dream worlds seem alike. Though these similarities may be subtle, they still provide a strong case. The four documented here are populace, deities, items, and fate.
The first topic to look at is the inhabitants of each world. The connection here is obvious, the populations of Koholint and Termina are drawn from different incarnations of Hyrule (A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time, respectively). On Koholint Island, Marin is an obvious representation of Zelda, while Tarin may be based off of Link’s uncle and Sahasrahla may have inspired Ulrira (and possibly the owl). There are not many examples since there were not that many characters to begin with, but Termina is a different story. Nearly every person in Termina looks like someone from Hyrule. The difference is that on Koholint, the new characters were based off of major characters, while in Termina they were based off of minor character. Nevertheless, it is still something both locations have in common.
Another similarity between the two lands is that they both have unique deities, separate from the prime three (Din, Nayru, and Farore). Koholint has the Wind Fish while Termina has the Four Giants. They also share important roles in their respective games. Link spends a majority of each game seeking the assistance of these god-like beings. Not only do you seek their help put you must save them as well, as they are both imprisoned by some evil. So powerful beings in need of aid is another likeness between the two.
The next issue is that of items, two to be exact. They are the Boomerang and the Ocarina of Time. While at first glance they are completely different, they do share a similarity: their power increased greatly from the game before it. First there is the Boomerang. In most Legend of Zelda games it is a weak weapon used mostly to stun enemies, this changes on Koholint. There it is the single most powerful weapon in the game, it is even capable of destroying the final boss in a single strike. Though even this increase in power is dwarfed by the next item.
In Hyrule, the Ocarina of Time’s primary purpose (storyline-wise) was to act as a key the Sacred Realm.
“Ganondorf’s target was one of the keys to the Sacred Realm…the hidden treasure of the Royal Family…The Ocarina of Time!”– Zelda, Ocarina of Time
Its control over time seemed to only happen in combination with the Master Sword.
“As long as you hold the Ocarina of Time and the Master Sword, you hold time itself in your hands…”– Sheik, Ocarina of Time
Even then the Master Sword seemed to be the true key to time travel.
“The Master Sword is a ship with which you can sail upstream and downstream through time’s river…”– Sheik, Ocarina of Time
So how, in Termina, how does the Ocarina of Time seem to gain such control over time? This is usually attributed to a “Goddess of Time”.
“The Goddess of Time is protecting you. If you play the Song of Time, she will aid you…”– Zelda, Majora’s Mask
Where was she during the events of Ganondorf’s rise to power, when she was really needed? This just seems to be an easy way to justify a huge leap in power which could be attributed to Termina being a dream. Dreams are not restricted by logic, so any item would be allowed to have incredible power, where very little existed before.
The last topic to examine is fate. Each land has a destiny, both spelling doom.
“TO THE FINDER… THE ISLE OF KOHOLINT, IS BUT AN ILLUSION… HUMAN, MONSTER, SEA, SKY… A SCENE ON THE LID OF A SLEEPER’S EYE… AWAKE THE DREAMER, AND KOHOLINT WILL VANISH MUCH LIKE A BUBBLE ON A NEEDLE… CAST-AWAY, YOU SHOULD KNOW THE TRUTH!”– Shrine Mural, Link’s Awakening
“This swamp you are in has lost its guardian deity. But it was destined to fade anyway. Hoo-hoot…And that destiny is not solely limited to this swamp…”– The Owl, Majora’s Mask
While each land shares the same fate, the difference lies in whether it comes to pass. Koholint does succumb to its fate, vanishing from reality, becoming little more then a memory. The only one to escape this doom is Marin, who takes the form of a seagull. Termina’s fate, in the ultimate end, does not come to pass. The moon is stopped and life is spared, its continued existence allowed.
The connections presented here should reinforce the previously stated claim of Termina being a dream world. Too many similarities and connections exist to dismiss this idea, while not enough exist to completely prove it. As such here is one final quote, taken from an inhabitant of Termina:
“Belief or disbelief rests with you.”– Garo, Majora’s Mask
* – For the sake of this article I am assuming (time line-wise) that Link’s Awakening directly follows A Link to the Past.
** – Though the comic and manga adaptations and not considered official “canon” I believe they should be taken into consideration as they give a deeper look into the characters.