Until a couple months ago, few Zelda enthusiasts would have believed that a major title would ever replace Ocarina of Time as the first tale in the timeline. The game introduced the origin stories for many long-standing series elements, such as Hyrule and the Triforce, Link’s trademark green tunic and hat, and the rise of Ganon to power as the Evil King. Nintendo’s own website still calls Ocarina the tale of the “first exploits of Princess Zelda and the heroic adventurer Link.”
Now that Skyward Sword is confirmed to fall before, undermining Ocarina‘s previous status as the oldest tale in the series, perhaps it’s time to rethink old truths and question the standards many theorists have held for more than a decade. The origins of the Master Sword and of Link’s tunic seem already to have undergone a metamorphosis, so there’s no telling what else may be up for revision. Is it too bold to say that perhaps Ganondorf’s origins as a villain are going to shift in light of Skyward Sword as well?
For now, Aonuma refuses to comment, but my theorist instincts were too curious not to wonder…
The biggest red flag for most theorists when considering the potential for Ganondorf to appear in a game set before Ocarina of Time is that the moment when he steals the Triforce is said to be the moment he gained the power to become the King of Evil. Both Ocarina of Time and A Link to the Past corroborate this:
He obtained the Triforce from the Temple of Light, and with its power, he became the King of Evil…
– Rauru, Ocarina of Time
Indeed, the Evil King Ganon, the one who threatened Hyrule, was born at this time.
– The History of Hyrule, A Link to the Past instruction manual
Every single game that features Ganon ascribes this status to him, so it seems impossible that any game could possibly fall before this pivotal moment. A curious exception is Four Swords Adventures, where Ganon gains his moniker of “King of Darkness” from the trident. Even so, the trident itself is said to house an ancient demonic power, and the English version makes it particularly clear that the weapon houses an evil spirit, thus suggesting that this is the exception that proves the rule.
These reservations therefore are pretty logically sound: the way Ganon has traditionally been presented doesn’t mesh well with a pre-Ocarina setting where Ganon has not yet gotten his chance to lay his hands on the Triforce. Theorists who dwell deep in this mindset often forget, however, that Ganondorf already has a history predating Ocarina of Time as a career criminal.
Ganondorf. He was the leader of a band of thieves who invaded Hyrule in the hopes of establishing dominion over the Sacred Realm. He was known as a demon thief, an evil-magic wielder renowned for his ruthlessness…
– The Ancient Sages, Twilight Princess
This evil man ceaselessly uses his vile, sorcerous powers in his search for the Sacred Realm that is connected to Hyrule.
– The Deku Tree, Ocarina of Time
From these blurbs, we know three things: that Ganondorf was the leader of the Gerudo thieves, that he possessed magical powers independently of the Triforce, and that he had been searching for the Sacred Realm for what must have been a long, long time. Certainly there’s enough potential there to shape him as a villain for Skyward Sword.
Even though the new game likely takes place a century or more prior to Ocarina of Time, that’s not a problem. Most Zelda villains, Ganondorf in particular, manage to survive for much longer than a normal life-span. Though the normal assumption is that Ganondorf’s longevity comes from the Triforce of Power, this has only been positively demonstrated in cases where it revives him from near-death experiences, rather than prolonging old age. Plenty of other characters with powerful magic at their disposal, including Twinrova, Vaati, and the Lokomo in Spirit Tracks, demonstrate unnatural life-spans; there’s no reason Ganondorf can’t be among them.
Now, I can predict the typical fan response already: “Why include Ganondorf? His story’s been done to death! We need a new villain!” While Twilight Princess certainly gave us reason to be skeptical of Ganon’s traditional role in Zelda, I don’t think the same problem would happen with Skyward Sword.
As far as I’m concerned, the biggest problem with Ganondorf’s role in Zelda has been that most games have Link cleaning up after his mess. He usually starts off the game with the Triforce, and if not we find out midway through that we’ve been fighting the wrong guy the whole time and that our actions have played right into Ganondorf’s plans. Since Skyward Sword takes place before Ganondorf steals the Triforce in Ocarina, the story would probably play out differently, with Link fighting to stop him from gaining supreme power rather than fighting to take it back. Of course, Aonuma has already noted that the surface world is plagued by evil by the time Link ventures down from the clouds, but we don’t quite know what that means yet.
A pre-Ocarina tale could also offer the opportunity to peer deeper into Ganon’s backstory. Wind Waker gave us a brief look:
My country lay within a vast desert. When the sun rose into the sky, a burning wind punished my lands, searing the world. And when the moon climbed into the dark of night, a frigid gale pierced our homes. No matter when it came, the wind carried the same thing… Death.
But the winds that blew across the green fields of Hyrule brought something other than suffering and ruin. I coveted that wind, I suppose.
– Ganondorf, The Wind Waker
Here we learned that Ganondorf was not purely evil, but rather was profoundly impacted by his people’s suffering and hoped for a better life. Those hopes snowballed into a covetous greed, which in turn led to his offenses against peace. We could witness firsthand Ganondorf’s transformation from idealist to malefactor, or perhaps we could learn what happened to cause the Gerudo’s exile in that forlorn corner of the earth. Either route would add a much-needed human dimension to the evils in Zelda rather than keeping the story trapped in its archaic man-vs.-monster roots.
My personal bets? If Ganondorf is in this game, he’ll be a more up-front villain, more in the vein of Zant. He’ll be working his evil magic across Hyrule, and you’ll have to do your best to stay one step ahead of him. You may even fight him multiple times through the course of the adventure. The Gerudo would play a much larger role than in previous games, and Twinrova might even make an appearance. In the end, the ultimate battle won’t take place in Hyrule; it’ll be in Skyloft, in a final stand to defend your homeland from the forces rising from below. Previous games have started with the threat first surging on Link’s homeland, spurring him to action; this time he’ll be fighting for another country, when all the while the enemy is getting ready to attack his own.
Skyward Sword just yet, the fact that Nintendo hasn’t directly denied his appearance (as they did with Spirit Tracks) means that the possibility is still on the table. We’ll just have to wait and see.
The Skyward Sword Speculation Series is a new regular column that will focus on speculated possibilities for Skyward Sword‘s gameplay and storyline. The idea came from a general speculation article we published in the wake of E3. While we try to make our guesses based on confirmed or suggested facts, bear in mind that they are still just that – guesses – and may or may not prove to be true, or even at all accurate.