Posted on January 05 2015 by Alexis Anderson
It comes as no surprise that characters from The Legend of Zelda often make appearances in more than just one title, since most of Link’s adventures follow the same ancient prophecy. But aside from the core characters that are expected to return, many less important characters tend to pop up in multiple titles in one way or another as well. While they may be entertaining references for those players who recognize them, is the recycling of characters getting old?
Lately the series has become very uniform, and I wonder if the inclusion of recurring tertiary characters is adding to that feeling of unmodification. Depending on how often we see the characters, their role in the game can be easily predicted which takes a lot of the excitement and guessing out of why they would be included.
Some of the recurring characters whom I feel detract from the creativity in the games are Beedle, the Great Fairy(ies), and Talon. Beedle always sells items, this never changes. And while I love the character, he’s nothing special and anyone could replace him. I feel that if a character duplicates, they should at least develop a little bit. So I was glad in Skyward Sword when he was given a bug-related sidequest which gave some insight into Beedle’s character.
The Great Fairies, when Link finds or helps them, generally just grant him powers or bigger item bags. I find this a waste of their potential as they are powerful creatures and could be utilized in a more effective way, but instead I walk into a Fairy Fountain and impatiently wait to be healed. Talon is just Malon’s lazy farmer father, if it weren’t for his resemblance to Mario there’d be nothing noteworthy about him.
When it comes to fixing the monotony of returning characters, Tingle is the example to follow. His role changes slightly per game and we know a lot about his family and some of his history, so it’s not as if he’s one dimensional. But despite the changes, he’s still that middle-aged fairy want-to-be. He retains his memorable qualities so as not to become an entirely new character with just the appearance of an old one.
Contrary to my earlier tone, I often enjoy seeing the same characters pop up in different games, for me it’s an easter egg that adds a cohesive feeling to the games. But there have been times when the character’s purpose in one game differs greatly from his or her purpose in another, in which case it throws me off and I either end up paying too much attention to the character or too little for that specific game.
Some characters whom I feel change too drastically in their recurrences are Malon, and Din, Nayru, and Farore. Malon played a solid role in Link’s Awakening (as Marin) and in Ocarina of Time, she was a memorable inclusion that had to be visited multiple time in each game. But her involvements in Four Swords Adventures, The Minish Cap, and Oracle of Seasons amount to nothing more than an escortee, a milkwoman, and part of a trade sequence.
When I refer to Din, Nayru, and Farore I don’t mean the divine, but the human embodiments appearing in the Oracle games and The Minish Cap. The Oracle games were built around the maidens, so for them to show up as random girls looking for houses in Minish Cap was unnecessary. These drastic changes caused me to assume a bigger role for these characters than was accorded for their recurrences, they shifted from major to tertiary roles. This is when things really become stale for me, because when a role changes that much there’s no point in putting the face of a past character on it; just make a new one.
In the end, any and all recurrences of characters add to the atmosphere of the ever repeating legend. It’s nice to see familiar faces, but it also seems useless to bring back a character and assign an entirely new role to them; it’s also too monotonous to assign the exact same rolls. Bringing third-rung characters back is hard to execute in a way that pleases everyone. So I feel it’s better to have new people join the fun, and if they happen to be reminiscent of previous characters then that’s just fine!
What’s your verdict on tertiary characters, nostalgic or stale? If you have problems with returning characters, what are some ways they can be remedied? Are there any characters that you feel reflect a well-implemented return? Voice your concerns and insights in the comments!