Author’s note: This article has been revised and updated. You can view the original version from the article archive on our forums, located here.
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!
The Oracle games are notorious for their lack of connection to the storylines of other Zelda titles. Many don’t even consider them to be a part of the official Zelda storyline. Whether or not they are meant to be considered canonical, it’s always interesting to try figure out their placement with the given evidence.
The setting in the beginning of both of the games is as follows: The Complete Triforce is resting within a castle. The Triforce tells Link to accept a quest in the faraway lands of Labrynna and Holodrum. Link is sent to these places to rescue two Oracles and restore peace to the lands. It later turns out that Ganondorf’s surrogate mothers Koume and Kotake are planning to revive the monster Ganon by sacrificing princess Zelda.
An important story-line element is the Triforce birthmark on Link’s left hand which appears in only one other game under the circumstances where Link is not in the possession of a Triforce piece. This game is no other than Adventure of Link, the sequel to the original Legend of Zelda. This detail would already suggest that the Link in the Oracle games and the Link form original Zelda games are the same character. This is backed up by the fact that at the end of AoL Link has assembled the complete Triforce in North Castle and the pieces are floating in the air in the exact same formation in both games.
A more debatable detail is the fact that the revived Ganon wields the Trident of Power, a weapon that’s origins are explained in Four Swords Adventures. The same weapon has also appeared in A Link to the Past, Link’s Awakening, the BS remake of Legend of Zelda. Strangely, the Trident also makes an apperience in the official strategy guide of A Link to the Past, in the section that recaps the events of the first two games. Many would place all of these games post FSA if they are to be placed in the same timeline.
Obviously the complete concept of the Trident of Power wasn’t developed until FSA’s release. Flagship’s development team isn’t exactly known for it’s preciseness when it comes to storyline consistency either. This is why some have chosen to ignore the whole issue with the Trident. If however we are to take into account all the apperiences of the Trident in the examples mentioned above, it certainly points to the placement suggested in this article.
While these are important clues they do not specifically exclude the many possible placements. An often overlooked detail from the development process of the games and the developers’ original intentions reveal a possible connection to The Legend of Zelda nad Adventure of Link. These details are sometimes discarded in the name of in-game content being more reliable than all other sources.
Flagship had originally planned to make a trilogy of Zelda games that was to be called The Triforce Trilogy. The first game in the trilogy was to be a remake of the original Legend of Zelda, released 1986 for the NES. This would suggest that the developers were planning to retell, not only the first game, but to expand on the concepts introduced in it and its direct sequel, Adventure of Link (1988). The name of the Trilogy was later changed to The Mystical Seed trilogy. The idea was to have three games that the player could connect via passwords to access additional gameplay and a secret ending. By this time, the original concept of remaking older games was most likely already scrapped. The problem with the whole trilogy was that the linking between three titles became too complex and eventually was abandoned as it was impossible to program.
Flagship made the difficult decision to drop the third title and focus on the remaining two. It is unknown how far they were in development at the time. The cut was announced to the non-japanese gaming world late July 2000 which means that they were probably nearing completion since the games were released in February 2001. We can only assume that what was supposed to become a game of its own was used to make the two remaining games longer and add additional side-quests and content.
The storylines of the two games had to be rewritten since the idea of a remake trilogy wasn’t the plan anymore. This constant changing of direction was most likely one of the main reasons behind the lack of timeline connectivity in the games. Some traces of the original intentions are still present however, especially in Oracle of Seasons. Similar Dungeon design and matching bosses being the most obvious connections. OoS is widely considered to be chronologically the first Oracle game, this is shown in the story of the Pirates in the game amongst other smaller details. These details include subsequent serial numbers (CGB P AZ7E and CGB P AZ8E) of the games that seem to match the numbering of the games released up to that point. The manual of Ages skips a large part of the introduction that is teh same for both of the games and the Nintendo-licensed manga adaptation follows this order s well.
Returning to the original concepts of the Triforce Trilogy, the plot of the games that were to follow the remake of the original Zelda, assuming that the second game was going to tell the tale of AoL in some form or another, would have to have been set in a world where Hyrule is at peace. The whole Triforce is kept safe in either Hyrule Castle or North Castle, who some claim to be the same location, and Ganon being already slain and the original plan for his revival foiled. The setting matches perfectly with the plot of the Oracles. Since the plan to make a trilogy had failed, the people at Flagship probably used the only original story they had worked on and adapted it to both of the Oracle games forming a quadrilogy instead.
By the end of Adventure of Link the plan to revive Ganon by sacrificing Link has failed and peace has returned to Hyrule. Link has claimed the missing Triforce of Courage and brought it to Hyrule Castle and awoken the legendary sleeping princess Zelda. The quadrilogy would make quite a bit of sense story wise as well: Ganon’s supporters have a new plan to resurrect him outside of Hyrule where Link cannot interfere. But then the goddesses step in and send Link to put a stop to it.
As for the Triforce, it is commonly assumed that it returns to the Sacred Realm after granting the wish to the one who claims it. Now, can assume that at the end of AoL the Triforce is still in Hyrule, as the power of the artifact alone was said to be able to wake the sleeping Zelda from her eternal slumber, therefor Link had no need to make a wish and the triforce is not pictured to go anywhere. A Link to the Past is another case however. The wish was made in the Sacred Realm, which is the only place we ever see the Triforce in. One could argue that Link could have taken the Triforce back to Hyrule with him, since he had access to the Sacred Realm, but no evidence of this exists.
Now, let’slook at some of the points that are most commonly used against this placement. The first one is that Impa who appears in LoZ and AoL cannot be the same because she does not know Link in the beginning of the game. This argument ignores the fact that there are multiple Impas, in fact there is an entire lineage (see footnotes). The Impa in the Oracles is also very different looking, while the other characters retain their characteristics.
The second argument is that the Oracles fit seamlessly between Link’s Awakening and Legend of Zelda and go along well with the myth of the sleeping princess Zelda which was described in the backstory of AoL. The same pieces of evidence work for both choices just as well. It’s solely because of the original intentions of the developers and the birthmark that this article favors the the placement discussed above. The backstory of AoL also still fits in its place even if the Oracles are placed elsewhere.
The third point is that Zelda does not recognize Link in the linked Oracles game (for Zelda’s words see footnotes). This is the point where people most commonly give up, as there is no way Zelda (be it wither one) would greet Link like that unless she’s yet another Princess Zelda, which would be a far stretch. There is always the possibility that these are not the same characters from LoZ and AoL, but if we were to take this stance, it would negate some of the evidence stated above. If we insist that this theory is true, we can come up with explanations of all kinds, but unfortunately there is nothing very concrete we can produce without venturing off to the world of fan fiction.
As it is, this placement remains as one of the most popular views on the whole oracle ordeal, despite its issues. A theorist is often tempted to take the easy road and scrap such issues with the old “Flagship wasn’t thinking it through”, but taking this stance goes against the wonderfully nitpicky and pedantic nature of it all. The placement of the oracles remains one of the biggest mysteries in theorising to date.
Proof that there is a whole line of Impas and not just one, a quote from the AoL manual:
“There was a door in the North Castle called ‘the door that does not open.’ Only the descendants of the Impa family who served the king knew how to open the door.”
Zelda’s words to Link when they meet in the linked game:
Thank you for rescuing me. My name is Zelda. You are Link, right? I knew it at first glance.
Two links that include information about the development of the Oracles: