Posted on December 31 2010 by Locke
Shigeru Miyamoto constantly reminds us that he sees gameplay as the most important aspect of Zelda games to keep people playing them. This may be true overall, but I am more drawn in by the individual stories of each game and each character, and especially by the overarching themes of the Zelda timeline. While most are probably looking forward to the new Wii Motion Plus controls and enjoy Miyamoto’s interviews about the gameplay, I’ve focused almost entirely on the story and enjoyed the descriptions in Aonuma’s interviews. Way back before E3 I posted what I thought would be a good story for “Zelda Wii” given the few developer quotes we had at the time and quite a bit of speculation. Of course, E3 came around and proved that it wouldn’t be the case. It did however provide much more information to form new theories, which I posted in this thread (and updated in a later post). Most of these latter theories are still valid, and I will focus on the ones that relate to Twilight Princess in this article.
Since it comes first on the timeline and depicts the creation of the Master Sword, Skyward Sword will certainly contain references to and themes from Ocarina of Time and A Link to the Past. I think it will share a much deeper connection with Twilight Princess. The proximity of these two games is one reason I have come to this conclusion. Twilight Princess was released in November 2006, and Game Informer reported the next month that “the next installment in this series has been deep in development for around a year.”(1) Though Game Informer’s claim may be questionable, Skyward Sword‘s development was certainly in full gear when Hidemaro Fujibayashi joined the team as director after finishing Phantom Hourglass just half a year later.(2) Eiji Aonuma revealed in the Nintendo Developer Roundtable during E3 2010 that “last year … the story was pretty much complete.”(3) Aonuma originally wrote the story for Twilight Princess (with some major changes by Mitsuhiro Takano and Aya Kyogoku)(4) and is now the producer of Skyward Sword. Aonuma himself solidifies the connection between these two games even more:
“For any game to be remembered for a long time, just like Ocarina of Time was, the game must give the strong impression that it has set a new starting point for future sequels to build upon. We are working to further improve upon the experiences found in Twilight Princess so that our future games can realize these innovations.” -Eiji Aonuma(5)
I feel that Ocarina of Time is what kicked the timeline into full gear. The timeline was there since Adventure of Link, and A Link to the Past did add some major backstory of its own, but Ocarina of Time was the first to depict a major event told in a different game. It provided a direct link between two games and a huge opportunity for “future sequels to build upon.” Skyward Sword may not split the timeline, but I think it will expand on the themes introduced in Twilight Princess, as Ocarina of Time did with A Link to the Past, to the point that they become fully incorporated into the timeline and can continue to be used in future stories.
One of the two most prominent newly introduced groups of people is the Oocca. They were described in Twilight Princess to be a race that originally lived on the land but moved to the sky. When comparing this description with that of Skyward Sword, it’s difficult not to see the resemblance or that one was directly inspired by the other.
“The common opinion is that Hyrule was created by the Hylia people, the race closest to the gods, but truth be told, there’s also a theory saying that in ancient times there was a race even closer to the gods than the Hylia people, and THEY created it. And they, simultaneously with the birth of the Hylia people, created a new capital, a capital that floated in the heavens.” -Shad, Twilight Princess (Jumbie’s Japanese translation)
“…Link … lives on this floating land called Skyloft that’s above the soil – above the clouds … and while he is journeying back and forth between these two worlds, the mystery of why the worlds have been divided and separated becomes clear to him.” -Eiji Aonuma(6)
Sounds like a sequel, no? It would make no sense for Nintendo to create such a race of beings that live in the sky and such a backstory for them, then immediately ignore them and say the Hylians or some other race lived in the sky. I am confident that Aonuma will keep the stories consistent and the inhabitants of Skyloft – including Link – will be the ancestors of the Hylians. The reason the two worlds were separated will have something to do with why the Oocca left to the heavens when the Hylians were created.
To go along with the backstory of the Oocca, Impaz specifically tells us of the legend of the messenger to the heavens.
“Among the legends of my clan, there is a story from the time when the Oocca still maintained contact with the royal family. Yes, it said that a mysterious rod was handed down from the people of the sky, and it was called the Dominion Rod… The rod was only to be carried by the messenger to the heavens when the royal family needed to communicate with the Oocca.” -Impaz, Twilight Princess
While it is likely that the Dominion Rod itself will not appear in Skyward Sword,(6) its importance to the relationship between the people of the land and those of the sky resembles that of the Skyward Sword. Both are used by messengers between the worlds. Of course, they obviously can’t be the same thing, as the Skyward Sword becomes the Master Sword. If the Dominion Rod was a gift from the Oocca, then perhaps the Master Sword originally came from the sky as well. Given that Link didn’t know the land below existed, it’s safe to say that Skyward Sword will not take place during the “epoch when the royal family still maintained cultural exchange with the sky” (Japanese version of the above quote). I find it more likely that it will be before that time. It is doubtful that the royal family was established since the creation of the Hylians. Judging by the logo of the game and the fact that Hyrule is currently ruled by evil forces, I think the Oocca will help found the royal family and remain in contact with them via the messenger and Dominion Rod – in place of the Skyward Sword which has become the Master Sword – for some time after the conclusion of the game.
Even more vital to the story of Twilight Princess was the invention of the interlopers. They were also given a backstory for Skyward Sword to explore, much like the Oocca.
“For a long time, the world was at peace, with people’s hearts being deeply faithful…
But at length, a rivalry ensued over Hyrule, the holy land.
In the midst of the people, persons [NoA: interlopers] who excelled at magic appeared.
With powerful sorcery, they tried to rule the holy land.
But the goddesses sent us light spirits to seal away the gigantic magic of those people.
And that very sorcery is the black power… the Crystal Stone of Shadow [NoA: Fused Shadow].” -Lanayru, Twilight Princess (Jumbie’s Japanese translation)
This is strikingly similar to the connection between A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. The former introduced a story about a villain that tried to gain power but was sealed (the “Seal War”), and the latter built on this story to include a specific hero to bring about the defeat of the villain. We already know that Hyrule “is ruled by an evil force” in Skyward Sword. Just as the Sages from A Link to the Past‘s backstory were shown to have been aided by Link in Ocarina of Time, the Light Spirits from Twilight Princess‘s backstory may be shown to have been aided by Link in Skyward Sword. Perhaps, then, the Light Spirits will also appear in the game and it will end with the creation of the Twilight Mirror and the banishment of this evil force to the Twilight Realm, along with the sealing of its magic.
There are many small details in Twilight Princess that seem to imply that the interlopers had something to do with the Sheikah. Considering that the logo of Skyward Sword features the crest of the Hylian Royal Family, I think the relationship between the evil forces and the royal family will be demonstrated to some extent and hopefully provide evidence for or against this correlation. The crest also contains the Triforce, which happens to be displayed in the cut scene during Lanayru’s telling the interloper backstory. Nintendo of America’s translation of Lanayru’s tale interestingly gives it a slightly different meaning: “they tried to establish dominion over the Sacred Realm.” Zelda in Ocarina of Time warns that “if someone with an evil heart wishes on [the Triforce], the world would be ruled by evil.” So as usual, the Triforce will probably be the evil force’s main desire. Some event involving the Skyward Sword is said to bring the land below to Link’s attention, and once he goes there he is said to be searching for a lost friend. Could it be that the evil force attacked Skyloft in its search? Could Skyloft be the Sacred Realm?(7)
Zelda also tells us that the ancient Sages built the Temple of Time to protect the entrance to the Sacred Realm from such people, while Rauru repeats this and adds that they used the Master Sword as the final key. Since the Master Sword didn’t exist as we know it at the time of Skyward Sword, the Temple of Time most likely didn’t exist either. In fact, Rusl in Twilight Princess adds that “the ancestors of the Hylians created the temple.” We know that the ancestors of the Hylians are the Oocca, so they must have helped the Sages construct the temple, or they must be the Sages. These mixed messages we get between Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess seem to be attempting to form connections between the Sages, the Master Sword (and now the Skyward Sword), the Temple of Time, and the Oocca. The nature of this connection will hopefully become clear once the game is released, and may even be important aspects of the story’s ending.
While I don’t think these last two themes are quite as likely to appear in Skyward Sword, they were highlighted in Twilight Princess to such an extent as to believe that the developers had more in mind than just what they presented in that game. The first is the symbol displayed throughout Snowpeak Ruins. This normally wouldn’t be anything special, as dungeons often have recurring symbols on doors and switches, but the ones in this mansion are given much more meaning by the nature of the mansion, the weapons stored there, and the symbol’s reoccurrence in a hidden cave in North Hyrule Field. This ‘dungeon’ isn’t just a cave or a carved out tree. It’s a manmade structure, built for a purpose that seems to be different from what the yetis use it for. Through the display of weapons and armor, and the frequent use of cannons while progressing through the ruins, one gets the impression that this used to be a military outpost. The crests reveal that it belonged to a powerful family or nation.
As if that wasn’t enough, we were given part of what could prove to be a very interesting story. Deep in a cave situated in North Hyrule Field lies a hidden armory or barracks, protected by walls of ice. Inside, one can find a series of block-pushing puzzles, a treasure chest containing a heart piece, walls lined with various weapons, and more depictions of the same crest found in Snowpeak Mansion. Of particular interest are the banners bearing the crest of the Hylian Royal Family that weren’t present in the mansion. It becomes quite obvious that there is an untold story involving these two locations. I can only guess at what this story is. One of my theories involves some event occurring after the child ending of Ocarina of Time that ties in with a few other themes like the hero’s shade and the many references to a past hero in Twilight Princess. Another involves Skyward Sword and an analysis of its logo and the nature of Skyloft. Hyrule may have adopted the bird supporting the Triforce as the Royal Crest only after a hero from the sky saved them and the Triforce from their evil oppressors. In this case, the crest seen in the mansion could have been used by the Hylian faction before this event. The mansion and icy hideout may have been used in undisclosed wars with other nations or with other known races, or even against the evil forces. (They may even be part of Skyward Sword‘s gameplay!) The banner with the Royal Crest is evidence that the secret hideout was still used by the new Hylian nation, while the mansion at Snowpeak may have been abandoned.
The other theme is the legend of the ancient hero. It’s not so much a legend like in many other games – such as The Minish Cap – as a series of references pointing to some hero that can’t easily be attributed to any known incarnation of Link. These references included the Hero’s Bow belonging to an ancient hero, the green tunic being worn by the ancient hero, and Renado being reminded of the ancient hero when he sees Link. Before Skyward Sword, the Link from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask was the only one we knew for certain existed before the one in Twilight Princess. But as far as we know, he never “saved Hyrule from a crisis,” (on the child timeline) as is told of the ancient hero. He also didn’t bring the bow or tunic back with him, so some assumptions would have to be made in order to apply the legend to him. Either he did something heroic after returning from Termina, or the legends look all the way back to the Skyward Sword era. We already know that this Link wields a bow, wears a green tunic, and saves Hyrule from a crisis, so he does fit the legend nicely.
I do think that some of these themes can be explained outside the context of Skyward Sword and some might be best left to speculation, but Nintendo did such a great job introducing so many new facets of the Zelda universe that they demand to be explored and expanded. The new tribes of the Oocca and the interlopers were given such deep stories it’s clear that they’ll be more important than to be confined to one game. The series has been starved with what little we know about the mysteries of the Sheikah and the ancient hero, and the importance of the Sages, Temple of Time, and Master Sword. With Skyward Sword, Nintendo has the opportunity to expand on all these things to provide more depth to their universe and more material to use in future additions.
(1)New Zelda for Wii “deep in development,” Phantom Hourglass delayed, joystiq, 11 December 2006.
(2)E3 2010: Eiji Aonuma’s “Trapped in the Zelda Cage”, IGN, 16 June 2010.
(3)E3 2010: Nintendo Developer Roundtable Live Blog, IGN, 15 June 2010.
(4)Game Developers Choice Awards – “Eiji Aonuma: 僕が書いたストーリーをものすごく良いものに変えてくれたシナリオ担当の高野充浩さんと京極あ やさん / Those responsible for the scenario, Mr. Mitsuhiro Takano and Mrs. Aya Kyogoku, made some really great changes to the story I wrote […]” – Retrieved from Wikipedia
(5)Nintendo: Twilight Princess ‘Starting Point’ for New Zelda, IGN, 8 December 2009.
(6)SS Storyline – all references regarding Skyward Sword are consolidated here. From this point on, I will assume that all information I present about Skyward Sword is common knowledge. If not, it can be found here.
(7)Skyward Sacred Realm, Alex Plant, Zelda Informer, 24 August 2010. A suggested read if this idea interests you. I don’t think it’s true, but it’s possible.
Other references/Further reading:
Skyward Sword: A Theorist’s Speculation by Melchizedek Eleazar of Zelda Informer, 18 June 2010.
Dawn of Evil’s Bane by Alex Plant of Zelda Informer, 27 August 2010.
Envoy to the Heavens by Alex Plant of Zelda Informer, 7 September 2010.
Hyrule’s Bloody History by Alex Plant of Zelda Informer, 14 September 2010.