Since the announcement of Zelda Wii U, limited details regarding the game’s plot have been spared– leaving plenty of room open for interpretation. Written by one of our very own forum users, Tatltael, has mused an intriguing speculation concerning the story, tone, and other details worth noting that could have otherwise been easily overlooked. You can read all about it after the jump.
E3 gave us a brief glimpse of the next Zelda console game in the form of a brief, yet tension filled trailer. Hyrule appeared to be vast. Green, flowing grass swirled along the plains, and craggy mountains in the distance were shrouded in fog and the pink light of an early morning. The land of Hyrule also appeared to be sparsely inhabited with only a few villagers. A cloaked enigma sat atop his horse, surveying the land.
The atmosphere has a tense air in the presence of the individual on the steed. The tension in the scene builds as the cloaked figure simply observes the village and plains further out silently. This persistent observing made it impossible to guess the person’s motives and lent to the subtle tension within the scene. This tension reached its peak when a giant robot, resembling an octopus, began chasing the cloaked silhouette on the horse. The eight armed machine fired a laser at the rider, leaving flames in its wake.
The figure cast aside his cloak, revealing his visage. The uncovered character is Link, with his messy blonde-brown hair, blue eyes, youthful face and long, pointed ears. With the setting and Link already shown, this begs the question: What kind of story and tone could possibly be displayed in this new land?
In the trailer, a bow rested on the horse’s saddle, pointing to the fact that Link is likely an experienced horseback archer. Keeping a bow on the saddle implies that this is Link’s weapon of choice, as he did not draw a sword to attack the monster. Link proves he is a skilled in archery by remaining poised on his horse while knocking back one bomb arrow and holding another in his hand. He aims and fires off both in quick, precise succession. Judging from the skills that he possesses with a bow on horseback, I believe that the Link of this game may hail from or be the origin point for the Gerudo tribe.
Horseback archery is an enjoyable mini-game in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. If you talk to the Gerudo in the archery field, she says, “After a lot of hard practice and training, we finally have the skill to hit the bulls-eye while riding like the wind!” This proves that the Gerudo are skilled archers on horseback, which links us back to what was shown in the trailer.
In an interview with 4Gamer, Eiji Aonuma said, “Having someone think ‘Huh? Is this Zelda?!’ at first, then ‘Oh, it is Zelda,’ is what we’re going for. Something that wouldn’t make it matter whether Link or Princess Zelda appear in it or not. Something where it wouldn’t even matter if Zelda is actually a princess, or not.” In this case, it sounds like Aonuma wants to shock the players in a good way.
Essentially, Aonuma is saying that Link does not have to play the role of the hero any longer. Likewise, with the comment about Zelda not being a princess, I don’t think this necessarily means that she will be a princess in this game. It seems that Aonuma is giving his main characters freedom from their usual roles. Zelda could, for example, be the hero in this game, or anything else the creators wanted her to be. This means that we might see Link assume a different role. He could be a Gerudo, perhaps a rogue, a simple traveler, or someone darker. These possible roles move Link into uncharted territory, given the nature of his position as hero in the past Zelda games.
Looking back at the trailer, we see that Link is wearing a mysterious black cloak. Beneath that, he wears a deep sea blue tunic with white embroidery on it that reminds me of what Link wore in Wind Waker. The only difference is that it lacks the crayfish design in the center, though the white embroidery does have a similar, delicate wispy feel to the design. He also adorns beige pants that mimic the tunic’s fabric. The tunic and pants give us the possibility that Link hails from a warmer climate and needs heavier clothes on while traveling through the plains. The cloak, in this case, would aid in keeping him warm as well as hidden. On his arms are gauntlets.
The gauntlets are cream in color, but they also have lines of orange running along them in a straight, box-like pattern with blue straight lines in between the orange lines. These gauntlets mirror the ones worn by Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time, though Ganondorf’s gauntlets have blue lines going between the orange ones in a similar design on his. The design on the gauntlets also harkens back to a lot of designs found in the Gerudo Fortress in Ocarina of Time. The similarity of Link’s gauntlets to Ganondorf’s leads me to think that the design on Link’s gauntlets symbolize a connection with the Gerudo.
The cloak reminds me of what Midna wore in the end of Twilight Princess, as it copies the light flowing nature of her cloak and also has a design on the back in gray and white lines that remind me of the colors seen on Midna’s cloak in Twilight Princess. The design on the cloak’s back is drawn with lines of off gray that mix the details both described on the gauntlets with bold lines and orange triangles and the lighter, wispier lines from his tunic. These black and gray colors may point to Link being a trickster character of sorts, as a person dressed in black and gray exudes an intriguing and more mysterious aura.
While these clothing choices on the designer’s part could be coincidental, it causes me to think that Link may not be the straight-forward protagonist we think him to be in this game. The gauntlets and the cloak give Link a form of shadiness to his appearance, because these designs don’t seem to line up with the simple clothing of the farmers on the plain, who wear straw hats and plain, unadorned clothes.
The very fact that Link hides his appearance through much of the trailer makes him feel suspicious to me. Why would he have a reason to hide? Hiding behind his cloak makes Link appear to be an outsider or a traveler. While the designs on his cloak possibly identify where he is from, there is no way of telling what the design means, which further alienates him from the people in the trailer in addition to the audience watching the trailer.
Art style can hint at the nature of a game. As mentioned before, Hyrule appears to be light and peaceful. Nothing really troubles the viewer of the field with a deep, darker color scheme or less artistic style in the graphics that would suggest something really sinister is going to happen. Normally, a light, airy style would tell the player that the game is going to have a lighter mood to its story. However, this artistic style might have been chosen to contrast some of the deeper expressions in the game.
Overall, I felt calm while looking at the field and observing my surroundings with Link. Those feelings became distorted once the machine attacked. Had the land or even the automaton been colored or styled differently, I would not have had such a relaxed feeling while looking around, and probably would have perceived a threat coming. The fact that I got caught up in the bright beauty left me open for a surprise. Also, anger gripped me when the mech-octopus destroyed the serenity of the scene, making me more willing to eliminate the threat. I think if the game had a darker color scheme, this jolt of emotion would not have happened, so I find the style to be appropriate for a darker game.
In Ocarina of Time, the Gerudo seem to be outcasts or outsiders, as their desert area is separated from much of the rest of Hyrule. Even Zelda from Ocarina of Time, “Can you see the man with the evil eyes? That is Ganondorf, the leader of the Gerudos. They hail from the desert far to the west. Though he swears allegiance to my father, I am sure he is not sincere.” This quote proves that the Gerudo are at least in a shaky alliance with the Hylians. An alliance suggests that the Gerudo are not part of the kingdom of Hyrule.
Further building the idea that the Gerudo are outsiders, in Wind Waker, Ganondorf says,
“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.”
This quote evidences that the Gerudo were actually a separate nation from Hyrule. Ganondorf used the words “my country” to describe where the Gerudo hailed from. If Gerudo’s Valley was part of Hyrule, I feel Ganondorf would not have taken ownership over that land.
Ganondorf is now seen as a king or leader who tried to care for his people, given the nature of his words in Wind Waker. This does bring into focus the possible idea that the land of Hyrule, though united in a sense in Ocarina of Time, may have been made up of two kingdoms at one point and time. Separate kingdoms tend to dispute and war, as evidenced by the Great Deku Tree Sprout from Ocarina of Time, “Some time ago, before the King of Hyrule unified this country, there was a fierce war in our world.” We now have a possible storyline and tone for Zelda U.
If this speculation is correct, and Link actually has some ties to the Gerudo, and the Gerudo were at some point and time a separate kingdom from Hyrule, then would this Link serve the land by uniting various cultures or tribes within it?
It is possible, but what all would that entail for the overall tone of the game? I speculate that this might be a dark Zelda game, if indeed Link is charged with the task of uniting cultures. This Hyrule does not seem to be largely inhabited from what we’ve been able to see, but that does not mean the inhabitants of this land are not disputing with other races. Additionally, there is the whole mystery of the technology that views Link as a threat.
The mechanical Octorok left fire and destruction in its wake. While watching the trailer, I felt that the machine carried with it a sense of something much darker on the horizon. It came suddenly, attacked swiftly, and though it singled out Link, it brought harm to the land and its people.
I wondered if someone sent the machine after Link, as the idea of a random encounter seemed to be too coincidental given how quickly the contraption targeted Link. If this was the case, then it is plausible that Link is being hunted. If the people searching for Link are sending out a tool that recklessly destroys the land while trying to eliminate its target, then what other technologies or threats are out there?
In closing, I believe that everything I’ve noticed about the trailer and speculated on proves that this Zelda will be a different game from the formula that the game has come to use. We know that Link is in the trailer, but we are unsure of his motives. We are unclear as to whether or not he is even part of or welcome in this new Hyrule. Hyrule looks like it is open for exploration, but the machinery we’ve seen threatens our efforts. There might be war or unrest lying beneath the appearance of things. Perhaps we will see another, darker side to the Zelda universe that hasn’t been explored yet.
With all of Tatltael’s speculations taken under consideration, they certainly seem like plausible thoughts that could very well hold some truths to Zelda Wii U’s story and details within. What do you think of Tatltael’s speculations? Were you able to draw any further ideas from hers? Be sure to share your thoughts in comments below.