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!
This is a topic which has been rather hotly debated by many amongst the Zelda theorizing community for a long time now, and I believe that it shall continue to be questioned even if an answer is found. All that can be done until such a time is to theorize. That is what I intend to do in this article. I will explore a number of theories: some of which are my own, some of which have been the subject of great discussion in many forums, all of which can be used to argue one point which people still question even now, seven years after Link, the Hero of Time, first stepped into the mysterious land that is Termina, despite all of the evidence which works in its favor:
Termina is a parallel world.
Regardless of how it came about – be it the creative minds of the writers behind the Zelda series or a cheap and easy way to reuse some of Ocarina of Time’s characters and music – this is, without a doubt, a fact. But is parallel even the right word to describe what Termina is? Parallel lines run beside each other, but never meet. When they do meet, they are no longer considered to be parallel. Can the same be said for parallel worlds? One of the definitions for parallel in the ‘Collins Gem Australian English Dictionary’ states the following:
Parallel: adj. separated by equal distance at every point; precisely corresponding.
Another, from the ‘Macquarie Budget Dictionary’ says – from a Geometry perspective:
Parallel: Geometry. Lying in the same plane but never meeting no matter how far extended.
Finally, ‘The Concise English Dictionary’ dictates:
Parallel: n. a likeness, counterpart.
While these definitions mostly refer to parallel lines, these ‘other realms’ would not have been given the name ‘parallel’ unless they were thought to possess similar traits. However, it is impossible to state that these particular worlds, Hyrule and Termina, never meet, as Link travels – or, rather, falls into Termina from the Lost Woods in Hyrule. It is also impossible to say that they are exactly the same -as ‘parallel world’ would imply -, as it is clearly obvious that this is not the case. Perhaps a better way to describe Termina is that it is simply in another alternate realm to Hyrule, which can be accessed if one enters through a portal of some sort, as Link, Epona, Skullkid, the Happy Mask Salesman, Tatl and Tael, and perhaps others all did. Whether Termina is a parallel world or an alternate one, it shall henceforth be known in this article as parallel, so as to simplify my discussion.
The manual for Majora’s Mask, in the ‘Welcome to Termina’ section, states that:
‘Termina is a kind of parallel world that is similar to and yet different from the land of Hyrule, which was the setting for Ocarina of Time… the people Link meets here may look vaguely familiar at first glance.’
This is most probably one of the single most debated aspects of the parallel world theory. Some believe that it proves that Termina is parallel; others say it proves quite the opposite. I believe that this quote cannot be used as concrete evidence one way or the other. Things have been misconstrued in regards to Zelda before, such as the infamous ‘Wind Waker takes place 100 years after Ocarina of Time’ comment. The only things which can be used as concrete evidence in this case are maps and in-game evidence. Looking at the map of Termina, there are a number of things which prove that the land is parallel, rather than being simply a land near Hyrule. For example, all of the Death Mountain area is frozen over. This could not have occurred in the mere months between the end of Ocarina of Time and the start of Majora’s Mask. In the manual, under ‘The Goron Tribe’, it reveals that the Gorons are used to harsh weather. One does not become accustomed to harsh conditions in the span of a few months. Also, the Zora live in the Great Bay area, which leads out to the sea. If the Death Mountain in Hyrule and the Death Mountain in Termina are the same mountain, as I imagine they would be if Termina was not parallel, how could Great Bay extend as far as it does, or lead out to sea for that matter? Termina must be in another realm for this to occur.
The map can also be used to discern exactly how Link actually got into Termina if not through a portal of some sort. He couldn’t have. Link enters Clock Town facing south, and had come from a cavernous forest area. The only thing which is north in Termina is snowy mountains. There is no forest to speak of. Also, when Link chases the Skullkid, he falls down into a cavern and then finds himself in a twisted hallway not unlike the ones in the Forest Temple, save for the fact that the whole room twists and distorts as he walks along it. The steel door then closes behind him. This whole sequence is said to be how Link finds the portal to Termina and enters it. I liken it to Alice falling down the rabbit hole and ending up in Wonderland. However, I do not believe that this portal is the only one which can get a person to and from Termina. I believe that in every location of Termina, there is a portal which leads to Hyrule, and this is supported by the words of the Goron who gives Link the Don Gero Mask when he mentions the Dodongo’s Cavern. There had to be people who knew of the portals in both Hyrule and Termina if a location from Hyrule could have been known to this Goron.
Another thing which I believe proves that Termina is parallel is the fact that almost all of the characters in Termina are identical to those in Hyrule. Now, I do believe that this is also partly due to Nintendo’s laziness, but it serves to illustrate my point. I believe that the people in Termina who bear likeness to the people of Hyrule are their equivalents. Anju is the equivalent of the Cucco Lady in Hyrule, Lulu = Princess Ruto, Gorman = Ingo, the Gerudo Pirates = the Gerudo Thieves, and so on. I also believe that the various locations around Termina are the equivalents of various locations around Hyrule. I believe that the places in both regions which share the same in-game music are ‘direct equivalents’, for want of a better phrase. For example, Zora Hall is the equivalent of Zora’s Domain, Goron Shrine = Goron City, the Woods of Mystery = Lost Woods, Ikana Valley = Gerudo Valley etc. I also think that the other locations around Termina have Hyrulian equivalents. For example, the Great Bay area is the equivalent of the Lake Hylia area, Woodfall area = Kokiri Forest area, Snowhead area = Death Mountain/ Kakariko Village area etc.
A final theory which I have about Termina is that it is beyond the Adult/Child timeline split and that time is also different in Termina as opposed to Hyrule. These theories are supported, in my opinion, by a number of things. For example, in the Wind Waker, there are a few things which seem to be from Majora’s Mask and thus Termina. The first of these things is Tingle. Termina would have had to have been destroyed by the moon in the adult timeline if it was affected by the timeline split, as Link was not there to save it – he was in the Sacred Realm. How, then, can Tingle be in Wind Waker centuries later? Some put it down to Tingle simply being an Easter Egg of sorts, but I believe that it is more than that. Tingle makes maps in both games – and sells them for an incredible high price (the purpose of which was revealed in Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland, about him needing rupees to survive in his green-clothed form…), and he also wants to be a fairy in both games as well. He seems to recognize Wind Waker Link’s clothing as being similar to the clothing of the Link in Majora’s Mask. He also doesn’t appear to have aged a day.
Another thing which appears to have come from Termina is the Pictograph box. It has been upgraded, yes, but it is essentially the same device. Ocarina of Time did not feature this device, and it would be a huge coincidence if it was named the same by chance. Another thing, which I do not believe has merit enough to support my argument, but I think is still interesting nonetheless, is that the Hero’s Charm – the item which allows you to see the stamina of your opponent in Wind Waker – looks suspiciously like Majora’s Mask. I’m not suggesting that it is Majora’s Mask, as the two designs are different; rather I am suggesting that somebody who at least knew what the mask looked like designed the charm in a similar fashion. Majora’s Mask, as far as anybody knows, did not leave Termina except for when the Happy Mask Man or the Skullkid had it, but I would imagine that little damage was done with it outside of Termina. How can any of this be possible if Termina is not above the Adult/Child timeline split?
The reasons I believe that time in Termina is different to time in Hyrule are as follows: Firstly, I think it is obvious that a day in Termina is far longer to a day in Hyrule, which is likely due to the design of the game, but may be something more. As I stated previously, Tingle appears to be about the same age in both Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker. Coupled with my earlier argument – that Termina is unaffected by the timeline split – it makes sense to say that time in Termina is vastly different to time in Hyrule, which was why I once believed that the Great Flood had occurred while Link was in Termina, before I discovered that the timeline was split.
Conversely, the legend of the Four Giants states that the Skullkid was banished from Termina centuries before Majora’s Mask occurred. It is my belief that he returned to Hyrule, where he must have been born – a Kokiri, for they are the only things which can become Skullkids (to the best of my knowledge) – , and met Link there as well, which is supported by a quote in Majora’s Mask where he remembers Link’s smell. Upon his return to Termina with Majora’s Mask, however, centuries had passed. Secondly – and again, this will not hold a lot of merit in my argument but is interesting to point out -, the Keaton Mask which Link gives to the man standing by the gate to Death Mountain in Ocarina of Time is said to be the most popular mask in Hyrule at that time. Only months later, when Link goes to Termina, he is given another Keaton Mask, which was left by Kafei. When he shows it to the Happy Mask Man, he basically says that it is a ‘retro’ mask, for want of a better word. The two points which I have just stated contradict the first, but I can draw this conclusion from them: time in Termina is either much faster or much slower than time in Hyrule. Either way, it is different. Both are equally likely, but I cannot say which one is correct.
To sum up, Termina is, whether you like it or not, a parallel – or at least alternate – land to Hyrule. Even if the developers of the game were cheap when they decided to reuse some of the aspects of Ocarina of Time in Majora’s Mask – which I knew even when the game first came out seven years ago, when I was only nine – it doesn’t mean that the land isn’t parallel. There is undeniable evidence that supports this, regardless of how much people try to deny it. Perhaps when Link makes a return to Termina we will know more about the mysteries which surround the land, but for now, that is the only thing which is clear to us, and there is no point in trying to argue otherwise.