Since video games were even thought of as a form of media and entertainment, they have always contained various secrets for the more determined player: easter eggs as they are commonly known – and the Legend of Zelda series is no different.
Zelda has had its fair share of easter eggs beginning with the plethora of hidden secrets in bombed wall in the original NES title; from the infamous “I AM ERROR” in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, to the absolutely downright absurd (yes, I’m referring to the hand in the toilet in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and Skyward Sword). Often these easter eggs are just for entertainment or possibly as a bit of comic relief—but one has a great deal of importance than the rest. I am talking of course about the white-winged, deceivingly dangerous Cucco.
First appearing in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Cuccos appeared as no more than a simple addition to Kakariko Village, making it seem much more homely with a few stray “chickens” roaming around. This was, however, until they were struck. Repeatedly. It was fun. I’m sure we can all admit to a bit of Cucco abuse at one time or another—but playing A Link to the Past for the first time and being swarmed by a malevolent flock of Cuccos (often aptly named the “Cucco Revenge Squad”) seeking revenge on our green-capped protagonist was the beginning of something much bigger than expected.
The Legend of Cucco continued in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for the Game Boy. What originally appeared as an easter egg in A Link to the Past had now advanced into something essential to the story. Link’s Awakening contained a flying rooster revived by Link, allowing him to hold the Cucco in order to enter the Eagle’s Tower. The Cucco had evolved, and from this point on had become a distinctive part of The Legend of Zelda series.
With the success of the Nintendo 64 and its classic and critically-acclaimed Zelda titles, the Cucco again made an appearance, and yet again played an important part in various side quests. Ocarina of Time again saw Link return to Kakariko Village, this time to gather up the winged escapees for Anju in order to receive a bottle. And as we all know, bottles are absolutely vital in any Zelda game! The Cucco continued to display its integration with the game in the Biggoron Sword quest, involving a sequence of item-trading one of which was the pocket egg, soon hatching into the Pocket Cucco which was then traded to Grog in Kakariko Village for the Blue Cucco.
Cucco trading? Did Link hope to evolve his Cucco? Was Grog’s Blue Cucco a shiny and Link wanted it for himself? This is all beginning to sound very Pokémon…
But I digress. In Link’s efforts to save Termina from imminent moon destruction in Majora’s Mask, the humble Cucco again played an important role in obtaining one of the most useful masks in the game: the Bunny Hood. Sporting the Bremen Mask, Link was able to march around accompanied by a fine tune on his ocarina and somehow miraculously aging what appeared to be Cucco chicks into full-grown roosters, again doing a favour for Grog.
And the involvement of the Cucco does not stop there! All of the future Zelda titles too involved our beloved Cucco: two special Cuccos exclusive to either Oracle of Ages or Oracle of Seasons again similar to Link’s Awakening giving Link the power of temporary flight, giant Cuccos (but really regular sized) in Minish Cap and even ones to fuse kinstones with, and of course more Cuccos in Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks – both pecking Link to death and again carrying him to otherwise unreachable places.
However, my personal favourite Cucco is that of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess—sporting the strangest Cucco easter egg and by far the most disturbing Cucco character (need I mention the abomination that is Ooccoo?). Again the Cucco allowed Link to fly short distances when held (with even a special Golden Cucco) and may even provide information when talked to in wolf form. Conversely, when struck multiple times, Link was not swarmed and attacked by Cuccos, but instead took the position of one: controlling a Cucco briefly in the first person view. The reason for this change and removal of the Cucco Revenge Squad is still unknown, but many speculate that it seems to accompany the fact that the series underwent a complete transformation with Twilight Princess.
And so we come to the most recent Zelda title: A Link Between Worlds, and strangely enough back to the home of the Cucco, Kakariko Village, where it all began. Traipsing around that same Kakariko Village for the first time in years gave me an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia – and seeing those same Cuccos still diligently strutting around the village along with the town’s peaceful theme definitely contributed to that. And that Cucco-dodging minigame is ridiculously addictive! I found myself going back several times even after beating it to simply listen to the catchy minigame tune and dodge swarms of boulder-sized giant Cucco.
So after looking back on the lineage of the Cucco, it’s hard to deny that they’ve come so far: from what began as an easter egg in A Link to the Past to becoming an integral run-on Zelda trope. I might even go so far as to say the humble Cucco has added a bit more charm to an already charming franchise.
That was the evolution of the Cucco, but where to next? Surely with the addition of new Zelda titles, the Cucco will again rear its feathered head—but do they deserve more recognition? Some have gone so far as to claim that Cuccos are the true villain of the series, with Ganon as a mere bystander to their overwhelming power and the ability to call forth a horde of them upon command. Could this possibly mean a Zelda game based entirely around Cuccos? Only time will tell…
Disclaimer: No Cuccos were harmed in the creation of this article. Animal abuse is wrong, okay guys?
Image source: Jamie Pogue