I still remember how, when I was a teenager, I played
The Wind Waker for the first time,
and the mark if left on me. Not because of the exploration, although I did love
straying from my path in order to discover new little islands; not because of
the gameplay, although I spent hours on end doing silly things that had no
impact on the story whatsoever, such as invading watchtowers and fighting with
Orca for hours on end just for the heck of it; not even because of the amazing
soundtrack, which I still believe is one of the best in the saga. From the very
beginning, it was the narrative that caught me, and I was not released from its
spell until the very end.
This is, arguably, the
Zelda game that reflects the most upon the saga as a continuous
entity. At the beginning we can see the legend of how Hyrule was flooded in
order to be protected from Ganondorf, at the middle we find the submerged
Hyrule Kingdom, complete with a glass depiction of
Ocarina of Time’s sages, and at the end we have Ganondorf explaining
why he invaded the kingdom, as he tried to lead his people away from the harsh
conditions of the Gerudo desert. These connections between games, and the great
insights it provided on the characters, is what has made me regard this as one
of the finest installments of the saga.
But let’s go back a little. Remember that first part
of the intro, where we are told about how Ganon crept back from his prison and
enslaved Hyrule once again? That is how every
Zelda game begins, right? Ganon
comes back to life, Link does as well, they battle and the good triumphs over
evil. But not this time.
This time, there is no Link. There is no one to
protect the kingdom from evil, and so Ganon took over and reigned unopposed.
Now this is a very weird thing. Did Demise not curse Link to reappear every
time Ganon did, so that they would fight forever? And does Zelda – maybe Impa
as well – not share the same curse? There have been Links without Ganon (e.g.
Link’s Awakening, Majora’s Mask, Minish Cap),
but there has never been a Ganon without Link. Except, of course, for this
Young as I was, this fact set me to daydreaming. I
thought that this meant that, sometime in the future, we would have a
Zelda game where Ganon would defeat Link
and get away with his purposes – if it wasn’t for those meddlesome Goddesses!
At this point, some of you will argue that such a thing would be impossible.
How could such a dark game exist? How could Link ever be defeated by the forces
of evil? Well, we should not forget that there is a whole timeline, revealed in
Hyrule Historia, that is created
after the Hero of Time is defeated in his fight against Ganondorf. So far, we
have precedent enough to see that such a game would be a possibility.
Curiously enough, this is not the timeline that gives
The Wind Waker, as would be
the logical thing to think. In fact, if we go back to the chronology, we see
very clearly that there is a vacuum where this game would be placed, just
The Wind Waker. This chronology is also
against the idea of the Hero having been defeated by Ganon—the time when this
happened is simply called “The Era without a Hero.” So there has been at least
one instance of a time when Ganon rose and Link didn’t.
Of course, I didn’t know anything about all this at
the time. I could not imagine there could be separate timelines or where each
game was placed in time in relation to the rest. I just knew that Nintendo had
pointed to an event in time that had not been covered by any other previous
game—an incredibly interesting event at that. Now, some authors, such as Nathanial
Rumphol-Janc, have claimed that they would like to see a
Zelda game with a recurring villain that was not Ganondorf; for my
part, I’d love to see a
without Link, and we have seen the evidence that proves such a thing must have
happened at least once.
Waker, the next non-portable Zelda
game to be released was Twilight Princess,
which was the darkest installment (aesthetically speaking, in the sense that it
makes frequent use of the chiaroscuro, of lights and shadows;
Majora’s Mask still remains the darkest
in concept and narrative) to have been released in the saga. As I watched the
trailers, I expected that to be a foreboding of the narrative. I expected this
to be the game that told us how the Hero failed in his quest, of how Ganondorf
finally bested his long rival and got what he had been longing for. I’m pretty
sure I’m not the only
Zelda fan who
felt deeply moved by Ganondorf’s speech at the end of
The Wind Waker, who wished he could win, just this once.
I arrived at the game pretty unspoiled, and with a
pretty naïve mindset. I was so sure
was going to be the one that explained why Hyrule had been
flooded, that, when I saw how unlikely this resolution was going to be as I
progressed through the game, I grew pretty mad at it. The wonderful, epic final
battle made up for the disappointment, but I still long for such an installment
to break the common assumptions on which the saga is built.
Now, as I see it, this is how this missing link
should go: the aesthetics should be very similar to those of
Twilight Princess, as they are the ones
who would fit such an I’m-doomed-to-lose mood. The fact that they would be
using a style similar to a previous installment wouldn’t be that strange, as the
trio of The Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks has already proven. The music should be somewhat
similar to that of
deeply disturbing and foreboding of the impending doom. Ganondorf here should
be a sympathetic figure, such as he was in
The Wind Waker,
so as to give meaning to the whole adventure. And of course, we already know
that there should be no Link whatsoever, because of the reasons discussed
above. Those are the main, reasonable tenets on which this game would be
construed. But the rest of the game design would have to be more conflictive.
We know there is no Link in this game, so the
question arises, who would be the main hero? Well, as I see it, the best way to
go about it would be to have a heroine instead: we have been long waiting for
Zelda to be the main character of a full-fledged, non-CD I game, and Impa would
be an awesome option as well. It would give the saga the freshness and the
variety it needs.
The narrative wouldn’t have to be focused on defeating
Ganon, either. The game could start with a prophecy, foretelling how this time
he will rise and conquer Hyrule no matter what anyone does to oppose him.
Instead, the main character could go through temples and villages trying to
raise some kind of protecting spell (remember how the submerged Hyrule Kingdom
was frozen in time?). Maybe this time, the mission of the hero/ine is to save
the people from the destruction, so that the Goddesses can deal with the menace
themselves. At the end of the game, we would see the main character not
defeating Ganon, but maybe sacrificing him/herself or getting frozen in time as
the Goddesses flood Hyrule and submerge the kingdom under the waves. That would
make for a fresh, innovative not yet un-Zelda
Another, yet highly unlikely way to go about it
would be to have Ganondorf (maybe even a young Ganondorf!) be the main
character, as he rises to power collecting the orbs and medallions and whatnot
in order to save the Gerudo from the desert. This way, every temple would be
protected by the Goddesses, and Ganondorf would have to brave their opposition
to gain the Triforce of Power and so make his personal utopia come to fruition.
The final “villain” could be, who knows, Zelda, Impa, maybe the Goddesses
themselves; only after Ganondorf triumphs over them would they ascend to the
heavens and flood Hyrule so that his reign comes to an end.
I have to admit, I know these are very unlikely
scenarios. The missing link will probably remain an obscure entry in the
Hyrule Historia chronology, along with so
many unexplained yet evocative segments (what happened during The Golden Era?
How was the Hyrule Kingdom established during the Era of Prosperity?). However,
we do know that some fans are already putting some pressure on Nintendo to make
Zelda be the main character, as is the case of
The Legend of Zelda: Clockwork Empire by Aaron Díaz,
and many others urge to have even more radical changes, such as a futuristic
Zelda. And hey, after the Spirit Tracks, why not? I just hope
that, someday, Nintendo decides to dust off their chronology in order to create
a game that fills the vacuum left by
Would you like to have such a game, too? How would
you make it any different, yet coherent with the facts we already know? As this
is but a piece of speculation, I’d be glad to know what other fans have to say
about this missing link!