Zelda Dungeon Marathon 2019:

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

instance.

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

rise to

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

before

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

Zelda game

without Link, and we have seen the evidence that proves such a thing must have

happened at least once.

After

The Wind

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

Twilight

Princess

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

Majora’s Mask,

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

ending.

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

The

Wind Waker.

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!

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