Posted on January 08 2010 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
This article contains theoretical elements that are the opinions of the writer and not Zelda Informer as a whole. That said, enjoy the article!
Spirit Tracks brought a breath of life to the Zelda series by providing an enthralling story, unique items and puzzles, and new, interesting characters. The most notable newcomer to the series would have to be the ferocious Malladus, the Demon King spoken of in the game’s introduction who also appears as the game’s final boss. Malladus’ role as the lead antagonist offers somewhat of a break from Ganon. However, the story of Malladus shares similarities to some of the tales surrounding the King of Evil with whom we are well acquainted, as well as bearing references to ancient Hyrule.
These similarities include a battle between the Demon King and divine beings, the sealing of the Demon King in a Dark Realm and the resurrection of the Demon King. Ganon has been involved in circumstances that accurately match these, albeit in various different games. Could the story of Malladus be linked to Ganon, is it all a coincidence, or is he simply a carbon copy of the King of Evil?
The introduction to Spirit Tracks provides a deep insight into the backstory of the new land of Hyrule. The story tells of the Demon King, Malladus, who rose to power and did battle with the Spirits of Good in order to rule the world. The Spirits of Good were finally able to overcome Malladus’ great power, but they could not kill him. Instead, his spirit was sealed away in the ground and bound by the power of the Spirit Tracks and the Tower of Spirits. The game then begins with the diabolical Chancellor Cole kidnapping Zelda’s body in order to resurrect Malladus and gain great power. Cole states that Zelda’s body is necessary as a vessel as she holds the blood of ancient Hyrule, blood that carries power linked to the Spirits of Good.
There have been two attempts to revive Ganon in the series, once in the Adventure of Link, where the blood of Link was required for the ritual, and again in the Oracles of Ages and Oracle of Seasons games, where Zelda’s body was to be used as the vessel for Ganon’s return. This implies that Malladus may be somehow connected to the ancient Hylians or even Ganon, as he wishes to use a Hylian sacrifice in order to return at full power. For both Malladus and Ganon, the use of Zelda’s body would have enabled their complete resurrection, allowing them to be at full power. Unfortunately, this is not touched on much more in the game, leaving the possibility entirely open to speculation.
Zelda’s body possessed by Malladus.
The use of Zelda’s body as a vessel in order to revive Malladus works in a very similar manner to the Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons games. In the linked ending of the games, Twinrova attempted to use Zelda as a vessel to revive Ganon. Link managed to thwart Twinrova’s efforts, so she sacrificed herself instead. This resulted in a mindless, raging Ganon who Link defeated with ease. While Ganon’s resurrection never took place using Zelda’s body, Malladus was successfully summoned within Zelda by Cole. Unlike Ganon, Malladus did not take his original form upon his return. Instead, he simply used Zelda’s body as his own, indicating the form of resurrection between Ganon and Malladus was different; Ganon’s spirit was brought into a vessel which then took on his own shape, while Malladus’ soul simply inhabited a new body. However, after Malladus is driven from Zelda’s body by the Bow of Light, his spirit takes over Cole’s body, resulting in a transformation. Malladus’s new form was a large, blue and grotesque image of Cole that seemed oddly familiar to Ganon from Twilight Princess.
This transformation could be due to the evil in Cole’s heart, but it does imply that he was revived in a similar manner to Ganon after all. After taking Cole’s form, Malladus notes that Cole’s body is rejecting him because, unlike with Zelda, Cole’s spirit remained within his body, and he was driving Malladus out.
The great battle spoken of in the legend of New Hyrule ends with Malladus being sealed beneath the earth and his spirit locked up by the Spirit Tracks. What is strange is that we are later told in the game that Malladus’ spirit was sealed within a Dark World. This would lead one to think that this Dark World is underground, a notion that is not ridiculous, as the Dark Worlds from The Legend of Zelda and The Adventure of Link are said to be the underworld. However, there are dark clouds above the Spirit Tower after Cole destroys it, and the portal used by Link to enter the Dark World is enshrined in an altar at ground level with similar ominous clouds above it. The Dark World itself does not seem to resemble the underworld either. In fact, the Dark World seems to bear no resemblance to anything at all; it is an entirely unique area, a different dimension. Obviously, the Dark World is not under the earth, so why is it that Malladus’ spirit was said to have been sealed under the earth, but in the Dark World?
This contradiction brings into question the nature of the Dark World in Spirit Tracks. The previous Dark Worlds seen in the series are the realms under Ganon’s control, as Dark World in Japanese is known as Makai, a realm under the control of a Demon King. As Malladus is a Demon King, the term Dark World is likely used in the same context as it is with Ganon; it is his abode. However, it is unclear whether Malladus was sealed within this Dark World by the Spirits, or if he was simply sealed underground, and he returned to the Dark World with Cole after he was resurrected.
The seal that bound Malladus’ spirit was that of the Spirit Tracks and the Tower of Spirits. The Spirits of Good laid the Spirit Tracks as shackles to keep Malladus’ spirit under the ground, but this was soon removed by Cole as the Spirit Tracks began disappearing. This seal is quite different to those previously seen in the Zelda series, as Ganon was locked away in the Sacred Realm by the Sages in Ocarina of Time and sealed within the Four Sword in Four Swords Adventures. It is important to note that Malladus’ spirit was sealed after his body was destroyed, whereas Ganon had his entire body locked away. This makes Malladus’ seal somewhat more practical, as there was nothing he could do within his power to attempt to escape.
In the backstory of A Link to the Past, Ganon was sent to the Sacred Realm. However, he was able to wonder around, and by chance, he happened upon the sacred Triforce, and so his plans to escape the Sacred Realm began with Agahnim’s attack on Hyrule castle. Malladus had no such freedom. It was by chance that Cole and Byrne wanted to resurrect Malladus that led to his return.
Malladus is inevitably defeated by Link and Zelda, his spirit entirely destroyed by the power of the Bow of Light and the Lokomo Sword. Malladus’ weaknesses to these weapons mirror the use of the Master Sword and Light or Silver Arrows against Ganon. Both Demon Kings are felled by the combination of legendary sword and magical bow and arrow, reiterating the possible connection between them.
The story of Malladus began and ended with Spirit Tracks, and it was not quite as unique a story as it appeared. The sealing and revival of the Demon King is a familiar tale to Zelda fans, as Ganon has been involved in very similar circumstances throughout the series. Malladus’ revival required a vessel with the blood of ancient Hyrule, suggesting a relation between him and the Hylians. As Ganon also required a Hylian sacrifice, it is possible that they are somehow connected. The Dark World that is present in Spirit Tracks seems to be Malladus’ domain, similarly to how the Dark World in previous Zelda titles, the corrupted Sacred Realm, is the abode of Ganon, based on the concept of the Dark World being a Makai, a realm under the control of a Demon King. Malladus was said to have been sealed underground and in the Dark World, although the game itself makes it apparent that he was only sealed under the earth by the Spirit Tracks, and the Dark World is simply his own realm.
The connections between Malladus and Ganon are intriguing, but ultimately, they seem to be nothing more than vague references. The story of Malladus lines up with some of the tales surrounding Ganon because they are similar antagonists, but a true connection seems highly unlikely in the context of Spirit Tracks and the new Hyrule. Whether Malladus is to be seen again is unknown, but the generic story of a powerful Demon King is bound to crop up again in future Zelda titles.