Posted on August 05 2009 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
As I mentioned in my article, Majora: The Depth of Evil, pure evil can make for an interesting and fantastic villain. When making games in this day and age, game stories are often Black and White. You are good, they are bad or vice versa. There are some exceptions, like Knights of the Old Republic (and basically all Bioware games) but all in all, it’s a pretty straight fact that what you are doing as the game’s main protagonist is at least correct in your character’s eyes.
This is even more so in Zelda games. Link and Zelda are the embodiment of good. They do what is completely right, what is righteous and noble. Ganondorf is evil and acts from greed and power. Defeating him is a heroic tale. But, what if that was not the case?
It can be said, the most interesting stories are the ones that make you think. The ones that make you second guess even the actions in your own life and perhaps make you believe that maybe you are not the good guy. In the years Zelda has been around, this has never been the case. You are absolutely sure that what you are doing is for the good of Hyrule but what if this was not the case? What if Link’s actions, although perhaps at first justified in his and our eyes, eventually becomes something we are not so sure we should be doing?
There’s many ways this could work in a Zelda game from Link being manipulated into thinking he’s doing the right thing by the true bad guy to Link somehow getting a personal vendetta against the main “antagonist” but soon finding out that his vendetta is for all the wrong reasons. What, if just for a second, the game does not end with Link killing the bad guy but instead discovering what the right thing really is?
That is the true mark of a great story. One where everything is grey, nothing is black and white. As much as politicians and fairy tales would like to tell us, the world is not Black and White so why should our stories? That’s not to say Evil and Good stories should disappear, of course not. Stories are often meant for the purpose of escaping and Zelda is not an exception. But there is still that possibility that one day Zelda could come out with a fantastic storyline of self-discovery instead of world-saving. As unlikely as it is, I feel it would thrust Zelda into a realm of games that not too many have stepped into.
But of course this will never happen, but really, how awesome would it be? It might remove the escapist factor from Zelda, perhaps not. It is possible to make stories that are grey that are still entertaining and give us escapes from the real world. But Zelda, as much as people might disagree, is in need of something new. If Nintendo insists on keeping gameplay established in 1998, then so be it. But something needs to jumpstart the series into an interesting new future and perhaps something of this sort could do it? In fact, I am sure it would.