Despite all the pimp gear, nothing could prepare Link for the weird goblin dude with half a Q-Tip.
I used to be a huge Legend of Zelda fan, back in the day. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is definitely one of my favourite games of all time (yes, I like it more than Ocarina of Time, watch out). While I don’t hate the series today, I haven’t had a chance to really catch up at all (playing none of the handheld games save Link’s Awakening, and only playing the NES, SNES, N64 games, along with The Twilight Princess). I was interested when I first heard hints about an official chronology coming out and happy to see it over at Hatm0nster’s My Two Caps.
Like Hatm0nster, I was under the impression that these games couldn’t properly be tied together, that each one was its own separate work of art (save for direct sequels), and I felt that was really cool. I mean, the overworld from The Legend of Zelda, A Link to the Past, and Ocarina of Time look nothing alike. They have a few landmarks in common (especially LttP and OoT), but that’s about it. I always just assumed that there was no direct connection. Once you included the fact that it seemed like Zelda was getting in a lot of trouble and was constantly being rescued by a guy named Link (who rarely had previous knowledge of being a hero), it just made sense.
But nope, we have a linearish timeline. There have been several Links, and several Zeldas, and that’s pretty cool. But what’s especially rad is what happens at The Ocarina of Time, which is definitely one of the best games ever made (GameRankings.com holds it as #1, still). The tree splits into three, with two distinct branches: in one, the hero succeeds and banishes Ganon. In the other, the hero fails.
That’s right, the hero flat out fails. This doesn’t exist as a possibility, but as a distinct universe (Zeldaverse?). That is to say, A Link to the Past, Majora’s Mask, and The Wind Waker all appear to occur at (roughly) the same time. Accepting that there are two main outcomes in Ocarina of Time (ie, you get the game over screen and quit or you beat Ganon), there are two branches after defeating Ganon:
The first assumes that after defeating Ganon, Link does go back as a kid to before Ganon rose to power in the first place and that Ganon is thwarted in his attempt. Link lives his life and has some wacky adventures as a kid (including in Majora’s Mask)
The second assumes that after defating and sealing Ganon, Ganon eventually escapes, leading to the Great Flood, leading to Wind Waker. Because of the very confusing nature of messing with time, it is easy enough to assume that a time paradox of sorts is created in the whole fiasco, resulting in dual Links and a single timeline. To be specific, Four Swords + Hyrule Adventuredoes not lead to Wind Waker. Wind Waker and Majora’s Mask both involved the same Link in different time Zeldaverses. It’s the same Link, at different times, essentially.
Link failing, I think, is the coolest thing they could have included. I think that while the other two timelines make sense in that they are things that happened in the story of Ocarina of Time, I don’t think anyone has (on their first playthrough, at least) not hit the game over screen in Ocarina of Time. What the timeline essentially proposes is that the very possibility of failure has created a third timeline. Eiji Aonuma, the Zelda boss, has stated that all these events occur in a single continuity, which means that when the tree splits into three, it isn’t to say that these options are left open, but rather that all three occur simultaneously. Because, well, they do. Once again, our role as gamer is much, much more important than we thought. And that’s really cool, too.