Over its 25 year span, The Legend of Zelda has held a place not only within Nintendo consoles, but has seen appearances in a multitude of other media, and has flourished with a huge impact on gaming culture as a whole.
Manga, light novels, TV parodies and even appearances in other companies video games are just some of the cultural effects the Zelda series can hold to its name. Back during Nintendo’s push into the American market, the Legend of Zelda got its own mini cartoon series alongside the Super Mario Super Show. The Link of the series was constantly heard stating the catchphrase “Well Excuuuuse me, Princess” as a reply to an often annoying Zelda character, a catchphrase which became a popular internet meme along with the quote”it’s dangerous to go alone! Take this” from the wise old man of the original game. Considering Link shares the “mute” trait of other famous characters such as Gordon Freeman of the Half Life series, it often seemed out of place to put a voice to him in other media, as it can easily damage the personality he displays as a character who will just nod his head and get on with whatever he needs to do.
Link has made cameo appearances in other Nintendo titles in the past, while being a GameCube exclusive character in Soul Caliber II. He has also enjoyed numerous references throughout the industry appearing in anything ranging from Final Fantasy to World of Warcraft.
As for parodies, parodies are.. relentless at times. They can take something amazing and completely tear away at the slightest flaw leaving your most valued memories shattered among a pile of cheesy movie quotes and disappointing gifts. With Zelda though, these parodies often target the more peculiar aspects of the games and highlight the humour. Take Navi for example. This fairy guide from Ocarina of Time is commonly viewed as an annoying and generally useless companion. One who often utters “Hey” and “Listen” throughout your adventure until you finally succumbed to it’s wish to be heard. The fairy would then go on to tell you the same useless “hint” it mentioned just 5 minutes ago until it has a reason to move onto another useless hint to endlessly interrupt you with. This was briefly outlined in an episode of the Power Puff Girls cartoon series where the mayor of Townsville would be seen playing the game and repeatedly slamming Link into a wall.
Hollywood actor Robin Williams has revealed in the past to have named his daughter, Zelda Rae, after the princess of the games with the two actors recently starring in the advertising campaign of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D for the Nintendo 3DS.
The chronological timeline of the series has become one of those long hidden mysteries of gaming. Much like how Lost depended on the community’s ability to piece together titbits of information to construct theories of the story, Zelda’s timeline has had a similar effect with the most extreme of fans. Never being properly explained by the series creators, all of the major 15 Zelda titles link back to each other. The timeline has become the focus of attention of the Zelda hoard as they continuously try to out-smart each other with possible theories while series director Eiji Aonuma and series creator Shigeru Miyamoto comfortably sit on the “confidential” timeline document leaving fans in the shadow of the truth.
Characters from the series have often come to light through popularity contests on media websites outlining their often quirky traits, like Tingle, the flamboyant childish probably middle aged “fairy boy” cartographer to Beadle the shopkeeper along with mysterious characters like the Shiekah tribe and Kaepora Gaebora, the wise old owl. Hyrule’s characters have often surprised with their sayings and actions and, judging from a screenshot from the to-be-released Skyward Sword title, we haven’t seen the last of them.
It’s no surprise that the series has enjoyed tremendous success throughout its life. Though it doesn’t share the huge day one sales of modern titles like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed the games consistently come out on top of reader polls and contests as one of, or the most influential franchises in gaming. This year alone, as part of the franchise’s 25 anniversary, Nintendo have not only dedicated themselves to delivering a multitude of Zelda related content, such as Skyward Sword, a 3DS remake of Ocarina of Time and ports of titles older titles, but have also planned worldwide events such as the Zelda Orchestra and the Gamecity6 Zelda celebration day in Nottingham during the end of October.
We have already seen what the future holds for the series on the new Wii U console. Now, while the Zelda tech demo shown at E3 this year was merely a demonstration, it wouldn’t be surprising to see it materialise into a full blown title further down the line, though with Skyward Sword being on the horizon, I wouldn’t get your hopes up for a major release in-time for the Wii U’s launch. Series Director Eiji Aonuma has spoken up on the topic recently saying
“The demo that we showed at E3 was really just more of a rough idea of if all we were to do was to take a Zelda game and put it in HD, this is what it might look like,”
Meanwhile, the 3DS has shown its worth as a much more Zelda capable device than it’s previous handheld counterparts. This year’s Ocarina of Time 3D stunned us with visuals far surpassing the original N64 classic with fantastic 3D depth to boot. If Operation Moonfall is to be realised, a Majora’s Mask remake may not be to far away.
Releases on the original DS handheld relied heavily on the franchise’s cel-shading style to deliver a remotely 3D adventure on the less powerful hardware, which begs the question, is the 3DS going to become the new platform to carry on cel-shaded Link’s legacy, or will we be seeing more of the classic, older Link in 3D?
For now, time will tell. Here’s to 25 years of Zelda magic, and we can only hope that the best is yet to come.