There are few video game series throughout the industry as prolific as The Legend of Zelda. Since the release of the first game of the same title back in 1986, it has since become of Nintendo’s flagship franchises, and after the release of 17 games in almost 30 years, has sold over 67 million units of gaming software, with the fourth major entry in the series, The Ocarina of Time garnishing more critical acclaim than any other video game developed.
Most recently, the Zelda series has found it’s way onto the Wii U with the classic GameCube game The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker re-mastered in high-definition and the spin-off game Hyrule Warriors; characters and themes from the series also being included in several major Nintendo releases on the system, including Nintendo Land, Super Smash Bros and as DLC for Mario Kart 8. However, as first revealed via Nintendo Direct, and further elaborated on at both the E3 conference of 2014 and at the 2014 Video Game Awards, a new instalment in the main series is planned for release some time later this year. The as yet subtitled instalment will be produced by Eiji Aonuma, who has worked on several prior Zelda titles since The Ocarina of Time, and has outlined that the new game will include a massive open world and the reformation of many other conventions of the series, including puzzle solving and dungeon crawling.
GameTrailers recently suggested that the outlined changes would not only help to break conventions of the series, but also take it back to it’s roots at the same time. This is corroborated by the fact that the franchise’s creator Shigeru Miyamoto, inventor of many other Nintendo series, such as Super Mario, Star Fox and Donkey Kong, based the original game on his own childhood, which he would spend time exploring the many forests, rural villages and caves of Kyoto, Japan, and wanted to capture that same feeling of exploration he had back then; once describing the game as “a secret garden that can be kept in a draw”. Since the announcement of the upcoming title, it had become GameTrailer’s second most anticipated game of 2015 behind The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt.
But what had been a much bigger point of contention for fans of the series all around the world was the timeline. For the longest time, The Legend of Zelda never had a fully established timeline, and left fans trying to pinpoint for themselves exactly where each game fit in it, based on the events of each instalment of the series. However, after much heated fan debate and a plethora of conflicting interviews from Nintendo and one prevailing theory after the other, Nintendo finally released the official timeline in a book called the Hyrule Historia in Japan, which overseas fans quickly got hold of and translated, and the entirety of the official Zelda timeline was released on the Internet, prompting Nintendo to release the book overseas.
The Legend of Zelda timeline is thus. Skyward Sword for the Wii is the first game in the timeline, followed by the two Game Boy Advance games, The Minish Cap and the Four Swords. The Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64 comes next, but at this point, there is then a three-way split in the timeline; one of many initial sources of confusion for many fans. The three-way split is based on three different scenarios; where Link beats Ganon and is sent back to his childhood, where Link beats Ganon and remains an adult, and the game over scenario, whereby Ganon beats Link.
If Link beats Ganon and is returned to his childhood by Zelda, the direct sequel Majora’s Mask for the Nintendo 64 comes next, followed by Twilight Princess for the GameCube and Wii, and The Four Swords Adventures for the GameCube. If Link beats Ganon and remains in adulthood however, it’s The Wind Waker for the GameCube, which comes after, followed by both the original DS games; The Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks. If Ganon beats Link, however, what follows is A Link to the Past for the Super Nintendo, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages for the Game Boy Colour (both these games taking place in the same time frame), Link’s Awakening for the original Game Boy, A Link Between Worlds for the 3DS, and finally, the two original NES games; The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.
In this article, I will be outlining where I believe the upcoming game could and should fit in the timeline, and why. The first issue would be in which direction the new game should be placed, which I believe should be forward, since Nintendo have spent far too much time trying to fit new games on new spots in the timeline between past tiles in the series; the most recent of which being the last entry to have been released, A Link Between Worlds. Not only that, but it is yet another factor to have contributed to the huge wave of confusion surrounding the saga for many years, and for Nintendo to constantly keep going back on themselves would only exacerbate things. It would also make the most sense to move forward in the timeline, since the settings and the basic premise would seem to include many different elements new to the series.
Not only has Link been given a completely different look to what most players have been accustomed to (albeit somewhat reminiscent to his initial look in The Wind Waker), but the landscape of what is presumed to be Hyrule has been drastically changed and expanded upon, and once again, the graphics have been rendered using the cel-shading technique, which to me, is a telltale sign that it will take place at the most logical spot on the timeline in my opinion; after Spirit Tracks.
Spirit Tracks is set in what Nintendo refer to as the era of Hyrule’s rebirth, whereby 100 years after Link has ventured throughout the Great Sea in both The Wind Waker and The Phantom Hourglass (established after the previous Hyrule was sealed underwater by the three goddesses following the events of Ocarina of Time according to the adult timeline), a new Hyrule has been discovered and established, with vastly outstretched landscape. It makes the most sense to me to place the new game after this, since the establishment of a new Hyrule would most likely explain the establishment of the new elements and enemies seen in both the initial trailer and the gameplay footage showcased by both Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma at the Video Game Awards of last year.
The second most logical place that I think the game could theoretically fit in the timeline would be after Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Since both of the original games take place in what Nintendo calls the era of Hyrule’s decline, whereby the land has since become nothing but ruins and abandoned countryside following the events of A Link Between Worlds. Whilst this would perhaps explain the establishment of new elements, I think it would only do so to a certain degree, since despite the decline of the land, there are still a fair few settlements across Hyrule as depicted in The Adventure of Link, and the land in the forthcoming title doesn’t exactly look like its in any sort of decline, as it has very lush surroundings with a calm and serene atmosphere; albeit until enemies are encountered of course. It could be argued that the new game could be placed after the events of Four Sword Adventures, but to me personally, that would make the least sense after placing it backwards in the timeline, since it would seem that an even bigger society of people has been established by the end of that title than there was at the end of Spirit Tracks, and thus would do considerably worse to go along with the general motif of the new game, which seems to primarily encompass more of an outstretched landscape than what can be seen throughout Four Swords Adventures. Plus, the visual direction of that game is visibly more akin to A Link to the Past than it is to the cel-shaded style of both Spirit Tracks and the new game.
So, that’s my opinion of where I believe the new Zelda game should be placed in the timeline. Where do you think it should fit, and why do you think it should go there? I look forward to reading your opinions on the subject, and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Scouse Gamer 88