302: Ocarina of Timelines

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Ocarina of Timelines

Assembling a coherent Zelda timeline is a bit like trying to assemble a jigsaw with your eyes shut, but that doesn't stop the series' fans from trying.

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Why does something like Legend of Zelda need continuity?

It is like asking a company that makes instant meals for a nutrition philosophy.

That stuff is obviously not intented to be part of some bigger picture, which is a huge part of the series appeal: You can sit down and play any Zelda game and get right into the story, because "Save the princess" is something anyone can understand. You don't need to get buckled down and reread what the hell an Ocarina is to enjoy the experience.

Just like an instant meal can be enjoyable without any further planning around it.

I must admit as a History major that I am almost always interested in the historiography of Video Games. (its probably why I LOVE Bethesda games)

But when it comes to Nintendo games I have always been glad with the information each game gives me. Nintendo is notorious for making never-ending character games; Mario and Zelda probably are its most popular. Because I am so used to this trend, the historiography has never really mattered all that much. Mario saves Peach, Link saves/is guided by Zelda.

Its a formula that works for Nintendo. (Of course this is not to say that I would read a history book based on Zelda or Mario; I AM still a History major after all, ;) )

Exterminas:
Why does something like Legend of Zelda need continuity?

It is like asking a company that makes instant meals for a nutrition philosophy.

That stuff is obviously not intented to be part of some bigger picture, which is a huge part of the series appeal: You can sit down and play any Zelda game and get right into the story, because "Save the princess" is something anyone can understand. You don't need to get buckled down and reread what the hell an Ocarina is to enjoy the experience.

Just like an instant meal can be enjoyable without any further planning around it.

I think it would just be a lot easier for people to accept if every hero wasn't called Link. Link's son, someone coming across the costume, an alternate time line where someone makes t he suit after being wrong... Each one would help people just drop the idea of continuity, but since each character looks the same, dresses the same, has the same "Hero of time/blah blah blah" and uses the same weapons, people expect there to be SOMETHING that explains why they see the same person in every game, while at the same time it never appears as if the other games happened.

Hell, even if Nintendo said "They're all in different universes, none are related" it would have stopped all this

I think one mayor problem is that the games hail from japan.
So most of the names are most likely translated and therefore derived of most meaning and connotation they might have had in japanese.

Of course the name "Link" calls for interpretating him as the link between all the stories, but then again you base this interpretation on something that can possibliy be a hundred percent translation.

Yeah, I love geek trivia contests as much as the next, well...geek, but honestly I just don't think Nintendo cares about the Zelda timeline that much. They're probably amused by all the fan speculation on the matter. As long as they don't do anything too crazy with regards to plot twists in the Zelda games, the fans will likely never figure it all out.

MeleeMittens123:
I must admit as a History major that I am almost always interested in the historiography of Video Games. (its probably why I LOVE Bethesda games)

But when it comes to Nintendo games I have always been glad with the information each game gives me. Nintendo is notorious for making never-ending character games; Mario and Zelda probably are its most popular. Because I am so used to this trend, the historiography has never really mattered all that much. Mario saves Peach, Link saves/is guided by Zelda.

Its a formula that works for Nintendo. (Of course this is not to say that I would read a history book based on Zelda or Mario; I AM still a History major after all, ;) )

I can relate to this as well, I to am a history major.

Anyways, I find trying to put together a Zelda timeline more a hobby for when board than anything serious, largely because of all the continuity problems. Hell, I once was convinced that everyone was mistaking the Wind Waker game series for being the adult timeline, when really they should go in the child time line (the theory itself would make this a very long post, so suffice to say, I have dropped a while back.)

Exterminas:
Why does something like Legend of Zelda need continuity?

It is like asking a company that makes instant meals for a nutrition philosophy.

That stuff is obviously not intented to be part of some bigger picture, which is a huge part of the series appeal: You can sit down and play any Zelda game and get right into the story, because "Save the princess" is something anyone can understand. You don't need to get buckled down and reread what the hell an Ocarina is to enjoy the experience.

Just like an instant meal can be enjoyable without any further planning around it.

I think people want there to be a connection because of the actual story in Zelda. People are probably fine with Mario because in comparison, Mario is a simple bicycle, Zelda is a Honda DN-01 with a 680cc liquid-cooled 52 degrees V-Twin... or... Mario is Zelda without the story, just save the princess, save the kingdom.

Damn right their all different Links, if not then Link has alzheimers and keeps forgetting where he put his boomerang, grappling hook, Master Sword etc. that he uses in most of his adventures.

I want the high jump back from Link II, it was always fun to see him travel like a grasshopper.

EDIT: Also their should be a Zelda game where you play as Zelda. It's like Super Mario bros. being named the Chronicles of a Toadstool named Peach.

This reminds me quite a bit of the show Lost and how its fans (myself included) agonized on internet forums over the details of the show and its timeline. It's funny how easy it is to get wrapped up in something like that, which from an outside perspective, is very clearly just a product of real-world development constraints and human error, and does not have a complete perfect sense-making explanation. This part especially

Both the series' creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, and its current overseer, Eiji Aonuma, have said that the series does have a fixed timeline, but they're rather reluctant to tell anyone what it is.

reminds me of Lindelof & Cuse (Lost creators) insistence that they had a plan for everything and had everything mapped out from the beginning and knew the reasons behind everything, but could not divulge it -- despite the obvious that they very clearly did not (because how could you possibly plan for something as fickle and subject to the whims of a media industry as a TV show).
I've gotten over my anger at them for misleading people so steadfastly, but the glaring plotholes and after-knowledge of many items on the show never coming to light have ruined any future re-watching of it for me.

Sorry for the tangential rant!

Anyways, back on topic, if anyone has not watched this before, do so NOW -- it's a hilarious deconstruction of this topic by the AVGN:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHIP9UtkQDQ

Najarian, ctudia -- wtf did I just say some chant from the Necronomicon with this captcha?

Celtic_Kerr:

Exterminas:
Why does something like Legend of Zelda need continuity?

It is like asking a company that makes instant meals for a nutrition philosophy.

That stuff is obviously not intented to be part of some bigger picture, which is a huge part of the series appeal: You can sit down and play any Zelda game and get right into the story, because "Save the princess" is something anyone can understand. You don't need to get buckled down and reread what the hell an Ocarina is to enjoy the experience.

Just like an instant meal can be enjoyable without any further planning around it.

I think it would just be a lot easier for people to accept if every hero wasn't called Link. Link's son, someone coming across the costume, an alternate time line where someone makes t he suit after being wrong... Each one would help people just drop the idea of continuity, but since each character looks the same, dresses the same, has the same "Hero of time/blah blah blah" and uses the same weapons, people expect there to be SOMETHING that explains why they see the same person in every game, while at the same time it never appears as if the other games happened.

Hell, even if Nintendo said "They're all in different universes, none are related" it would have stopped all this

Wind waker played around with this. Even though the hero in that is called Link, and looks the part, he's only wearing the green costume because it's a cultural tradition on the island that a young boy wears that on his birthday when he officially becomes a man.

It's a little in-joke, if you will. (And I do believe if you replay the game with the more difficult 'master quest' settings, he actually refuses to wear it, and wears his own clothes the whole game instead.)

Dorkmaster Flek:
Yeah, I love geek trivia contests as much as the next, well...geek, but honestly I just don't think Nintendo cares about the Zelda timeline that much. They're probably amused by all the fan speculation on the matter. As long as they don't do anything too crazy with regards to plot twists in the Zelda games, the fans will likely never figure it all out.

I think, this is true. Sort of.
Nintendo doesn't care about continuity with the Zelda series. They'll mess with anything.
But... At the same time, the frequency with which various bits of one game allude to another is far too high for it to be a coincidence.

I get the feeling Nintendo knows fans will join the dots, and deliberately throws in things that look like a reference to something else.
They don't care about continuity enough to keep their facts consistent, but they care enough to insert odd, self-referential details into the games that suggest some kind of continuity.

While your at it why don't you do a final fanticy time line?! HU?

I still think my favourite timeline theory was this one here:

Also,

-Dragmire-:

EDIT: Also their should be a Zelda game where you play as Zelda. It's like Super Mario bros. being named the Chronicles of a Toadstool named Peach.

There was. It was for the Cd-i. The less we say about it the better.

Georgie_Leech:

Also,

-Dragmire-:

EDIT: Also their should be a Zelda game where you play as Zelda. It's like Super Mario bros. being named the Chronicles of a Toadstool named Peach.

There was. It was for the Cd-i. The less we say about it the better.

Too bad, she looks like she could refresh the whole series if the gameplay was based on smash bros brawl. At least Peach's game on the DS was decent.

I hear "split timeline" and I say "Good night everybody!" That is silly and just way too much work/effort, and I cannot imagine any company is trying to keep track of all that seriously.

Personally, I would probably ignore a bunch of the side games for portables anyway. Trying to fit Four Swords into a timeline? Seriously? Bullshit, that was just for fun. The only side game I might consider would be Link's Awakening on the GameBoy, because if I recall that was supposed to be the Link to the Past Link.

And yes, I remember promotional materials claiming A Link to the Past took place before the original Legend of Zelda. However, let's face it. Miyamoto probably wasn't thinking about that sort of stuff, especially considering the simplicity of games at the time. In truth he probably thought "Hey, we can recreate Zelda with a more complex story and world. Let's do that!" and lo and behold, A Link to the Past was born. Ocarina of Time would have been the same thing.

It's a fun mental exercise, but I'll just accept the simple fact that they are all a different Link in a different Hyrule and leave it at that.

The specific timeline isn't important, but the idea of Hyrule being caught in an eternal cycle, which resurrects the triforce's influence to conduct the struggle of good and evil every few hundred years, is interesting enough.

Scienceticians' fringe theories of quantum mechanics dictate, however, that the stories don't happen in one specific order, but in every conceivable order - regardless of how outrageous the explanation. Eternity takes a long-ass time and makes room for ALL possiblities.

I don't think Nintendo started caring about a timeline until Wind Waker, and got even more serious about it with Twilight Princess, even going so far as to describe all of Link's tools as sacred artifacts and weapons "left behind by the ancient hero." But at that point, continuity was so disjointed that I just don't care to follow it anymore.

I'm still waiting for the explanation to why Hyrule seems to be re-terraformed every 50 years or so.

Good article, but I have issue with the phrase "Putting together a Zelda timeline is like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle without knowing what it's supposed to look like". All I can say is that fewer people than I expected have ever heard or/done 1500 piece mystery jigsaw puzzles.

They really are not that hard, but then again, I've always had a knack for relying on shapes rather than trying to match the color on the piece with where it goes on the box.

Still, good article.

Aside from basically the entire timeline story (which was interesting, don't get me wrong), I TOTALLY forgot about Koume/Kotake being villains in the games. I've just been playing Majora's Mask again, and they're helpful! Wonder if they have anything to say about that.

Why does The Legend of Zelda need a timeline, anyway? I always just saw it as variants on a single legend: the main elements of the legend (Hyrule, Link, Zelda, Ganon(dorf), the Triforce) are usually there in the legend, but the exact characters, locations, and story vary from storyteller to storyteller.

I'd hate for the timeline to become an actual issue. Part of Legend of Zelda's strength as a series is that it's meant to be about this never-ending clash between three people, fated to meet each time - the hero, the king, and the princess - and we don't need any more than that. No player needs to know whether the next Zelda game happens before Ocarina of Time or after; it's something Nintendo can play around with if they like (as they did in the Wind Waker), but that's not what the game is about. If they ever did make an official timeline, I'm afraid that would make Zelda more about continuity than it would adventure, in the eyes of the fans.

I always thought the games existed in parallel dimensions with the exception of the direct sequels.

anonymity88:
I always thought the games existed in parallel dimensions with the exception of the direct sequels.

I was about to say, is it time for Crisis on Infinite Hyrules?

Forget a coherent timeline: how about somebody putting together a coherent geography. Hyrule is different with almost every game. I know that we occasionally move to different areas, but you can't explain to me how Death Mountain is in a different place for every game.

umm there is no timeline, Nintendo already stated this.

http://www.destructoid.com/there-is-no-zelda-timeline-stop-trying-139498.phtml

You know, I personally never gave a shit about the timeline. I always thought of it in terms of legends and folklore. You know how there are multiple versions of the Arthur legend and how folk tales sometimes have up to thirty different variations of the same story across cultures? Yeah, I always imagined the Zelda games were like that. Except for the direct sequels, they were all the same story, just told different ways by different people, just as it is with real legends.

Heart of Darkness:
Why does The Legend of Zelda need a timeline, anyway? I always just saw it as variants on a single legend: the main elements of the legend (Hyrule, Link, Zelda, Ganon(dorf), the Triforce) are usually there in the legend, but the exact characters, locations, and story vary from storyteller to storyteller.

I just noticed somebody already beat me to the punch on this point.

I try not to get too wrapped up in the timeline, but I can't help but be fascinated by it. I tend to believe that "Link" is really more of a title than a name (as in "James Bond"), or perhaps there's a reincarnation aspect. Who knows, it's just fun for those who like near impossible puzzles.

dante brevity:
Forget a coherent timeline: how about somebody putting together a coherent geography. Hyrule is different with almost every game. I know that we occasionally move to different areas, but you can't explain to me how Death Mountain is in a different place for every game.

This is part of the reason why I don't buy the timeline theories. If Wind Waker is supposed to be a direct sequel to Wind Waker and set in the same Hyrule, then you'd think for the geography to somewhat match. But the location of the Castle, Fire Island (Death Mountain), Dragon Roost (I've heard that the Rito people are supposed to be distant relatives of the Zoras), and the Forest Haven (Kokiri Forest/Lost Woods), are way out of position. Sure, there's always continental drift to explain it, but continental drift is a bit of a stretch.

Just gonna start by saying that I don't believe for a second that Nintendo actually gives that much of a crap about an overarching continuity between these games. And I'm okay with that. I think they tend to just throw a bone to the fans from time to time. The least mentally taxing way to look at it all is that Link is a mythic hero, who's tale is told many times over. It's always a little different in the specifics, but more often than not you had the hero Link, the antagonist Ganon, and the titular Zelda, almost always in need of saving.

With all of that said, I don't knock those who mess around with this timeline stuff as long as they don't take it all too seriously and realize that no one at Nintendo probably gives a shit about a coherent timeline, and that it's all just fun to be had with fiction. I actually find the split timeline theory to be quite engaging myself and not that much of a stretch. I'm a fan of scifi mind you, so the instant I finished Ocarina all those years ago I had to ask myself if the adult link reality just vanished? Did everybody there disappear? Or did it split into it's own timeline?

Hope things continue like this. Cuz the way Nintendo is doing it is fun, as opposed to some continuity nightmare chart that sucks all the wonder out of it.

I don't feel the exact timeline is all that important, but it might be fun to hear what Miyamoto's take on it really is.

semi off topic:
Am I the only one who thinks the future Zelda had potential? I know it was a joke now, but I was excited about it. And even after I learned it wasn't real, It still seemed like it fit into the whole legendary hero thing. The joke about a game chronicling the great flood could have been great too.

Georgie_Leech:
I still think my favourite timeline theory was this one here:

Also,

-Dragmire-:

EDIT: Also their should be a Zelda game where you play as Zelda. It's like Super Mario bros. being named the Chronicles of a Toadstool named Peach.

There was. It was for the Cd-i. The less we say about it the better.

THIS was the timeline video that I thought of the moment I read this title. Thank you for tracking it down. Always fun to watch.

And I saw a few screen shots and gameplay footage from that Cd-i Zelda game. You are completely correct--less said, the better. Although, it would be awesome if Nintendo did actually pull a true Zelda game off. I'd play that.

I always thought the assumption that Zelda 1/2 come later because there is no Master sword was silly, mostly because it feels like something invented later. While there is a mild amount of continuity, I was never overly concerned with it. Far as I could tell from the games I have played, Majora's Mask comes both between and after Ocarina of Time--after if he's just a kid, having gone back, and between if he remains an adult, on this simple premise: Link learns the Song of Storms from the guy with the organ in Majora's Mask, and forgets the melody. Later, in the windmill in OoT, he's re-taught the melody.

This might be true, might not, might be two different organ players, might all be in Link's mind, learning a melody through self introspection as if he were Ninten in Magicant, or something.

Mr.myamoto is probably hiding the real zelda time line along with english hard copys of mother 1&3 guarded by a fifty foot tall monster.

Once upon a time, a boy named "Link" goes on a quest. He needs to rescue his kingdom from a great evil. Along the way, he discovers magical items that aid him, as well as help from friendly citizens that did not leave like him. Eventually, after much world travelling, he finds the evil that took over his kingdom and vanquishes him. He is rewarded with the title of hero and he goes back home, living happily with his friends and family.

That is the basic story of every Legend of Zelda game. The boy goes on a quest to rescue his kingdom. I know that he rescues the princess, but the actual goal is the kingdom being safe.

Every time the story gets told, however, his adventures become more elaborate each being a different version of the same adventure. In some tellings, he is hopping across parallel dimensions, while others have him travelling through time, In earlier stories, he does not meet the Gorons or the Zora, but later ones have him doing things for them. If an item gets added to the story.

The best way to explain the Legend of Zelda is to use mythology. There are numerous tales of the great heroes, like Perseus, Heracles, Thor, and Gilgamesh. The stories started out simple, but each time a story is told, things get added to it.

The Hercules myth has many known authors to it. Each time an author comes in, he fills in the blanks, adds a few more tales, and embellishes certain parts to make it better. The early versions of the Hercules myth is basic compared to what came afterwards. The same is true with other myths.

Basically, for me, trying to find a continuity to these game and to see where they fit in the overall cannon is missing the point of the series. It is mythic storytelling and a parable for civic duty more than any sort of chronological series of events.

The theory I've always heard about why Legend of Zelda and Zelda 2 come last or near-last was because A) The ruined, abandoned exploration area in LoZ approximately conforms to the classical layout of Hyrule proper, suggesting that you're adventuring in ancient ruins; and B) because the land of greater Hyrule (or whatever you want to call that huge space) in Zelda 2 is HUGE and filled with many bustling cities and castles, suggesting that the people of Hyrule have prospered and expanded as a country into a larger realm. Which in turn implies that a great amount of time has passed.

Also, there's just something nice and tidy about the notion that the first two games are the final acts of the story. :D

Exterminas:
Why does something like Legend of Zelda need continuity?

It is like asking a company that makes instant meals for a nutrition philosophy.

That stuff is obviously not intented to be part of some bigger picture, which is a huge part of the series appeal: You can sit down and play any Zelda game and get right into the story, because "Save the princess" is something anyone can understand. You don't need to get buckled down and reread what the hell an Ocarina is to enjoy the experience.

Just like an instant meal can be enjoyable without any further planning around it.

It wouldn't have ever been a problem if Nintendo itself hadn't said there was a continuity. I could've totally accepted "eh, it's like Final Fantasy or somethin'. They're just different stories" as an explanation. But noooo, they had to go and say - on the record - that every Zelda game exists in the same universe somehow. So...here we are.

BehattedWanderer:
I always thought the assumption that Zelda 1/2 come later because there is no Master sword was silly, mostly because it feels like something invented later...

There's a bit more to this theory that I have thought about, and when looked at from this perspective makes more sense than anything else out there. No I will not put the series in order from beginning to end, but I think people need to think about this from a new point of view. If you so choose.

Thee first games in the timeline ARE the first games in the series. No, just hear me out. In the First Game. Gannon, has the Tri-Force of Power. Zelda HAD the Tri-Force of Wisdom, and Link has... NOTHING but a Wooden Sword! In fact his "Mission" in the First game is to piece together Zelda's Tri-Force of Wisdom. That she had the Wisdom to split into pieces to keep it out of Gannon's hands in the first place.
Most people assume that the Magical Sword is the Master Sword. This simply is not the case. First of all, the Master Sword is usually bestowed unto Link in a Holy Place. The closest spot to this is the cave above the Waterfall. Placing the Master Sword as the earlier named "White Sword". If this is true, this would also place this game as the First Game in which Link does Not pull "The Sword from the Stone". Consequentially, The Magical Sword, is given unto link in a Graveyard. (Of course I am merely implying this from the "First Play Through" of the Game.)

Also, this is THEE ONLY Zelda Game that does NOT have all 3 Tri-Force pieces. In fact, the very Tri-Force that is missing is Link's iconic Tri-Force of Courage. Which leads into the much loathed (but my personal favorite) Zelda II.

In Zelda II Link sets out on a quest because Zelda has fallen into a slumber. And it is on this Quest that he seeks out The Tri-Force of Courage. For the first time since Ancient Hyrulean time bringing the 3 pieces together. Again, this is yet another game in which Link does NOT wield the Power of The Tri-Force of Courage. But is instead, seeking to acquire it. Link has to travel to 7 different Temples to place in 7 different Statues a gem that shields this statue from radiating its power to the Final Temple; The Temple of Courage.
More importantly, than all of this, is the mere fact that upon reaching the Final Room, before everything goes dark and you have the viscous fight with your Dark-Self. There's an Old Man, waiting beside the Tri-Force of Courage. It's because of his Magic that you must fight yourself, before earning it.
From that moment on, Dark-Link is supposed to be each Link's Test that he deserves to retain the power of The Tri-Force of Courage. For EVERY Link here after undoubtably has The Tri-Force of Courage. The only thing I can say about this, is that Each Link is tested. Forcing one to think that some of the Series is the same Link. Not the same as the original Link, but the same for his time-line.

Also, since the Tri-Force of Courage was released; Gannon, Zelda, and Link have become the living Avatar's of their respective piece of the Tri-Force. When the 3 pieces are brought together, one is allowed to make a wish upon them. Then they split and disappear. When they return to the Hyrulean World, is when their Avatars are brought back to life. Thus it is by the Power of the Tri-Force that stops Gannon, but it is by that same Power that brings him back to life. The viscous cycle will never end... until the Tri-Force can either be destroyed permanently or sealed away in a manner similar to which the Tri-Force of Courage was.

And it is with this, that I hope the World would find much more easily available to believe than any other that could be put together.

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