302: Ocarina of Timelines

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Nintendo don't plan to reveal anything. The best we can hope for is that they don't make things to hard for the people who make these workable timelines... Although they seem to enjoy it.

My friends and I are the type who can argue endlessly about timelines and themes in a fictional setting, but even we won't touch Zelda. There are so many interpretations and theories that it's just messy. A lot of the people I've met that do argue storyline are the brash, spiteful type that will cling to their theories like some kind of religion or political stance.

One of the YouTube Zelda timeline theory... people, sent their video to Nintendo to see how close he was. They sent him back a reply denouncing there ever being a timeline. After this was brought to light, a lot of these people predictably went on the offensive and were furiously denying the letter, or claiming that it was some sort of autoresponce by a low-level Nintendo employee. Some of the rants I've read felt like they were saying "God put those dinosaur bones in the ground to test our faith".

But the most disturbing part about ALL of this is that even after years of sifting through every nook, cranny and tidbit with the finest of toothed combs, every one of these people forgot one very important fact about Zelda:

Nintendo has been remaking the same fucking game since 1986.

Interestingly, in a 2004 interview with Game Informer, Aonuma said that Four Swords - which was a multiplayer expansion that piggybacked on the GBA re-release of A Link to the Past - was the "oldest tale" in the timeline. Unfortunately, this seems to be an occasion where information from Nintendo doesn't hold up to scrutiny, as Minish Cap seems to show Vaati's origin story, putting it earlier in the timeline. If this really is the case - and there's not a lot to suggest otherwise - it means that Four Swords can't be the oldest tale, unless there's some time travelling going on that Nintendo isn't telling anyone about.

This is simply because this interview happened before Minish Cap's release (Q4 2004), so Minish Cap as the first game in the series makes sense. Especially since that's where Link symbolically gets his hat.

Steelskin:

Interestingly, in a 2004 interview with Game Informer, Aonuma said that Four Swords - which was a multiplayer expansion that piggybacked on the GBA re-release of A Link to the Past - was the "oldest tale" in the timeline. Unfortunately, this seems to be an occasion where information from Nintendo doesn't hold up to scrutiny, as Minish Cap seems to show Vaati's origin story, putting it earlier in the timeline. If this really is the case - and there's not a lot to suggest otherwise - it means that Four Swords can't be the oldest tale, unless there's some time travelling going on that Nintendo isn't telling anyone about.

This is simply because this interview happened before Minish Cap's release (Q4 2004), so Minish Cap as the first game in the series makes sense. Especially since that's where Link symbolically gets his hat.

Minish Cap comes later. People seem to forget about one pretty important thing with the timeline: Humans and Hylians. Several games (Link to the Past, Windwaker, Minish Cap) directly refer to the people within those games as humans, and Hylians as people who existed long ago.

smudgey:

Steelskin:

Interestingly, in a 2004 interview with Game Informer, Aonuma said that Four Swords - which was a multiplayer expansion that piggybacked on the GBA re-release of A Link to the Past - was the "oldest tale" in the timeline. Unfortunately, this seems to be an occasion where information from Nintendo doesn't hold up to scrutiny, as Minish Cap seems to show Vaati's origin story, putting it earlier in the timeline. If this really is the case - and there's not a lot to suggest otherwise - it means that Four Swords can't be the oldest tale, unless there's some time travelling going on that Nintendo isn't telling anyone about.

This is simply because this interview happened before Minish Cap's release (Q4 2004), so Minish Cap as the first game in the series makes sense. Especially since that's where Link symbolically gets his hat.

Minish Cap comes later. People seem to forget about one pretty important thing with the timeline: Humans and Hylians. Several games (Link to the Past, Windwaker, Minish Cap) directly refer to the people within those games as humans, and Hylians as people who existed long ago.

Hmm, I was under the impression that Hylians was merely used to refer to the citizens of Hyrule... You may very well be right though but I don't think it matters as to the placement in the timeline. It's one of those things that makes arguing about the timeline so complicated: people keep referring to events in the past as legends and they get deformed.

... And here I am talking about Zelda timeline AGAIN. Because it's extremely important. And, y'know, it's not like it doesn't matter when you play the games.

Houshou:

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...

Interesting theory. I'm curious what you think of Windwaker's broken Triforce piece.

Coincidentally, Viscous is a term applied to a fluid's viscosity. Vicious is a term used to describe something particularly unpleasant or violent.

I used to be one of the people who believed there was a real Zelda timeline and tried to figure it out. I get where the "they're all just different takes on the same myths" people come from, but I was there when LttP was first revealed as a 'prequel' to the NES games, and that established pretty clearly to me that there was a real continuity to work out. I was at first bothered that OoT didn't match up with the prologue given in LttP (even though, again, advertising distinctly placed OoT on an existing timeline as the prequel to LttP), but later chalked it up the 'legend' explanation. The details might not match up, due to the storytellers playing around on the meta-level, but it was all part of a real timeline.

Then Nintendo started trying to put forward a real timeline. Anyone remember the very first official Zelda website, which published a timeline placing the Game Boy Link's Awakening game as happening in the middle of Zelda II? This same timeline also used the One Link theory, despite the Many Link's theory being more popular, and soon afterward, confirmed by Nintendo of Japan.

Then we got Wind Waker, with its 'split timeline' that really had me wondering if anyone really cared, or if all this timeline talk was just a way to keep the fanboys interested. Then Twilight Princess landed on the other half of the split timeline, and I couldn't bring myself to care anymore. The timeline, if one really existed, was obviously an afterthought to the games themselves. The developers were making it up as they went, and nothing was going to fit together in a satisfactory way.

You might think this made me happier and more able to enjoy the games, but the opposite was actually true. By the end of Twilight Princess, I hardly cared. The story didn't matter, because it was always going to end with Link killing Ganon and saving Zelda. It wasn't going to have repercussions for future games, nor would its backstory ever be explored by prequels or sidequests. Zelda plots themselves are always bottom heavy, leaving no great revelations or twists or even the simplest explanations for the endings. And the gameplay is exactly like Yahtzee describes it these days- will I get the boomerang or the bow'n'arrow first this time? Wind Waker was the biggest change to things, but it all still felt a little too familiar, in a way the main Mario games avoid. (But then, Zelda gets more main games in its franchise than Mario does. Coincidence? Or just a product of the way Nintendo allocates its talent?)

So if the gameplay advances in each sequel aren't enough to entice me, and the story is never going to build on itself, why should I even play?

I look at the Skyword Sword promos, and that's exactly what I wonder.

jetfirespam:
I usedSo if the gameplay advances in each sequel aren't enough to entice me, and the story is never going to build on itself, why should I even play?

I look at the Skyword Sword promos, and that's exactly what I wonder.

I feel the same way. When there were only three Zelda games (the NES had two and the SNES had one) the timeline question wasn't a difficult one - it could almost be based on preference. The the gameboy version came out but it was a direct sequel to ALTTP so that still didn't matter.

At this point the Zelda games were fun and well suited to each of their platforms. The came OOT which put the same formula into a 3D world with a greater emphasis on characters and plot than the previous Zeldas. It was fantastic but this caused the first timeline issue (with the fact that Link resets everything when Gannon is defeated). Still not much of a headache.

Fastforward to Windwaker and I wasn't concerned anymore by where each game fit. I was happy to have another Zelda experience in the same vein of OOT but with gameplay improvements and even more emphasis on the characters in the world.

However by the time TP rolled around I found myself enjoying aspects of it (I actually think its dungeons were some of the best in the series) but found a lot of it (particularly the wolf sections) tedious and often similar to the previous 3D outings (I haven't played a handheld Zelda since Link's Awakening so I can't say much about them).

So the timeline thing doesn't interest me as much as whether people like the next game or not. I will wait to see the reviews/responses to it before I purchase it but whether there is a coherant timeline is not a priority.

There are people who would say trying to figure out the timelines in Zelda is pointless and leads nowhere. I wonder how those people manage to play videogames at all. If someone thinks something is fun, it is fun for them, as anyone who's popped bubblewrap will know.

I remember a long time ago reading an article that made an excellent point of what the Zelda timeline should be. It cross referenced events, locations and concepts, and made a strong case. Then, at the end, it pronounced its own theory wrong because the game it had deduced to be the first one had an enemy on it that was supposed to have been created by Ganon, who of course didn't exist yet. So this huge intricate theory is torn apart because one dev who probably didn't even care about the timeline decided to put one of Zelda's many classic enemies without thinking of the implications! I guess it's hard to set it down in stone when you're taking it more seriously than the people making the thing itself. (Then again, the fact that Pratchett's reply when asked about Discworld maps is that 'you can't map sense of humour' didn't stop a bunch of people from creating a huge Discworld MUD that's as true to the books as it can be. So there's that.)

BehattedWanderer:

Interesting theory. I'm curious what you think of Windwaker's broken Triforce piece.

Coincidentally, Viscous is a term applied to a fluid's viscosity. Vicious is a term used to describe something particularly unpleasant or violent.

I would have to replay Windwaker in order to more appropriately fine tune my theory on that one.
Also, >< Thanks for the spell-mishap. I knew it looked wrong but couldn't figure out how to spell it, plus I was tired and too lazy to pull up a dictionary.

But I am glad someone took the time to read my thoughts. It's always nice to hear that my voice was heard.

The Nerd already talked about this a long time ago and honestly did a better job

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

Ive played most of the LoZ games, and never really payed attention to the timelines coherently connecting. This just blew my mind...

Reading that just gave me a headache. Provide flowchart, please.

To me, the Zelda series deosn't have a continuity. Ganon for one things has died in something like four or five games and sealed in a few others. Either he's got the same ressurection obsession that Dracula has or the game stories are all out of sync.

I promise all of you, if there is any time line, its something they came up with later on down the road, theres no way miyamoto actually sat down when working on legend of zelda and thought of all this stuff. If anything theyre doing it on a "as they go" basis.

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.

Yeah that video made a lot of sense, but then again, how will Skyward Sword fit, isn't it a prequel to OoT (which actually might not be that hard to explain.) Was there ever an explination of where the Master Sword came from?

I think we're just being trolled by Nintendo. They keep throwing curveballs destroying everyone's theories.

That or they're just waiting for someone to come up with some ridiculously epic connection with all the games and then claim that one is correct.

i don't agree with link to the past being an early one. its more likely to be one of the last, because i assumed the book of mudora translated hylian, which in that game was a dead language by then. there is also the human to pig ganon theory.

yes it is a tough job fitting the pieces. unlike metroid, zelda is very hard to work into a straight line (or two even). it is worthwhile to people that do it though, because its one more facet of the games to explore. the only way it would be disappointing is if they really don't care, and were just stringing fans along with a grand lie.

edit: after watching the video above, ill say that i admit his makes a lot of sense. however, it runs off of the theory that a human ganon and beast ganon existed separately at the same time, in both lines. every indication in the games is that ganon is a human that became a beast. he'd have to show me decent evidence that they are separate entities to make me buy his theory.

i don't believe zelda 1+2 are a big part of the time line, mostly because they came first before the others and don't have many things tying them to any point in time. i think the time-line concept really only took off with link to the past. alternatively, we could say link to the past was a replacement for the first zelda, which lacked a lot of the story to tie it in.

and just because zelda 1+2 don't mention the master sword doesn't mean it couldn't have been.

Houshou:

BehattedWanderer:

Interesting theory. I'm curious what you think of Windwaker's broken Triforce piece.

Coincidentally, Viscous is a term applied to a fluid's viscosity. Vicious is a term used to describe something particularly unpleasant or violent.

I would have to replay Windwaker in order to more appropriately fine tune my theory on that one.
Also, >< Thanks for the spell-mishap. I knew it looked wrong but couldn't figure out how to spell it, plus I was tired and too lazy to pull up a dictionary.

But I am glad someone took the time to read my thoughts. It's always nice to hear that my voice was heard.

Glad I could help.

my personal opinion is that nintendo made the bulk of these games with no intention of a timeline but ended up forming one by accident.

WorldCritic:
To me, the Zelda series deosn't have a continuity. Ganon for one things has died in something like four or five games and sealed in a few others. Either he's got the same ressurection obsession that Dracula has or the game stories are all out of sync.

Aw, but if you cared enough. You would know that upon Link's Death, if his blood is spilled upon the ashes of Ganon's Corpse; Ganon would be resurrected. We learn this from Zelda II: Link's Adventure. Which is why it's one of a few games in which Ganon is NOT the main bad guy, but makes an appearance at the Game Over screen.
If we believe this to be true for each Zelda Game in which Ganon Exists, than only those games in which a Ganon is NOT present, does it mean that it is a True Sequel to a Zelda Game. Majora's Mask being one other.
But in this theory it means that each time you end up fighting Ganon in the end, means that the preceding Link died. Whether it was from old age, disease, or a hungry mob of Moblins finally over took him.

Or you can simply go on my theory, that each of them (Zelda, Link, & Ganon) are mere avatars of the Tri-Force's will. Each given their respective personality based on the Tri-Force that they are a living embodiment of. And the only true way for the world of Hyrule to be rid of Ganon and his evil way, is to destroy the Tri-Force by using its own power to wish its own destruction. But in doing so, the world would be rid of Princess Zelda and Link forever as well. Which, would mean that we would have to find a Link who would be willing to go through an entire adventure to rescue Zelda, all so he could obtain her piece and then wish for her death.

You could utilize this same theory to dredge up a more frightening theory. That they are not just an embodiment of the Tri-Force, but the Goddesses themselves. However, the shaky part about this would happen to be the mere fact that Link is able to obtain a little bit of each Goddesses Power. Which would then place Farore the Goddess of Courage, as a stronger Goddess than the other two, unbalancing the fact that they are represented as 3 equilateral triangles.

Understanding the Time-line will only happen when you can perfectly understand each Game's story, sub-story, and maybe even all side-quests. A perfect understanding of the game will then let you make an educated guess as to its importance in where it fits in amongst the rest.

While playing with the available information may be fun, there really is no point to it here.

It's very clear that The Legend of Zelda has no established "timeline". It's a franchise of games that go back to the days when the idea that games could HAVE continuity from one to the other was laughable, mainly because they never sold well enough.

Do we really think that the same Mario jumped through all of his adventures in one lifetime, with some sort of coherent story? The reason why the princess gets captured so many times is that she's a different princess each time, with the same name and characters because game designers are both artistically lazy (sorry, let's face it, compared to writers of say good books, they are) and like low risk investments such as known ideas.

Zelda should be viewed as a group of internally isolated plots, not one overarching thing. Yes, there may be a degree of connection between Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask and Wind Waker, but this is kept ambiguous for a very good reason: Mr Miyamoto clearly hasn't bothered to think about it much. There's minor hints and references from each of these games to the others, but that's to please the fans, not to make a serious attempt at indicating any continuity.

I think that fan enthusiasm for Ocarina of Time was just so large that the series has had to respond to that at every step since, with vague references and repeating minor characters, not to mention imitating its design and world. As Mr Miyamoto put it, it's about gameplay, not storyline. Zelda may be known for its story, and legitimately so, but let's just value the franchise for what it is: a collection of separate stories, not one big one.

Why are people trying to make sense of this? It's a total work of fiction, and therefore doesn't actually have to make sense because it doesn't actually exist.

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

I'm liking this, though.

i personnally consider each stories separate from eachother (appart form the obvious sequels).

My own "theory" is that the three goddesses try to fix things up for good (like reclaiming all the triforces and end the "cycle" of zelda-link-ganondork), but they are immature gods so they suck at their job and end up resetting the "universe" each time they fail at it and try again.
But stuff bleeds out and stays between iterations, why you always have a sense of deja-vu.

That or the 3 godesses are evil and the love the pain, destruction and suffering the population and heroes have to face. When they grow bored with it, and its usually very fast, they reset and change the scenario a bit and see how much misery it does.

Houshou:
The viscous cycle will never end...

Viscous? Does time flow thick like honey?

To me, the prequel for the whole series (or the start, whatever) is Link to the past

Stop trying to find a timeline in all of this you will lose your mind!

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.

you mean like this?

I always figured it was like the Final Fantasy series where each game was a new and entirely disconnected thing from all previous and future games. So what if there are 10 games with a guy called Cid? That just means the writers are lazy :P

Fun article, I remember being blown away the first time I watched a video about the Zelda timelines.

For those who think it's a waste of time to try and figure out the timeline, just remember that people are doing it for fun. You know, the thing that we play games for in the first place? And there's enough connection between games to at least not be ridiculous with the whole thing.

I said it before, and I'll say it again. You are supposed to make your own Legend. Do these games fitting together like this make sense to you? Then that's your Legend.

Think about it, I think it's what Miyamoto wanted from the start. Sounds like him.

EDIT:

Serving UpSmiles:

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.

you mean like this?

Er... you didn't see that coming?

I always just viewed them as different unless stated by Nintendo. I just see the three characters as archetypes for the storyline. Now if anyone could explain the Castlevania series, it would also be amusing.

I just assumed Link reincarnates Link has his adventure during the game wins eventually dies of old age generations pass and he reincarnates when needed or maybe every generation. (possibly something to do with the tri force)

so in wind waker when Link hears about Link from centuries ago he's hearing about a past incarnation of himself.

so its him every time but also a new him.

I personally believe that the one that Game Trailers did to be one of the most accurate. Minish cap is the beginning because it tells the story of the Hero of Man, and the split timeline A and B. I'd go into detail, but a lot of you have already done it.

I have a feeling that they initially did not care about story continuity, then cared about it, and now they're trying to force it together with some makeshift story that probably never had existed originally.

I think the Legend of Zelda makes the most sense as a series of non-connected games, and each game is a different interpretation of "The Legend of Zelda", in a similar way to the different versions of the legends of king arthur.

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