Nintendo's New Zelda Book Reveals Official Timeline

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Nintendo's New Zelda Book Reveals Official Timeline

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Nintendo finally explains Link and Zelda's history, and as you probably imagine, it's a bit complicated.

Piecing together the winding narrative of Zelda has always been difficult for gamers, and for at least a little while, for Nintendo as well. First, in 2009, there was an official statement that there was no timeline possible that could tie the games together. Then, in November of 2011, we were told that there was a timeline, but that it's a secret. Now, it seems like Nintendo has finally made up its mind and committed, in ink, to a solution that makes the series seamless.

The answers were found in a recently released Legend of Zelda encyclopedia/art book, currently not available in the United States or Europe. The timelines below are the product of an early report from Japan, so bear in mind there may be something lost in the translation here.

Without further ado, here are the most official answers to date. Our timeline begins with four titles in the following order:

The primary timeline:
1. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2. The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap
3. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords
4. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Due to the existence of a time jump in Ocarina, the game's progression apparently only represents one possibly outcome. From there, the timeline splinters, creating three separate alternate realities.

Here's the first sequence, in which Link actually failed to stop Ganon in Ocarina.

The failure timeline:
5. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
6. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Oracle of Ages
7. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
8. The Legend of Zelda
9. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Now, forget everything you just read and back up to Ocarina again. This time, things happened as you actually saw in the game (Link kicking butt, then going back in time to enjoy his childhood). As this was the ending actually featured, I suppose that makes this timeline somewhat more "real" than the other. But to make this even more complicated, Link now splits into two parallel universes: one which follows his adventures as a child after time-traveling backward, and one which follows Link as he progresses from his victory over Ganon.

The victory/progression timeline:
5. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
6. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
7. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures

The victory/childhood timeline:
5. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
6. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
7. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

All and all, considering that Nintendo likely just made this up instead of having some secret master plan from the beginning, it's a decently logical list. One thing troubles me though: Why isn't Link in on any of these parallel and alternate reality shenanigans? Is Link some sort of spirit, continually resurrected without knowledge of his past lives to defeat the mighty evils of the somewhat complicated universe he lives in? Are all of these "Links" actually just different, mostly mute, elf-people in one of the most unlikely coincidences of all time? And where the hell does his talkative stint at Hyrule castle fit into it? Or that break-dance battle from the 80s? What do you say, Escapist? Do these timelines answer all of your questions or simply raise more?

Source: IGN

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Uhm... you have 4 swords twice... WTF?!

Well, it was about damn time.

Mike Kayatta:
And where the hell does his talkative stint at Hyrule castle fit into it? Or that break-dance battle from the 80s? What do you say, Escapist? Do these timelines answer all of your questions or simply raise more?

More importantly, where do the CDi games fit in?

Non-canon you say Nintendo? We'll see about that. Seriously though, I'm surprised that actually released this time-line really, I thought it was something that would be fan-guessing forever more.

ShifterChaos:
Uhm... you have 4 swords twice... WTF?!

I did that just to make it even harder to follow! Just kidding, one is "Four Swords" one is "Four Swords Adventures." They're actually different titles. :)

Four Swords is a different game to Four Swords Adventure. The former is just a short add-on to the Link to the Past game, with a separate storyline, whilst the latter is an independent full game.

This just makes me want to slap somebody.... My head hurt from all the clusterfuck in my head right now.

How is Majora's Mask in the adult time line? That makes no sense....

How is Majora's Mask in the adult time line? That makes no sense....

Dalvyn:
How is Majora's Mask in the adult time line? That makes no sense....

That's the first thing I said. An error in the draft they have a hold of?

midnightdown:

Dalvyn:
How is Majora's Mask in the adult time line? That makes no sense....

That's the first thing I said. An error in the draft they have a hold of?

That or Nintendo really did just throw a bunch of darts at a board and ran with it.

This timeline as reported is actually wrong. The adult timeline would be Wind Waker and onwards, as the Master Sword's chamber has the sages on the stained glass windows and they would never have awakened to their powers in the child timeline. The child timeline would be Twilight Princess and onwards, as Link alerts Zelda to the future and Ganondorf is instead taken away to be executed. I haven't read the whole translation but the Child timeline leading to Twilight Princess is definitely affirmed by the book. The article just categorized the branching timelines incorrectly, as the order of the timeline in each category is correct but given the wrong header.

Also, although it is Gannon in the first game, he becomes known as Ganon/Ganondorf in every other game and so canonically he is more properly known as Ganon. Just a heads up!

xyrafhoan:
snip

Also, the stories of the hero of time (which are spoken of quite a bit in Wind Waker) don't exist in the Child timeline, as Link never had to be the Hero of Time in that continuity.

Mike Kayatta:
Gannon

Gannon-banned!

xyrafhoan:
Also, although it is Gannon in the first game, he becomes known as Ganon/Ganondorf in every other game and so canonically he is more properly known as Ganon. Just a heads up!

Was that a typo in the first game then?

OT: I would've thought that the adult/child timelines wouldn't be separate, as all the games in the victory branch are ocarina link's descendants (with the exception of majoras mask, which should be in the child branch). Also, I'm a bit confused as to why the child & failure timelines exist, as neither of them happened...
Also, I want that book.

personally ,i'd like to know HOW exactly link failed to stop ganon in oot. was he killed in the spirit realm? crushed in the falling castle? or did he get to the final battle and take an arrow to the knee? either way, some explanation would be nice

I won't be satisfied until they include his brief venture into our world to face off against Soul Edge in the Soul Calibur series. Because that seems like a better explanation for why the multi-verse concept happens here. He goes to our universe, then gets sent into another universe, thinking its his, but it is different in some way that sets a new series of unfortunate events into motion and now I've gone cross-eyed.

Is Link some sort of spirit, continually resurrected without knowledge of his past lives to defeat the mighty evils of the somewhat complicated universe he lives in?

spoilers for SS ahead

ye hath been warned

at the end of SS, demise curses zelda and link basically saying that their decendants would forever be followed by a shadow of his evil, ie, ganon.

in the case of the failed timeline, the link is actually only two links, with the oracles being him doing favors for the triforce, awakening is him leaving hyrule for some reason and having a weird dream when he gets shipwreced, and zelda and zelda 2 being a descendant of his after he manages to get to a new land.

in the adult timeline, the link is a distant descendant that kills a freed ganondorf and stays for PH, ST lnk being a grandson or something.

in the child timeline, MM is just a random coincidence after OoT ends, seeing as its the same link, TP is link's descendant fighting another posibility of ganondorf being freed, and 4SA is TP link's descendant, although him fighting vaati and another ganondorf is just a coincidence and demise's curse respectively.

so basically, Vaati and OoT ganondorf are the embodiments of demise's curse, ganondorf being killed in each timeline (with many, MANY attempts to bring him back in the LttP one), vaati sealed before the timeline splits and killed it the TP timeline, and 4SA and LoZ ganon's being demise's extra "attempts" at killing SS link's descendants.

so yeah, the reason this all happens to link is either because it's the same link having another adventure, ganondorf breaking free and trying to kill OoT link's descendants, ganon's henchmen trying to bring him back, or in ST, LoZ, and 4SA, demise's curse creating another great evil to ruin SS link's descendants day.

Yay, thiw is so utterly meaningless and pointleess that it doesn't bear publication.

Why did anyone care? Honestly, why? There is never a noticable progression, technologically or socio-economically, outside of the gimmicky train is Spirit Tracks. There is never any character progression since you'd need, you know, actual characters to do that. It doesn't assist anything, so what is the point of this thing?

Did one of those timelines make the master sword obsolete and end up replaced by the less often seen four sword? Personally I'm surprised they even made the four sword series part of the main continuity, or one of them at least.

archvile93:
Did one of those timelines make the master sword obsolete and end up replaced by the less often seen four sword? Personally I'm surprised they even made the four sword series part of the main continuity, or one of them at least.

WW ends with the master sword lodged in ganondorf's skull, TP end with it in his chest, both times, ganondorf gets turned into stone and the sword is permanently lodged in there, after TP the four sword is used, and after WW it's the phantom/lokomo sword, in the LttP timeline, it's returned to the lost woods and because the rest of the stories start with link getting teleported suddenly to wherever he needs to be, he doesn't get chance to take the master sword, and in awakening, he presumably leaves it there in case someone else needs to protect the sacred realm.
as to why the master sword isn't just removed from the statuified ganondorfs, I guess it's probably keeping ganondorf's spirit locked in there.

if the four sword ever makes another appearence, I'd guess it'd probably be another "whoops, zelda poked the sword and released [entity currently sealed in sword] again, go split into four and jam it back in there again"
(TBH, I'd love that to happen, I always liked the gameplay of minish cap and four swords, as opposed to PH and ST screaming "LOOK AT ME I HAS A TOUCH SCREEN NOW! AE YOU IMPRESSED?!?" for me zelda just isn't a touch screen friendly game, give me a region to explore with a music based warp system, over a bunch of areas connected by water/tracks anyday *Prays for remake of oracle and awakening games*)

Yeah, the failure track throws me off. How did he fail? I'm assuming he never came out of his time-lock, thus preventing Gannon from getting his Triforce and conquering the sacred realm. I saw someone propose the theory awhile ago of the failure track but it still seems a bit strange.

This has melted my brain. What? How? X(

Whatever. I'm going to do what I've always done: act like each game is stand-alone with vague connections to other events.

EDITED TO LOOK PRETTY

Here's my theory on how the three timelines could work. Keep in mind, this is just a theory and it can be subject to change at any time. I'll probably edit here too if someone else comes up with a good idea.

Three timelines exist after Ocarina when Link travels through time during key points in the game.

The failure timeline can occur in several ways. A lot of people on this board suggest that it can occur if Link never pulls the Master Sword and never becomes the Hero of Time. That is possible, but I like to think that you have to try something first before you can officially fail at it. Let's look closer to the end.

Link Fails Method 1: Impa Dies

In order to save Impa in the Shadow Temple, Link must acquire the Lens of Truth by traveling to the past. If the timeline is allowed to continue past this point and Link does not return, Impa dies.

@HellsingerAngel brought this one up. I'm surprised I didn't remember it. The Shadow Temple was my favorite.

Link Fails Method 2: Nabooru Captured

Link explores the Spirit Temple as a child and acquires the Silver Gauntlets. Nabooru is abducted by Koume and Kotake (Twinrova). If the timeline progresses and Link does not rescue Nabooru as an adult, she remains brainwashed and under Ganon's control.

Link Fails Method 3: Link Dies

The most likely method. It can happen at any point in the story.

Regardless of the method, Link fails in his quest and Ganandorf succeeds in invading the Sacred Realm. This leads to the events of Link to the Past and the Classic timeline.

Skipping to the end of the game. After defeating Ganandorf, Zelda sends Link back in time to warn the sages, resulting in Majora's Mask and the Child timeline. The world in which Zelda stays behind suffers a great flood, leading to the events of Wind Waker and the Adult timeline.

That's how I see it anyway.

P.S.

HellsingerAngel:
Except if that's the case, he'd create another timeline to follow when going into the well in Kakariko Village as he also needs to go there to get the Lens of Truth, something Adult Link cannot get that he needs to defeat the Shadow Temple, defeat Bongo Bongo and save Impa. By this logic you've presented, there would have to be a success/fail scenario timeline split here as Impa would potentially die.

As for creating another timeline, it would probably end in the same result. Link fails and Ganondorf takes over Hyrule. Thanks for bringing that up, though. I can't believe I forgot Impa.

HellsingerAngel:
There are also apparent plot holes like why isn't the world still destroyed in ALttP if Ganon won and why does Ganon need the power of the Triforce to conquer the Light World? Where does Link fail that the "Seven Wise Men" who sealed Ganon in the Golden Realm could potentially be the Seven Sages? Where does the Master Sword end up after ALttP because it never appears in that timeline again with Link using the Silver Sword/Silver Saber (depends how much you believe cover art is important) instead of the Master Sword. How does ALttP link up story wise with Link's Awakening, considering that the simple word on Nintendo is in question here -- which, as far as I recall, is the only thing linking them?

After defeating Link, Ganondorf invades the Sacred Realm and ascends to god-tier, becoming Ganon. The Sacred Realm becomes the Dark World. This incites the Imprisoning War with Ganon and his army against the Knights of Hyrule and the surviving Sages. Since none of the Knights are pure enough to wield the Master Sword against Ganon, the Sages are forced to imprison him in the Dark World.

After slaying Ganon in Link to the Past, Link returns the Master Sword to the pedestal. It is never used again.

The Magic Sword and Master Sword are two different weapons.

Link's Awakening apparently happens after the end of Oracles, but like you said, there is nothing that links ALttP, Oracles, and LA together besides word of Nintendo.

HellsingerAngel:
Overall, this theory holds up better than a streamed timeline any day and Nintendo should really just accept it.

That's defeatist talk!

I think your victory/progression and victory/childhood titles are flipped. Majora's Mask should be the childhood progression, with Windwaker being the progression one...everything would make sense, in that case.

BehattedWanderer:
I think your victory/progression and victory/childhood titles are flipped. Majora's Mask should be the childhood progression, with Windwaker being the progression one...everything would make sense, in that case.

I agree.

Link clearly went back to being a child for Majora's Mask, so that would be the childhood timeline, where nothing that happened in Ocarina of Time as Adult Link actually happened. It all got erased when Zelda sent Link back to the moment before he initially pulled the Master Sword.

The victory progression alternate history, in which Link was not returned to that moment by Zelda and his Adult Link adventures and victory over Ganon DID happen would have to be the lead-in for Windwaker, because in the prologue of Windwaker it says that the people remembered the Hero of Time and his victory. How could they remember it if it didn't happen?

I'm gonna chalk the mix-up up to "something was lost in translation while bringing this over from Japanese."

Cresscendo:
personally ,i'd like to know HOW exactly link failed to stop ganon in oot. was he killed in the spirit realm? crushed in the falling castle? or did he get to the final battle and take an arrow to the knee? either way, some explanation would be nice

I have a theory on that.

We see two instances in Ocarina of Time where Zelda tells Link to do something regarding the ocarina and he obeys.

First, Zelda throws him the ocarina with a telepathic message telling him to open the Door of Time in the Temple of Time. This leads to him pulling the Master Sword and so on and so forth. I think that, in the failure timeline, Link didn't listen her. He didn't pull the Master Sword. Maybe he tried to return the Ocarina to the King; maybe he tried to go into hiding; maybe he tried to after Zelda. In the end, Ganon gets his hands on the ocarina and the stones and uses the Door of Time to enter the Sacred Realm and get the Triforce. With no one to stop him, the history leads on to Link to the Past. This all fits when you consider that in LTTP it is said that no hero has ever been proven worthy to wield the Master Sword and the LTTP Link is the first one to do so. This would only be possible if OOT Link never pulled it.

The second one is, of course, at the very end when Zelda tells Link to give her the Ocarina and she will return him to his own time; she returns him to the moment right before he pulls the Master Sword, preventing the Door of Time from ever being opened and preventing Ganon from ever getting the Triforce. I think that, for the one of the timelines, he refuses, and history stays as it is.

Then there is of course the third timeline that leads off of the Ocarina of Time story playing out exactly as we see it, where Link listens to her and does what she tells him to do on both occasions.

Also, the two timelines at the end are mislabeled. The "Victory/Childhood" should lead on to Majora's Mask and "Victory/Progression" should lead on to Windwaker. There are distinct things in both games that point to this as true. I'm thinking there was a mistranslation in this article.

Hope this helps.

RaNDM G:

Three timelines exist after Ocarina when Link travels through time at two key points in the game.

The first timeline occurs when Link explores the Spirit Temple as a child and Nabooru is abducted by Twinrova. After attaining the Silver Gauntlets, Link abandons this timeline and travels back to the future (if that makes any sense). Because Link was unable to save Nabooru, Ganondorf succeeds in conquering Hyrule, leading to the events of A Link to the Past and the Classic timeline.

Link returns to his own timeline as an adult and rescues Nabooru, allowing him to continue his quest. After defeating Ganandorf, Zelda sends Link back in time to warn the sages, resulting in Majora's Mask and the Child timeline. The world in which Zelda stays behind suffers a great flood, leading to the events of Wind Waker and the Adult timeline.

That's how I see it anyway.

Interesting, but I'm gonna stick with my theory: the ocarina itself is the crux on which these timelines split.

We see two instances in Ocarina of Time where Zelda tells Link to do something regarding the ocarina and he obeys.

The first instance is when Zelda throws him the ocarina with a telepathic message telling him to open the Door of Time in the Temple of Time. He obeys, and this leads to him pulling the Master Sword, Ganon getting the Triforce, and so on and so forth. I think that, in the "failure" timeline, Link didn't listen her. He didn't use the ocarina or pull the Master Sword. Maybe he tried to return the ocarina to the King; maybe he tried to go into hiding; maybe he tried to after Zelda. In the end, Ganon gets his hands on the ocarina and the spiritual stones and uses the Door of Time to enter the Sacred Realm and get the Triforce. With no one to stop him, the history leads on to Link to the Past. This all fits when you consider that in LTTP it is said that no hero has ever been proven worthy to wield the Master Sword; that the LTTP Link is the first person to pull it. This would only be possible if OOT Link never pulled it.

The second instance is, of course, at the very end when Zelda tells Link to give her the ocarina and she will return him to his own time; she returns him to the moment right before he pulls the Master Sword, preventing the Door of Time from ever being opened, preventing the Master Sword from being pulled, and preventing Ganon from ever getting the Triforce. For this alternate timeline, he refuses to be sent back. The Adult Link history stays as it is and proceeds from there, with Ganon locked away in the Sacred Realm with the Triforce of Power. This leads into Windwaker.

The article is wrong.

The Childhood timeline is with Majora's Mask.
The Adult timeline is with Wind Waker. In Wain Waker, Hyrul was flooded because there was no her to save it. That's because Zelda sent the adult Link back to his childhood.

IMHO, this is the best explanation of the Zelda timeline.
image

This is from the book.

Also, I already made a thread about this. 3 days ago.
Link

One thing troubles me though: Why isn't Link in on any of these parallel and alternate reality shenanigans? Is Link some sort of spirit, continually resurrected without knowledge of his past lives to defeat the mighty evils of the somewhat complicated universe he lives in? Are all of these "Links" actually just different, mostly mute, elf-people in one of the most unlikely coincidences of all time?

To answer those questions, I will have to spoiler some parts from Skyward Sword.

OutrageousEmu:
Yay, thiw is so utterly meaningless and pointleess that it doesn't bear publication.

Why did anyone care? Honestly, why? There is never a noticable progression, technologically or socio-economically, outside of the gimmicky train is Spirit Tracks. There is never any character progression since you'd need, you know, actual characters to do that. It doesn't assist anything, so what is the point of this thing?

You can enjoy the games without knowing even a bit about the timeline.
But if you know the timeline will make you look at some titles from a different angle. Do you really think that A Link to the Past is the same game when you know that Link actually failed in OoT? The title gets automatically heavier and darker just by knowing that.

And why did anyone care? Are you really asking this? This was one of the bigger mysteries in gaming history. Many people always wondered where Zelda games related to each other. And it's also really nice just to read. To know stuff. Some people care because they like they game and everything related to it is interesting to them.
Some care because they grow up with the Legend and they want the mystery solved. Some just want to get over with it.

As long as there are few people that are interested in it, it's worth publication.

There's no timeline! When will people finally get it?

Why the hell is Majora's Mask in the timeline where Link stayed an adult?

I liked it better thinking of it as variations on a myth/legend story than with this attempt for a concrete timeline.

Also, this way, the fact that Tingle reappears in separate Universes is a far more horrifying. If it's a myth, then it's just a weird character being retold. This way, Tingle is some horrifying thing that inevitably occurs and then potentially reoccurs regardless of history.

I think you mixed up the child/adult timelines.

...Yeah, they're definitely mixed up. Just a quick name switch and it's all good.

ShifterChaos:
Uhm... you have 4 swords twice... WTF?!

one was four swords [gba], the other was four swords adventures [gamecube]

I'll just stick to the part were every story is a tale told by some grandparent to his/her grandson/-daughter and they have all heard different stories and the story has changed always a bit when traveled from one person to the other.
So every tale is the same tale told by a different person... just like in the real world when someone tells a story!
But of course Link had different adventures.
Like different main vilain in OOT and MM so those are the same link, different adventures.
Stop trying to line them together, just makes my head all achy!

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