Hyrule is perhaps Nintendo’s most iconic location. The home of The Legend of Zelda, the mystical land of Hyrule is a world full of lore and history that fans debate feverishly over. The series has done a great job at developing the region, especially in recent years, by shedding more light on the culture and people of Hyrule. That’s not to say the earlier games aren’t full of details, however. You can go back to the very first Zelda and infer a lot from the nearly uninhabited land. The series’ narrative strength has always been its visual details and Hyrule is one of the best examples of that.
As The Legend of Zelda is a series that prides itself on finding secrets and exploration, it should come as no surprise that Hyrule, itself, is also full of its own secrets: details hidden in the background waiting to be found by perceptive fans. Sometimes these small details say a lot about Hyrule, and the parallels Nintendo likes to draw between games. The franchise has always had a very distinct style of storytelling and world-building, but it’s often easy to miss those connections.
When it all comes down to it, Hyrule is one of the most lived-in worlds in video game history. At the same time, however, it’s also incredibly morbid, highly detailed, and a near obsessive with maintaining certain elements. It’s a world that only Nintendo could think up. It’s Hyrule.
15 Hyrule Has At Least Four Parallel Worlds
Hyrule is complicated, to say the least. Each and every Zelda game brings in so much new information that fans squabble over. After that, there are a mountain of developer interviews, and a handful of new lore books like Hyrule Historia and Hyrule Encyclopedia. Things get retconned, things get unretconned, but one thing that stays constant is that Hyrule has a lot of layers to it. Literally.
A Link to the Past introduced the Dark World, a world parallel to Hyrule that Ganondorf controls. Majora’s Mask introduced Termina, a fever-dream-like Hyrule full of rich lore that will never be given more depth. Twilight Princess had the Twilight Realm, and A Link Between Worlds gave us Lorule. There’s a lot going on under Hyrule’s surface, and it’s hard to make everything coexist with one another given the limited information we have but, at the same time, it only adds to the allure that these worlds have. The mystery is a natural part of The Legend of Zelda and parallel worlds, no matter how illogical or odd, only amplify that
14 The Downfall Timeline Has Two Princess Zelda Existing At The Same Time
The latest confirmed point we have for the downfall timeline is The Adventure of Link, a game in which Link has to traverse across Hyrule to awaken a slumbering Princess Zelda. The thing is, though, there’s already a Princess Zelda hanging out in Hyrule at this point. Most people might miss the fact that the official backstory for Zelda II claims that the Zelda Link is trying to wake up is NOT the Zelda from the original game but a Zelda from years ago who was cursed.
As is typical for The Legend of Zelda, Link manages to wake this Zelda up but what does this mean for the Regency? This is a Hyrule that just got back on track after Ganon’s attack in the first game so adding another princess to the mix certainly complicates things considerably. Does the new (old?) princess aid Hyrule politically? Is there a tension for Link’s affection? Do they share a bunk bed? Just some of the questions that having two Zelda in Hyrule raise.
13 Hyrule Was Only Flooded For 100 Years By The Start Of The Wind Waker
When you play through The Wind Waker, you’re exposed to a world that has been fundamentally changed. Society has evolved to adapt to their ocean fueled existence, entire civilizations cut off from one another. In many ways, it’s a dark and dangerous world filled with eons of history and lore. The very title of the sea ridden Hyrule, "The Great Sea," boasts of a world entrenched by water. Too bad most of The Wind Waker’s mysticism is shattered by the fact it takes place one century after Ocarina of Time.
Yeah, it’s unfortunate, isn’t it? It almost feels like a mistake or a mistranslation, but series director Eiji Aonuma has confirmed in interviews that it’s been a mere 100 years since the flooding happened. Actually, it could even be interpreted that it’s been 100 years since Ocarina of Time meaning the flooding happened even closer to The Wind Waker. Given how little the inhabitants of the world know about the pre-flood Hyrule, you’re better off just assuming years work differently in The Wind Waker or that Aonuma is really bad at math.
12 Grooseland Was Technically Hyrule’s First Name
Hyrule is an incredible name if you think about it. It might be because of the influence The Legend of Zelda has had on video game and mainstream culture, but just hearing the name invokes a sense of pure wonder and fantasy. There’s a reason the original game was subtitled A Hyrule Fantasy. It’s a dramatic land out of this world. That’s why it’s so funny when Groose names Hyrule Grooseland in Skyward Sword.
Obviously, we know that Grooseland isn’t going to stick, but it’s hilarious that the first chronological name Hyrule had was named after one of the series’ biggest doofuses. Just imagine, A Grooseland Fantasy for the NES. It’s a name that very well might have fit in the 1980s but let’s just be grateful Nintendo thought up Hyrule first. While the inhabitants of Hyrule might never find out their country’s original name, we, the players, will always know the majesty of Groose’s naming conventions.
11 Hyrule’s Geography Is Ever Changing
One of the hardest aspects of The Legend of Zelda for hardcore fans to reconcile is Hyrule’s constant geographical rearrangement. Breath of the Wild made an attempt at creating a cohesive world that lined up with the previous games but, no matter which way you cut it, something’s going to be off. The only real explanation can be that Hyrule’s landscape is changing drastically over time and towns are moving around.
Think about it, each game is hundreds of years apart which gives plenty of time for entire villages to move around and for landmarks to shift with the passage of time. If you take that into consideration, it actually becomes considerably align all the different Zelda maps. Ocarina of Time’s world map fits nicely into Twilight Princess’, and then both can be jammed somewhere into Breath of the Wild with consideration given to scope.
10 Hyrule Was Most Likely Part Of A Larger Continent
Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons have Link traveling to two completely cut off lands from Hyrule: Hooldrum and Labrynna. Now, there’s really nothing too out of the ordinary about these countries, but that’s exactly the evidence we’re looking for: there’s nothing out of the ordinary.
There are some cultural differences, of course, but Hooldrum and Labrynna have some pretty heavy Hylian influences. The goddesses even manifest themselves in these countries as opposed to Hyrule. The idea here is that Hooldrum and Labrynna were once apart of Hyrule, but continental drifting pushed them apart. Given how slowly technology and culture tend to advance in the series, it makes sense they’d hold onto some Hylian traditions.
9 You Could Fit Every Zelda Map Into Breath Of The Wild And It Still Wouldn’t Fill It
Breath of the Wild is big. You know it’s big, I don’t have to tell you that. But do you really understand just how big it is? To give you an idea, you could fit every map from every Zelda game, and it wouldn’t fill all of Breath of the Wild. At first glance, that might be unreasonably huge for an open-world game. It’s fun to explore a sandbox, sure, but there comes a point where there’s more fluff than fun. Thankfully that isn’t the situation here. What makes BotW’s massive map all the more interesting, however, is that its size kind of makes sense.
If you look at previous Zelda games as just taking place in a few concentrated regions of Hyrule, you can start to place where certain games took place. Ocarina of Time was primarily in the Great Plateau region, Twilight Princess was mostly in the center of the map, and the original Zelda most likely took place in the Akkala region. Who knows if Nintendo will hang onto this geographical consistency (probably not), but it’s nice they made an effort with Breath of the Wild.
8 Vaati Was Hyrule’s First Real Antagonist, Not Ganon
Ganon is such a staple of The Legend of Zelda that it's almost hard to believe he wasn't the first entity to try and terrorize Hyrule. Hundreds of years before he would get a chance to wreak havoc on the country (or maybe just 100 if we’re using Wind Waker math,) Vaati tried to establish himself as the force to be reckoned with.
By virtue of The Minish Cap being the earliest chronological point in the series after Skyward Sword, Vaati got two attempts to take over Hyrule before Ganondorf showed his ugly mug. What's particularly interesting about Vaati’s presence is the significance of him being Hyrule’s first real antagonist is completely understated. Of course, it would be hard to reconcile the fact he was introduced decades after Ganon was but, regardless of real world context, Vaati’s inclusion and subsequent absence of reference is an interesting part of Hyrule’s lush history.
7 Hyrule Is War Torn In The Child Timeline
Most people remember that a war is mentioned briefly in Ocarina of Time after Link completes the Forest Temple, but there’s quite a bit of evidence that lends credence to the fact that Hyrule, in the child timeline specifically, has been ravished by war quite frequently. The Hyrulean Civil War that Link learns about is just one piece of a bigger puzzle. Given Ganondorf’s attempt to take over Hyrule, his imprisonment in Twilight Princess, and the complete absence of the Gerudo in said game heavily implies that the Gerudo weren’t treated quite well after Ganondorf’s treason got out.
Think about it, Ganondorf, the Gerudo King, would obviously rally the Gerudo to fight for him. We know he has an army and we know that there are no Gerudo in the Gerudo Desert by the time Twilight Princess. We also know Hyrule is prone to civil war thanks to Ocarina of Time. It’s not explicitly stated, but it doesn’t have to be. The devil’s in the details.
6 Hyrule Is Technically Postapocalyptic
When you stop to think about it, living on Hyrule would be absolutely horrifying. It's a war-torn land that's constantly being attacked by either a pig monster or a gargantuan floating eyeball bent on conquest. The very first game depicts Hyrule as a near complete wasteland for Hylia’s sake. The fact of the matter is, more times than not, Hyrule is post-apocalyptic.
A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, and Breath of the Wild all feature a Hyrule that has been near destroyed. Whether it's due to Ganondorf’s tyrannical rule or the goddesses flooding the lands, Hyrule is apocalyptic in nature, always on the brink of ruin or recovering from near absolute destruction. Skyward Sword even directly references this, so it's clear Nintendo is doing this intentionally. It's a bold choice, especially for a Nintendo series, but it's one that makes sure the franchise will always be full of tension.
5 Hyrule Is Very Polytheistic
This one’s really no surprise if you have a basic knowledge of the series’ lore. There are three main goddesses to correspond with the three pieces of the Triforce, but if you start digging, you’ll find that Hyrule’s inhabitants love calling anything remotely interesting a “God.” Both the Great Deku Tree and Lord Jabu-Jabu are considered Gods, and the Gerudo women worship a “Goddess of the Sand.” Jabun, the Great Deku Tree (again), Jabun, Cyclos, Zephos, and the Queen of Fairies are all considered Gods in The Wind Waker.
The thing is, most of those “Gods” are really just slightly more powerful characters. They control certain things or watch over certain people, but they don’t really have the same power or responsibilities as our three main goddesses. It says a lot about Hyrule culture without having to shed any exposition. These are a deeply religious people, and they naturally cling onto something they believe will protect them. Given how much of a nightmare Hyrule can be at times, can you blame them?
4 Hyrule Loves Naming Things After People
While it isn't exactly common knowledge, given how ignored The Adventure of Link is by the fanbase, but Ocarina of Time’s sages were named after towns in Zelda II. It's a pretty neat and harmless callback on Nintendo’s part but with Breath of the Wild similarly naming dungeons after sages, these callbacks take on greater meaning.
While the Divine Beasts are not exactly named after the sages, the influences are outright mentioned in-game. Urbosa mentions Nabooru as Naboris’ namesake, and the backstory directly claims Ruta is named after Ruto. Taking into account Twilight Princess’ regions being named after spirits, it's quite clear what kind of naming convention Hyrule uses. It makes even more sense when you realize Hyrule is named after the goddess Hylia.
3 Hyrule Loves Wind And String Instruments
Hyrule is stunted, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. The Legend of Zelda works best when technology is incorporated at a minimum, and the fantasy elements take the spotlight. There have been steamboats, trains, and even magic ninja robots in recent years, but one thing that's always consistent is Hyrule’s taste in music. From the very first entry in the series to the most recent, the sounds of Hyrule have been predominantly wind and string (though Kass’ accordion is a welcome and recent exception).
Hyrule’s main instrument of choice tends to be in the flute family. Recorders and ocarina are abundant, and when they’re not, Link just plays some nice whistle tunes as a Wolf. It matches up nicely with the medieval feeling the series has without ever really dating it or holding it back from advancing. More importantly, however, it adds some personality to Hyrule. You can tell a lot about a culture through their music.
2 The Afterlife Works Differently In Hyrule
When it comes to The Legend of Zelda, death is complicated to say the least. Ghosts exist as Poes, but not everybody becomes a Poe when they die. We also know that it's possible to communicate from beyond the grave as seen in Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess but, again, this isn't a privilege everyone gets. Hyrule’s afterlife really is one of the biggest mysteries in the series, probably because ghosts are featured so prominently but never really expanded upon.
It gets all the more confusing in The Wind Waker when Link directly converses with the ghosts of two sages, but then enters a dungeon where he has to fight through an onslaught of ghosts. What exactly is it that determines whether someone turns into a Poe or not? There’s no real concrete evidence pointing in any direction in the series but one thing’s certain, if you’re going to die in Hyrule just make sure you cross your fingers.
1 Demise Insures Hyrule Will Most Likely Never Know Permanent Peace
For all its faults, Skyward Sword arguably has the strongest story in the series hands down. It’s an emotional tale that tells players about the origin of Link, Zelda, Hyrule, and the forces that keep them stuck in a constant cycle of battle. Demise, a character so Ganondorf in nature that it’s funny Nintendo thought fans wouldn’t notice, serves a pivotal role in the franchise by ensuring there will always be more Zelda games to come.
At the end of Skyward Sword, he curses Link and Zelda by trapping them in a cycle of reincarnation. The trio will always end up in a scenario where they have to fight over the Triforce (maybe, the prophecy isn’t super clear) as Demise will keep coming back as hate personified. This isn’t given too much fanfare in the game since, by that point, several character arcs need to be resolved, but it’s a note that plagues Hyrule permanently. As sweet as Link’s victories are throughout the franchise, they will always be temporary, because hatred does not end guaranteeing an uneasy future for the citizens of Hyrule.
But a whole lot of money for Nintendo.