Hey you! Yeah, you! You are on a website called The Gamer. You’re probably a gamer too. There’s a good chance that you already know everything there is to know about Link. Sometimes, when you talk about video games with some guy who does not share your love for The Legend of Zelda, or with a younger family member who did not yet have the time to learn the things you know, you might wish you had a tool to help them get up to speed. Wouldn’t it be convenient if you had some kind of article to link them to which could give them a quick way to catch up? Well would you look at that! This article is about things that people often get wrong about everybody’s favourite green-clothed hero, Link! Quick, go and grab that hypothetical person we’ve just talked about.
Hey you! Did someone send you here? Was it because they want to share their love of The Legend of Zelda and its main protagonist, Link? Are you about to start on Breath of the Wild, and you want to know just who that elfish-looking guy is and what is up with him? If so, you have come to the right place. Think of this article as a primer. A lot of people have simple misconceptions about Link, so let’s get through the basics together, and you’ll be ready to talk The Legend of Zelda with any long-time connoisseur.
(As for the hardcore Link fan mentioned earlier, why don’t you stick around? You might even learn a thing or two about your favourite character!)
15 Link Is Not Zelda
The first thing that a lot of people get wrong about Link is his name. Most people with only a passing knowledge of video games (my mom, my dad, probably your mom and dad) will often call him “Zelda.” After all, he’s the hero of all those games and the games are all titled The Legend of Zelda. So it makes sense that he would be Zelda, right? The truth is, the original Japanese title, when translated, becomes Hyrule Fantasy: The Legend of Zelda. The English translators did not like the sound of that and thus, the game only retained its sub-title.
This mistake probably would have been way less common had the main title of the series remained Hyrule Fantasy. Then again, Shigeru Miyamoto, the series creator, originally did not even want to give a name to his protagonist. His feeling was that the game would be more immersive if the player could just name the main character, a feature which remains to this day. However, marketing being what it is, a “default” name was needed. With the protagonist being a “link” of some sort between the player and the game (as well as the link between the past and the future in an early version of the game), well that’s how an adventurous video game character gets his name.
14 He Almost Had A Very Common Name
This one is a bit more obscure. In fact, I have only found two different references to that fact while scouring the net, and I was unable to locate any interview with Miyamoto that would confirm this rumour. However, it is so interesting that I had to include it here and I must warn that it is to be taken with a gigantic grain of salt, but…
Did you know that he was almost named “Chris” or “Christo?” The rumour says that while Shigeru Miyamoto was searching his brain for a name to give his protagonist, he almost decided on “Chris” as it was his godfather’s name. I have nothing against the name “Chris.” In fact, I am friends with more than one Chris. However, one has to admit that it is so… typical. Sure, a name is not a guarantee of success, but one has to admit that “Link” is a lot more distinctive. Imagine games with titles such as Zelda II: The Adventure of Chris and A Chris to the Past. Would they really be recognized as the classics that they are today?
At the very least, my mom would probably be able to remember his name.
13 Link Is Not All That Left-Handed
A lot of people, particularly long-time Zelda fans, will tell you that Link is left-handed and that it is because his designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, is also a lefty. Those people were right… or at least they used to be. Up until Twilight Princess, Link was indeed left-handed, but then he had to be adapted to the new technology that Nintendo was trying to sell.
In Twilight Princess, Link is indeed a lefty in the GameCube version (and canonically), but the Wii version was mirrored to accommodate the right-handed majority who had to control the sword swings, which were mapped to the Wii remote, with their right hand. In the follow-up, Skyward Sword, Link was made right-handed for the same reason, and he still is in Breath of the Wild. Furthermore, in A Link To The Past, Link switches the hand with which he holds his sword depending which side he is facing. That one is due to a technical limitation, as his sprite was mirrored for when he is facing east. So how can Link be sometimes left-handed, sometimes right-handed, and sometimes ambidextrous? Well…
12 There Is More Than One Link
Obsessive fans who read fan theories and every interview with Miyamoto or Eiji Aonuma (the series producer) have known about this one for a long time, but it bears repeating: there is more than one Link. Link is just a hero which gets reborn (or whose spirit is reincarnated) when evil arises and his help is needed. It is unclear if divine intervention just sends him out there whenever Ganondorf decides to break out of wherever he is being held at the time, but whenever there is trouble in Hyrule, a Link will try and save the day. That’s why you can have Link be completely different from one game to another. That also means that, theoretically, should Nintendo keep making games in the series, there could be a million Links out there if necessary.
As for where each Link fits in a timeline, Nintendo did come out with an official explanation a few years ago when they released the book Hyrule Historia, which I would recommend to any fan of the series. It is not completely clear where Breath of the Wild fits in all this, but I’m sure they will update this thing eventually.
11 Link Is Not Always An Orphan
Although every Link is different, they do have a few things in common, with one of them being that Link usually has no parents and is being taken care of by a mix of family members and magically sentient objects. In A Link to the Past, he is raised by his uncle. In Wind Waker, he lives with his grandma. In Ocarina of Time, he is even raised by a tree. The tradition of Link being parentless is a long one, but those who have paid attention to the in-game text and a few instruction manuals are already aware that we do know what happened to Link’s parents in a few occasions.
In Ocarina of Time, Link’s mother leaves him in the care of a talking tree when she is fatally wounded during a big war which is ravaging Hyrule. In the official manga adaptation of A Link to the Past, Link’s parents are depicted as being guardians of Hyrule who died when he was at a young age. So as you can see, Link’s backstory is not always the tragic tale of an orphan. It’s sometimes the slightly less tragic tale of a boy who lost his parents when he could barely even walk.
10 Link Is Never An Adult In The Series
It is true that most of the time, Link is shown as a child, usually about 10 or 12 years old. However, as you play through the different games in the series, you will sometimes see mentions of Link being an adult. That is mostly noticeable in Ocarina of Time, where the older version of Link is referred to as “Adult Link.” The versions from Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword have also been shown as being more mature when compared to other depictions of the character. However, despite the different labels, interviews with Mr. Miyamoto and Mr. Aonuma confirm that he is never an actual adult.
The oldest version of Link so far has been in Skyward Sword, where he is supposed to be 17 and a half years old. In Ocarina of Time, he is either 16 or 17 depending on the source. While one could argue that Hyrule society probably has different standards than those of our world, Link is never an adult in any of the games. One thing he really is, however, is the most bad-ass kid to ever wield a sword. For a 10 year-old, he really keeps busy.
9 He Is Quantifiably Heroic
It’s easy for any video game character to go around and call himself or herself a hero simply because they are the star of their own game, but Link is not like everyone else. He is acclaimed by both critical and popular opinions alike. He is an actual, certifiable hero, and he has the numbers to back him up.
First, he is one of the few characters to ever get a star on San Francisco’s “Walk of Game” (because the whole place was turned into a Target just two years after opening). Second, he has been placed near the top of nearly every gaming publications’ “Greatest Hero” or “Best Video Game Character” list. He was #1 at Game Informer and GamesRadar. He was ranked second at CNet and Nintendo Power (which might be a bit like being your mom’s favourite, but still). If I had to make such a list for this website, I would probably place him first too. But most importantly of all, gamers voted him first at IGN and GameFAQs infamous “Character Battle” more than once.
The truth is that Link is a real hero and a man of the people, but you’ll never hear him brag about it in-game like, say, Duke Nukem. Probably because he cannot speak.
8 His Hair Colour Is Not Always Blond
Picture the most perfect Link cosplay possible. You’re probably imagining a green tunic, pointy ears and blond hair. That would be correct for most Legend of Zelda games since at least Ocarina of Time, but Link was not always depicted with blond hair. When he started in the original NES classic, he was sporting brown hair, as he did again in The Adventure of Link. Therefore, you could still be having brown hair and be accurate in your costume, depending which era it is from.
If you want to take it a step further, while the official art from A Link to the Past has Link as a blond-haired boy again, his in-game sprite sports pink hair, and no one is really sure why. It has been speculated that it could be do to the limited colour palette of the SNES, but the colour yellow is included in Link’s design. Maybe it was to make his hair stand out more on such a tiny character model? No matter the reason, it still means that you have more options than “blond” when it comes to being Link.
7 Link And Zelda Are Not An Official Couple
While there is A LOT of fan art out there picturing Link and Zelda as an item, there is in fact no in-game or canon occurrence of their relationship ever being more than a simple friendship. It did come close a few times, however. In Skyward Sword, Zelda invites Link to the top of the Statue of the Goddess for a “private chat,” where it certainly looks like their relationship will be taken to the next level. There is also the ending of The Adventure of Link, where Zelda gets in closer to “thank” Link for his hard work, but a curtain falls in front of them just before we can see what would probably have been a kid-friendly, very pixelated kiss.
If we go through some of the unofficial material available, we do have clues that, while nothing has happened, Link wouldn’t mind if their relationship went beyond what it is right now. One only has to take a look at The Legend of Zelda cartoon, which only lasted for thirteen episodes, but which still managed to make Link look like the neediest guy in all of Hyrule.
6 Wolf Link Was Not His First Animal Transformation
Every new game in The Legend of Zelda tries to introduce a new gameplay mechanic which has never been seen before. In Twilight Princess, Link could transform into a wolf, which would give him new offensive abilities and heightened agility. It was touted as being a series first, which is true from a certain point of view. It is certainly the first time that Link transforming into an animal had any lasting influence on a game’s design. However, a lot of people forget that Link was indeed able to transform into a different animal a long time ago. Before Wolf Link, there was indeed Bunny Link.
In A Link to the Past, Link is transformed into a fluffy pink bunny during his initial visit to the Dark World. That is because the Dark World has the power to transform visitors based on their true nature. Because Link is such a nice, caring young man, he is assigned the shape of a bunny. Thankfully, this can all be avoided once Link finds the Moon Pearl.
Now if Link was to make a Soul Calibur-style cameo in a Mortal Kombat game, would his animality be a wolf, or a fluffy pink bunny?
5 There Is No Triforce For Link To Collect In Ocarina of Time
The Triforce is a really big deal in The Legend of Zelda. It is the source of Ganondorf’s power, it is the one thing which allows Link and Zelda to counter the evil wizard, and it will also grant a wish to anyone who can put it back together. In many games in the series, it was also the objective. In the NES original, Link had to put the Triforce of Wisdom back together in order to save the Princess, and it was also present during the ending of A Link to the Past. Therefore, a lot of fans were expecting to see the Triforce somewhere when the series first made the jump to 3D in Ocarina of Time.
In OoT, the Triforce is only visible during a cut scene which explains the creation of Hyrule. Its individual parts are only referred to after that, but it is never seen again whole, and neither of the three main characters ever touch it to make a wish. However, the belief that it was indeed possible to collect the Triforce stayed strong over the years because of an internet hoax in the late 99’s. An internet user called “Almandoz” sent screenshots to a popular website where she supposedly found the Triforce in a secret room. The pictures were eventually proven to be false, but the rumour persists to this day.
4 He Appeared in 3D Before Ocarina Of Time
As mentioned in the previous entry, Ocarina of Time was the first Legend of Zelda game to make the jump to the third dimension. It proved that the series could comfortably exist in 3D and the difference in gameplay effectively gave Nintendo two very different ways to tell stories in their franchise. They would continue to do so in 2D on handhelds, but from that point forward, home console releases were mostly 3D adventures.
While Ocarina of Time was the first time that The Legend of Zelda could be played in 3D, Link himself had appeared as a rendered 3D model three years before. In Donkey Kong Country 2, Link is a member of “Cranky’s Video Game Heroes,” where he holds the third place behind Mario and… Yoshi? Link also gets completely eliminated from the rankings as soon as Diddy Kong collects more than 19 DK coins. I feel like Link is being shortchanged here, but at least he can say that had a 3D head start over his Zelda colleagues.
3 Link Should Have Had A Third Adventure In The Oracle Series
The Oracle sub-series is composed of two Game Boy Color games which can be linked together to form one gigantic adventure. The two games were released in 200, and proved that handheld versions of The Legend of Zelda could be just as inventive and captivating as their home console counterparts. Both games sold nearly 4 million copies each, which probably made Nintendo wish that a third instalment had been made.
As it turns out, a third instalment was originally planned, but eventually cancelled. The three games, at that point, were called Mystical Seed of Power, Mystical Seed of Wisdom, and Mystical Seed of Courage. The developers ran into trouble when trying to coordinate the three games together, and so, the series was scaled back to two. Mystical Seed of Courage was the one cancelled, while the other two were simply renamed. Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons are two of the best games ever released for Game Boy and, while a third one might have been pushing it a little bit, a successful trilogy would have been one hell of a cash cow for Nintendo.
2 Link Is Kind Of Responsible For Hyrule’s Recurring Problem
Link’s job is a thankless one: every hundred years or so, Ganondorf gets reborn, or freed from his magical jail by a combination of mystical powers and/or incompetent nitwits. Link has to be reborn too so that he can defeat Ganondorf and imprison his spirit once more and so that the cycle may restart at a later date. So why is Ganondorf so obsessive with his desire to destroy Hyrule? Well…
At the beginning, as depicted in Skyward Sword, there was no Ganondorf. There was only Demise, a demon who coveted the Triforce. Sure, he was willing to kill a whole lot of people to get what he wanted, but he had no beef with Hyrule and certainly not with Link. Link, however, saw fit to interfere and help the Goddess Hylia, who was protecting the Triforce and, in doing so, he imprisoned Demise in the Master Sword. This, of course, angered Demise, who cursed Link and Zelda, vowing that their descendants would have to face his reincarnated hatred in an endless cycle.
It is arguable that Hyrule would have had an even bigger problem had Link not interfered (namely, being ruled by a gigantic demonic presence), but his initial heroism did pave the way for all of the events that followed.
1 Link Does Not Always Win
As the main star of a long-running series of video games, Link is inevitably a winner. At the end of every adventure, he defeats the bad guy, saves the world, and goes back home with a feeling of satisfaction from a job well-done. As a hero, he has to win all the time, otherwise, how does the player progress?
Link does indeed win every time in-game, but canonically, things are a little bit different. According to the official Zelda timeline, everything is going swimmingly until Ocarina of Time, where things get complicated because of the time travel stuff. At that point, the timeline splits in three, depending on which of three different outcomes happens. Either Link wins and stays as an “adult,” or Link wins and goes back to being a child, or… Link loses. That section is officially called “The Fallen Hero” timeline and it dictates that Link, despite his best effort, failed and perished at the end of Ocarina of Time. Ganondorf wins, transforms into the Demon King Ganon, and takes over the Sacred Realm, where the Triforce resides. Hyrule’s inhabitants are powerless to stop his invasion, so they basically just lock the door behind him (with magic!), cutting Hyrule from the Sacred Realm, because they know they cannot defeat Ganon in battle.
Because canonically, according to Nintendo, Ganon beat Link at least that one time.