The Legend of Zelda

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This is a /v/ related article, which we tolerate because it's popular on /tg/... or we just can't be bothered to delete it.

The Legend of Zelda is a series of adventure games for the Nintendo system. One of the oldest franchises, alongside Super Mario, at least one game has graced every console Nintendo has put out. With its epic landscapes, focus on puzzles, and wide array of monsters and races, the Zelda series is a goldmine for an enterprising Dungeons & Dragons DM to draw from for inspiration.

The Story[edit]

You play as one of the many incarnations of Link, a green-clad Hylian(The setting's main race, known to have elf-like features such as long pointy ears) youth somewhere in between 9 to 18 years of age who sets out to fight evil to accomplish some heroic goal, often related to rescuing someone. And often this is Princess Zelda, whom the series is named after. In pursuit of this goal he often clashes with the evil Ganon (or Ganondorf), who wants to rule the world, or some other menace ranging from a jerk wizard who kidnaps girls to a fucking scary mask trying to destroy everything.

Central to the series is the Triforce, an artifact of immense power that taps into a user's power, wisdom and courage to use. It has near reality-warping powers in its full form, which is why Ganondorf seeks to obtain it. Link often has to find bits of the shattered Triforce in his quests, or people capable of sealing Ganondorf away. At some point the pieces of the Triforce became sealed within the three main characters, with Ganondorf getting the Triforce of Power, Zelda getting the Triforce of Wisdom, and Link getting (or sometimes having to find) the Triforce of Courage. The Triforce is of such immense value that at one point there was a civil war over who could control it, leading to, in several games, 1) Link's parents being killed and forcing him to live in hiding, 2) a tribe of wizards getting banished into a parallel realm, eagerly waiting for a chance at vengeance, 3) causing the entire Sacred Realm to become a cursed dimension after Ganon succeeds in grabbing it, etc.

Note that it is not always the same Link who appears in the series: while some of them appear in several games as the protagonist (One appears in four games, and three others in two games each) there is often a new Link in every game. And while they look alike, they are not related to one another - except from one case where it is strongly hinted at that they are family (namely the one from Ocarina of Time and the one from Twilight Princess). This is because the games are constantly soft-rebooting (really it's that it takes place over a VERY long stretch of time and each Link is a new reincarnation). Hyrule itself will change too every so often; sometimes it will feature the same familiar geography of Hyrule castle, Death Mountain, Zora Village, etc. And other times it will feature very dramatic changes, such as all of Hyrule being flooded.

The Zeldas on the other hand are related to one another: the first one was the reincarnation of the goddess Hylia and all Zeldas are her descendants, making them the Blood of the Goddess. And while the various Links might not be related they inherit something as well; the Spirit of the Hero which gives them the drive to stand up to evil and use the various tools they find despite them never having used or even seen them before.

The villainous Ganon is the same one over and over again though, being the reincarnation of the demon Demise. Occasionally, it's stated he can't die; he only ever suffers temporary defeat. Even while he gets killed at the end of some of the games, his followers try to resurrect him (and sometimes even succeed), making him the same guy again and again. Even so, he takes many different forms; early on he's a piggish brute (literally), though later he adopts a more human form (In this form he's always called Ganondorf) when he uses subversion as his main strategy, typically as one of the rare Gerudo males, though he can still be capable of some horrifying shit if he's in possession of the Triforce of Power. Eventually however, he gets sick of this shit and drops all subtlety, turning into an eldritch abomination called "Calamity Ganon" that curses the land of Hyrule itself, resurrecting fallen monsters and seizing control of the kingdom's automaton army. In every single case, his weakness remains the same: only the awakened Master Sword can seal him away.

The fact that the timeline also branches off into multiple paths simply makes it more confusing to keep track of. Fortunately, Nintendo not only printed a game-by-game explanation of the timeline, they also gave a definitive starting-off point in Skyward Sword, taking place just prior to the founding of Hyrule and the establishment of Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf as perpetually reincarnating characters.

Tabletop Games[edit]

Officially, there are no Zelda tabletop games (no, the Zelda version of Monopoly doesn't count). Unofficially, homebrewers have tried their hand at making some. A Legend of Zelda D20 system has been floating around the net for years, and /tg/ has been busily working on a Legend of Zelda RPG. There's also Megaton, which is a wargame set in the Zelda setting.

Vidya Games[edit]

There's been A TON of them, but the one that gives most nostalgia is the first one, which you can see here:

All of the games share the same basic gameplay: Link needs to stop Ganon/Ganondorf by visiting various locations in Hyrule, collecting various artifacts or rescuing people before finally confronting the main boss. Each location has a dungeon that is heavily puzzle-oriented; Link will need to fight his way to a mini-boss, which will drop a new gadget that he'll use to complete the dungeon and fight the final boss. Each game will usually also feature an additional gameplay feature unique to the game, whether it's commanding your own ship, turning into a wolf, or hopping between the real world and a mirror world.

The two most famous (and have originated the most skub) are Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask for the N64. Ocarina of time was a massive adventure, featuring a whooping 9 mandatory (there were several optional dungeons, such as the Gerudo fortress' labyrinth) dungeons. The sixth dungeon, the water temple, became a meme due to its frustrating difficulty (The DS version tried fixing this by color-coding different sections of the temple, reducing your chances of getting lost). Ganondorf (not ganon) makes his first proper appearance here, showing us as an ambiguously dark-skinned ginger/red-headed arab/tall C.S. Goto rather than a pigman (proving us again how prejudiced the japs are). The game is famous for codifying the gameplay of all future Zelda games, as it was the transition point from 2D to 3D, thereby introducing the new swordplay mechanics among other features. It's also been considered a highly influential game to the Action/Adventure Third-Person style of video games, as many of the genres' cornerstone mechanics (like enemy camera lock-on for combat) either originated in or were popularized by Ocarina of Time.

The Majora's Mask game had a smaller questline (4 to 6 (depending on how you view the pirate fortress and Ikana's palace) dungeons plus the final boss) but featured an obscene amount of side quests (like 30-40 of them!). It's also the most mysterious, since as it takes place outside of Hyrule, we know very little about the lore of the setting. This has lead some fans to concoct crazy theories about Majora's nature and reason for destroying Termina. Of course, many have debated whether the longer questline or larger variety of side quests is better, or whether Ganondorf's pimpery can surpass the Mask's eldritch-grade awesomeness. They are good games, all the while, overshadowing the preceeding titles.

Another great game of the saga is the Wind Waker, which traded Hyrule for a pirate-esque adventure, where you sailed across the seas in search for booty and your sister, kidnapped by a now jaded ganondorf (many say this ganondorf is the best, as we see him here as a dude who's totally tired of this shit and is shown in a kinda sympathetic light). It's noteworthy that the Link of this continuity managed to appear in two games and that he may or may not have sired one of the parents of the 'Spirit Tracks' Link.

Of the 2D games, A Link to the Past is generally the most liked. It basically takes everything that's good about the original Zelda game and refines it to an engaging experience, combined with dimension-hopping puzzles, giving you two worlds to explore instead of just one.

Breath of the Wild takes a radical departure by combining the massive world of the old 2D games with an emphasis on survival and strategy. Rupees are no longer easy to find and hearts are nonexistent; you gotta prepare your own food and potions ahead of time and collect weapons to replace the ones you break. There's also a whopping 120 mini-dungeons full of puzzles scattered throughout the land, not including various hidden treasures and side quests, or the various mini-bosses/guardians roaming the wild that will fuck your shit up if you're not careful.