The Legend of Zelda series

From Academic Kids

The Legend of Zelda (ゼルダの伝説 Zeruda no Densetsu; often shortened to just Zelda) is a series of video games created by Nintendo and industry legend Shigeru Miyamoto that began in February 1986. The games are set in the fantasy world of Hyrule (although some have been set in other equally fantastic worlds), and the gameplay generally consists of a mixture of action, adventure, and role-playing. It is considered one of the most influential video game franchises ever created.



The Legend of Zelda games feature as their central character and protagonist a young Hylian named Link. Link is frequently called upon to rescue Princess Zelda, after whom the games are named. The main villain of the series is known as Ganon, also known as Ganondorf. The action occurs in the mythical land of Hyrule. In terms of story, the earlier games did not deviate much from the standard "save the princess" theme, but later installments have diversified their themes somewhat.

Another important element in the series is a divine relic known as the Triforce, left behind by the three goddesses that created Hyrule. It consists of three golden triangles, one for each goddess: the Triforce of Power, the Triforce of Wisdom, and the Triforce of Courage. Each piece will bestow its own divine essence on the one who possesses it; typically Ganon has the Triforce of Power, Zelda has the Triforce of Wisdom, and Link has the Triforce of Courage. If the three pieces of the Triforce are united, it will grant the deepest wishes of anyone who touches it.

However, at the core of all Zelda games is not the plot, but a successful mixture of complex puzzles, strategic action gameplay and exploration. This formula has remained fairly constant throughout the series, with further refinements and additions featuring in each new game, and it has made the Zelda franchise one of Nintendo's most successful game series, along with the Mario, Metroid, and Pokmon series.

The Legend of Zelda was principally inspired by Miyamoto's explorations as a young boy in the forests surrounding his childhood home in Kyoto[1] ( According to Miyamoto, one of his most memorable experiences was the discovery of a cave entrance in the middle of the woods. After some apprehension, he entered the cave, and explored its depths with the aid of a lantern. This memory has influenced Miyamoto's work, as cave exploration is a major element of most Zelda games. The themes and imagery also bear striking similarities to that found in the work of British author J.R.R. Tolkien


The following is a list of the main installments of the series, with the original year of release and the platforms they appeared on. Note that the two Oracle games were released simultaneously.

  1. The Legend of Zelda (1986 Japan, 1987 America and Europe - Famicom/NES, re-released on Game Boy Advance in 2004 as part of the Classic NES Series)
  2. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1987 - Famicom Disk System, 1988 - NES, re-released on Game Boy Advance in 2004 as part of the Classic NES Series' Famicom Disk System-selection)
  3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991 - Super Famicom, 1992 - SNES)
  4. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (1993 - Game Boy, Game Boy Color)
  5. BS Zelda (1995 - Super Famicom, Satellaview)
  6. BS Zelda: Kodai no Sekiban (1997 - Super Famicom, Satellaview)
  7. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998 - N64, GameCube)
  8. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (2000 - N64, GameCube)
  9. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (2001 - Game Boy Color)
  10. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (2001 - Game Boy Color)
  11. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past featuring Four Swords (2002 US, 2003 Japan - Game Boy Advance)
  12. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest, a.k.a. Ura Zelda (2002 Japan, 2003 US - GameCube)
  13. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002 Japan, 2003 US - GameCube)
  14. The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition (2003 - GameCube, by Nintendo of America, never to be sold separately)
  15. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (2004 Japan, US, 2005 Europe - GameCube)
  16. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2004 Japan and Europe, 2005 US - Game Boy Advance)
  17. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Holiday 2005 - GameCube)

Upcoming games

A game, titled The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, is confirmed and will be released on the GameCube platform. This has been the #1 most wanted game on since the first trailer was shown at E3 2004, and it's easily one of the most anticipated games of the year.

At one of the discussions about Twilight Princess, it was revealed that there is a game in the works for the Revolution, presently called The Legend of Zelda (tentative title) (from an IGN news report ( No other information is known at this time.

In addition, a Zelda game for the Nintendo DS has been announced. Despite previous interviews confirming it as a Four Swords-style game, this has now been denied, so it is to be assumed it is a more single-player-focused adventure, or perhaps an entirely new direction for Zelda games. Apparently Eiji Aonuma himself is working on this one, rather than Capcom/Flagship as with the previous games, making it seem less likely to be a Four Swords adventure. Currently Nintendo still lists this title as The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords. The game will feature online play, as confirmed in a recent interview in Hobby Consolas in May 2005 with Aonuma.

CD-i games

For most fans this was a dark time for the Zelda franchise, there have been three Zelda games made for Philips' CD-i multimedia system under a special license agreement. These were made without any involvement from Nintendo and they deviated significantly from the other games in style and gameplay. In 1989, Nintendo originally signed a deal with Sony to begin development of a CD-ROM add on for the Super Famicom. However, Nintendo suddenly broke the contract and signed with Philips in the early 1990s. However, the CD-ROM add on was dropped, but Nintendo had licensed the rights to some of the characters, including Link, Zelda and Ganon, to Philips, in the hopes of gaining Philips as a partner on their way to making a compact disc-based console. Philips used the characters to create three CD-i games. Like the system they were created for, these were never very popular and can today be considered obscure and not canonical. They were:

  1. Link: The Faces of Evil (1993) - Animation Magic ' CD-i
  2. Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon (1993) - Animation Magic ' CD-i
  3. Zelda's Adventure (1995) - Viridis ' CD-i

LCD games

There were also two LCD-based games, the confusingly-named "Zelda Game Watch" and "Zelda Game & Watch". Compared to other games in the series, they were relatively simple, consisting of only a few screens and in black-and-white. For more information, see Zelda LCD Games.


The first Zelda appears relatively crude and simple by today's standards, but it was a very advanced game for its day. Innovations included the ability to use dozens of different items, a vast world full of secrets to explore, and the ability to save progress via battery backup. The game also featured a "second quest" where, once completing the game, players could replay the game using a similar overworld layout but with all the items and dungeons re-arranged. This second quest could also be reached immediately by entering your name as "ZELDA" when starting a game. Its formulaic story put the player in the shoes of a boy hero in the land of Hyrule set out to rescue the Princess Zelda, by first collecting the 8 fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom. Beside its technical innovations, the gameplay, which consisted mainly of finding items and using them to solve puzzles, battle monsters in real-time, and interact with the environment, was a successful formula, and was widely copied, including by later Zelda games. The game was wildly popular in Japan and America, and many consider it one of the most important videogames ever made. A modified version known as BS Zelda was released for the Super Famicom's satellite-based expansion in the early 1990s in Japan.

The second, also known as Zelda II, was a departure from the concept of the first game as it exchanged the top-down view for a side-scrolling one and introduced RPG elements not found in other installments of the series. Many consider it the "black sheep" of the series; it is sometimes deplored for its difficulty and lack of adherence to series staples. However, Zelda II has its adherents despite its comparative unpopularity.

The third, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (initially known as Super Zelda), returned to the top-down view and added the concept of an alternate dimension, the Dark World, to explore. It was released for the Super Nintendo in April of 1992 and re-released for the Game Boy Advance on Dec. 9 2002 in North America, combined with the multiplayer addition Four Swords.

The fourth game, Link's Awakening, was the first Zelda to appear exclusively on Nintendo's Game Boy handheld, and additionally was the first not to take place in Hyrule. It was re-released for the Game Boy Color in 1998 as Link's Awakening DX with some additional features.

After a relatively long hiatus, the series made the transition to 3D with Ocarina of Time, the fifth game in the series. Ocarina of Time, initially known as Zelda 64, retained the core gameplay of the previous games and was very successful both commercially and critically. The popular Japanese magazine Famitsu gave the game its first ever perfect 40/40 score. It is also the number one ranked game at Game Rankings ( Appropriately, it is considered by many fans to be the best game in the series. Ocarina of Time saw a limited re-release on the GameCube in 2002 when it was offered as a pre-order incentive with The Wind Waker and featured a previously unreleased expansion known as Ura Zelda, containing remixed versions of the game's dungeons. It is known as Master Quest in English.

The sixth title, Majora's Mask, used the same game engine as the previous Nintendo 64 game, but added a novel time-based concept which led to somewhat mixed reactions from series' fans. Gameplay changed in that Link could transform into other versions of himself with the aid of masks. While keeping the same graphical style of the landmark Ocarina of Time, it was also somewhat of a departure, particularly in atmosphere - the game was much darker and had a sense of impending doom, due to the moon being poised to fall upon the land of Termina.

The next two games, Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons were released simultaneously for the Game Boy Color platform, and, by exchanging codes, could be combined to form a single story. They were not developed by Nintendo, but rather by Capcom under the supervision of Miyamoto.

The next Zelda was initially believed to be a development of the more realistically styled N64 games, but Nintendo surprised many when it was revealed that the GameCube game, The Wind Waker, would be cel-shaded - a more cartoon-like style of graphic design first seen in Sega's Jet Set Radio. Initial fears that this would affect the quality of gameplay that many fans had grown accustomed to were eased when the game was released to critical acclaim in Japan in 2002 (when it became the second Legend of Zelda game to earn the score of 40/40 from Famitsu a feat still held today by only 5 games) and elsewhere in 2003. It featured gameplay based around control of the wind and sailing a small boat around a massive ocean-based world, and puzzles requiring the use of enemy weapons or sidekick-like secondary characters.

Next in the Zelda series of games was The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures for the Nintendo GameCube. It was another huge departure from the previous Zelda games in terms of gameplay, since it focused around multiplayer gameplay. For the multiplayer features of the game, each player was required to use a Game Boy Advance system linked to the Nintendo GameCube via a GBA to GCN cable. Although it focused on multiplayer, a single player feature was included, where a Game Boy Advance system was optional. The Japanese version included a mini-game known as Navi Tracker's (Tetra's Trackers) that was not included in any other incarnation of the title. The game contains an important first for Zelda; the game has spoken dialogue for all the characters (except Link).

On May 11 2004 at Nintendo's pre-E3 press conference, they revealed the latest game in the series for the GameCube, currently titled The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. This game was expected to use the cel-shading graphical style from The Wind Waker. However, the new game has a more realistic look, similar to the Spaceworld 2000 technology demo. Not much has been released about the title thus far, though it appears to be quite similar in gameplay design and atmosphere to Ocarina of Time.

On January 10 2005 Nintendo released a new game for the Game Boy Advance, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap in America. The central concept of The Minish Cap is Link's ability to shrink in size (and thus literally combat evil on all scales) with the aid of a mystical living cap named Ezlo.

The new Nintendo portable console, Nintendo DS, unveiled at 2004's E3, is expected to be home to a new take on the Zelda series. No information other than its existence has been released. First, Nintendo said it would be another "Four swords" game, but this has later been denied.


The chronology of the fictional Zelda universe is debated among fans. As time progressed and more games were released, the order of the games in an overall timeline became complex and heavily disputed. It is widely accepted that the games have some connection to each other, usually coming in pairs. For example, Majora's Mask is a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time, and The Adventure of Link is a direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda.

On November 13, 1998, series creator Shigeru Miyamoto was interviewed by Nintendo Power Magazine. When asked where the Zelda games fall when arranged chronologically by their stories, his response was:

Ocarina of Time is the first story, then the original Legend of Zelda, then Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and finally A Link to the Past. It's not very clear where Link's Awakening fits in--it could be anytime after Ocarina of Time.

Official Old Interview (,

(NOTE: This interview has since been revealed to have been mistranslated. Nintendo of America, Inc no longer endorses the quote and Shigeru Miyamoto says it is not the timeline nor was this the timeline he meant to convey)

Majora's Mask was released shortly after and fit nicely into Miyamoto's timeline. Being a direct sequel, it stated that Majora's Mask occurs a few months after Ocarina of Time. However, when trying to piece subsequent games (including the Oracle and Four Swords series) into one timeline, fans do not agree on the fact that there is only one timeline, let alone the order of the games. The controversy of the multiple timeline debate began when Eiji Aonuma in a speech about Kaze no Takuto (Takt of Wind) before it was released in Japan, in which he stated Ocarina of Time had two endings and two time periods. He said The Wind Waker took place 100 years after the end of the Adult Link ending.

However, this statement came under heavy scrutiny when the in-game text of all versions reveal The Wind Waker takes place not 100, but hundreds of years after Ocarina of Time. Additionally, the quote by Mr. Aonuma was given out before the final version of the game was complete. There is also the issue of a translation error or a slip of the tongue. We may never know what Eiji Aonuma meant to say unless another interview asks him to clarify.

Regardless, the exact order of the games and how many timelines exist remains a mystery. However, Eiji Aonuma promised he will do his best to patch it all up and hopefully reveal the timeline someday, and Shigeru Miyamoto publicly stated there is a master document containing the timeline.

Other fans point out that the chronology of the series should not be so rigid. Just as real-world legends are retold with different variations, each game would merely be a different retelling of the same story. With each advancement in videogame hardware and the ever-changing desires of the consumer, the base story of Link saving Zelda from Ganon and recovering the Triforce is embellished, modified, and out-right changed. Just like any other legend, The Legend of Zelda changes as it is retold through the years and these fans believe the chronology debate is pointless.

Nature of the Protagonist

Despite what many fans believe, every game, or group of games, features a different protagonist named Link. Some of the games are connected chronologically and take place in the same world, while others do not.

Games that definitely share the same Link:

  • Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask feature the same Link, known as the "Hero of Time".
  • The two Oracle games feature the same Link, as proven by the linked game, in which after saving one of the lands Link travels to the other, and a larger story is revealed. However as the games can be played either way round, it is unknown what order they go in, if in fact there is a definite one.

The Legend of Zelda with The Adventure of Link and A Link to the Past with Link's Awakening are two widely accepted pairings, due to in-game information and backed up by the games sharing the same style of offical artwork for their Links. However some dispute the A Link to the Past and Link's Awakening pairing as they think that the Link who leaves on a boat at the end of the Oracle linked story could be the one who is shipwrecked at the start of Link's Awakening.

One theory, identified as "Williams's Multiple Links Theory," as T. Williams was the first to record it, postulates that the Links and their corresponding games (in the chronological order of the series) are as follows:

  • Link "A": The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
  • Link "B": The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
  • Link "C": The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
  • Link "D": The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure
  • Link "E": The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
  • Link "F": The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons
  • Link "G": The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventures of Link

Each is a "link" in a chain of heroes named "Link". While every Link is almost identical, the worlds they inhabit have proven to be different, and incongruous with one another, hence the Multiple Links Theory.

Another possible explanation from G.T. (the first to propose it) could be the following:

  • Link "A": The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (young link), The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (adult link)
  • Link "B": The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventures of Link
  • Link "C": The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
  • Link "D": The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons
  • Link "E": The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure
  • Link "F": The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

In this latter explanation it would be sustained that the ocurrences which happen within A Link to the Past where both a light and a dark world exist as the result of two opposite characters taking hold of the triforce... While one is locked to be trained by his shaping of the sacred realm, that is "the light world", the other has complete control over a twisted "dark world"... The need Ganondorf has for both pieces, however, forces him to do battle in two fronts, in the real Hyrule where he conquers with the triforce of power and seeks for Zelda, and within the sacred realm where he must battle Link and his light world. For this purpose he has Agahnim which once made by Ganondorf's presence in the golden realm manages to escape into the "real Hyrule" for the adventures of the next Link... Now, when Ganondorf is defeated in his way back into his past the triforce offers Link a dream of growth in koholint island, the remains of Link's light world, made for him to train into becoming the forefather of the following heroes... Heroes which will come to know the minish for the following adventure... To backup this storyline, the references in "A Link To The Past" about the sages holds secrets about them being of different races and not old hylians, there are even no gorons in Link's light world, something which could be linked to Link's fear of Goron hugs... And the zoras are evil... Pretty much akin to the idea of a Zora wishing to impose her wishes of getting married into him. The light world being ruled by someone else clearly manifests Link's lack of will to power, he wishes adventure and heroism, therefore he is not the king but someone able to access all his domain and free it... Furthermore, the incarnation of Zoras he finds will, like Agahnim, escape into the world becoming the evil monsters of the adventure of Link and it's prequel. In this storyline it's very likely that the Rito evolved from many of the races known in Termina and the original Hyrule, even from a mix of them and subrossians... and... Why not... Gaebora Kaepora... It could even be a catch 22 made for destiny to fulfill itself... With Gaebora Kaepora being a descendant and a forefather of Rito akin to the Picori and the Zora mostly and, of the Gorons, Hylians and Gerudo not as much and, least of all yet somehow, of the Subrossians and Kokiri. Of Course the possibility of this mixture of races and of a Catch 22 happening in this storyline is not neccesary for it to be a plausible storyline and many different explanations may exist for both Gaebora Kaepora and the racial origins of the Rito. The wish of Link was made true by allowing himself to come back in many reincarnations with the same need of growth of his first incarnation, and by making Ganondorf inmortal in his form of Ganon which, at best, could only be subdued and trapped in the dark realm which sprang from his dark world.

Cartoon series

Missing image
Animated series logo

Main article: The Legend of Zelda (animated series)

The Legend of Zelda was made into a cartoon series as a "show within a show" in the live action Super Mario Bros. Super Show TV series produced by DiC. The animated Zelda shorts were aired each Friday instead of the usual Super Mario cartoon that aired during the rest of the week. The series loosely followed the NES Zelda games. Due to the Super Show's syndicated nature, only 13 animated Zelda shorts were featured within the show's entire 65-episode run. Here, Link and Zelda battled Ganon on a daily basis while keeping Hyrule safe.

Although the series was created to attract fans of the games, like many Nintendo spin-offs it was poorly received by its intended audience, perhaps due to its simplistic plotlines and shallow characters. Link, in particular, is portrayed as a rude, lovesick teenager, contrary to the quiet presence displayed by his game character.

After the cancellation of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, the DIC incarnations of Link and Zelda appeared in various episodes of Captain N: The Game Master during the second season of the show, where they helped Captain N and his friends fight the evil Mother Brain.

The Zelda Cartoon is based on the Comic series by valiant(not the one in Nintendo Power!) more than the game, yet at the same time, the Comic is very closely based on the game. Link's appearance is changed drastically from the comic series(Again, not the Link to the past comic!) to the cartoon.

In popular culture

The alternative metal band System of a Down wrote a song called Legend of Zelda. The track is not released on any of their albums, but can be heard by anyone who has downloaded it off the internet.

See also

External links

  • ( - Official site, featuring an encyclopedia
de:The Legend of Zelda

es:The Legend of Zelda fr:The Legend of Zelda (srie) it:The Legend of Zelda nl:The Legend of Zelda no:The Legend of Zelda (spillserie) ja:ゼルダの伝説 pt:Zelda fi:Zelda sv:The Legend of Zelda


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