Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Legend of Zelda series
The Legend of Zelda series (ゼルダの伝説 シリーズ Zeruda no Densetsu Shirīzu; often shortened to just "Zelda series") is a series of RPG video games created by Nintendo and industry legend Shigeru Miyamoto beginning in February 1986. 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, for whom the games are named. The main villain of the series is known as Ganondorf (Also known as Ganon). The action occurs in the mythical land of Hyrule. Story-wise 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; which consists of three golden triangles known as the Triforces of Wisdom, Power, and Courage, all together being the united full Triforce. These were, according to the game, left behind by three goddessess of power, wisdom, and courage after their creation of the world. Each piece will bestow its own divine essence on the one who possessess it; typically Ganondorf has the Triforce of Power, Zelda has the Triforce of Wisdom, and Link has the Triforce of Courage. If ever one person obtains all three pieces, it is said that the Triforce will grant the deepest wishes of their heart.
However, at the core of all Zeldas is not the plot, as the stories of the individual games do not always match up, 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 their Mario, Metroid, and Pokémon 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. Miyamoto has mentioned that several elements of his 'adventures' through those woods were taken into the Zelda games, like a lake he suddenly found one day in the middle of the forest, which at the time surprised him for being a totally new discovery for him, and which according to him, has been a recurrent element in all of the Zelda games (both the lake and the exploration and discovery factors).
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.
- 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)
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988 - Famicom Disk System/NES, re-released on Game Boy Advance in 2004 as part of the Classic NES Series' Famicom Disk System-selection)
- BS Zelda (1995 - Super Famicom, Satellaview)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991 - Super Famicom/SNES)
- The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (1993 - Game Boy, Game Boy Color)
- BS Zelda: Kodai no Sekiban (1997 - Super Famicom, Satellaview)
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998 - N64, GameCube)
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (2000 - N64, GameCube)
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (2001 - Game Boy Color)
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (2001 - Game Boy Color)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past featuring Four Swords (2002 US, 2003 Japan - Game Boy Advance)
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest, a.k.a. Ura Zelda (2002 Japan, 2003 US - GameCube)
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002 Japan, 2003 US - GameCube)
- The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition (2003 - GameCube, by Nintendo of America, never to be sold separately)
- The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (2004 Japan, US, 2005 Europe - GameCube)
- The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2004 Japan and Europe, 2005 US - Game Boy Advance)
A game, tentatively titled The Legend of Zelda, The Legend of Zelda GCN or Zelda 2005, is confirmed and will be released on the GameCube platform.
In addition, a Zelda game for the Nintendo DS has been announced. It has been confirmed in an interview that it will be a "Four Swords" style game (rather than a single-player focused adventure) but the actual details are still unknown. Apparently Anouma himself is working on this one, rather than Capcom/Flagship as with the previous games. Currently Nintendo lists this title as "The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords".
Beyond the commonly recognised games, 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:
- Link: The Faces of Evil (1993) - Animation Magic ' CD-i
- Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon (1993) - Animation Magic ' CD-i
- Zelda's Adventure (1995) - Viridis ' CD-i
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. 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 (an alternate dimension of Hyrule).
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 be critically acclaimed in Japan in 2002 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. 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 Jan 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. Although no information other than its existence has been released, a new game in the Four Swords series has been confirmed for the Nintendo DS.
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.
(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 immediately 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.
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.
- The Ringer
- Cold Spells
- The White Knight
- Kiss'N Tell
- Sing for the Unicorn
- That Sinking Feeling
- Underworld Connections
- Stinging a Stinger
- Hitch in the Works
- Fairies in the Spring
- The Missing Link
- The Moblins are Revolting
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.
A term used whenever a common mistake is made when talking about The Legend of Zelda series. The term was originally created by a Zelda fan as a personal joke for his own forum. In August of 2004 at Camp Hyrule, an annual week long online camp, NOA Andy officially adopted the term as an award for the person with the worst grammar at camp.
The term GANNON-BANNED originated some years ago at Camp Hyrule when the GANNON award (now the GANNON-BANNED award) was given out to the camper with the worst spelling. The term was born from the cardinal sin in the Zelda universe of spelling Ganon's name incorrectly, as it appeared in the original version of The Legend of Zelda for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987.
- The Legend of Zelda series characters
- The Legend of Zelda series enemies
- The Legend of Zelda series races
- Zelda Classic
- Zelda.com - Official site, featuring an encyclopedia.
- Zelda Legends - Detailed storyline, and one of the largest Zelda sites.
- Zelda Universe - Huge Zelda fan site.
- Zelda Elements - A Zelda fan site from GameSpy Network, currently offline, but the main page now says "returning Autumn 2005".
- Zelda Central - Offers quality Zelda information and news.
- Realm of the Triforce - Offers articles and theories, a forum, an interactive section, fan work, and much, much more.
- Zelda.com.br (Portuguese) - Brazilian site
- Desert Colossus - A gigantic Zelda fan site that explores the games and the epic storyline behind them.
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