The Legend of Zelda (JP) is a high fantasy action-adventure video game series created by legendary Japanese game designers Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka and developed and published by Nintendo with some portable installments such as The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap developed by Flagship/Capcom.
The gameplay consists of a mixture of action, adventure, video game puzzle solving, and role-playing. The series centers on Link, the main playable character and the protagonist of the series.
Link is often given the task of rescuing Princess Zelda and the most common setting of the series, Hyrule, from Ganondorf, who is the primary antagonist of the series. However, other settings and antagonists have appeared throughout the games, with Vaati having recently become the series' secondary antagonist.
The story commonly involves a relic known as the Triforce, a set of three golden triangles of omnipotence. The protagonist in each game is usually not the same incarnation of Link, but a few exceptions do exist. As of April 2010, The Legend of Zelda series has sold over 70 million copies since the release of the first game, The Legend of Zelda and continues to be successful worldwide.
The series consists of fifteen official games on all of Nintendo's major consoles, as well as several spin-offs. An American animated series based on the games aired in 1989, and manga adaptions which are officially endorsed and commissioned by Nintendo have been produced in Japan since 1997.
History of The Legend of Zelda
- Main article: The Legend of Zelda Timeline
The Official Timeline Splits into three branches. The Unified Timeline happens before the split. The End of the Timelines branch is currently only known to be at the end of the timelines, but which one is unknown.
- Unified Timeline: Skyward Sword, The Minish Cap, Four Swords, Ocarina of Time
- Adult Timeline: The Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks
- Child Timeline: Majora's Mask, Twilight Princess, Four Swords Adventures
- Fallen Hero Timeline: A Link to the Past, Oracle of Ages, Link's Awakening, A Link Between Worlds, Tri Force Heroes, The Legend of Zelda, Legend of Zelda II.
- End of the Timelines: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, The Legend of Zelda (Switch)
Creation of the world
Before the world was created, according to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, there was absolutely nothing in existence. In time, though, three goddesses appeared from a nebula near what would soon become Hyrule. The first, Din, created and sculptured the land that will soon become Hyrule.
Taken from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
"Long ago, there was a kingdom where a golden power lay hidden. It was a prosperous land blessed with green forests, tall mountains, and above all, it was in peace, as it had been for ages. But one day, a man of great evil lay his hands upon the golden power and attemtped to satisfy his evil intentions with it.
With its strength at his command, he spread darkness across the kingdom. But then, when all hope had died, and the hour of doom seemed at hand, a young boy clothed in green appered out of nowhere. Wielding the Blade of Evil's Bane, He sealed the King of Evil away and returned the light to the land. This boy, rumored to have used the ability to travel through time to save the land was known as the Hero of Time. The boy's tale was passed down through generations, and as we speak he has become a Legend...."
NESTwo years after the Nintendo Entertainment System was released in 1985, The Legend of Zelda was released for the NES, becoming the first game in the phenomenal series today. The Legend of Zelda created many different styles and techniques still used in games today, such as a top down viewpoint, the ability to save, and the ever elusive dungeon boss.
A year after The Legend of Zelda was introduced, the next game in the series, The Adventure of Link was released for the NES. The Adventure of Link was different from its predecessor, however. Instead of having a top down viewpoint, it was an action sidescroller. The Adventure of Link paved the way for many new genres in video gaming, including role playing games
Zelda III was the next game in the series. It was being developed for the NES as well. With the success of the Game Boy and upcoming Super Famicom/Super Nintendo Entertainment System the project was canned.
In 1992, a year later after the Super Nintendo Entertainment System]] was released, the next groundbreaking game in the Zelda series was introduced. A Link to the Past returned to it's roots by using top down viewpoint instead of side scrolling. A Link to the Past redefined the Zelda series as most know it today and many believe without this game, the Zelda franchise would have never developed.
The game that revolutionized the Zelda series, however, was released in 1998 for the Nintendo 64. Ocarina of Time totally changed the graphical aspect of the series, by taking away the 2D top down aspect of the previous games, and turning the game into a 3D landscape. Game play also improved tremendously, by allowing players to experience 3D sword battles, 'Z' targeting of their enemies, the use of music to immerse the game, and also many new items and weapons never known to the Zelda series before. Many fans of the Zelda franchise still rave Ocarina of Time as a masterpiece of the series.
Two years after the release of Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask was released for the Nintendo 64. Majora's Mask is the direct sequel to Ocarina of Time, picking up where the game last left off. Majora's Mask is different than most Zelda games, allowing the player to transform into different races by the use of masks. The game also has a built in clock that gives the player only three days to complete their quest before the moon destroys the land. Though Majora's Mask is not as long as its Ocarina of Time partner, the game allows for much more emotion and storyline.
A few years later, in 2002, The Wind Waker was released for the Nintendo Gamecube (GCN). The Wind Waker is one of the most controversial games in the franchise. Instead of using the traditional 3D rendering of Ocarina of Time or Majora's Mask, The Wind Waker used cartoonish cel-shading for the graphics of the game.The next game, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, continued to use the cel-shaded graphics.
The game itself was a mix of 2-D and 3-D graphics, with the characters and most everything else being 2-D, and some of the special effects such as light and Dark World Portals being 3-D. Also, some effects such as explosions and dust were Cel-Shaded. In Japan, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures came with another game called Navi Trackers.
The game plays like a mini-game, where you have to search for stamps to give back to Tetra the Pirate from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Whichever Link returns the most stamps wins. The reason why the game was called Navi Trackers is because Tetra's name in the Japanese The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was "Navi". So, if the game were to have come to countries other than Japan, it would've been called Tetra Trackers. Many Zelda fans were angered by the non-realistic graphics, thus Eiji Aonuma (the overseer of the Zelda series) decided to have the newest game in the series Twilight Princess to be of more "realistic" graphics.
Nintendo's Wii console featured, for the first time, a Zelda video game at launch. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess incorporated the controls of the Wii Remote to allow for sword slashes and aiming with certain weapons. The game was released on the GameCube as well, though was much more successful on their new console, most likely because of the hype it generated.
Overall the sales were impressive, and Twilight Princess is currently the 9th best selling game on the Wii console. Nintendo fans await the release of the next Zelda game for the console, which was confirmed at an E3 press conference in 2008, though no images or information was revealed.
At E3 2009, Miyamoto released a single image from the new Zelda game. Looking similar to Twilight Princess, Nintendo would later fully reveal the game in 2010 at E3 as The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Containing a brand new visual style unlike anything the series has ever provided, the game makes use of Wii MotionPlus as the game's producers promised. It would be released in 2011
The Wii U featured remakes of Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, updated to the Gamepad control, allowing a quicker mean to switch between items. The visual style was also updated to match the HD capability of the new console and many textures were changed to more detailed version.
But since 2011 the main focus of Nintendo was the game then known as Zelda Wii U which would become The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild almost 5 years later, the game would focus on an open world approach, like the first game and the new visual style would be inspired by the classic Japanese animation. The game would, however, be released on Nintendo's new hybrid console, the Nintendo Switch.
The Switch featured yet again a Zelda game at launch and the same scenario repeated itself, the sales would be better on the new system than on the last.
On February 13th, 2019, Nintendo announced The Legend of Zelda for the Nintendo Switch. This game was previously released on the Game Boy and Game Boy Color. During E3 2019, Nintendo also announced a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild currently only known as The Legend of Zelda set to release at an unknown date. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening released in September of the same year.
Other Zelda games worth mentioning is the handheld series. Though mostly shorter than the console games, the handheld Zelda games are believed by some to fit into the theorized series timeline. Handheld games include: Link's Awakening, Four Swords/A Link to the Past, Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons, The Minish Cap, and the newest additions to the handheld Zelda family, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks for the Nintendo DS as well as The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes for the Nintendo 3DS.
List of games
Official Game List (Nintendo systems)
- The Legend of Zelda - Famicom Disk System (1986)
- The Legend of Zelda 2: Link no Bouken - Famicom Disk System (1987)
- The Legend of Zelda - Nintendo Entertainment System (1987)
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link - Nintendo Entertainment System (1988)
- Zelda GW - Game & Watch (1989)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - Super Nintendo Entertainment System (1991)
- The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - Game Boy (1993)
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - Nintendo 64 (1998)
- The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX - Game Boy Color (1998)
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask - Nintendo 64 (2000)
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages - Game Boy Color (2001)
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons - Game Boy Color (2001)
- The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords - Game Boy Advance (2002)
- The Legend of Zelda: Navi Trackers (Japan Only) - Nintendo GameCube (2002)
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker - Nintendo GameCube (2002)
- The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures - Nintendo GameCube (2004)
- The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap - Game Boy Advance (2004)
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - Wii/Nintendo GameCube (2006)
- The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass - Nintendo DS (2007)
- The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks - Nintendo DS (2009)
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D - Nintendo 3DS (2011)
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - Wii (2011)
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD - Wii U (2013)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds - Nintendo 3DS (2013)
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D - Nintendo 3DS (2015)
- The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes - Nintendo 3DS (2015)
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD - Wii U (2016)
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Wii U/Nintendo Switch (2017)
- The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Switch) - Nintendo Switch (2019)
- Sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Nintendo Switch (TBA)
Other Games or Cameos
- Link: The Faces of Evil - Philips CD-i (1993)
- Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon - Philips CD-i (1993)
- Zelda's Adventure - Philips CD-i (1995)
- Hyrule Warriors - Wii U (2014)
- Hyrule Warriors Legends - Nintendo 3DS (2016)
- Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Nintendo Switch (2019)
Cancelled Game List
- Zelda III - Nintendo Entertainment System
- The Legend of Zelda: The Mystical Seed of Courage (Japanese Translation) - Game Boy Color
The Legend of Zelda series, unlike the Mario series, did not have many video portrayals. However, it did have an American animated TV series called The Legend of Zelda, which was loosely based on The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.
There was also a pitch created by Imagi Animation Studios, in 2007, for a CGI movie adaptation of The Legend of Zelda series, however, it was rejected. The pitch was later leaked onto the internet in 2013 by former Imagi employee, Adam Holmes.
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