Opinion: Legend of Zelda and female Link

Last year’s E3 gave us a trailer to the newest title in the popular “Legend of Zelda” series. While the reception of the trailer was extremely positive, what took the most out of everyone, either on excitement or negativity, was the notion that Link looked oddly feminine. That, added to some poorly worded words from the director of the game, Eiji Aonuma (related to a “lost in translation” moment) rumors about the possibility of a female link, or even a playable Zelda, exploded. It was a pretty big deal the mere posibility that a Zelda game would allow you to play as a girl, either a female version of Link or as Zelda herself.

Of course, Eiji Aonuma later rectified what he said and confirmed that this was indeed a male Link. Like always. (altough, it should be noted that the headcanons of Trans Link saw an increase around this time).

However, after the newest Zelda had mysteriously vanished from the line-up (something that had to do with Nintendo already planning the release of their next gen console) there was no more information. Come this year’s E3 and Nintendo’s now traditional “Nintendo Direct” and there were a lot of rumors going on that Nintendo was going to add the choice to play a female Link or maybe Zelda.

As expected, this year’s Nintendo Direct for the E3 came with the arrival of new info on the newest Zelda game, this time with more gameplay and a clearer idea what it would be about, once again receiving quite a positive reception in this regard. However, this time Nintendo and Aonuma have confirmed, once again, No female Link and no playable Zelda. And this time they have tried to explain why it has to be like this.

To quote Eiji Aonuma himself (and assuming there is nothing missing in the translation once again):

“We thought about it, and decided that if we’re going to have a female protagonist, it’s simpler to have Princess Zelda as the main character… if we have Princess Zelda as the main character who fights, then what is Link going to do? Taking into account that, and also the idea of the balance of the Triforce, we thought it best to come back to this [original] makeup.”

Let’s take this down by parts, shall we? first the idea of Playable Zelda:

Bassically, the idea seems to be that, if they were to make a Zelda game with a female protagonist, it would have to be Zelda. And because of that, Link would lose any kind of role in the story.

Believe it or not, I think I understand what this mean. Namely that Link is an avatar for the player. That is why he is named “Link”: he is the connection between player and game. He is less of a character and more of a puppet for the player to use. The only sounds he emotes are grunts, only one game has have him say any kind of words, etc.

Link is not a character, he is an avatar of the player. And yes, this applies to plenty of characters, but I think it applies to Link more than most because it is his one role in the story (You have more chances of Mario having more of a character than Link, we have no insight on what Link thinks. This is not a criticism of the games, it’s just an aspect I think it is important to note: Link’s role is, ultimately, that of an Avatar for the player. If Link is not doing this, there is nothing to the character. (The Manga adaptions do give him more of a character, and that is something that, for the manga, works, because it is a different medium that requires it)

And that’s why I would not want Zelda as the playable character in the main series, I would want a female Link. Because this games works in part because the protagonist is an avatar of you in the most literal of senses. If Zelda were to be the playable character, she would either be relegated to this position (of the “Avatar” to whom we don’t get insight on her thoughts on things), which would be a role I don’t think anyone wants to see Zelda on, or she becomes a character in the story proper and an entity independent of the player and that aspect of the game is lost.

Usually, I am more in favor of the protagonist being a separate entity, but i think it would be a misstep to do this in a “Legend of Zelda” game. It’s why I think I would prefer a Female Link, because Link is already set for this position, that of an avatar for ourselves to insert into, rather than an entity to see in action.

What I would like for Zelda, however, is to have her own Spin-off series in which she is, indeed the playable protagonist. A series that is clearly separated from “The Legend of Zelda” games but still part of the Zelda Franchise (“The Adventure of Zelda” if you will).

Now the second part, the one about the Triforce.

It’s stupid.

Yeah, I don’t think I need to say more.

They talk about the “balance” of the triforce (Link as Hylia’s Champion, Zelda as Hylia and Ganondorf as a personification of Demise’s anger) and that is the reason why they can’t change Link’s gender (that the Triforce would become unbalanced). The thing is, forgeting for a moment that they are free to do what they want, they have already changed Link and Zelda plenty of times. Yes, Link and Zelda have always have, relatively speaking, the same origins. However, the context of said origins, the town in which Link lives, the people who are part of his life, how he gets his sword, etc. that differs from game to game. Same with his relationship with the princess. Does he know her or is it a first meeting?

A Link Between Worlds” reveals there are parallel universe with counterparts to Link, Zelda and Ganondorf. Couldn’t there be one in which Link is a girl? Couldn’t Nintendo make a game set in that universe?

Why is it that Link being a girl would make the Triforce unbalanced, but Zelda being a Pirate does not? Now, I am not saying they have to make Link a girl. I am saying that these idea of “balance” is vague at best and does not explain how changing Link’s gender would break it when other things have not.

Nintendo, having Link be a girl would not break the balance. it would not ruin the game. The only thing it would mean is that… Link would be a Girl. If you do not want to make Link a Girl, that’s fair. But just say it.

Because it feels like you are not being fully honest.

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