Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Yay, Official Zelda Timeline! Wait...what?

For those who have not heard yet, The Legend of Zelda series of games by Nintendo has finally gotten an 'official' timeline, properly placing each game in their proper place. The reason I put official in quotations is due to the fact that the series' creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, doesn't appear to have had any hand in creating the timeline. As far as I can remember, Miyamoto has always maintained that there is no official timeline.

Now, I'm all for eventually having a coherent timeline of the Zelda series, but I have seen the timeline, and it is anything but coherent. The problem occurs when trying to tie together multiple games that, while they do have some small similarities here and there, don't have enough connecting points to really be able to pinpoint exactly where they should fall chronologically. Some of the games have very obvious connections, such as Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. Some, such as the two Oracle games that came out (Oracle of Time and Oracle of Seasons), only have some characters and the Triforce in common with the rest of the games in the series, and are thus much harder to place. They may not even have a place as far as we know.

Even more problems arise when faced with the fact that it has long been theorized that there is a timeline split somewhere around the Ocarina of Time game. The 'official' timeline addresses this and shows three timelines. However, the placement of the games in each of those timelines seems questionable to me, such as the fact that A Link to the Past is placed in the timeline where the Hero of Time (your character in Ocarina of Time) is defeated by that game's antagonist. I would think that, considering the events of LttP, it would fall better in the 'Adult Hero of Time' line, and then perhaps Wind Waker. The reasoning behind that are the fact that LttP shows no signs of any major changes between OoT and LttP's time, such as the flood that occurs before the events of WW, thus we can safely say that WW comes sometime after both OoT and LttP. LttP makes mention of a war to seal away the series main antagonist, Ganon, using the power of the wise men.

 Now, I know that in OoT it has sages, of both genders that seal away Ganondorf after he turns into Ganon, but this discrepancy can be explained by the tale having been told so many times, and over such a long period of time, that some details become garbled. Phantom Hourglass is obviously linked to WW and thus should come next. However, there is nothing to show that WW falls into the same timeline as LttP, meaning it may or may not belong in the Adult Hero of Time timeline.

What I just did there is, of course, mostly opinion-based, but they are opinions made through having played and observed what has gone on during these games. You can't just look at the games, pick out a few details that are similar only in passing, and then make a coherent timeline out of it. You need to play the games, observe not only the dialogues that are in them, but also the legends that are told in them, as well as the architecture, the ruins... there are so many things that may be possible clues that need to be looked at. I really don't get the impression that the timeline's creators actually did that.

The more I look at the released timeline, the more tenuous and fragile the connections that the timeline's creators have made seem to become. As a gamer and a fan of the series, I think it would have been more prudent to continue to let the players theorize on their own as to how exactly things play out chronologically. That was part of the fun of the games. Each new one added another piece of the puzzle, but it was a piece that you still weren't quite sure where it should go. You had small, subtle clues, and sometimes you were practically handed the answer, as was the case with OoT and MM. I, personally, will not be considering this timeline as canonical. If anything, I will view it as a jumbled mess that some people at Nintendo decided to compile to temporarily appease some of their customers while at the same time making a little profit off of it. Call me pessimistic, but that's just how I see this. I would like to post my own theory as to what the Zelda timeline may look like, but I should save that for another post so as to not make this one into a giant essay.


  1. I think that more then likely they are trying to appeal to those players/fans of the various games who have been begging (more then likely demanding) for some tangible line of direction for the games. That in itself seems a little odd as a non-gamer because the sparaticness of how the Legend of Zelda series is kind of reminds me of the Final Fantasy series with how some of the games follow a story line then jumps to something completely different. Maybe it's just me when it comes to comparing the two. So more then likely those in charge of the announcement are trying to appease the small group of gamers who have been whining and complaining about a lack of a timeline. Of course you do realize this will be gobbled up by those who are writing fanfics and such.

    1. Oh, I have no doubt of that, which is very unfortunate really... any true fan of the game shouldn't need an 'official' timeline, nor should they demand one. And as you said, the series is a bit sporadic.