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What Makes the Legend of Zelda Games so Good?

By: Midgetboysk8


Every now and then, a story is created that simply pulls people in, and makes them forget the world around them. What makes these works special is that they are not only fun, but believable. The person is simply pulled into the work, and in that instant it becomes real, and the person knows it. The creator of the work does not simply create a story, but creates another world, another universe. The creation is as real as the world we live in now. The fact that these worlds donít actually exist is completely irrelevant, because the only way our world exists to us is in the mind, and the mind can make fictional worlds equally real.

One such work is the game series known as The Legend of Zelda. One thing that makes the fantasy world of Hyrule so easy and appealing to believe is that it is basically a perfect world; the land of Hyrule is not todayís world controlled by money and greed, but a paradise controlled by magic and nature, friendship and love, honor and justice. Hyrule is not only a world that one can believe; it is a world that one wants to believe. This world does not seem like a pseudo-world created for a video game; it is realistic and easy to believe, and is real in the mind of the gamer.

This series also creates wonderful dynamic characters with depth in personality, with virtues and flaws, with goals and fears. The side characters are not sources of hints or items, but realistic characters, whose existence is not simply a tool to help the gamer. Each and every character is a believable person, who could very well exist in our world. One example is the chicken keeperís family in Ocarina of Time. The chicken keeper loves chickens, but has allergic reactions to them, so she must ask for assistance when they escape, as she cannot chase after them herself. Her father is the leader of a group of carpenters, and he relentlessly works the carpenters to exhaustion. He is ashamed of his son, who is not the hard worker he could be. This son is equally ashamed of his father, and this makes him very melancholy and withdrawn. He does, however, deeply love his sister, and the two are attached to each other in a way that they are not to their father. When the gamer meets t! hese characters, their acts are governed by these situations and personalities. This mini-story adds nothing to the gameplay, but adds a lot to the believability of the world it creates. These characters have depth, and are in believable situations and react in believable ways. Each character has his or her own opinions, beliefs, hobbies, likes, dislikes, etc. and acts accordingly.

In video games, the general theory seems to be that a world pops into existence for a game to be played in it, and conveniently ceases to exist when the gamer finishes the game. The Legend of Zelda, however, creates the idea that things are happening in Hyrule, whether or not the gamer is there to see it. Hyrule has its own history, and even its own creation myth. Here is a grossly simplified version of the history of the land of Hyrule, most of which comes from two of the nine games in the series:

The land of Hyrule was created by three goddesses. Din, the goddess of power, created Hyrule, and sculpted it with her flaming hands. Nayru, the goddess of love, created life and made it flourish throughout the land of Hyrule. She created the rock eating Gorons on death mountain, the fish-like Zora at Zora Fountain, the cunning Gerudos in Gerudo valley, the forever-young Kokori in Kokori Forest, and the Hylians, who lived throughout the land of Hyrule. Farore, the goddess of wisdom, gave this life knowledge and intelligence. When the gods left the land of Hyrule, they left behind a symbol of their power known as the Triforce. The Triforce was an incredible source of power, and was hidden in a golden realm to prevent its misuse.

Eventually, a war broke out, and the only ones to stay out of it were the Kokori. A Hylian woman was mortally wounded while trying to save her baby, and managed to get him to the safety of the Kokori forest before she died.

One day, a new king claimed the Hylian throne, and this king brought peace to the land. He discovered a way to enter the golden realm, but realized that nobody must ever go there. He took several items, all of which had to be used by a single person to enter the golden realm, and distributed them among the other species, to ensure that no single person would ever have them all, and in doing so he created helpful alliances with these species, ensuring future peace. All was well once again, until a Gerudo prince named Mandrag Ganondorf Dragmire [Ganondorf Dragmire of the enchanted thieves] decided to search for the power of the Triforce.

He searched for the things he needed to enter the golden realm, but those who had them refused to give them up. He eventually decided to bide his time, and got a job working for the Hylian king, so that he might have easier access to the necessary tools to enter the golden realm when the time came.

This is where the game Ocarina of Time picks up. The main character is the baby that was left in Kokori forest. His name is Link. He is raised as a Kokori, until he receives the call to adventure and leaves the forest. Ganondorf eventually obtains the Triforce, but Link defeats Ganondorf and traps him in the golden realm, where he cannot continue to wreak havoc, but he also cannot die or lose his power. The golden realm was changed into a wasteland which reflected all of the most horrible nightmares of the Hyrulian people. This golden realm eventually came to be known as the Dark World.

The story of the Imprisoning War, as it was later named, was passed down through generations. But the story eventually faded from knowledge. It became a myth, and nobody truly believed it until Ganondorf returned.

At this point, the game A Link to the Past starts. One of Linkís descendants, who by some odd coincidence has the same name, is contacted telepathically by Princess Zelda, whom Ganondorf has imprisoned. Link jr. eventually follows Ganondorf into the Dark World to defeat him. This continuous plotline makes the Zelda series the best story in any video game, and gives the sense that the story continues, whether or not the gamer is there to see it. The two games are linked in a way that few other game in a series are. This is one of the many things that makes the fantasy world of Hyrule so spectacular: it has a continuous history.

Link fits the classic hero archetype known as the Hero With a Thousand Faces. This is a type of story that appears again and again in spectacular books, movies, etc. including Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Firebringer, and many others. Here is an abbreviated summary of this format. There are more elements than these, but these are the main ones.

1)The main character is an orphan, or is in some other way set apart from his parents. He is destined for greatness, but he is raised by people who are not. The story starts out by showing the life that the character is used to (such as Kokori Forest, Tatooine, the muggle world, The Shire, the home herd). This part is used to introduce the audience to the characters (by audience, I mean gamer, reader, watcher, or whichever applies to the story).

2)There is a noticeable difference between the world that the character is used to and the world where the adventure takes place. There is almost always a definite threshold that the character crosses when he leaves his world to answer the call to adventure (such as Luke escaping from Tatooine, Harry boarding the Hogwarts Express and arriving at Hogwarts, Frodo leaving the Shire, Ronnoch leaving the home herd). In Ocarina of time, there are two of these: leaving Kokori Forest and taking the Master Sword.

3)The character has a guide or mentor, who offers him advice and guidance (such as Princess Zelda/Shiek, Obi Wan Kenobi, Gandalf, Dumbledore, Brheac). This mentor does not have to be the same person throughout the story; an example of a changing mentor is in Star Wars, where Obi Wan is Lukeís mentor at first, but later Yoda becomes the mentor.

4)The character has a special weapon, that few or no other people have (such as the Master Sword, a light saber, the ring of power, a magic wand, the ability to talk to animals).

5)There is often (but not always) a sidekick or two. These sidekicks often play a major role in the story, though they are still definitely not main characters (such as Navi, Han Solo, Sam, Ron, Tain).

These aspects, combined with some of the best music ever written and the best gameplay of any game, come together in The Legend of Zelda to make it the perfect game series.

 

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