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Retro Friday: The Zelda Timeline

by Zaid Kriel (Zaid)  Posted Friday, December 07, 2012 9:50:59 AM

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The first Zelda game I ever played was Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on the Nintendo Gamecube. As a Sega boytjie, I was kinda sorta aware of the Zelda games, but totally unfamiliar with them. I'd catch the name in EDGE magazine articles, see images of Link splashed next to the Nintendo name and wonder what is Ocarina of Time, one of the few games to get a perfect 10 from Electronic Gaming Monthly.

So booting up Wind Waker, I was filled with anticipation. Like Ocarina of Time, the game was well reviewed and I was itching to get a worthwhile experience out of my new Gamecube, since the only game I had for it at that time was Super Smash Brothers Melee. A great game, yes, but an utterly boring one if you only had one controller. Wind Waker  did not disappointed, it had me from the word go.

Thought, it received a lot of fan criticism for its use of cell shaded visuals, I loved it. The look of the game lent it a charm and sincerity that would have been lost otherwise and was the main draw card that pulled me into the Legend of Zelda. It is still one of my favourite games.

The Zelda games aren't just about great graphics and an engaging plot, in fact, they were never about graphics and plot. The driving force behind every Zelda game has always been about brilliant design. Stripped of story, the Zelda games always motivated players by giving them new tools and then teaching them how to use them properly. Then it would be up to the player to figure out how to use all their tools together to conquer the challenges that the developers would throw at them, be that inventive boss battles or head-scratchingly frustrating dungeons. 

With that design philosophy in place, the developers Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka never really paid too much attention to the story of the Legend of Zelda, so it never occurred to them the fans would become so enmeshed in it. Over the franchises 25 year history, fans have battling the to reconcile the timeline between the sixteen games that have come out so far. Because the series has played around with time travel and the games themselves have been set at different epochs in the gameworlds history, it's been a struggle to figure out how the games link (pardon the pun) together.

To celebrate the series 25th, Nintendo released the Hyrule Historia in Japan, a collectors edition book that finally revealed the entire scope of the Legend of Zelda. Unfortunately, the Hyrule Historia was only available in Japanese. Fortunately, the good people at Gametrailers have unearthed the tomes secrets and the full Timeline of the Legend of Zelda can be revealed to all.



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