Thursday, October 4, 2007

New Zelda game. Timeline questions again.

While the Nintendo DS has been out for at least two years, we've just now received the first Zelda game, and of course Jen and I had to get it. The Legend of Zelda is probably the biggest Nintendo franchise after Mario, and I happen to prefer the Zelda games as they don't move quite as fast and focus more on exploration, require a little more intelligence than Mario games.

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is the direct sequel to the Nintendo Gamecube game TLoZ: Wind Waker. I can't say anything about that game since I have never even owned a Gamecube, let alone played Wind Waker. So here I am starting out with PH, and apparently one does not have to know anything about WW to play PH. Lovely.

Getting started, the game is almost entirely controlled independent of the buttons on the DS. Movement, attacking, even weapon selection is all handled using the touch screen. You can even draw on the map by touching an icon to swap the map with the action screen, and writing on the touch screen. Movement is simple. You pretty much touch where you want to go. If there's an enemy in front of you, drawing a line from Link (or whatever you name him) to the enemy makes Link perform a jab thrust, stabbing the enemy. Drawing a line between Link and the enemy causes Link to swipe his sword left to right or right to left. Lastly, you can draw a circle around Link to make him do his famous spin attack. It gets more interesting once you get the Boomerang. You get an active item icon in the upper right corner. You touch the icon to select the boomerang, and then you draw its trajectory. It attempts to follow the path you've given it, and when it's done (or fails, if you just scribbled), it returns to you.

The plot thus far (and I'm not far at all) is that Link washes up on the shore of a strange island, having failed to rescue Zelda, who goes by the name of Tetra and runs with pirates. A fabled Ghost Ship appears, she jumps on board, Link goes after her but misses, lands in the water, the Ghost Ship vanishes and his own ship abandons him or loses him. So again Link's trying to rescue Zelda, although for once it seems as though Ganon isn't involved.

So I go online, and it appears they're still debating a timeline. It happens with each Zelda game, fans want to know the order in which the games take place. The fact that Wikipedia supports the theory and says one game takes place 100 years after another pretty much sinks the argument, I mean how old is Link anyway? Here's how it was before the N64 versions. It may have changed officially or in fanfiction, but here's what it used to be.

Consider the name... Legend of Zelda. What is a "Legend"? It's a story that is passed down from generation to generation, and at every step something changes. Two thousand years later, every society on the planet has the same story told, just differently. Different exxagerations, different cultural influences, make for different stories.

Therefore there is no timeline. It's the same story told differently. Direct sequels (like Phantom Hourglass being of Wind Waker) aside, each game is just a retelling of the original legend, the "Legend of Zelda".

Ganon isn't Jason Vorhees. He doesn't just keep coming back to life after being definitively killed each time. Ganon isn't even the main villain in some games - chalk that up to cultural influence.

And Link doesn't have amnesia. He doesn't forget everything that happens after each adventure, pawn all his stuff.

So some games reference others, do they? Well, I don't know anything about that, but I'd bet, on the part of the developers at least, it's just common themes from game to game. Most of them have fairies. Most of them feature the Triforce. Most of them feature a young hero named Link (who could later be renamed). As the years went by (in our world), different introduced new things, and different developers who thought those things were special reused them. That's just a story element that remained the same in two or more stories because it was important.

Lastly, I'm not even going to touch which games correspond to which countries or cultures. There's no real evidence AFAIK that Hyrule is anywhere on our Earth to start with. It's just some kingdom that existed some thousands of years ago, and these are the stories. The story is basically the same each time, but each retelling adds to the legend. And as long as the games keep selling - as long as people follow the legend - then the legend is successful.

And that's all there is to it, folks. Phantom Hourglass is a great game so far, but it's not an original story that takes place before or after the other Zelda games (but it does take place after Wind Waker, apparently). It's just another story based on the legend.


Anonymous said...

This has to be one of the dumbest reviews I have ever read. It clearly even states in Wind Waker that it took place 100 years after a flooding of a land named Hyrule where as there was a hero who wore green but he failed to stop ganondorf in flooding the entire land. And the Link isnt the same Link as in OOC or MM because he's known as the hero of winds not time, and the only reason he wears the green garments is because its custom to clothe boys with it when they come to a certain age in his home island. How can you judge the timeline if you have never even played Wind Waker, there is even a bit where Link goes underwater to the exact same Hyrule Castle and surroundings as in Ocarina of Time.

Nathan Jolly said...

Well, as I've said, I've never played Wind Waker. Never had a Cube. Ocarina of Time on the other hand, I did play that steaming pile of crap up until the first dungeon, though I'm willing to accept that it was held back by the technical limitations of the Nintendo 64. But the game's console aside, the 3D was very clumsy. You don't have to tell me, I know I'm in the minority in not liking the N64.

Anyway, so what you're saying is OoT and Majora's Mask are connected (I knew that) and WW connects to them. And of course Phantom Hourglass is a sequel to WW.

Great, but it still doesn't explain the vast differences between the good Zelda games and between those games and the new games. Even if there's just one that is not connected to the rest, my theory still holds. The fact that the series took a bit of a nose dive in the late 90s doesn't change that. So WW and PH are connected, OoT and MM are connected, WW references those two. There's still no relation to anything in OoT/PH in Link to the Past, Adventure of Link, or Legend of Zelda [1]. LoZ doesn't even have a castle (shown).

You may say my review was dumb, but I haven't heard many things dumber than a timeline that connects ALL the Zelda games. At least with Castlevania the timeline makes sense, since Konami has actually worked to establish a timeline, and (AFAIK) they don't use any Belmont (or other hero) twice.

Anonymous said...

Umm... The other guy was right, your review IS kind of stupid.

Look up 'The Legend Of Zelda Retrospective: Part 6' for a good timeline idea.

The end of OoT caused a split timeline, and Twilight Princess, Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, and Oracle of Ages are in the one where Zelda is alone, and Ganon is SEALED! The other is where Link relives his childhood- Majora's Mask and the rest.

And Ocarina of Time is not a steaming pile of shit. Even IGN gave it a very, very amazing title.

'The Greatest Game of All Time'

Holy. Anyways, play through the Cube or 64 version. Actually. Before you trash it like that. It was one of the best games out there for a VERY long time.

And rent/buy a cube and Wind Waker.



Nathan Jolly said...

As I've said, I haven't played the N64/Cube games.

If I can't convince y'all there isn't a timeline, would you be willing to tackle a couple issues which are real dealbreakers for me?

1. Every time he starts, he has nothing. Loses his sword (OK, he leaves it in the woods when it's not needed), loses all his items (hawks them on eBay?), loses all his hearts (hit by a car, maybe?), unlearns magic (OMG forgot how to do Quake (ALttP)), loses all his money (donates it all to the Hyrule Homeless Childrens Relief fund?), and he's got to kill bosses he's killed a few times over?

2. Why does the SAME stuff happen in each one, with little deviation, and they all have their gimmick? Two worlds in ALttP, the sea in WW/PH, etc.

A game that has a similar structure that does the timeline right is Castlevania. Only a couple of these games have similar characters. They take place a hundred years or so apart. People die, they pass down the Vampire Killer whip, but items break, ruins are lost, it makes sense. They don't rely on each other, but sometimes refer back. And so on.