I love videogame culture and feel it’s a medium with loads of potential. I mainly play Nintendo games as well as a lot of retro stuff. Im currently studying for an MSc.
The Zelda Timeline was often a controversial topic among Zelda fans. The debate was about which games went where or even if there was a timeline at all! There had long been rumors that there was a hidden office somewhere in Kyoto. In this office in the depths of Nintendo’s headquarters lay a document containing the official timeline. Legend told it was made by the game creators Miyamoto and Aounuma. For a long time, this was labeled a myth. Until some industry figures started making references to it and it morphed into a kind of inside joke. Of all the franchises that Nintendo owns Zelda lore is the one fans love to speculate about the most.
Ocarina of time
The internet had really got going around the time Ocarina of Time had been released and dedicated forums on fan theories sprung up around this time. These two groups of theorists could be divided into splitists and linearists. Linearists believed there was just one straight timeline and splitists, who thought the pathway had diverged at some point and there were two parallel pathways. This was probably because of all the contradictions that could be found within the games Easter eggs. This speculation continued for a while until Nintendo actually announced they would be revealing the full timeline with the release of Hyrule Historia. minus the CDi games of course.
Fast forward a few years and we now know that the timeline actually split into three direct timelines after Ocarina of time. The child timeline, where Link was sent back to his time as a child in Kokiri forest and which eventually leads to Majoras Mask. Then there’s the adult timeline, where link no longer exists as he was sent back to the child era and returned to being a child. And then there’s the downfall timeline where Link lost his battle to Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time. Each timeline has many games placed on it. Some fit really well, some fit ok but there are still some contradictions.
It does make you think if Miyamoto did actually always have this planned out or if it was just put together for the fans to debate. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with either explanation and some games are certainly linked like; 1.Ocarina of Time to Majoras Mask, 2. Ocarina of time to Wind Waker. 3 Wind Waker to Phantom Hourglass. But would Zelda benefit from a deeper lore that doesn’t just blend the line between cameos, Easter eggs, and occasional references? Should story play a larger role in Zelda? Playing Ocarina of Time for the first time, I thought of it as a living breathing world with characters and events I cared about. I know Nintendo always puts gameplay first. Story is an afterthought but atmosphere and interactions emphasises story. This creates an experience that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild is a masterpiece and does have great gameplay and atmosphere. But in BOTW Zelda, in particular, was so generic. Where are the sheiks and tetras we used to know? Ok, so the story isn’t the games strong point. And in all honesty, I wouldn’t mind if Breath of the Wild was set thousands of years after the last game with no references to any previous games. But, it would have meant more in terms of nostalgia (not that it wasn’t great to see the Gerudo, and Koroks again) If it were more solidly linked to a previous game. Recurring characters such as sages or even vaati. There is just so much lore Nintendo could be exploiting.
I feel that the timeline has become irrelevant. The next game I want to see should bring things back to their roots. We all have emotional connections to characters and places from previous games. A third game in the hero of Time trilogy or even that rumored Sheik spin-off would be amazing!