The Legend of Zelda Storyline - Anything but Bland

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A few weeks or so ago, I was lucky enough to chance upon a very well-written article on the Legend of Zelda. The article included, essentially, the great things about Zelda, and the things in Zelda that aren't that big of a deal. I highly disagreed with one of the article points: the Legend of Zelda has an okay story, not a great one. This really didn't sit well with me. I'm a bit of an obsessive person, so when something like that really irks me, I can't get it out of my head. So, I concluded that the most logical course of action for my mental health would be to write a counter-article to that one point, along with any other Zelda story naysayers out there.

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The general consensus of arguments against the Zelda storyline are: cliché "save the princess" plot and the complex timeline. I'll begin with the former. First off, let's get something out of the way. Since when are there enough Zelda games where you save a princess to generalize it as such? Granted, you do save Zelda as a plot definer in the original few, but that hasn't been the plot staple for years. For example:

  • Majora's Mask: Use the power of masks and time to stop the moon from smashing into the land of Termina.

  • Link's Awakening: Collect the sacred instruments so as to awaken the sleeping Wind Fish from its slumber.

  • Wind Waker: Sail the seas and control the wind so as to bring peace to 2 worlds, above and below the ocean.

  • Twilight Princess: Stop a recently-corrupt world of darkness from overtaking your own alongside a companion from said world.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. Granted, the princess may be in danger in some instances, but that is not the underlying idea behind the story. There is so much more to it that completely dwarfs those instances. Now that is out of the way, shall we move on?

How many videogames, books, movies, anime, etc. can you think of with a generally predictable underlying plot -- most of them? Now, I'm not talking about the story as a whole; I'm talking about the plot. The plot of something can usually be expressed in less than a paragraph. Zelda's plot tends to be as follows: a boy garbed in green, along with a trusty companion, sets off on an adventure to save his land from evil (also, he might meet a princess once or twice). On paper, it seems generally...done before; but let me ask you this. Would you read the plot on the back of a book and rate its story by that? No, you wouldn't. The story of something is far more than the simplified plot. What does this boy in green do in order to achieve his goal? What are the settings where all of the events take place? What hardships must he overcome? Who does he meet? What conversations does our hero overhear or take part in? THAT is what defines the story of a piece of entertainment. Not the general idea written on the back of the box.

That in mind, can you honestly say that the Zelda series holds generic story structure? Not if you've played them, that's for sure. The characters you meet throughout the game, from the malevolent oppressor Ganondorf, to the insignificant townsfolk, each unforgettable, all add to the story of the game. Link meets them in his quest for a reason, however insignificant. They are each unique in their own way, and impact you as the recipient of a story. The simple side-quests, as well, offer more depth into the idea that is Zelda. They present the kind of person that Link is; going out of his way to help all who need him, regardless of how trivial their personal debts may seem. It's not always "defeat the giant." Sometimes a woman just needs someone to find her chickens...Or, cuckoos, if you will.

Zelda Story - Anything But Bland
Ganon! Everybody run...

The multiple races of beings in the Zelda series, from the mountain-dwelling Gorons to the sea faring Zoras, always bring a new race to learn about, each with their own customs and way of living. Of course, it's all subject to a person's preferences, but one cannot deny the complexity and depth of the inhabitants of the Zelda world.

Consider Ganondorf, who I mentioned earlier -- the general antagonist of the Zelda series. He is the perfect "bad guy." Sure, there are plenty of memorable evil lords from countless movies, books, and games, but Ganondorf was the first one that I personally, as a person, had a slight fear and respect of. He is a diamond in the rough of countless extremely corny evil characters going on pointless monologues, predictable actions and simply being overhyped. His ever-present existence in the land of Hyrule is a true testament to ultimate evil. A force that can never truly be annihilated; which leads me on to my next point.

The timeline -- I would go into a detailed breakdown of the timeline and why each part is significant, but if you're on a Zelda website, and have read this far into an article like this, then I'm sure you at least have some kind of an idea of how and why everything happens in the timeline; or at least some idea. That's not the point. Since when has something complex been such a sin? There's substance and depth in a story that isn't instantly obvious. Are we so lazy that we can't take a moment to decipher and simply try to understand something, rather than have it spelled out for us? The ultimate evil that forever casts a shadow over the land of Hyrule, the constant need for a tunic-clad time-traveling hero, the presence of the goddesses and the multiple dimensions crafted from their golden hands; these are all variables in an equation that has become the beautifully orchestrated world of The Legend of Zelda that we know and love.

Such a random video -- why?

If it was anything less than this, Zelda would not be as mesmerizing. It wouldn't move fans to tears when everything comes together. You are emotionally involved when experiencing The Legend of Zelda, and that's something not a lot of games can do. Years after each one, they will never leave your mind. You carry Zelda as a badge, forever willing to take up arms to help Hyrule any time it needs you; not because it's an addictive game, but because it is an engaging game with an engaging story. I know an article like this is all based on opinions, but at least take the time to consider my logic. I feel wholeheartedly sorry for anyone unable to experience the story of The Legend of Zelda the way I (and I know many of you as well) do.

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