GamingThe Legend of Zelda: The Darkest Timeline

The Legend of Zelda: The Darkest Timeline


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Last time out I recapped the timeline from Skyward Sword to Ocarina of Time and how a bunch of Links and Zeldas do battle with various forms of evil. You can find a link to that article here:

It is at this point that the Legend of Zelda timeline splinters into three paths, each resulting from a different conclusion at the end of Ocarina.

Timeline A: Link is defeated and killed by Ganon atop Hyrule Castle. It is this timeline we will explore over the next few thousand words.

Timeline B: Link is victorious but travels back in time to his childhood, using his knowledge of the future to defeat Ganondorf before his nefarious schemes can take root.

Timeline C: Link travels back to his childhood but does not retain his memories of Ganondorf’s treachery, fading into anonymity.

Now that you’ve wrapped your head around that we can begin. Are you sitting comfortably? Well we’re beginning anyway.

A Link to the Past

A Link to the Past was originally released way back in 1991, which as we all know, makes it a natural sequel to 1998’s Ocarina of Time, 2002’s Four Swords, 2004’s Minish Cap, and 2011’s Skyward Sword.

So, Link dies facing Ganon in the climactic battle in Ocarina of Time. Not ideal, as this results in Ganondorf obtain the completed Triforce, luckily Zelda and the other sages are still able to seal him away in the Sacred Realm. Less fortunately, he takes the Triforce with him.

Over the years a peace is maintained but rumours spread around the power contained in the Sacred Realm with a few going so far as to try and access it. These poor souls are never heard from again.

Ganon’s imprisonment in the Sacred Realm may have kept Hyrule safe but it has twisted the place into the Dark World, inhabited only by evil.

Flip forwards a few generations and we arrive at the start of A Link to the Past. The Sacred Realm is still cut off from Hyrule. It is then that a wizard calling himself Agahnim pops up, kills the King, and begins hunting for the female descendants of the Sages. Guess who’s one of them? Correct, Zelda, and guess what happens to her? Also correct, she is kidnapped (count 4).

Naturally, Zelda responds by sending a telepathic communication (she can do that now) to Link, a local boy she’s never met. Link and his uncle are living nearby and are descended from the Knights of Hyrule. Link storms the castle, rescues Zelda and takes her to safety. He is then tasked with recovering the Master Sword and defeating Agahnim.

Suffice to say, he does these things.

But wait! The true enemy was Ganon the whole time, gasp!

Link beats him too. Takes the Triforce, wishes for peace. The end.

Link’s Awakening

Now, I don’t want to shock you, but the Link in Link’s Awakening is the same Link as in A Link to the Past. I know. Insane, but it’s true!

Another shock might be that for the first time in the Legend of Zelda chronology we have two games being released in timeline order. Link’s Awakening was originally released in 1993, two years, and get this, AFTER A Link to the Past. Madness.

What we also have here is a Legend of Zelda game that does not contain the character(s) of Zelda at all.

Link is shipwrecked on the mysterious island of Koholint following a training mission. Koholint Island is a bizarre place. For instance, there is a volcano on the island that is plugged by a giant egg. Why is the island so weird? Well, because it’s all a dream of sorts.

The island has been created a sleeping fish known as a Wind Fish. In order for Link to leave the island he must wake the Wind Fish. To do so he collects a series of magical musical instruments, making such a din that the fish wakes and the illusion vanishes, along with all the island’s inhabitants. Not that Link cares. Brutal, that lad.

The Oracle Games

Two games for the price of one here. Not really. But they’re so closely linked (ha) that I’ve bundled them together for the purposes of brevity.

Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages were both released in 2001 which is crying shame (for you) because now I must bring back this bit: Oracles being released in 2001 clearly makes it a natural successor to 1993’s Link’s Awakening.

Returning for Oracles is Twinrova, a boss from Ocarina of time. Clearly time doesn’t mean much to these witches as they’re still kicking hundreds of years later. They want resurrect Ganon as villains in this series are wont to do.

To do so they kidnap the titular Oracles. Link travels to the home realms of the Oracles bringing peace to each by hitting stuff with his sword a bunch. But wait, all this sword-swinging is for naut as Zelda is kidnapped (count 5) by Twinrova as a sacrifice in the ritual to restore Ganon. Link obviously foils this plot, saving Zelda once more. Twinrova then decide that they shall serve as the sacrifice, restoring Ganon but not in the way they would have wished.

This Ganon is nothing more than a massive pig without anything of the intelligence that makes Ganon such a formidable foe. So, Link does what Link does and defeats him. Fin.

A Link Between Worlds

A Link Between Worlds is a spiritual successor to A Link to the Past and therefore the story follows a lot of the same beats with a few additions later in the game. Worlds was released in 2013 which ruins my bit somewhat.

The plot of Worlds starts in a familiar way, a sorcerer named Yuga attempt to kidnap the descendants of the sages once more. Link stumbles across Yuga doing just that, the quirk this time is Yuga does so by turning the poor lass into a painting. Yuga knocks link out by shifting inside the wall as an illustration then fleeing to his home in Lorule. Yup, Lorule.

Link tracks Yuga down with the help of some weirdo named Ravio and succeeds in getting turned into a painting too. Silly boy. Luckily for Link he has the power to shift between 2D and 3D states thanks to a plot device given to him by Ravio.

Shock horror, Yuga is planning on resurrecting Ganon. Zelda is kidnapped (count 6).

Link pursues Yuga to Lorule and discovers the backstory of Hyrule’s mirror world. The history of which is very similar, they possessed their own Triforce but destroyed it when they figured it wasn’t worth the constant strife created by those who sought its power.

Link also meets a dark version of Zelda known as Hilda who helps him in his battle against Yuga as he seeks the Triforce of Courage.

Twist! Hilda is the mastermind behind everything! Gasp! Seems Hilda wants Hyrule’s Triforce to replace the one destroyed by her ancestors. Link defeats both Hilda and Yuga with the help of Ravio who seems to be Link’s doppelgänger in Lorule. Link uses his wish upon uniting the Triforce to restore peace and prosperity to both realms, saving the day once more.

Triforce Heroes

Onwards to 2015 and Triforce Heroes. Some actual logical chronology here. Boring.

This game is a joke. Link (same Link) wanders the land and discovers the realm of Hytopia which seems to be a realm that values fashion above all. Link discovers an evil witch has placed a curse on the land’s princess. Which, upon investigation, appears to be that she is stuck in a jumpsuit. Awesome.

Link and his lookalike boys (multiplayer effort) find the witch, break the curse. Sorted.

The Legend of Zelda

It’s the OG! Released in 1986 which must come after 2013 in time’s great tapestry. Because if it doesn’t then what are we even doing here?

But first, backstory. This isn’t detailed until the sequel The Adventure of Link but does take place but the story of the 1986 classic.

With the power of the Triforce, generations of Kings use it maintain peace and order across Hyrule until one day, one King does something properly dumb. He splits it up, hides Courage, gives wisdom to Zelda, not sure what he does with Power, probably stashes it in his mattress.

As mentioned above the monumental dumbness of this decision becomes apparent as the kingdom falls into decline. Couple that with the prince putting Zelda into a coma as instructed by an evil wizard and you have a disaster of epic proportions. When the prince realises what he has done he places Zelda in a sacred altar. This story is passed down through the ages as The Tragedy of Zelda the 1st.

But we’ve already seen multiple Zeldas in this timeline I hear you cry. Yes. And yet, Zelda the 1st. Deal with it I suppose.

Ganon is back because reasons. Zelda reacts by splitting the Triforce of Wisdom into eight pieces that she scatters across the realm.

A young hero (Link) is tasked the handmaiden Impa with gathering these pieces together, flying in the face of the plan of her princess but hey ho. This allows him to defeat Ganon. The End.

The Adventure of Link

1987. Sigh.

Link is milling about Hyrule dealing with the aftermath of Ganon’s nonsense from the previous title. Ganon’s minions have concocted a plot in which they’ll kill Link and sprinkle his blood on Ganon’s remains, therefore restoring him to life. They fail.

Six years pass. On Link’s 16th birthday the Triforce symbol appears on the back of his hand. He asks Impa just what is up with that, and she regales him with the tale of Zelda the 1st. Impa tasks Link with finding the Triforce of Courage in order to reunite the Triforce and save sleepy Zelda.

He does. Class.

And with that we arrive at the end of this branch of the timeline. Known as the dark timeline it certainly has some more morose story beats but as with all Legend of Zelda games, Link triumphs in the end.

We have a little over a week to go until the release of Tears of the Kingdom and I have not completed these articles at a pace that suits that deadline. So, expect the second and third branching timeline articles to follow fairly quickly after this.

Hope you’ve enjoyed and we’ll start the next article with Majora’s Mask.

Damien Gorman
Damien Gorman
Been gaming casually for many a year. As long as I don't have to directly compete against other people I'm in. Big fan of JRPGs, platformers, and action/adventures. Will play games on easy mode if you let me

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