So the Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom has been out for just over three months now, and at the time of writing this, I still haven’t beaten the thing. It’s a game of Gleeok1-sized proportions with so much to do and/or faff about with. I’m enjoying the heck out of it, and so is my fiancée, who doesn’t get that into games very often. I shouldn’t be surprised about that, though; we both got really into the game’s predecessor, Breath of the Wild. And I’ve been playing Zelda games since Ocarina of Time3, only skipping Spirit Tracks for mainline releases4. So, while I don’t know if I count as a super fan of the series, I’m at least at least a long-time player.
But this post is only partly about the games. What I want to discuss here is other media surrounding the series, which means I’m starting with a collection of manga. These mangas take the admittedly fairly basic stories of the Zelda games and imbue them and their characters with more personality, expand the lore behind the game, and, perhaps most importantly, give silent protagonist Link a personality and voice. So naturally, I’m going to start out of order and talk about The Four Swords, wherein Link gets split into four versions of himself by the titular sword, each with a different personality. This manga makes the story of one of the most remote Zelda games, Four Swords Adventures, accessible to more players. This game required every player to have their own Game Boy Advance and a link cable to connect it to the Gamecube, making the cost of entry pretty high, but it was an absolute blast if you had a group that met the requirements. It’s co-op but with a competitive aspect of who could collect the most force gems5. This aspect is explored in the manga, where Link’s clones aren’t necessarily always helpful in the quest to rescue Princess Zelda from the Sorcerer Vaati6. The villain alone makes this one worth checking out, as Vaati has only appeared in three Zelda games, and two of them required friends to play with7 while the other has only recently been released from Game Boy Advance prison to the Switch online expansion pass. Sadly, we can’t help you play the game, but we do have a good selection of games for newer consoles than the GBA.
That list includes a game that surprised a lot of fans when it got Nintendo’s okay, bear with me because this title is a long one: Cadence of Hyrule Crypt of the Necrodancer, Featuring the Legend of Zelda. Nintendo is very protective of its IPs, so letting an indie studio make a rhythm game out of what is perhaps its most protected IP was high praise. The absurdly long-titled result is an homage to 2D Zelda games of old that updates the formula with Crypt of the Necrodancer’s mechanics: all actions performed by the player character when enemies are on screen must happen on the beat, or you simply don’t move. That simple change makes the top-down adventure feel distinct from its 2d brethren while breathing new life into the formula. This also marks the only Zelda game that isn’t a muso game, where Zelda herself is playable.
Oh, right. For those of you not familiar with the series, Zelda is the princess, the (usually) damsel in distress that the player character, Link, needs to save. Look at the rest of the pictures in this post, and you’ll see plenty of pictures of the, typically green-clad, hero. Zelda herself doesn’t show up much on case artwork, and that causes a lot of confusion among people who don’t know the series about which character is actually named Zelda. Want to know more about these and other characters in the series? You can’t do much better than Hyrule Historia. A detailed look at all the mainline8 games released before 2013 when the book came out. There’s information and concept art about characters, races, locations, items and more. This book also marks the first time Nintendo released an official timeline of the Zelda games, which was something fans had only been able to speculate on before then. We’ve also got the follow-up book Art & Artifcats on order, so throw a hold on that one, too, if you’re interested in the lore.
One final thing to mention before our adventure here ends: there was a Legend of Zelda animated series that aired alongside the Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, and it’s available on Hoopla! And so is its progenitor. It’s not something I’ve ever watched myself, but I think most Zelda fans have heard the phrase “well excuuuse me, princess” at least once before, and this show is the origin of that. As mentioned above, in the games, Link is the strong, silent type. In the show, he’s…. a bit of a letch and definitely has an attitude. It was a product of the 80s, so go in knowing that, and you’ll have a good time.
And that’s it for Zelda. Tune in next month for more general nerdery. Maybe I’ll even give an explanation of what a muso game is.
2 I was tempted to go with Talus for this as it is maybe more behemoth-like, but Gleeoks are so much bigger and have been around since the very first game, where talus… umm.. taluses? Talusi? Just talus? Not sure of the plural here. Anyway, they were only introduced in BotW, so I’ll go with the OG creature.
3 3DS remake listed here because, sadly, there’s not much call for N64 Games in the library these days.
4 Does Tri Force Heroes count as a mainline release? I’ve not played that one either.
5 Knock-off rupees, the series’ normal currency. Though is it a knock-off if it’s canon?