Princess Zelda is the title character of Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda series, and is usually the presiding princess of the fictional land of Hyrule.
Through The Legend of Zelda franchise, much like the other main characters, "Zelda" does not refer to one specific character. There have been many Zeldas as well as many Links throughout the history of Hyrule. While often similar, they each have their own unique characteristics.
Princess Zelda wears pink and white dresses in most games, usually with a golden circlet.
Princess Zelda first appears in the game The Legend of Zelda as a "damsel in distress," having being captured and held in a castle by the evil sorcerer Ganondorf. Princess Zelda's only hope is to be rescued by the Zelda series' protagonist, Link.
An important plot point in most Zelda games is her connection to both Link and Ganondorf through the power of the Triforce. Princess Zelda is the sole owner of the Triforce of Wisdom (the lower left part of the Triforce).
Despite the series' title, Princess Zelda does not actually appear in every Zelda game. For example, the Game Boy Color Zelda games Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages contain almost no mention of Princess Zelda in the main plot. In fact, they must be played in succession through use of the password system; only then is the overall plot (and her connection to the games) is revealed.
Depictions of Zelda
Throughout The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the supposedly male Sheik helps Link by giving him hints about where to go and teaching him the songs for teleporting to the temples on his harp. Towards the end of the game, it is revealed that Sheik is actually Zelda in disguise.
The feisty young pirate captain Tetra first comes into contact with Link when Link's sister, Aryll, is kidnapped, while the intended victim was Tetra. This leads to Tetra aiding Link in his quest throughout the game, offering reluctant help when Link is in need. She uses a gossip stone to communicate to him. It is later revealed in the submerged Hyrule Castle that Tetra is, in fact, the direct descendant of Princess Zelda. With this new knowledge, Tetra/Zelda is endowed with the Triforce of Wisdom and its powers. Her identity now revealed, Ganondorf kidnaps Zelda and takes her to his castle, where Link must rescue her in the final stage of the game. Once freed, she aids Link in defeating Ganon by firing Light Arrows (an item that is used by Zelda in many titles) at Link, which he must deflect with his shield.
Despite being the direct sequel to Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass features a pirate-garbed Tetra. Although she and her crew now knows her heritage, she would rather remain known as Tetra, captain of her ship and band of pirates than as Princess Zelda of Hyrule. In the opening cutscene, Tetra is captured by the Ghost Ship, prompting Link to launch into a valiant quest to save her. Later, it's revealed that she has been turned to stone. Link then has to defeat Gufuu, to turn her back into her standard form.
The First Zelda
The first Zelda is not a princess, nor does Hyrule as a land yet exist when she is born. She is a girl of Skyloft and a student of the Knight Academy that she and her childhood friend Link attend. But unbeknownst to her, she is also the reincarnation of the goddess Hylia, who chose to give up her divinity and live as a mortal. Throughout the game, Zelda is pursued by Ghirahim, who requires her latent divine power to resurrect Demise.
Super Smash Bros.
Princess Zelda appears as a playable character in the Super Smash Bros. series, and also is able to transform into Sheik. She was a medium tier character compared to her counterpart and favored with indirect moveset to execute with slow execution movements.
Princess Zelda first appeared in Super Smash Bros. Melee, being the first character who could transform. In the Super Smash Bros. games, she is capable of transforming freely between Princess Zelda and Sheik mid-battle, each having completely different play styles and skill sets.
Princess Zelda regressed in stats for Super Smash Bros. Brawl, lowering to the lower tier. While Princess Zelda's movesets have become a wide range of action, overall, has lost the criteria stats to be an initiative character. The time it takes for her to transform has increased due to the way the game loads characters, leaving her vulnerable while transforming.
A belief commonly held by Zelda enthusiasts is that series creator Shigeru Miyamoto named his Princess-character "Zelda" after the wife of novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald.
As a big, long time fan of the Zelda series, actor Robin Williams named his daughter after the titular princess. They also recently appeared in a commercial together, promoting The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D for the Nintendo 3DS.