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Princess Personality

It's been a while since I made a Zelda-themed list. With rumors that the Hylian Heiress's role will be expanded in the upcoming Breath of the Wild, I thought I'd review the series to see how Zelda's characterization has evolved throughout.

In a lot of ways, the series has mostly stuck to the triumvirate of the megalomaniacal Ganon, the mute Link and the reserved Zelda, and let the various ancillary characters do the heavy lifting in terms of quirk and color. Yet there's definitely been times when Zelda's been able to let her hair down. I mean, if she even turns up.

List items

  • Spends the whole game locked in a dungeon room.

  • Spends the whole game asleep.

  • Uses the heretofore unknown talent of telepathy to summon Link, orders him around a bit and then gets stuck in a big crystal for the rest of the game.

  • Does not appear.

  • This is when we start to see Zelda's badass side emerge a little. She spends the first half of the game in a little garden in her Maid Marian outfit, then spends the second half being a cool ninja musician. She still gets put into a big crystal for old times' sake near the end, but we're starting to see a more independent Zelda at this point.

  • Does not appear.

  • Zelda only turns up in the extended ending, when the player has linked the completed save file of one Oracle game with the other. She gets kidnapped by Twinrova this time. Distinct feeling of "I wasn't even supposed to be here today!".

  • See above.

  • Zelda's incognito as a pirate named Tetra and is every bit the adventurer Link is. Perhaps more so, since Link was happy to sleep his days away in his lobster jammies until his sister got abducted. Even though Tetra gets immediately thrown into a hole (and then kidnapped again) soon after learning about her royal lineage, she still plays a crucial support role in the final battle.

  • Kidnapped during the prologue.

  • Gets turned into a rock.

  • They actually give Zelda a sword in this one but she's forced to immediately surrender it to Zant and stay locked up in a tower to deliver exposition. The next time she becomes plot-relevant is when she's dancing around on Ganon's strings. Hardly dignified.

  • Turned into a rock again.

  • As maligned as Spirit Tracks tends to be it actually has the best Zelda characterization of any game. Zelda's once again taken out early but her spirit lingers around to help Link in various ways. This gives her plenty of opportunities to talk about matters on Link's behalf (usually a fairy's role) including one marvelous freak out scene after she learns that her body's going to be used as the new antagonist's vessel. Getting upgraded from "disappears early" to "designated Navi" isn't that big a jump, but at least they give her something to do in this one.

  • The fun side of Zelda's character in Skyward Sword is how she stands up for Link against archetypal Disney villain Groose. After her appearances in the 20-hour-long tutorial prologue, though, she vanishes into a tornado for half the game and becomes a pawn for at least three different people for various good and bad intentions near the end. That's the life of a princess, all right. (Oh, and she becomes a big crystal again too.)

  • Spends most of the game as a painting. Beats being a rock. Literally, if there's paper involved.

  • Does not appear. Though, in this case, she's probably not too torn up about it.

  • Reports seem to indicate that she will become Link's companion at some point, helping him in combat and showing up in a number of cutscenes in various emotional states if that recent trailer is any indication. Of course, we'll find out very soon just how present she is, but I hope this will be a Zelda game to give their namesake heroine ample time in the spotlight. It sounds like it's going to be 100 hours long anyway, I'm sure they can find the time.

    (Post-2017 Edit: Nah, she gone. Spends the whole game asleep or something. She does give you a heads up about the enemy respawn moon though, so I'll take Magical Meteorologist Zelda over nothing.)