For the few of you that may not have heard by now, Nintendo announced the debut of a new Zelda character at their November Nintendo Direct. Not only is this new character blonde haired, blue eyed, and sporting a green tunic, but she looks very similar to the Hero of Time himself. This little Hylian goes by the name of Linkle and is known as “Female Link.”
For those of you that share my affinity for the The Legend of Zelda series, I’m sure this announcement made you feel many things. Some of you may have felt anger and betrayal, while some of you may have felt happiness and excitement. All of these emotions are valid and I myself feel very uncertain about Linkle’s existence.
Although Linkle was intentionally set for the Hyrule Warriors game (a title that falls more into the spin-off series category than actual lore) in a recent interview with IGN, Eiji Aonuma claims that they are keeping Linkle in mind for future Zelda games. Do you feel more emotions now? Well, you should.
Considering the vast and expansive nature of the The Legend of Zelda timeline, many things come to mind. First, how will this fit into the series? Second, what will they do with Link? And third, why is this happening in the first place?
Don’t get me wrong, Linkle looks like a badass. If she existed within her own universe that had nothing to do with The Legend of Zelda series, she would be a great contender for an entirely new IP (which is something Nintendo definitely needs). However, her creation begs many questions that have been plaguing my mind for quite some time now. The most important being: since when did Zelda become so gimmicky?
Of course, the unfortunate answer to that question became evident after the overwhelming failure of Link’s Crossbow Training for the Wii. This was a game intended to get players moving by hitting targets with Link’s crossbow. To no surprise, was an enormous flop. With countless copies available at retailers like Gamestop, the value for the game plummeted in terms of selling and trading shortly after its release.
According to the official Zelda wiki, Linkle’s crossbow is actually a tip-of-the-hat to Link’s Crossbow Training. Although that particular Zelda spin-off wasn’t the most successful, you can’t help but admire when Nintendo gives players a little throwback. It provides the illusion that Nintendo doesn’t simply produce, distribute, and move on. Even if it’s a small or depressing detail, they never fail to leave Easter eggs for our nostalgic satisfaction.
Not only is Linkle a spin-off character and her crossbow an ode to a spin-off game, but she currently exists within a spin-off world in itself (Hyrule Warriors). Having said that, how can they justify her integration into future games? According to her backstory, the compass her grandmother passed down to Linkle, affirmed her aspirations for heroism. Consequently, if there is a story where Hyrule needs a hero, perhaps Linkle would play that role. Whether or not she would be the supporting or the lead, is unclear.
Perhaps I notice this because I am a female myself, but 2015 seems to certainly be the year for females in games and females in gaming. We received the announcement of new IPs headlining female protagonists with games such as Horizon: Zero Dawn and Recore. Fifa 16 is set to feature female soccer players for the first time ever. Just recently, the port for Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 was denied in the west (a complicated topic) and of course, now we have a Female Link.
To be clear and politically correct, since today’s society requires it, I am in no way undermining the feminist gaming movement, nor am I claiming anything feminist. To put it simply, I am personally unsure whether or not the release of Linkle is a gimmick to satiate the gaming feminist or if it was an actual artistic idea that is meant to expand the Zelda universe in a positive way. By acknowledging that Linkle is now being considered for more games, you have to feel a bit concerned for the future of Link himself. How could they possibly weave this into the timeline and how can they avoid replacing our favorite hero?