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Nintendo shifts around the Legend of Zelda timeline, discusses the changes in a new interview

The official timeline for the Legend of Zelda series has been updated, and there's been a few changes to how things line up. The changes have been detailed below.

- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is at the very end of the timelines, but not connected to any of them
- Breath of the Wild is separated, but still at the very end
- in the Fallen Hero timeline, Link’s Awakening now takes place before the Oracle games

Wondering why these changes were made? Famitsu talked to series producer Eiji Aonuma, and Breath of the Wild director Hidemaro Fujibayashi to find out.

Eiji Aonuma, series producer: “Well of course Zelda: Breath of the Wild is at the very end. But, I get what you’re asking, it’s which timeline is it the end of?”

Hidemaro Fujibayashi, director: “That’s… up to the player’s imagination, isn’t it?”

Aonuma: “Hyrule’s history changes with time. When we think of the next game and what we want to do with it, we might think, “Oh, this’ll fit well”, and place it neatly into the timeline, but sometimes we think, “Oh crap”, and have to change the placement. Actually, the decided history has been tweaked many times.” (laughs)

Fujibayashi: “Lately within the company, a term called ‘New Translation’ has cropped up. (laughs) Strictly speaking, we don’t change it, but rather new information and truths come to light.”

Famitsu: I see, so the way to interpret the lore of Breath of the Wild is still up for academic debate. (laughs)

Fujibayashi: “That’s why you should pay attention to future studies as well! Please look forward to it.” (laughs)

Comments

Top Rated Comment
groose
Mon Aug 06 18 05:31am
Rating: 12 (Updated 1 time)

You know, maybe it's possible for people to care about something you don't care about without calling them dumb as hell.

Just saying.

chesu
Sun Aug 05 18 11:27pm
Rating: 3

I don't know why they won't admit that it's set after Hyrule Warriors and be done with it.

Nintendo simply needs to make Triforce's Zelda Timeline official.

mock turtle
Sun Aug 05 18 11:36pm
Rating: 1 (Updated 1 time)

I kind of assumed it was at the end and either not explicitly connected or attached to a reunified timeline, but I'm not digging the change to Link's Awakening.

Why? Link's Awakening is a direct sequel to A Link to the Past; it makes no sense to put the Oracle games between them. People have tried to claim that it's the same Link, but, I mean... when you link the two games together, you see that Link meeting Zelda for the first time, so it's unquestionably a new Link and Zelda. This is additionally supported by the manga, which gives Link a backstory. Nintendo probably wouldn't have allowed such a big deviation if it was meant to be ALttP/LA Link.

Link's Awakening is a direct sequel to A Link to the Past;

That's what the conventional belief was back in the 90s, but there was never any reason to think the games were connected apart from Link sharing the same design. Link doesn't set out on a voyage at the end of LttP, but he does at the end of the Oracle games. Thus, the Oracles could be unconnected to the LttP but the story very much seemed to imply that Link's Awakening is what happened next.

Link's Awakening was designed as a direct sequel to A Link to the Past. Everything on Koholint is based on Link and the Windfish's memories, which is why there are things like the monkeys who help you out, the final Nightmare assuming the forms of both Agahnim and ALttP Ganon, etc.

Hyrule Historia's timeline is full of mistakes. Four Swords Adventures is a direct sequel to Four Swords (featuring the same versions of Link and Zelda) and a prequel to A Link to the Past, showing the origin of ALttP Ganon as separate from Ocarina of Time Ganon... yet for some reason, Hyrule Historia puts FS before OoT and FSA after Twilight Princess, completely ignoring the intent of the creators.

The biggest issue with the Hyrule Historia timeline is that the Downfall branch doesn't make sense. The idea behind it is that Link is defeated in the original timeline, and that Zelda uses magic to give them another chance. It's hard to say what form this would've taken... maybe Kaepora Gaebora is a Rauru who has been sent back in time to give Link advice and keep him alive, maybe Zelda goes back herself. All that's certain is that this creates a split in the timeline, one in which Link is dead, one in which the OoT endings as we know them exist.

The problem with is that Ganondorf is alive and now has two pieces of the Triforce. At the end of OoT, they're only able to seal Ganondorf away after Link very nearly kills him, severely weakens him in a second fight, Zelda uses magic to restrain him and allow Link a clear shot at his throat/head with the Master Sword, and then all the sages combine their power to send him into the Sacred Realm. If Link is dead and Ganondorf has a second Triforce piece, how exactly are the sages meant to have sealed him away? It took everything they had to do it in the GOOD ending.

In short, the creators of the book didn't do enough timeline-related research, which lead to some questionable decisions. The important things to keep in mind are the intent of the developers at the time that the games came out, and any future games that retcon it. For example, Ocarina of Time was originally a prequel to A Link to the Past, which is why it features seven sages, three Spiritual Stones, Ganondorf being sealed in the Sacred Realm, etc... but they later decided against this, and used Four Swords Adventures as a more direct prequel to ALttP, giving an origin for that game's version of Ganon and the weapon that he uses. The Oracle games could honestly feature one of several Links: there's just as much evidence for it being set after The Adventure of Link as Link's Awakening (though, again, the games themselves make it clear that Oracles Link and Oracles Zelda have never met before).

That's nice and all... but you're basically saying that a game that came out after the fact can never be considered a "midquel" because of what? The "original" intention? Because Capcom made the game intead of Nintendo? If that was the case the timeline as a whole would be completely different.

Theres nothing really wrong with the previous [ALttP > Oracles > LA] set up. and they didn't even really say why they changed it. I read this article and I can't help but get the vibe they probably don't even care about the timeline or any real form of coherency, given that they'll just switch everything around to match up with whatever they're feeling in that moment.

So you going hogwild with the wall of text is probably not necessary.

chesu
Mon Aug 06 18 06:42pm
(Updated 1 time)

Uh... no, that's not what I'm saying at all. In fact, I specifically said that FSA was designed to be, as you put it, a "midquel", and Capcom having made the Oracles games has nothing to do with anything.

I guess you didn't want to read all that text, but the relevant parts are that Link's Awakening was designed as a sequel to ALttP (the final nightmare assumes the form of Agahnim, alongside other hints), and the Oracle games were designed to feature a completely new Link and Zelda (you see them meet for the first time within the games). Regardless of whose decision it was, Nintendo stood by the decision enough to allow not only Capcom to portray this as a new Link, but for Akira Himekawa to do the same in the official Oracle of Ages/Seasons manga.

There are gameplay things that you can argue suggest the games take place before Link's Awakening, like the inclusion of Blaino, but you could say the same thing about connections to Majora's Mask. In the end, for timeline placement, canonical story elements trump things like throwaway character cameos.

frog
Mon Aug 06 18 07:15pm
Rating: 1

You don't realize that there was a very different mindset in regards to the story of the games during the early days. It's practically the reason why the downfall timeline is just all the old titles + ALBW. they weren't keeping some sort of internal consistency. It really just fell on the fact you could vaguely say one game takes place after another, and it was fine because the story threads are rather loose. I can't say the Oracle games were made in mind to be after AlttP but threre is enough things in there to argue they had LA in mind to some degree. You know what I mean?
It has less to do with the literal story and more so with the game itself. You say "throwaway character cameo" don't matter yet you ignore the most obvious thing they could do.

Which was why it was simply placed in-between them. If Zelda is really the only thing that contradicts anything why not just retcon it like they've done with several other things. like this:


Spoiler

No, you're absolutely right, the story was super loose at first... TAoL was a direct sequel to LoZ, then ALttP was meant to be a prequel that takes place on the same map (at least) hundreds of years earlier, LA was a direct sequel to that, OoT was a prequel to ALttP (until FSA later retconned it)... all pretty basic stuff. I don't know what kind of mindset the Oracle games were made with, since the real "where does this game fit in the timeline" stuff didn't start until later, but I also don't know what you mean that they had LA in mind. I mean, the graphical style is similar and recreates a lot of the same sprites, because that's what the GBC was capable of, but that aside I don't really see a connection between them.

I don't know what the "most obvious thing they could do" you're referring to is, or what you mean about having less to do with the story and more the game itself. If you aren't basing the timeline on the events that take place within the game, what would you base it on? Yes, they could retcon Zelda and Agahnim and all the other things connecting LA to ALttP and disconnecting the Oracles games from either, but to what end? What stronger connection do the Oracles games have to Link's Awakening to throw that stuff out?

On the topic of the manga, yeah, it's all non-canon... but Nintendo probably wouldn't have signed off on it if it was too different from the source material. I mean, they probably wouldn't have allowed the manga based on The Wind Waker to feature Link's origin as being something other than Outset Island, so why assume the same isn't true of the Oracles?

Well, I mean Capcom made two games, which were directly based on LA's engine. And that was probably most of the draw for them to reference that title specifically in it's story/characters. Not so much the story the franchise was creating as a whole. To be fair though, you have the very opening the game and Ganon himself serving as potential connections to AlttP. (unified triforce and Ganon being specifically dead by that point.) As well as the shot of the boat after the credits. Which at the time I can't see anyone thinking of anything else but Link's Awakening. Those are the things people have pointed out and it's very clearcut in my opinion.

I don't believe anything needs to be thrown out for them to work either. because again, fairly loose story threads. Save for Zelda's amnesia. ;)

and the Oracle games were designed to feature a completely new Link and Zelda (you see them meet for the first time within the games). Regardless of whose decision it was, Nintendo stood by the decision enough to allow not only Capcom to portray this as a new Link, but for Akira Himekawa to do the same in the official Oracle of Ages/Seasons manga.

You keep harping on this point, but I don't think either Frog or I ever said that Oracle Link was LttP Link. The fact that it takes place next in the timeline doesn't imply that at all, so whether Link meets Zelda for the first time is irrelevant. My point was that the ending of the Oracles game + the old timeline placement strongly implied that Link's Awakening was a direct sequel to the Oracles. As for the Nightmare taking on the form of Aganihm, yes, that would seem to imply LA was intended as a direct sequel to LttP. But that doesn't mean Nintendo can't retcon that as they did elements of chronology when they first published the timeline.

There's no evidence that they retconned it, though; Hyrule Historia wasn't written by the people who wrote the stories for the games. As I said, their research was lacking, and we're seeing now that Nintendo agrees that the Oracle games had no business being placed where they were. It's possible that Nintendo could've retconned the Oracles games as being the origin of LA Link and separated it from AlttP back when they came out, and that would've been okay, if a little confusing... but that didn't happen, and I can't think of any real reason to try connecting these games. When the Oracles games came out, the argument everyone was having was whether the Link in it was from Majora's Mask or The Adventure of Link.

there's no evidence that they retconned it, though; Hyrule Historia wasn't written by the people who wrote the stories for the games.

But... it's based on their internal documents. That's a fact. Nintendo advertised it as the official timeline because for all intents and purposes it was official as it gets, meaning certain members of the Zelda team were involved with it. At the very least Aonuma himself had to sign off on the book before it was published, lest he have to answer for any obvious misinformation printed therein.

but that didn't happen, and I can't think of any real reason to try connecting these games.

- The Oracle games are the only Zelda titles besides WW and PH to end with Link setting sail on the ocean. LA begins with Link sailing on the ocean.

- Link initially mistakes Marin for Zelda. Despite this, OoT showed us that she actually resembles Malon, both in name and hair color, while Malon's father resembles Marin's father Tarin. You should see where I'm going with this; Malon and Talon both appear in Oracle of Seasons, which plays nicely into the fact that Link's Awakening is a dream inside of a dream, making Tarin and Marin dream versions of Malon and Talon from OoS.

The way I see it, these are both obvious retcons which go to explain why they placed LA where they did on the timeline. I don't know why anyone would think Oracle Link was from MM other than him having a horse named Epona,. AoL Link is supposed to be at least 16, but I always had the impression that the Oracle games featured a child Link.

I completely agree on the age thing: TAoL Link is sixteen and ALttP Link is at least fourteen, but the official art for the Oracles game makes Link look quite a bit younger. Maybe it's just a stylistic choice... but even stylistic choices are made for a reason.

As for why people assumed the TAoL and Majora's Mask connections, in the mid nineties a lot of people thought (and several big Zelda fan sites claimed) that Link's Awakening was set during TAoL. I don't remember this myself, since I haven't played the game in so long, but apparently at some point in the game you sail from the western side of Hyrule to the east, and people claimed that Link crashed during that. People eventually gave up that idea, but the proponents of it latched back on when the Oracles games came out, since the idea of reviving Ganon was also present in TAoL, as was the Triforce mark appearing on Link's hand being what sets him off on his adventure.

The Majora's Mask connection is easier to understand: the Oracle games came out just a year after MM, and feature Link "returning" to Hyrule on Epona. Not only are several characters from the N64 games present, but so are a couple things that were exclusive to MM, like the designs of the fairies. You can see why someone who's only played the N64 games would assume this is another direct sequel.

I understand why you think the Oracle games have to take place before LA now, though... It is a very similar-looking ship. I'd never seriously considered it, because of the ties between ALttP and LA, but it's entirely possible that Capcom was suggesting the Oracle games as a prequel. That said, even if there was a point at which Nintendo considered it to be an official retcon, that seems to no longer be the case... and again, Hyrule Historia is just flat-out wrong on some things. FSA was designed to be a prequel to ALttP, yet they placed it after Twilight Princess.

Basically, we don't want to be bothered to come up with a timeline placement for BOTW so you do it. Also, some nonsense about new information and LA is now before OOX, because why not?

Seriously, this whole beating around he bush thing with BOTWs placement is the WORST. There's not a single aspect of the game that would be ruined if you just slapped it after FSA or AoL and just called it a day.

There's not a single aspect of the game that would be ruined if you acknowledged there weren't an all-encompassing timeline, either.

Sorry, I don't acknowledge things that aren't true.

Also, a huge part of my enjoyment of the series is the idea of it all happening in one big world. The whole line in BOTW that says "The History of Calamity Ganon is the History of the Royal family." Is infinitely less appealing if BOTW isn't on the timeline, and meaningless if there's no timeline.

Then I guess it's meaningless.

Except it's not, BOTW is in the timeline, Nintendo is just being lazy and refusing to explain where.

BOTW is so very different from any other Zelda game lore wise. There's no mention of the Triforce, Din, Nayru, Farore. Link doesn't seem to need the Triforce of Courage to defeat Ganon.

Instead they just have Hylia everywhere despite not being mentioned much throughout the series. Timeline wise, Hylia was only worshipped at the very beginning and then forgotten for the rest of time. Why at the very end would her statue be all over the place?

BOTW doesn't really fit and almost feels like a reboot in a way.

I do think it's odd how Hylia is so central now despite only being a recent addition to the lore.

And this is why the Zelda timeline cannot be taken seriously.

Dude, what the hell ever.

The "Zelda Timeline" concept has never made any actual sense.

And people clamoring for it and insisting that Nintendo present a REAL one, were always, and remain, dumb as hell.

Just saying.

groose
Mon Aug 06 18 05:31am
Rating: 12 (Updated 1 time)

You know, maybe it's possible for people to care about something you don't care about without calling them dumb as hell.

Just saying.

But it's not quite as simple as you liking something and him not liking it, because just as there are definitely connections between various games, there is also definitely not one grand, unified scheme that connects them all; there is no such thing as *the* timeline, which makes caring about it a bit absurd.

there is no such thing as *the* timeline, which makes caring about it a bit absurd.

See the 'no fun allowed' sign above? That's basically how this sentiment reads.

I'm one of millions of gamers who enjoy theorizing about connections between the various Zelda games. Let me have my fun, please.

It's one thing to have fun playing around with connections between various titles; that I'd let anyone have. But it's another thing (as you yourself wrote so I can only assume that it applies to you) to believe in a concrete timeline.

There is no concrete timeline, not one that fits every game simultaneously.

There never was such a thing. There was only Nintendo trolling Zelda fans falling prey to that need to debate canon which is strangely common among fans of the nerdy arts.

Sure if you ignore the comments Nintendo's made about the timeline stretching back all the way to 1994, there's totally "no concrete timeline."

Ridiculous.

I don't ignore those comments; I put them in the proper perspective. Nintendo has always been gameplay first, story second, or third, or thirty-seventh, or not important at all. They don't care about having a timeline. Do you really think that when they used the names of the towns in Zelda 2 for the sages in Ocarina they were making some statement about where they sat on some epic timeline, or that they were having a bit of fun? Ridiculous is believing the former.

Considering that at the time, according to what they said, OOT was the start of the series and a prequel to ALttP which is a prequel to TLoZ/AoL, it was likely a bit of both. Nintendo designs the games gameplay first, but it's dumb to ignore all the care they've put into the connections between the games, because you don't personally believe that they connect.

They didn't just put portraits of the sages in the chamber of the Master Sword in WW, because "lawl, these fans are so crazy with their timeline." They didn't litter the entire first dungeon of TP with the Kokri symbol, because "lawl, these fans are so crazy with their timeline." They didn't do anything just for "fun." They've said as far back as like 2006 that there was a official timeline, so why bother denying what's clearly, ALWAYS existed?

Just stop. Every time the discussion of a timeline comes up, people like you come running forth to scream that there isn't a timeline, when ever since Zelda 2 there has been. It's old and tiring. Why do you care if people like how there's a timeline? Why does that bother you so much that you feel the need to call people dumb?

Seriously, what's dumb is ignoring painfully obvious connections that the games have to try and paint this FORCED narrative that the game don't connect, when ALMOST ALL OF THEM were made as either a prequel or sequel.

Why do you care so much that people don’t care or don’t think here is a timeline?

I’d argue there isn’t a timeline but rather continuity between certain groups of games.

Zelda 1 and Zelda 2.
Windwaker, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks.
Ocarina of Time and Majoras Mask

There’s continuity between those groups and that is by design and intended, but in isolation, with zero link (pardon the pun) between Windwaker and Ocarina for example.

What isn’t by design and never intended, and this story is more evidence of that, is that there is a planned overall timeline. It was retroactively created and created poorly with mistakes and contradictions.

what's dumb is ignoring painfully obvious connections that the games have to try and paint this FORCED narrative that the game don't connect, when ALMOST ALL OF THEM were made as either a prequel or sequel.

It’s about as concrete as a timeline between Mario games. Guess we’d have to have a split timeline there too since SMB2 outside of Japan was really Doki Doki Panic.

Thank you for saving me the trouble of wasting my time replying. You basically said anything that needed to be said in response. Cheers!

groose
Mon Aug 06 18 08:01pm
Rating: 2 (Updated 1 time)

It’s about as concrete as a timeline between Mario games. Guess we’d have to have a split timeline there too since SMB2 outside of Japan was really Doki Doki Panic.

You're in no position to use silly generalizations about the Mario games in order to mock people who believe in a concrete Zelda timeline, when it's clear that you have only a loose understanding of how the games connect to begin with:

There’s continuity between those groups and that is by design and intended, but in isolation, with zero link (pardon the pun) between Windwaker and Ocarina for example.

Wind Waker makes several references to Ocarina of Time, not the least of which is Ganondorf himself returning. Twilight Princess is directly connected to Ocarina of Time and Majora's by the character 'Hero's Shade' (http://zelda.wikia.com/wiki/Hero%27s_Shade) who is the actual Hero of Time from the two aforementioned games.

And no, the Mario games don't need a split timeline because of SMB2/Doki Doki Panic. 1) Zelda's timeline split has an actual cause rooted in Link's time travel shenanigans, whereas the mainline Mario games do not have Mario traveling through time--ever. And 2), the US SMB2 was released in Japan as Mario USA, effectively rectonning Doki Doki Panic and making SMB2 an official Mario game.

Ehh...every single time the timeline is brought up this same type of response gets thrown out, that Nintendo pieced it altogether in 2011. Look, practically every mainline game that's come out has had a "timeline" placement right after it came out. In short, or rather long sorry:

TLoZ -> AoL (direct sequel)
ALttP (stated at the time to be a prequel to TLoZ)
LA (stated at the time to be a sequel to ALttP)
OOT (designed initially to be the backstory of ALttP, this was known at the time, and that's why the game is Ganon's origin story)
MM (direct sequel)
FS (no in game timeline evidence, but a placement at the time. Stated to be the "earliest game")
OOX (no real placement at the time or really a strong in-game placement)
WW (direct sequel to OOT, timeline placement explained at the time TP released. Makes abundant references to OOT)
MC (Not a strong in game timeline placement, but a placement from Nintendo at the time)
FSA (timeline placement made at the time of release)
TP (less obvious but still blatant references to OOT, timeline placement made at the time of release. Stated to happen "parallel to WW." Split timeline was revealed at the time.)
PH (direct sequel to WW)
ST (direct sequel to PH)
SS (prequel to everything)
ALBW (sequel to ALttP)
TFH (direct sequel to ALBW)
BOTW (sequel to everything, strong inclination towards the downfall timeline and plenty of in-game references to the adult half of OOT)

So we have, just from the games and Nintendo before Hyrule Historia:

SS-MC-FS-OOT-ALttP-LA-ALBW-TFH-TLoZ-AOL
....................-OOT-WW-PH-ST
....................-OOT-MM-TP

With FSA having to be somewhere where Hyrule is still alive and not underwater, and OOX having to be somewhere where Hyrule is still alive, the Triforce is present, Ganondorf is present as well as Twinrova, and Hyrule isn't the Great Sea.

Thus, all you had to do when making HH was piece these chunks together. That's officially not "coming up with the timeline retroactively," nor is it "making it up on the spot," it's developing an overarching story across the time span of thirty plus years. Therefore, believing the timeline is made up is ignoring blatant fact and clear telling sign that you either know very little about the series or are simply exaggerating.

Mon Aug 06 18 11:13pm
Rating: 1 (Updated 2 times)

Why do you care so much that people don’t care or don’t think there is a timeline?

He's just responding to the guy who decided to barge into a story in order to call everyone interested in said story an idiot.

Pretty sure he doesn't care, for example, that I don't personally care about any timeline talk. I mean, I don't see him or any other fans calling me or you or the belligerent brat up there "dumb as hell."

There’s continuity between those groups and that is by design and intended, but in isolation, with zero link (pardon the pun) between Windwaker and Ocarina for example.
Er have you even played Wind Waker? The game's opening narration literally recounts the plot of Ocarina. They then make several references over the course of the game to the Hero of Time (referring directly to the one in OoT and MM). When Wind Waker Link gets to Hyrule Castle he sees stained glass windows specifically depicting the six sages from OoT and Zelda and Link battling Ganon in the same form that he took for OoT's final boss fight. The Great Flood is mentioned as being the result of Ganon escaping from the Sacred Realm (which was the exact place where he wound up at the end of OoT).

It's a pretty clearcut continuation of the previous game's story.

Guess we’d have to have a split timeline there too since SMB2 outside of Japan was really Doki Doki Panic.
That's just Mario having a dream. The real split in the Mario timeline is at the end of Mario Galaxy when Bowser accidentally destroys the universe and Rosalina does a cosmic restart that leads into Galaxy 2.

Or whenever Mario uses the double cherries in 3D World: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRozarc1kSo

gloop
Mon Aug 06 18 02:19am
Rating: 1

Eh, I never really cared about any timeline. The only continuity that matters to me is when we get a direct sequel.

I really don't know why anyone cares about the timeline when it's such an afterthought.

seansneachta
Mon Aug 06 18 04:58am
Rating: 1 (Updated 1 time)

I’m glad even Nintendo is not prescribing to the “timeline”. It was a mistake for them to publish an “official” one in the first place.

I’ve seen theory’s that because BOTW has references to things and games from all timelines that there must be a convergence point where all three splits meet up again. That’s even sillier than the current timelines.

Just play the games enjoy the references to past games. Because for the most part, that’s all they are.

The handful of direct sequels are the only real continuity but even then it’s done in isolation

Where does Hyrule Warriors fit?!? Linkle deserves her recognition!

So what if the timeline exists. It's not like Nintendo will end Zelda if it prints them money.

As always when it comes to timeline discussions, I find the people who say there is no timeline or connections between games more annoying than those that want to fit every single game in one timeline. There are a lot Zelda games that have pretty clear connections to other Zelda games that aren't "easter eggs" or "references".

Putting everything into one is always difficult, since Nintendo clearly never intended all the games to connect to one another. The fallen hero timeline is a result of this.

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