The Legend of Zelda could have a female Link in the future, according to a statement by Breath of the Wild producer Eiji Aonuma. It seems gender diversity could be a rising trend in video games as well as films, and hopefully, the video games will generally fare better than the silver screen productions.
Part of what could be backfiring on Hollywood when it comes to female leads is the fact that, aside from Mad Max: Fury Road and Suicide Squad, they tend to be remakes or reboots. Ghostbusters fell victim to it, and plans are already underway to make an all-female Ocean’s Eight. The public generally doesn’t like older favorites being remade, with few exceptions.
Popular opinion is basically that if the movie wasn’t bad, it doesn’t need to be redone, only remastered. The same often applies to video games.
The Legend of Zelda franchise has rarely ever had a bad game attached to it, unless you count the game famous for the line, “Well excuse me, Princess.” Even when Nintendo let Capcom take over production for Four Swords, it wasn’t a bad game. There is little reason for a remake or reboot of the series, especially with the original recently re-released as part of the collection on the NES Classic Edition mini-console. The gameplay still holds up today, marking it as a true classic.
Ever since Hyrule Warriors introduced a female version of Link called Linkle, a growing fan base has warmed up to the idea. There was even an online petition for a young black female Link back in 2014. Some claim that the lack of Linkle in Breath of the Wild is a problem because gamers are wanting more female leads.
Metroid was among the first, though we didn’t know Samus Aran was female until we beat the game or entered the code “justin bailey.” Super Mario Bros. 2 (actually a sprite swap of Doki Doki Panic) gave us the option of playing as the Princess, a concept which may have been years ahead of its time. Tomb Raider gave us a strong protagonist in Lara Croft, and it went over well until the eventual reboot was made necessary by horrible sequels. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate gave us the stealth-heavy Evie Frye, even though Aveline was actually first in Liberation.
Forbes writer Paul Tassi claims that if Zelda gets a female lead, it shouldn’t be Link (or Linkle). His opinion originates as a response to the words of Breath of the Wild producer Eiji Aonuma, talking with Kotaku.
“You know there’s the idea of the Triforce in the Zelda games we make. The Triforce is made up of Princess Zelda, Ganon, and Link. Princess Zelda is obviously female. If we made Link a female we thought that would mess with the balance of the Triforce. That’s why we decided not to do it. … [If] we have princess Zelda as the main character who fights, then what is Link going to do?”
The fact is that Breath of the Wild has been in development a lot longer than Hyrule Warriors, and Linkle was a concept that was introduced a little too late in the cycle. Much like Ubisoft’s explanation for why there wasn’t a female lead in Assassin’s Creed Unity, it probably would have taken too much re-working to make Link a female at that point.
This doesn’t mean that Linkle won’t show up in the next main Zelda title, since Nintendo is listening to the public and putting everything the public wants in it, within reason. Games Radar claims Aonuma’s explanation is that if you put too much into a game, you take the chance of an unfocused game that lacks quality.
The backlash over Aonuma’s decision not to give The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild the female version of Link could impact sales, but Nintendo is taking that chance for now. Of course, with the online subscription coming to Switch, there could be a DLC patch in the future.
[Featured Image by Nintendo]