The Legend of Zelda: Clockwork Empire is Fictional, But Fantastic


I can’t really even say the name “Anita Sarkeesian” without someone wanting to start a fight usually, but in any case, this art project (sent in by Jon LeFlore) was indeed inspired by the video game feminist, who has spent a good deal of time lamenting the issues with The Legend of Zelda series. In nearly every installment over two decades, Zelda is always imprisoned, kidnapped, cursed or something like that, and it’s up to Link to save her.

Welllllll, Clockwork Empire, a theoretical game from artist Aaron Diaz looks to change all that. It portrays Zelda as fierce warrior mage and Link as a proper prince. It’s more than just a skin-covered, weapon-equippedversion of Zelda however. It’s an actual concept for a game that sounds pretty neat. There are more panels explaining some of the core concepts from the game which you can check out below.

Why couldn’t this game exist? Who cares who the hero is as long as it’s fun? The Legend of Zelda has done many crazier things than this over the year, so to imagine Clockwork Empire as a reality isn’t that much of a stretch of the imagination.





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  1. Zelda’s not that character, never has been, and trying to make her a badass now would seem like an artificial capitulation to obnoxious political malcontents and not an organic story choice. However, it would be consistent with the series to introduce a new awesome female protagonist and have her collaborate with Zelda (she could be like Elizabeth in Bioshock, for instance) to save a captured Link. That I’d play. Link’s practically a girl, anyway.

  2. Sorry dude, she was pretty effing badass as Sheik. I’d buy her as a protagonist, no problem.

    But I don’t see the point of making Link the prince, really. Why can’t they both be great heroes? It would be easy enough to write in some exposition about Link off doing some Termina-like mission which leaves Zelda to handle the latest incarnation of Ganondorf on her own.

  3. I was all for it, until the project creator decided to make Link the “damsel.” I don’t understand why empowerment of females means the depowerment of males. Why cant we have a strong, capable Link fight along with the strong, capable Zelda?

  4. @Sara

    I’m not exactly sure what she even DID as Sheik except pop up unexpectedly and teach ocarina music. I do like your concept though. I don’t think that Zelda should be limited to the damsel archetype. She’s not even the same person through most games and Tetra/Zelda is even a Pirate!

    Still, this pure role-reversal is silly. Even ignoring the game lore, Link as a prince is just…off-putting.

    What I’d like to see is a version of this that is reminiscent of the Prince of Persia reboot. Both characters contributing to combat, be it sorcery or swordplay. Heck, can you imagine how awesome combo attacks would be?

    And man, what better excuse for co-op play?

  5. I agree with the others. What is so revolutionary about doing a simple gender-swap? Some kind of co-op play where Zelda plays alongside Link or where Zelda is an AI character like Elizabeth would be more true to the series (and interesting). Actually, I’d love to see Zelda be an AI like Elizabeth. Zelda and Link’s relationship was very endearing in Skyward Sword and if they could turn Zelda into an Elizabeth-like character, that would be even better.

    Heck, even doing some kind of side adventure a la Majora’s Mask, only it is Zelda off doing said adventure would work better then a simple gender swap.

    The rest of the gameplay ideas sound neat, if derivative of other series, especially the RPG-lite elements of upgrading along different trees. I’m not sure I’d like that in a Zelda game, it’s in enough other games already and while I don’t mind the mechanic, I like Zelda as-is. Oh, and Zelda games don’t need a limited inventory. Yeah, it makes ZERO sense that Link can lug all that stuff around, I don’t care. Let it be, it’s just a videogame, they don’t always have to make sense.

  6. @Carmelo Thumbs up to the unnecessary depowerment of Link. That’s what I was trying to get at with my comment. Why does there need to be anyone in distress? How about Ganondorf is evil and should be stopped, the end?

    @jsnforce I’ll admit I’m letting my time playing as Sheik in Smash Brothers color my perception.

    That being said, Luigi-ing her into co-op or making her a helper AI? Weaksauce. The point is to take her out of the supporting role. I’ve played as Link a dozen times. Give the guy a vacay. Or if his presence is a must, make him the Elizabeth.

  7. @ Sara

    Honestly, Smash Brothers is the only reason I even like Sheik.

    Aside from her role in gameplay, there is another very big problem: Nintendo sucks at character development. Just look at poor Samus.

    They handed off their most popular female character to a studio who’s biggest contribution to gaming has been “independent breast physics”. Samus went from being a powerful woman to a sobbing teenager, begging the men around her for permission to save their lives. Despicable.

    There’s no way they’d handle Zelda well.

    Of course, this is the company that still uses friend codes, who releases a new console that will be obsolete by next year. The company who is still in the stone age when it comes to the internet, who refuses to let it’s franchises grow up. Who continuously insists gamers don’t actually want the things we ask for.

  8. I love all the knee jerk reaction of “why power down Link and make him a prince?” Maybe because that’s the set up of a Zelda game. Setting up gameplay with two contributing protaganists isn’t faithful to what Zelda has been, and the concept is trying to stick with a standard Zelda game. It’s just imagining a scenario where, in their next incarnations, they’ve led different lives than before. I mean, if Zelda can be a pirate, why can’t Link be a prince?

  9. I think it’s a good idea to try switching Link and Zelda’s roles. That would, however, naturally and unfortunately place Link into the damsel in distress catagory, and anyone who has enjoyed playing as a cool character does not want their role and power destroyed like that. However, Link could be the prince and not necessarily be a damsel. As a prince he could actually end up being a powerful ally to Zelda. Aside from the Damsel in distress problem, I believe that this game idea is pretty much flawless. This Zelda would make a great protagonist, and the different forms of magic seem really cool. Overall, this is a game that really deserves to be made.

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