Nintendo has given out nearly no information about their next Legend of Zelda game, other than it exists and it’s coming out at the end of 2015. Of course in “Nintendo time” that means we probably won’t actually see it until midway through 2016, but given their track record, it will probably be worth the wait.
What we do know is that it’s an open world Zelda title that will at least be somewhat less linear than past iterations, and stars Link, or some vague approximation of him.
And yet, I find myself wishing that Nintendo would finally let The Legend of Zelda live up to its name. Despite the identifier, the entire series has always been more or less about the Legend of Link, and how his bravery leads him to save Zelda time and time again. Sometimes, Zelda isn’t even in the game at all, and yet the title remains.
While I understand that Zelda has helped Link ways that do go above and beyond blowing him kisses (by dressing up as badass Sheik, for one), but she has yet to be given the opportunity to really shine by having a game entirely devoted to her.
I’m not trying to get all Tropes vs. Women in Video Games here, but seriously, why can’t there be a Legend of Zelda game that is actually about Zelda saving herself, or saving Link, instead of having the boy in green do all the heavy lifting? We’ve seen that she can handle herself in combat when she doesn’t have a giant dress restricting her, so why shouldn’t she get a crack at her own title after all these years.
Nintendo has tried this before with another series, and once upon a time Princess Peach got her own chance to save Bowser. Yet it wasn’t exactly a stride forward for female protagonists when her abilities revolved around her mood swings, be they joy, anger, sadness and so on. Yes that really happened.
Rather, I think it would be need to have Zelda be a true hero in her own series (they wouldn’t even have to change the name), without the need for “girl power” intrusions like emotion-based powers. Just let her fight, use items and magic, and save the day in an expertly crafted Nintendo title. There have been roughly 172 Legend of Zelda titles to date (I’m rounding up) and I think has had enough screen time to step aside for at least a singular game.
The truth is, the vast majority of NIntendo’s series are focused on male characters. That kind of comes with the territory given that all these series were birthed in the ’80s or ’90s, but you only have to look at the Super Smash Bros. roster in any given year to recognize the issue. Samus Aran is the only true lead female character Nintendo has, and over the years her chunky armor plating has been stripped away so we can get a proper look at the zero suit that clings to all her curves. But hey, she’s a start, so I won’t complain too much.
But now? Other than the recent addition of Bayonetta as a Nintendo exclusive (but technically not a Nintendo character), the roster is still overwhelmingly male. But the lore of so many of these series allows for already-known female characters like Zelda to step in and take the lead in new games, yet Nintendo still seems reluctant to have any of their famed dudebros step aside, even for a moment.
Zelda leading her own game wouldn’t solve all the problems with gender in video gaming, but it would be a nice gesture to at least recognize that a princesses relegated to a prize to be rescued at worst, or a sidekick at best, can someday hope to have her moment to shine in a way that doesn’t involve kart racing or fist-fighting. Hell, maybe someday even Peach will get another crack at her own title that isn’t entirely reliant on mood swings and the color pink.
While I don’t think we need affirmative action to make sure women are leading exactly 50% of all new games, I don’t think it would hurt to allow characters to evolve past the one-dimension they’ve had for twenty years or more. Nintendo could start with Zelda, and that would be a lot of fun.
[Photos via Nintendo]