Link (The Legend of Zelda)
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (October 2012)|
|The Legend of Zelda character|
Link, as he appears in official artwork for The Legend of Zelda
|First game||The Legend of Zelda (1986)|
|Created by||Shigeru Miyamoto|
|Voiced by (English)||Jeffrey Rath (CD-i games)
Jonathan Potts (cartoon)
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Hikaru Midorikawa (Zelda no Densetsu Sound & Drama, 1994)
Fujiko Takimoto (Ocarina of Time/Majora's Mask (child Link), 1998–2001)
Nobuyuki Hiyama (Ocarina of Time (adult Link)/Majora's Mask (Fierce Deity Link), 1998–2002)
Sachi Matsumoto (The Wind Waker/Phantom Hourglass, 2002–2008)
Akira Sasanuma (Twilight Princess, 2006–2008)
Yūki Kodaira (Spirit Tracks, 2009–present)
Takashi Ōhara (Skyward Sword, 2011–present)
|Motion capture||Nobuyuki Hiyama|
Link (リンク Rinku ) refers to several different incarnations of the same fictional character and the protagonist of Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda series. Link has been featured in other video games from Nintendo, including its merchandising, comic books, and an animated television program.
Link is commonly depicted as a child or teenager of the Hylian race, originating from the fictional land of Hyrule. Link often travels through Hyrule, defeating creatures, evil forces and the series' primary antagonist, Ganon, while attempting to save Princess Zelda and her kingdom. To defeat him, Link usually requires the mystic Master Sword and Light Arrows, or a similar legendary weapon, obtained after many trials and battles, and magical objects or using other items such as musical instruments and weaponry.
Concept and creation 
Link has almost no spoken dialogue in the game series outside the CD-i series of games from The Legend of Zelda. Prominent facial expression has only been visible since the series appeared on the Nintendo 64. Miyamoto has said in interviews that his conceptualization of The Legend of Zelda, and of Link, was based on his childhood memories of books, movies, stories and personal experiences. He tried to make people identify with Link and have the opportunity to be heroes like the character. Although at the end of some games Link becomes vastly talented in physical and magical arts, he usually starts off the game as a regular boy. The name Link refers to how in the original Legend of Zelda, the Triforce was going to be electronic chips that the main character was linked to that the player had to traverse through time to retrieve.
There have been several iterations of Link in the history of Hyrule. The existence of multiple Links is made obvious on many occasions in the games; for example, the introduction sequence of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker refers to an ancient, legendary champion who is identical in appearance to Link, and directly mentions the "Hero of Time" (a title given to Link in Ocarina of Time) as a historical entity. Miyamoto has stated, "For every Zelda game we tell a new story, but we actually have an enormous document that explains how the game relates to the others, and bind them together. But to be honest, they are not that important to us. We care more about developing the game system ... give the player new challenges for every chapter that is born." However, the exact chronology of the Zelda series and the lineage of the various Links, though written down by Miyamoto and his team, has long been kept secret. In lieu of an official history, some major fansites have attempted to construct a coherent Zelda timeline based on available data. After the release of Ocarina of Time, Miyamoto stated it was the first story in the timeline, then The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and finally The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, with The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening occurring sometime after A Link to the Past. However, back in late 2011, Miyamoto confirmed that his new game to be released, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, would come before Ocarina of Time in the series' timeline. Additionally, Nintendo released an anthology titled Hyrule Historia in celebration of Zelda's 25th anniversary. Released in Japan in December 2011 and in North America in early 2013, the anthology details the long-sought-after official Zelda timeline.
On the design of Link in The Wind Waker, Miyamoto explained, "Link was a young boy and trying to create a very active and very energetic young boy and trying to choose the right style for portraying the young boy in a game like that we tried many different experiments. The ultimate decision we came to was that the cel-shading in The Wind Waker was the best option for expressing that." The Wind Waker takes place with a new Link centuries after the victory of Link in Ocarina of Time. Twilight Princess does not incorporate the idea of young Link growing up to a teenage Link.
Actor portrayal 
In the 3D games, beginning with Ocarina of Time, Link was voiced by six actors: Nobuyuki Hiyama as adult Link; Fujiko Takimoto as young Link; Sachi Matsumoto as Link in The Wind Waker; Akira Sasanuma in Twilight Princess; Yūki Kodaira in Spirit Tracks; and Takashi Ōhara in Skyward Sword. As no Zelda game to date has contained substantial spoken dialogue, the part consists only of short phrases, grunts, battle cries, and other sounds. In The Wind Waker, however, Link has been heard saying the phrase, "Come on!". Voice acting in the series has been deliberately limited, so as not to "contradict players' individual interpretations of the character". In the fan-made Zeldamotion series produced by Aeipathy Industries, Link is voiced by Todd Haberkorn.
Link was portrayed by actor JR Killigrew in the live action Zelda trailer produced by Rainfall films, an elaborate April Fool's joke by IGN. Although the trailer portrayed Link as faithfully as possible by not giving him any dialogue, fans still noticed that the live action Link was right handed. Director Sam Balcomb defended in an interview with IGN that Link was right-handed in the Wii version of Twilight Princess and that Killigrew didn't have time to train left-handed. The Wii version is a mirrored copy of the GameCube version because most people are right-handed, so the game character would match the real-world hand movements for a larger number of players.
Humble but brave, these attributes consistent with Link's role as the rightful bearer of the Triforce of Courage. He is known as the "Legendary Hero" in A Link to the Past, "Hero of Time" in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, "Hero of the goddess" in Skyward Sword, "Hero of Winds" in The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass and "Hero chosen by the gods" in Twilight Princess.
Link is the chosen bearer of the Master Sword, a powerful magical sword that can be used against evil. As a child, he challenges Ganondorf in order to try to protect Zelda before he inadvertently helps Ganondorf find the Triforce in Ocarina of Time, forcing Link to undo the damage he had caused. Link has several family members, including an uncle in A Link to the Past; an unseen mother in Ocarina of Time, who dies fleeing a war when Link is a baby; a grandmother, who raises him, and a sister, Aryll, in The Wind Waker; and a grandfather in The Minish Cap.[dead link] His mother and father appear as spirits in the the official manga.
He is a young Hylian boy who is renowned for his swordsmanship and fighting skill, such as his boomerang accuracy. Every iteration of Link wears a green tunic and a long green Phrygian cap and has long, pointed ears, a distinctive trait of the Hylian race and their descendants. In the Zelda trading cards released by Nintendo early in the series, it is stated that pointed ears are a sign of the Hylian royal family. In episode 4 of the Adult Saga in the official Ocarina of Time manga series, "Link Vs. Link", Impa gives Link earrings, describing it as a "rite of passage for young Sheikah men"; these later became default aspects of Link's design, starting with Twilight Princess and in Skyward Sword.[dead link] He has a Triforce mark on his left hand (with the exceptions of Skyward Sword and the Wii version of Twilight Princess), marking him as the one who will find the Triforce of Courage. He uses many weapons and items, such as bombs, the hookshot, the boomerang and the bow and arrows. When he transforms into a wolf in the Twilight Realm in Twilight Princess, he reflects the mystical aspects of the transformation and his heroism.[dead link]
Though most titles in the series have depicted Link as left-handed, this is not a hard, set rule and is subject to change between games. The Adventure of Link's instruction booklet describes Link setting off "with a magical sword in his left hand and a magical shield in his right". In A Link to the Past, he alternates hands, but this is due to sprite mirroring. The reason for this is explained in the official Nintendo Player's guide as a Hylian superstition that requires the shield to always face Death Mountain (located to the North) to protect oneself from the evil powers originating within the mountain. Starting with Link's Awakening, Link holds his sword in his left hand and his shield in his right, no matter what direction he is facing. In The Minish Cap, however, Link returns to alternately holding his weapon in the right or the left hand, depending on his orientation. At the beginning of the Four Swords Plus (Four Swords Adventures) manga, Link is referred to as the "left-handed hero" after defeating pirates that were raiding a Hylian town. In addition, Link's figurine description in The Wind Waker lists his "manual preference" as left. However, in the animated TV series and the Wii version of Twilight Princess, Link is right-handed, but the latter was done to better mirror the game's control scheme. In the game's official artwork he is shown holding his sword in his left hand. In the GameCube version, Link remains left-handed, as the game uses a traditional control scheme. Thus, Skyward Sword is the first game in the series to feature a definite right-handed Link, with even the concept art reflecting the fact.
Zelda games 
Link debuted on February 21, 1986, with the release of the video game The Legend of Zelda in Japan. Described as a "young lad" who saved Princess Zelda's elderly nursemaid Impa from Ganon's henchmen, Link assumes the role of the hero attempting to rescue Princess Zelda (and the kingdom of Hyrule) from the evil wizard Ganon, who has stolen the Triforce of Power.
In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1987), Link goes on a quest to place a crystal in each of six palaces in Hyrule, so that he can later penetrate unhindered into the magically protected Great Palace, defeat Shadow Link, claim the Triforce of Courage, reunite the three pieces of the Triforce, and awaken the sleeping Zelda.
In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991), a new Link must intercept the wizard Agahnim before he breaks the seal on the Dark World and unleash Ganon's fury upon Hyrule. Along the way, Link must collect three magical Pendants of Virtue and claim the legendary Master Sword before facing Agahnim.
In The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (1993), which takes place sometime after A Link to the Past, Link decides to travel the world so he might be prepared if a threat like Ganon ever comes to Hyrule again. While returning to Hyrule, Link's ship is caught in a storm and wrecked. He washes up on the shore of a mysterious island called Koholint. Link is taken to the house of a kind man named Tarin and his daughter Marin. A talking owl tells him that the only way he can escape Koholint Island is by awakening the "Wind Fish", a giant creature slumbering in a colossal egg in the center of the island. When the game finishes, Link awakens in the middle of the ocean, along with the dreamer.
Link: The Faces of Evil, released in 1993 for Philips' CD-i video game console, is the only one of the three Zelda games for the CD-i in which Link is the protagonist. At the beginning of the game, Link and the King of Hyrule is visited by a wizard named Gwonam who tells him that Ganon and his servants have seized the peaceful island of Koridai and captured Zelda. After being informed that only he can defeat Ganon, Link travels to Koridai to find the magical artifact known as the Book of Koridai. Using the book, he defeats Ganon and frees Zelda. Although it features Zelda characters, the game was not produced or supervised by Nintendo nor officially recognized as part of the Zelda series.
There were two other The Legend of Zelda games released for the CD-i: Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon and Zelda's Adventure. In both games, Princess Zelda is the protagonist, as the plots involve Link's kidnapping.
In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998), a new Link must constantly travel to the past and to the future using the Ocarina of Time in order to stop Ganondorf's takeover of Hyrule and imprison him into the Sacred Realm with the help of the six sages and the Master Sword. During the game, Link is accompanied by the fairy Navi, which is a new addition to the series. Ocarina of Time is also the first 3D game in the Zelda series.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (2000) occurs after Link defeats Ganon and is sent back in time to his childhood. While searching for a friend (supposedly Navi who had previously flown away) Link runs into Skull Kid - a character briefly featured in Ocarina of Time, and ends up in the land of Termina. He must save this land from the evil of Majora's Mask, which has drawn the moon into a decaying orbit, threatening to crash into Termina's primary town, Clock Town, in three days. Link uses the Ocarina of Time to play the Song of Time, which he can use to travel back in time when he plays it, to relive these three days repeatedly so he can prevent the disaster. Along the way, Link finds many magical masks of his own, some of which allow him to transform. Those masks can turn him into a Goron, Deku Scrub, Zora or "The Fierce Deity", a powerful, adult-like form. Miyamoto mentioned that "we wanted Link to get inside of a wonderland, to experience the adventures and think hard about what he should do."
In The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (2001), which occur between A Link to the Past and Link's Awakening, the Triforce sends Link on a mission to foreign lands, Holodrum and Labrynna, to stop the disruption of the seasons by the General of Darkness, Onox, and the disruption of time by the Sorceress of Shadows, Veran. After playing both games, it is revealed that the events of both games are part of a sinister plot by Twinrova to light the flames of Destruction (lit by the actions of Onox), Sorrow (lit by the actions of Veran), and Despair (lit when Zelda is kidnapped) as part of a ritual to resurrect Ganon. In the end, Link must save Zelda and defeat the Twinrova before Ganon is resurrected.
In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past & Four Swords (2002), Zelda goes to the Sanctuary of the Four Sword with her friend, Link, to check on the seal containing the evil Wind Mage, Vaati. The seal has weakened, however, and Vaati emerges, kidnaps Zelda, and defeats Link. Later, Link finds three fairies, who instruct him to draw the Four Sword. The magical Four Sword divides him into four identical Links. The first Link wears his traditional green outfit; the second, a red version; the third, blue; and the fourth, purple. In The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, released later, it is revealed that these colors reflect the four elements with which the sword is imbued: earth, fire, water, and wind. The Links must cooperate to overcome obstacles, collect keys, and storm Vaati's Palace so they can rescue Zelda and seal the mage away again.
In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002), set hundreds of years after Ocarina of Time, the gods have flooded Hyrule and created the Great Sea to keep the Triforce away from Ganondorf. All land is underwater except the highest mountaintops of Hyrule. At the beginning of the game, Link's younger sister Aryll is captured by the Helmaroc King, a giant masked bird controlled by the game's primary antagonist Ganondorf, the latter of whom is searching for Princess Zelda. Link travels the Great Sea to rescue his sister and defeat the Helmaroc King; his quest intertwining with that of The King of Red Lions, who, after many trials, entitles Link as the "Hero of Winds". Using the Wind Waker, a magical conductor's baton, he borrows the power of the gods to aid him in his quest. The wand's user interface is similar to that of the Ocarina of Time, but uses tempo and pitch to form tunes. Link must eventually reassemble the Triforce of Courage to give him the power to fight Ganondorf.
In The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (2004), set at some point after Twilight Princess, Zelda and the six other mystical maidens, who are worried about the seal on the Four Sword, go to check on the Sanctuary of the Four Sword, with Link accompanying them. However, a dark, shadowy copy of Link attacks. Link is forced to draw the Four Sword to fight this Shadow Link, but when he does, he once again splits into copies of himself, and Vaati escapes.
In The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2004), set about a century or two before Four Swords, Link is a young boy living with his grandfather, the Master Smith of Hyrule. Link is a childhood friend of Princess Zelda, and on the day of Hyrule's yearly fair to celebrate the coming of the Picori, they go to join in the festivities. A mysterious stranger, Vaati, shows up and wins the sword-fighting competition; each year the victor of this tournament has the honor of touching the sacred Picori Blade. This sword was a gift to the Hylians from the tiny Picori and was used long ago by a legendary hero to defeat the forces of darkness and seal them away in the Bound Chest. Vaati destroys the blade and curses Zelda, and it is up to Link to repair the sword, defeat Vaati and save the princess. By the end of the game, Link has collected four elemental crystals, and infuses them in the White Sword, an incarnation of the Picori Blade. After the infusion, the White Sword becomes the Four Sword, which Link seals Vaati in, setting the scene for the previously released Four Swords games.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006) is set around a century after the events of Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, in an alternate timeline to The Wind Waker. In the game, Link is a teenage farm boy leading a fairly normal life in a pastoral village until two of his friends, Colin and Ilia, are kidnapped by monsters. During his journey to rescue them, Link discovers that the entire kingdom of Hyrule has been covered by a dark twilight, in which most people are reduced to nothing more than spirits. However, Link is transformed into a feral wolf upon entering the twilight. While in this form, he is aided by Midna, an imp-like creature, and eventually cleanses the land from the twilight. Yet, in his attempt to save his friends, Link discovers an even greater evil only he can stop. During the game, Link travels in the normal world in his human form and when exposed to twilight, reverts to his wolf form. Link's Crossbow Training, a spin-off of the series, features Link attempting to become more proficient with the crossbow in the Twilight Princess setting.
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (2007) revives the use of a fairy companion as in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. A direct sequel to The Wind Waker, it stars the same Link in a quest to reunite with Tetra after she is lost to the Ghost Ship.
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (2009) is a sequel to Phantom Hourglass set 100 years in the future after Tetra finds a new land, naming it New Hyrule. In this game, Link is able to travel across the main world using a train accompanied by Princess Zelda's spirit. Link and Princess Zelda have to restore the Spirit Tracks to New Hyrule and recover Princess Zelda's body from Chancellor Cole after he uses it to revive Malladus.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011) and is the latest Zelda game to feature Link. Link is born and raised in Skyloft, a land floating above the clouds. Link is a childhood friend of Zelda, who in this game is not a princess. A land beneath the clouds ruled by evil is discovered known as the surface, and Link is forced to go there after Zelda is kidnapped. He must travel between the two lands in this adventure. He wields a sword called the Goddess Sword, a magical sword that holds Fi who is a servant to the goddess Hylia, which allows him to travel across the two worlds. The mysterious figure shown at GDC 2009 in the concept art alongside Link is the Goddess Sword, which becomes the Master Sword at some point in the game. Skyward Sword is the earliest game in the series' chronology, making this Link the earliest in the series. It is generally believed that Zelda and Link inhabited the surface which was to become Hyrule much later.
Other appearances 
Link is one of eight characters initially playable in Nintendo's 1999 fighting game, Super Smash Bros.. He wears his traditional green Kokiri tunic, although the player can choose from several other tunic colors. He uses some weapons featured in the Zelda series, including bombs, boomerang and a hookshot. Link is one of the fifteen playable characters initially playable in Super Smash Bros. Melee, the 2001 sequel to Super Smash Bros.. In Melee, he uses a bow as well as the Zelda items featured in Super Smash Bros.. Also playable in the game, as a secret unlockable character, is "Young Link", based on the Ocarina of Time version of Link as a child. Young Link is more agile but weaker than the older Link in the game. Link was one of the first confirmed characters in Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii. His appearance was influenced by his character model from Twilight Princess, and uses items from Twilight Princess, such as the Hero's Bow, Gale Boomerang and the Clawshot. "Toon Link", a version of Link based on his cel-shaded appearance in The Wind Waker, is also a playable character in Brawl.
In the GameCube version of Namco's Soulcalibur II, Link is a featured character. Little is revealed about this incarnation, but it is known that after saving Hyrule from an evil wizard who was controlled by a fragment of Soul Edge, he went on a quest to destroy an evil sword. Quickly pulling the Master Sword out of its pedestal, he set out to travel to this world to destroy Soul Edge on a secret mission arranged by Princess Zelda. Miyamoto did not see a problem with Link appearing in what some had thought to be a "violent fighting game", as he had already been established as a fighter in the Super Smash Bros. games. Link is the only character in Soulcalibur II to use ranged weapons and the only guest character to have his own music theme and more than two costumes. Link was planned to appear together with Samus Aran in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, but was later removed.
Among SNES games, Link makes a cameo in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars where he is seen sleeping in a bed at an inn. Another reference to Link is in the Japanese version of the NES game Final Fantasy; in Elftown there is a grave marked "Here Lies Link". It was changed to a grave for Erdrick from Dragon Warrior when translated to English; however, this grave was changed back to Link in the Game Boy Advance and PlayStation and iPod touch/iPhone versions. He appears in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest and Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, with a reference to Link's collection of seashells from Link's Awakening. Some of Link's weapons and items have appeared in several games, such as the Master Sword in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Animal Crossing, and the warp whistle in Super Mario Bros. 3.
In The Legend of Zelda animated series, Link, voiced by Jonathan Potts, was featured in a set of cartoons which aired from 1989–1990 as a part of DIC's The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!. Based loosely on the first game, the cartoons presented Link as a rude, lovesick teenager. Constantly pursuing Zelda and pursued by the fairy princess Spryte, he begged kisses from Zelda, and exclaimed "Well excuuuuuse me, Princess!" when tired with her attitude. Thirteen episodes were produced before the cancellation of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. The complete series was released on October 18, 2005. A slightly altered version of this Link (and Zelda) appeared during the second season of Captain N: The Game Master.
A serial comic was created for Nintendo Power magazine by acclaimed author Shotaro Ishinomori, and later collected in graphic novel form. This told an alternate version of the events from A Link to the Past. Though Link starts out a hapless, bumbling boy, he displays great courage and proves himself a determined and competent adventurer. He has a fairy companion, Epheremelda, long before this concept was introduced to the video games. This telling portrays Link's parents as Knights of Hyrule, lost to the Dark World. It includes an original character, Roam, a descendant of the Knights of Hyrule who fought in the Imprisoning War. At the end of the story, Zelda has become Queen, and Link is head of the Royal Guard and the Knights of Hyrule. This success is bittersweet, as their duties keep them apart, even though they were once close, sharing an adventure and even coming together in dreams. There have been manga based on The Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons, Four Swords Adventures, A Link to the Past and The Minish Cap.
Game Informer chose Link as the number one "Hero of 2006". CNET declared him the second top video game character of all time in 2009. In 2010, Nintendo Power chose Link as their second favorite hero, commenting that his courage always wins out over evil. In 2011, Empire ranked Link as the sixth greatest video game character, for being "one of the world's most celebrated console heroes" who "helped establish RPGs as an international gaming standard" as well as "one of gaming's most enduring heroes." That same year, UGO.com ranked him as first on the list of video game characters who need their own movies, adding: "Get Peter Jackson or Guillermo del Toro to do it, dump a ton of money into it, and we'll all die happy." The relationship between Link and Princess Zelda was also ranked as number one video game romance by James Hawkins of Joystick Division, who commented: "Never overtly called-out and not yet actualized, this tacit romance has shaped one of gaming's greatest franchises, and has embellished the epicness and added loving nature of each of Link's quests." In 2012, GamesRadar ranked this "personification of what a hero is" as number one "most memorable, influential, and badass" protagonist in games. In 2013, Complex ranked him as the sixth "most badass" video game character of all time.
Link proved to be a popular guest character in the other, non-Zelda series as well. In 2008, IGN ranked him as the best bonus character in the Soul Calibur series, while GameDaily ranked him first on the list of top ten Smash Bros. characters. The character has also become very popular among the video game fan community. In the 1988 and 1989 Nintendo Power Awards, readers voted him as the best character. He was voted by readers as the number one and three "Best Hero" in the 1993 and 1994 Nintendo Power Awards respectively. In one of IGN's 2007 Hero Showdowns, Link user was voted the favorite over Cloud Strife. He has appeared in multiple GameFAQs "Character Battle" contests and is the only character to have won more than once. In the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition from 2011, Link was voted the second best video game character of all time.
There was also some negative reception. IGN named Links's appearances on the CD-i as some of his worst moments, describing this incarnation of him as feminine. In 2010, GamesRadar stated that while he does not talk, "Link has shouted the same 'Hyea! Hyea! Hyeaaaaa!' since 1998." Similarly, GameDaily included him in the 2009 list of ten game heroes who "fail at the simple stuff" for his inability to "shut up". In 2011, IGN included among 2011's worst dressed video game characters for "dressing like an Arizona grandma" during the first few hours of Skyward Sword.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Link|
- Link on Zeldapedia, an external wiki
- Link at ZeldaWiki.org
- Link at the Internet Movie Database
- All The Links at UGO