A sword is so much more than a symbol of power. There is so much history there. Each memory works to carve the soul of its master into the blade during any given epic battle. So it’s only right that the hero, Link, takes a few moments to connect with the legendary Master Sword before he sheaths it and continues on his quest to save the one(s) he loves. Everyone reading this must have experienced Ocarina of Time. It’s one of those things I noticed—how Link always takes a second to look at the sword, to feel the weight of the blade and seven years’ time.
And we all know that’s not where it ends. Generation after generation of green-clad heroes takes up that same blade. The heart of The Legend of Zelda involves the journey the Master Sword has taken, how the blade has become as legendary as the monarch who is tasked with protecting it. Even the games that don’t involve the legendary blade highlight the powerful connection between Link and his sword. In Link’s Awakening, he carves his name into the sword. And in Skyward Sword, apparently Link’s iconic weapon takes human form.
That note of the yet-to-be-discovered lore of Hyrule is where this reflection will leave the interpersonal and focus more on my journey with The Legend of Zelda. I would be doing a disservice to my favorite gaming franchise of all time if I just let this day pass me by.
YOU ARE LINK. That’s what the instruction manual said.
I was. I named him “JON” when I held that controller in my hand and struggled through the NES classic in my (way) younger days. I was hardly skilled, but I knew what I had to do as “Jon”—save the princess. For some twenty years (I’ll assume I started playing Zelda when I was 3), Jon has continually saved the princess. Link means so much to me because over time, my devotion to the series has truly lead to Link becoming a projection of me. I’ll always call him Link so that fans like me can unite under the same banner (of Hyrule!), but in my soul each chapter in the Legend of Zelda is truly Jon’s journey.
That’s the thing about swordsmanship. Even in video game form, it requires some degree of skill. As I struggled at times against certain foes or bosses, I felt myself becoming more and more relaxed in otherwise high-pressure situations. Link’s memories became my connections to the series. With each defeated foe, we’re one. It’s crazy just thinking about it that way, but that’s the reason texts like The Legend of Zelda & Philosophy exist. My favorite franchise has such a following that it begged for existential study. It makes me so proud, every time I read that book and see my own thoughts over time mirrored by any given editor.
But honestly, it’s Link’s quest that’s captivated me for so long. Even if it is the same story / objective(s) told in a different way each time—the moral fiber of the guy is what drives me to keep on going. We’re talking about a nobody who becomes a hero and abandons all normalcies in favor of the burdens of heroism, all out of love for a princess, or for his land. It’s basic and I can sum it up in a couple of lines, but Link’s audacity has so much more depth than anything I could come up with regarding “role models” for today’s kids.
Link is the reason I practice things like chivalry and Bushido. ‘cause I knew he had what it takes to score a princess and become legendary. What better advice could I possibly have to follow? Love everyone, trust a few, do wrong onto none. Because Link is a caricature and the player can never truly do anything evil—there’s no better model for a path of righteousness. And it’s yielded such impressive results for him each time.
I used to yearn for a princess of my own to save. For some fourteen long years, I waited for someone I could treat with as much respect, adoration, and love as Princess Zelda.
You called me your hero once, Holly. And you’re the princess ‘cause you give the world around me a bunch of light and prosperity.
It’s truly the stuff of legends.