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If Nintendo Ever Made A Mature Zelda, This Is What It Would Look Like

Posted by Damien McFerran

Fantasy artist Dave Palumbo has created the ultimate Dark Link

The release of the Wii U and the advent of HD gaming in the world of Nintendo has led many fans to speculate what the next Zelda game will look like. The opportunity for realistic visuals could tempt Nintendo to create a grittier, darker version of its fantasy series, but chances are it won't be quite as downbeat as these illustrations by Dave Palumbo.

Palumbo is a freelance illustrator who has worked for the likes of Marvel, Wizards of the Coast and Blizzard, and his vision of Link is a little more extreme that Nintendo would possibly like - as you can see from the images below.


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User Comments (120)



Korbin64 said:

If they made an adult Link, which I don't necessarily hope would happen (but I wouldn't particularly mind if it happened), he would have to be modeled after Daniel Craig. Or Chuck Norris.



ljinkakidd said:

The bottom artwork looks like Sega's(USA) Phantasy Star 2 box art! Disgusting!! This is anything but link. I'm not saying this absolutely sucks(which it kinda does imo) but it isn't for Zelda broski.



Radbot42 said:

Link does not always have a hat. There have been 4 games that I can think of that he does not start with a hat: Minish Cap, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword, Actually all of the games since Minish Cap we can see Link starting the game without the hat



Link-Hero said:

Maybe if they give him longer hair and put his hat on, it might look better, but this art style doesn't really belong in the Zelda universe in my opinion. Add more color or make it more like Twilight Princess and I might like it.



dc_10 said:

But seriously, as soon as I looked at it, I thought of the original LoZ because of his shield. It has the cross. It does have an obvious sinister dark gloomy style, but I think it would work if they ever tried to do a remake of the original or some kind of game narrating one of the different dark ages of Hyrule. But I do agree, give him his hat back.



grimbldoo said:

Why is he so damn scrawny? Link is no muscle man, but he has some meat on those bones. I imagine this guy would get tired after moving three boxes.
@Gamesake #16
And he will be rescuing his daughter, Zelda. Perfect .



BlatantlyHeroic said:

No hat, His hair isn't right, his ears look like elf ears instead of Hylian ears (Hylian ears are pointed out more towards the side) He also has a strange nose, Not to mention the absence of a white shirt underneath the tunic, which should have looked more like the TP version, he's also missing gauntlets.



ueI said:

I think this looks ugly. Who decided that mature is ugly?



bluecat said:

Great art, I love the grittiness to it. I also like the realism, abandons any sense of a cartoony look. Not that there is anything wrong with that look, just nice to see something different from the norm.

This is great as fan art but I doubt we'll see anything like this in a game. Which is probably for the best, the Zelda games are better as games that can be enjoyed by pretty much all ages - not just adults.



RR529 said:

Very ugly, IMO.

I personally find "realistic" visuals, to be the most boring, and it upsets me that they've became the most prominent art style in the HD gen (even older series, are being rebooted with grittier worlds & visuals. eww).



Bluesummer said:

He looks like a recently divorced bloke who's in his midlife crisis and the enemy he's attacking is really him battling his own depression. 3/10, I would not save hyrule with him.



bluecat said:

@grimbldoo That's a good piece right there but I still prefer the other pieces. Something about them...I think it's just cause I have a soft spot for styles like that. ;p



Link-Hero said:


Now THAT I like. Doesn't look dull and gloomy but yet still looks realistic. Oh, and IT LOOKS MORE LIKE LINK unlike the other picture.



Mr_Video said:

Looking at it artistically, it looks great. Not bad at all. Would I want to see it in a Zelda game though? No way. It just doesn't convey that Zelda-y feeling, if that makes any sense...
myself prefer the WW style art style.



bluecat said:

@grimbldoo LOL I'm not sure what you mean by "but he doesn't have to look like he's been stuck in the couch cushions for a few years"? Some clarification might be needed here cause I've found some pretty awesome things in my couch cushions over the years.... ;p

The great thing though about fan art is that it let's an artist apply their own unique style to something that's already been created. That's why I love fan art, you get to see some of your favorite things from so many different points of view. That's how I'm seeing these pieces - just as fan art, just for fun.

Annnnd now all of this has me wanting to browse through some Zelda fan art for a few hours!



KAHN said:

if LOZ was a mature game, link's parents would be killed... right in front of him... by (guess who?). then he'd have an ulterior motive for hunting down and murdering (guess who?). he wouldn't just be doing it for Zelda, he'd be doing if for... OTHER reasons...



KAHN said:

crap, i just gave away the twinkie of zelda story ideas, didn't i? IT'S MINE, @ALPHALCHIMORU

(no, but my zelda iii game starts up similarly like that.)



BlatantlyHeroic said:

I'm sure Nintendo could make an Adult Zelda game without it being rated Mature. I mean, Pokemon Red/Blue/Green clearly conveyed death in Lavender town. You also have the pedophilic and freaking messed up Pokemon that want to kill you in your sleep, or get revenge on you.

Edit: Even Majora's Mask becomes an adult game when you look into it deeply.



KAHN said:

^^you can do that with almost anything. it's called making a game aimed towards adults, but accessible by kids too.



TheRavingTimes said:

A little to graphical, plus Link is missing his hat and Hylian shield. Plus Nintendo is a little too cautious with who should develop a Zelda game. I'm surprised Nintendo would even ask Grezzo to make not 1 but 2 Zelda titles in one year, especially considering how much time Capcom put into the Zelda games they developed.



TheRegginator said:

There are too many things wrong with the pictures.

1. the artist made Link look like any other generic, colorless fantasy character
2. no cap
3, his shield has an ugly crucifix on it rather than the awesome Hylian crest
4. sleeveless tunic
5. his sword is not the Master Sword



Jaz007 said:

I don't think a mature zelda game would look like this, I think it would be a more violent, gritty, and serious twilight princess. (granted you could do all that in a T game as well)



krunchykhaos said:


YES!! I personally want the continuation of the Hero of Time. He's my favorite and I think it's been long enough for his story to continue. Maybe the version of him from twilight princess, all armored out and awesome? I vote yes.



krunchykhaos said:


1: that's not a crucifix that's a cross and the first Zelda games that's what he had.
2: He didn't always have the master sword. In fact the strongest sword in LTTP was the reforged master sword into the gold sword.



krunchykhaos said:

How old are some of these zelda fans on here? Link didn't always have the Hylian shield. Get over it.



BlatantlyHeroic said:

@krunchykhaos The newer Zelda games have a better story than the old ones, they also have better character models, and, according to the timeline, the Hylian Shield even existed in SS.

Edit: I win. Que Light's Laughter



Wheels2050 said:

For goodness' sake. This is somebody's interpretation of Link. If you don't like it, fair enough, but did you ever think that maybe Link is 'missing' things because the artist made the conscious decision to omit them?



childofacid said:

This is just awful. I really feel the artist just decided last minute that this was Link. There is nothing in this piece that makes me feel this is Link. Making him left handed would have been a nice start.



LztheQuack said:

Twilight Princess tried and failed. Skyward Sword didn't try and being awesome. Therefore realism is not necessary



Nintex said:

the look of link really doesn't have to be realistic for me. It's the game world that could use a mature gritty look. Also the other characters and such, but keep Link just the way he is.



triforcepower73 said:

Maybe it's just me but it almost looks like the artist used a hint of peeta from the hunger games. Probably just me.



KingDunsparce said:

Ew, I hope Link doesn't ever end up looking like that. Where's the excitement? The Artistic Vibrancy? Plus, @WesCash, I like your new avatar



SheldonRandoms said:

This would be good if Hyrule was taken over by Ganon or whoever bad person took it over, and the setting was in the apocalyptic future, and all hope seems lost, but the now much older hero who was hiding in the shadows will come forth and put an end to this destruction and stuff.



Peppy_Hare said: the Moas in the first picture. Images give the impression of a Demon/Dark Souls crossed with Zelda. Frankly (and I love Zelda), the franchise could learn a thing or two from Dark Souls at this point.



shingi_70 said:

Give me something similar to Katsuya Terada's artwork for the next zelda game. Have it take place after Zelda II and rift around Twilight Princess and Lord of The Rings.




WesCash said:

Lol, I'm not sure, maybe. It just isn't sitting right with me for some reason. It looks too stuck up or something. Besides that, Link looks pretty good though.



Jeremyx7 said:

Fantastic artwork in it's own right, but not fantastic for 'The Legend of Zelda' games.



Tsuchinoko said:

I know this sounds a bit odd coming from me, but...couldn't the artist have made Link a little more handsome, and not like any random guy you'd find at a truck stop gas station or working as a manager at a fast food restaurant?



SMW said:

As soon as I saw these pictures I immediately thought of Daniel Craig who will forever be dubbed 'James Bond' to me, which looks really weird as a Link. James Bond as Link?! Yuck.



DarkNinja9 said:

i rly dont like it =/ the back grounds are good but the design on link it self is just bad hes even ugly xD



SCAR said:

I honestly think that Link should have a very 'mature' game, but these pictures look horrible. Apparently technology has come so far, that anyone can get a photoshop app for a dollar and have these results... Haha, just kidding, there's no $1 photoshop app that does professional quality. Video games are sometimes meant to have a unrealistic graphic style anyway, and even though everyone always wants the games to be realistic with blood, torture, and agony, I'm glad Nintendo sticks to their violent guns, and put no blood or too realistic visuals in there games. I like the TP style, they just need to completely obliterate it with graphics and visual techniques, 5.1surround, use all control methods that they seem to be doing now, use 3D if they can, and make the puzzles and dungeons crazier than they ever have been... It would be great to see a Zelda game with Skyrim area boundaries(I would hope even more), except with no seperate areas in the whole game. They could even do Tony Hawk's AW technique, and make it so the game loads through an actual playable area, but pull it off better. You can do it Nintendo!



artofmana said:

Dang people! Not a lot of love for these images.

I like them. They remind me of how Link appeared in my head when I was a kid playing the original. Thankfully someone mentioned Katsuya Terada because his has always been my favorite depictions of the Zelda franchise and Secret of Mana.

Final thought: when I was a kid, pixel art translated to much more Western looking artwork. Now, graphics are so good, there is no mistaking the anime influence on Link. I love Link's many styles through the years, but there is a place in my heart for something along these lines.



MeWario said:

Yea nah this is average. I'm an illustrator and I can tell you this guy is a good painter but these pictures offer nothing else. He hasn't capture the essence of what The Legend of Zelda is all about at all. Just creating a dark/mature image of a guy with a sword, and then adding pointy ears, does not a Zelda picture make.



artofmana said:

Thanks Sony_70, what you posted are the closest images to Link I had in my head as a kid. I still remember pretending to be Link on the playground.



artofmana said:

I don't care for the bloodiness in the post's pictures, though. I like the image of Link standing in the third image. It's what I most relate to. Anyway, thanks for sharing these.



Eldir said:

I don't like that, that's not Link.
But I really never liked TP art style and SS is mhe.
I like Toon Link better.



Phle said:

It's great art, but I don't really think Link should look like this. It just doesn't have the right feeling. And his hat is missing, he needs a green hat, not necessarily with the same design, but he needs a hat. His hair could have been slightly longer and brighter, he's supposed to be blonde or dark blonde.

@grimbldoo That's more like it! That's beautiful.

I personally like Link as he looks in Twilight Princess. If they are going to make a mature Zelda, Link doesn't need a new design, they can just use what they already made in Twilight Princess.




Very interesting artistic intepretation but the artists may not have played that much Zelda to understand the true spirit of the hero. I also don't understand the cross on his shield. Nothing to do with Legend of Zelda. Also, his armoury is to do with an array of weaponary and gadgets



Whopper744 said:

@Sony_70 . I know at least some of those are from Link's Awakening. now that's a hidden gem in my opinion. Great game but not very well known.

And I don't really hate the pics up top as much as everyone else seems to. I like the though of bringing the cross shield back.



Mahe said:

What is "extreme" or NSFW about this? Looks pretty tame, and a direction Nintendo should explore with Zelda, really. Even if "Link" looks a little dull.



SCAR said:

Ya, my brother draws parody artwork that looks more dark/serious than these... Haha. Just kidding... Good try though. IMO, I'm not that impressed in terms of what they were trying to go for.



jkvasn said:

@treeofmana It's sad how much hate this artist's interpretation of a fictional character is getting. I wouldn't mind if Nintendo took zelda in a similar, more mature direction and allowed the franchise to age with its generation of gamers.




@Mahe why did they change the symbolism then? Keep calm, I'm aware it was the original design - but it was changed wasn't it? Essentially now nothing to do with....



pntjr said:

GOD DINGUS NINTENDO, MAKE IT HAPPEN. Want to make sure the so-called "hardcore" gamers don't make fun of Nintendo's little "kiddie" games? Here's your solution.



FonistofCruxis said:

Yuck, this doesn't look anything like something out of a LoZ game. That generic middle-aged man looks nothing like Link. The artwork that @grimbldoo posted looks far better than this.



MeloMan said:

I always imagined a "mature" Zelda with a hat-less Link. Although the artwork makes me want to scream: "Flash dun-dun-dun-dun-dun..... Zeldaaaaa!!!"



Henmii said:

As art it doesn't look bad, but Zelda shouldn't become like this! This is very dark and pretty lifeless to me!

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