News Article

Legend Of Zelda Hacked To Make Zelda The Hero

Posted by Damien McFerran

Well her name is in the title, after all

Recently, we saw Pauline switch roles with one-time romantic attachment Mario, and now it's the turn of Hyrule's most celebrated couple to change places.

Animator Kenna W. decided to mod The Legend of Zelda to realise one of her childhood dreams — to get to play as the titular princess:

For me, I played my first Zelda game when I was pretty young, and at the time, I thought the game did star Princess Zelda. I figured I'd get to play as a magical battle princess that saved her kingdom. The game was fun, but I was bummed out that I never got to play as Zelda.

Using a sprite editor, Kenna created the mod in around four days. It's actually a patch which can be applied to existing ROMs, neatly avoiding potential copyright infringement. Link remains in the game, but this time he's the one who needs saving.

What do you think about this mod? Did you ever wonder why you couldn't play as Zelda, seeing as she's mentioned in the title of the game? Or do you think games should be left as they are, and as their creators intended them to be experienced? Leave a comment to let us know.

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User Comments (59)



TobiasAmaranth said:

Someone did a youtube video talking about "Damsel in Distress" recently. Was a pretty well done video.



Void said:

I always thought of the title like a book that Link wrote, about his adventure to rescue Zelda, and it was passed down through many generations, and someone decided to make it more exciting by calling it Legend of Zelda. (Yar, don't question, teh claaaaw!)
And it's being told to you in 8-Bit clarity by the great-great-great-great-great-grandson of one of those guys that charged Link a ton of rupees to repair his door you blasted open to free him to be a nuceance.



Yosh said:

Who cares, this is as boring as the super exciting guy switches mario and pauline story.



Silvervisiona said:

Now this is legit! Can't believe this wasn't an available option in the real game, but beggars can't be choosers.



Omega said:

Why not replace Zelda with the Master Chief? And make Pikachu the new protagonist? And then transfer it to an NES cartridge and sell it as a super rare previously unreleased item for 100.000.000$ on ebay?



wcb123 said:

Unless she asked for permission which i highly doubt, I actually find it pretty disrespectful to Miyamoto and Tezuka. But nobody give a sh*t about the originators rights nowadays. It may avoid certain copyright legislation, but it potentially breaches their moral rights.



Usagi-san said:

I demand the next one of these articles be a touching story about a father who changes Princess Peach to Mario so his son can play Super Princess Peach without shame!



Zombie_Barioth said:

@wcb123 Its not like she changed things because she hated the original, she enjoys Legend of Zelda and thought it would be fun to play as Zelda. Its purely a cosmetic change and doesn't affect the core game what so ever.

If developers were that touchy about their games being messed with then they'd be up in arms over the PC mod community, which is not the case.



Aqueous said:

Actually I rather them as intending and this is becoming an annoy trend to me. Seems like attention grabbing now. How many more are going to copy this now?



Benjamin said:

Why are people making such a big deal out of this? Fans have been modding games to change things like gender of characters for years. Pokemon Red and Blue had a Pokemon Girl mod made even after Crystal introduced the new female character.

The only reason anyone is reporting this as "news" is because Anita finally released her seven-month-late, $160,000 video in which she basically read off the TVTropes Damsel in Distress page up to the year 1995, while promising to read the rest in the next video, which will be released on a future date yet to be determined.

This is fans being fans. It's not news, it's cheap exploitation of Anita and her status as a controversial figure - not because of the feminist movement, but because of her personally.

Edit: "Via Kotaku". Let me say something very clearly: Kotaku is the biggest example of non-news exploitation on the entire internet when it comes to video games. They have no credibility, no credentials, constantly publish fiction as fact, and will grab for attention anywhere they can get it. Do NOT let Nintendo Life, by all accounts a very good site, be wrapped up in their biased inane shenanigans.



FantasiaWHT said:

I was quite young when I first played this, and I always thought the main character WAS Zelda.



NESguy94 said:

@TobiasAmaranth That video about damsels in distress was horrible. A few of her own examples were contradictory to her point if you had finished he game.



NintyMan said:

Again, how about someone switch Mario with Peach in Super Mario Bros.? That way Toad can tell her, "Thank you Peach! But our plumber is in another castle!"

Also, cue the feminist argument rearing its ugly head again in these comments.



DePapier said:

Oh mon dieu...

I mean... I was playing this original Zelda on Virtual Console and got myself stuck but I NEVER imagined it had THIS MUCH DEPTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think now I have the right to be insulted by how short games are today.

P.S.: Of course, this news is awesome.



AJWolfTill said:

It really upsets me that so many people seem opposed to making the video game industry less misogynistic.
While I appreciate the simplistic nature of early video game stories revolving around the fairy tale "save the princess/girl" plot device, it doesn't mean they should continually do it.
Seriously, considering how much Nintendo prides itself on innovation I find it depressing how they think it's ok to use the exact same one line story in every mario release.



Shworange said:

It would be interesting to have Zelda take a more aggressive role in the new Zelda game. Based on OOT, we know she can kick but if need be. At least make a game where you switch between Zelda and Link for certain areas of the game, eg Batman and Catwoman in Arkham City.



Gridatttack said:

Another one of this kind?
They are actually better mods that deserve some spotlight than this easy graphics changes.... :/



DarkNinja9 said:

@Beta thats exactly what i was thinking

just no ok NO this is becoming stupid play the freaking game like how it was made other wise your basically insulting the creators or the game... oh look i dont like cars im mario kart let me make it more like grant theft auto and throw in some hot chics in the cart while im at it and instead of read shells i will make them purple with flower patters on it >.<



MrWalkieTalkie said:

I'm sorry but why has the news lately been nothing but Hacks that make the main characters of video games female, & articles about Wii U losing support and dying?



TrueWiiMaster said:

"Did you ever wonder why you couldn't play as Zelda, seeing as she's mentioned in the title of the game?"
Not really. She's the princess, kidnapped by a villain. Why would the villain kidnap a commoner like Link? Unless Link's a prince now, but wouldn't that be The Legend of Link?



MarkyVigoroth said:

To be frank, this does right what Phillips (due to the poor quality of the games) and Mike Hoye (due to the gender-flipping being rather shoe-horned) did wrong. Plus, the logic of Zelda being in the title is excellent justification for this hack.

I suspect feminizing protagonists in games would become a meme now.



Lyndexer said:

The game makes sense now!
i always wondered why it was never, The Legend of Link.



Benjamin said:

@Luigifan141 Anita Sarkeesian's videos. The video game news sites don't want to call out her shenanigans because they'd get attacked as "anti-feminist", so instead they're bandwagoning and jumping on a ton of supposedly pro-female stories.

The point is, everyone is acting like these are somehow "major victories" for women in gaming, when really the portrayal of women in video games is at the best place that it's been in for years. Anita's "Damsel in Distress" managed to get people all worked up so they somehow think there's this widespread victimization of women in video games these days. For the idiots who believe this, I point you to Dead or Alive, Tomb Raider, Baldur's Gate, Assassin's Creed, World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Pokemon, Metroid, and about two dozen other series. Everyone needs to calm down - just because one woman misrepresented and left facts OUT of her video (Zelda has been playable three times, ma'am) doesn't mean suddenly every romhack swapping characters is suddenly news. This kind of hack would have taken fifteen minutes at most to do, and moreover it's been done before actually many years ago.



edhe said:

I'm sorry, but this has nothing to do with Anita Sarkeesian and her endless struggle to remove every gender trope from video games.

It's about a young lady who just wanted to play The Legend of Zelda as Zelda and so she manipulated a ROM and made it happen.

I would say she should have made her own game if she was desperate to play as a more rounded female character, but nowadays, at least in the indie scene (and in particular, with that game Cryamore that Nintendolife featured last month), women are being more proactive, and if this is a springboard into a deeper interest in videogame creation for her, then all the better.



Wheels2050 said:

@Benjamin: It worries me seeing how critical of this you are. Do you feel threatened by Sarkeesian? It certainly seems that way.

I watched some of her new video (admittedly, only a small part) and didn't think it was particularly outstanding. However, I think it's important that the representation of women in gaming is discussed openly, and if Sarkeesian's videos are a catalyst for that then they've served an excellent purpose.

Also, are you seriously suggesting that Dead or Alive is a great victory for the portrayal of women in video games? If so, that explains a lot about your response to this.



ThreadShadow said:

Been thinking about this, and I think Nintendo should make LoZ games have the option to switch the characters around like that. Zelda herself turns out to be the hero of legend, and Link gets to be the Prince, or the brother, or the Sage that needs saving or what have you.

Has anyone put the Dark Souls OST to NES Legend of Zelda visuals?



Bankai said:

@Benjamin You need to go pick up a book or two about sociology. Might help you understand what's actually going on before you sprout nonsense like that in the future.



Bankai said:

Regarding Sarkeesian, while her video isn't exceptional by documentary standards, it does something very valuable:

It's got a large group of teenage boys (and, sadly, adult men) running around throwing a tantrum online because they don't understand how representations of gender in media work, they don't understand symbolism, and they don't understand gender politics. It has them citing games like Metroid and Dead or Alive as wholesome representations of women in video games. The fact there are so many of them is a brilliant (if frustrating) way of proving that the games industry is a very, very long way away from being able to stand up and say it stands for gender balance in gaming.

In other words, Sarkeesian has done something quite brilliant in demonstrating that there is a lot of education around feminism (from a social studies point of view) that needs to happen yet. In the film industry or in literature people are able to have these kinds of discussions from an adult and academic point of view. In gaming? lolno.



theblackdragon said:

I'm tired of seeing fans doing this kind of thing. I'd rather see more officially produced games offering us the option of choosing/customizing our protagonist(s) and/or more strong female-oriented stories to play through. I am very pleased with the way Fire Emblem handled it, for example — I've been having a lot of fun with my female avatar and all the available support conversations. Please give me more reasons to throw money at you, game developers!



Bankai said:

I completely agree with TBD - this should really be something the developers and publishers are pushing.

There are signs it's happening - I really liked the way Mass Effect handled it, but we've got a long way to go before Japanese developers, especially, understand why it's important that they understand that women should be more than delicate prizes to rescue or sexy lolitas with inhuman assets.



RudysaurusRex said:

@thebalckdragon I completely agree with you. Too many gender-swapped games. I mean, it is cool he did that, but this is like the 4th one I've seen in two months. Come up with original content and I'll be happy.



AyatollaofRock said:

@Bankai - The trouble is that Anita's discussion of gender in games is entirely mired in academic feminism and not reality. It's a propaganda piece masquerading as a legitimate discourse. It's really quite ridiculous to portray rescuing a princess (mario) or rescuing your girlfriend (Double Dragon) as some how anti-women or objectification. What a twisted way to see things. Not to mention the denial of the scientific fact of sexual dimorphism. I don't know how anyone can take her seriously after that.

Also you know Japanese games particularly JRPG's have had female characters fighting along side men for years.



Bankai said:

@AyatollaofRock What is "reality"? It's a simpleton's view of explaining things that he/ she doesn't really understand, and can't explain with a concrete argument. Once you look at something academically then the deeper issues around a subject tend to come out, and then hey presto! we get to enlightenment.

I'm not saying you're a simpleton, but the gaming community in general views feminism in a way not dissimilar to the way people a couple hundred years ago thought the world was flat and evolution wasn't a thing. That was "reality" until people started thinking "hang on, there's more to it than that."

Princess Peach in a Mario game is literally objectified - she is the reward at the end of the eight world. Samus is symbolically objectified - the only time we see that she's a woman in the first game is when she's stripped down to a bikini. No context to it either. She's half naked because you played well.

Is it a conscious attempt by the developers to objectify women and reinforce negative gender balance? Of course not. But stuff that goes on in art isn't always conscious design decisions - read up on "Authorial Intent":

I used to have similarly limited views on the role of gender in the arts, but then I read some books, took some courses in philosophy and engaged in some debates. I realised it isn't as simple as I had thought.

So read the damn books and get learned up before you try and dismiss the work that academics are doing to debate gender tropes in games. You may well still disagree, and that's healthy - robust and constructive debate is the way society will actually get better. But you're going to have to do better than "It's reality" if you want to be taken seriously.



startropics3 said:

I probably would have felt indifferent to these stories before I was a father. Now that I have a daughter, I look critically at most pop culture items that portray woman in any role. It wasn't something that I gave much thought as I grew up playing video games, but I do remember thinking that princess peach was a weaker character than the Mario Bros. or Toad in SMB 2. This feeling had no basis on her abilities in the game, and I doubt I would have felt differently if it was another female character. I would choose Chris over Jill in the original Resident Evil (I had no preconception of Jill Valentine like I did with Princess Peach) because my image of heroines was that they would have an immediate disadvantage compared to male characters, thus making the game more challenging or, how I likely saw it in my tweens, unfair.

I was very excited to read about the Mario/Pauline switch because I am excited to interact with my daughter using video games. I never had to ask why I wasn't represented fairly in a game. Now it seems like I would be doing my daughter a disservice if I did not explain to her intentional designs such as why most of the female characters have excessively jiggly breasts.

Here is a similar story that you may have read:



moo99 said:

I'd rather play as the old dude in the cave.

Why must games fetishize youth when old people are perfectly good at murdering moblins?

I demand to see a son hack skyward sword so his father can play as the old cave dweller!

It's my dying wish, son. Please call me.



DePapier said:

Honestly, I've been thinking about this for a while and I think as men we have the right to be outraged when people point out that saving a princess is sexist. I said it before, it's great to be able to play with Zelda to save Link, it's great to be able to play with Pauline to save Mario, it would be great to be able to play with Peach to save Mario: some girls grew up playing video games and being forced to play as a man and that's not right. But the "Damsel in the Distress," a scenario that is supposed to be meant as that of a man out of sheer love and driven by passion taking on a quest to save his dulcinée... You can't be more romantic than that!

The age is to feminism right now, but I tell you this: one day it is so going to piss guys off to be seen as violent beings that we're gonna protest to be princes again. Because what people fail to understand from the "Damsel in Distress" is that it is NOT about a princess in need yearning to be saved, but it is about a man wanting TO BE a prince. And at the end of the day, that was the reason we played Mario and Zelda in the first place.



Bankai said:

@DePapier So. Feminism is equally critical of various male stereotypes. Such as the fantasy of "being the prince", which is a form of male power fantasy - the prince in fairy tales is essentially a "super hero" and as such reinforces some very basic values of masculinity that objectify men within specific characteristics of "perfection."

One of the sure-fire ways to realise that a person who hasn't actually studied feminism is trying to argue for or against feminism is this: they assume feminism is either "women's rights" or exclusively critical of how women and portrayed in society and media. Bother are fundamentally incorrect.

Genuine feminist theory is concerned with both how men and women are objectified and used to reinforce primitive understanding of male and female roles within social. Social equality is never going to happen as long as men are expected to have 12-pack abs and are able to lift their womens like a dumbbell weight.



AJWolfTill said:

I think he was just listing games where women are playable characters, he clearly misses the point.
I'm delighted to see that at least one other person here sees this from my perspective.
Seriously guys, you don't have to think save the princess stuff is sexist to see that it is demeaning. Female game characters are literally just trophies in so many games and Anita's point about captivity in which playable male characters have to use their abilities/wits to escape whereas female characters wait around the length of the game until the hero frees them pretty much sums up the situation.
Even though many genres such as RPGs have been creating in depth female characters for years their designs are still frequently sexually exploitive.



element187 said:

@yoshisaredragon you can't be serious? This game is a timeless classic and being able to finally play as Zelda herself.... Mindblown. I don't expect the Pokemon generation to ever understand Zelda/Mario.



Rect_Pola said:

Was having someone specific to save really necessary? There was already a big bad with the power to enslave the region. They could have used Zelda outright.



LittleKing said:

@AJWolfTill @Bankai

What many people fail to comprehend is that, for anyone actually wanting to help the situation, because believe it or not there are people who actually do, it was never about getting more females in games; it was changing how said females were viewed.

There's something wrong with someone who points out Dead or Alive as a game with strong females. The reason why there are females at all in Dead or Alive is so that the developers can capitalize on their so-called "assets" to sell the game to males.

How would males feel on the flip side if every other male in games walked around with their butt cleavage showing, to be blunt?

Media and art, including games, helps to shape a person's perceptions of the world around them. It affects their values and it affects how they view themselves. By distorting the value of people in the media, we start to distort their perceived value in reality. We cannot say that they are "just games" any longer. We must be aware of the ideas we plant in the minds of children, positive and negative.

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