News Article

Zelda Series Timeline Wasn't Planned From the Beginning

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

The wails of theorists reverberate around the world

The Zelda timeline is one of the mysteries of gaming — well, it is to enthusiasts that don't simply want to play the games and deal with the cards they're dealt. It's also rather confusing, even though the gorgeous Hyrule Historia includes an "official timeline". Multiple paths and time travel are just part of the fun, and it would take one of the world's greatest storytelling minds to have envisioned these paths from the beginning.

Except, that's not what happened. Michael Damiani, from GameTrailers, has posted the following tweet as a teaser ahead of a full interview with Takashi Tezuka.

Perhaps the fact that the timeline is so wonky with its alternate realities was all the confirmation we needed that it's been added retrospectively, but hopefully these comments — especially once the full interview is published — will clear it up once and for all.

The Zelda timeline is fun, no mistake, and we're sure it's going to tumble off in fresh directions as more and more games arrive in the series. If this revelation shatters any illusions — though it shouldn't, really — then we can only apologise. The games are still awesome though, right?

[via twitter.com, nintendoeverything.com]

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User Comments (39)

Peach64

#2

Peach64 said:

This is the least surprising news ever!

You just have to play a handful of the games to realise the tineline was made up because fans wanted it. I'm pretty sure they treated every game until Majora as a sort of remake.

Mk_II

#5

Mk_II said:

of course... nobody knew back then in the dark ages that the first game would turn into such an important and enduring franchise.

Pod

#7

Pod said:

I think I speak for almost everyone when I say "DUH!".

Geonjaha

#8

Geonjaha said:

Thank you for the official confirmation. The fact that people believed otherwise in the first place is surprising.

KaiserGX

#9

KaiserGX said:

It just wasn't all planned on a sheet of paper when the first Zelda was made. Though I think this article takes it out of context that the whole timeline was just put together. Zelda 2 was a sequel to Zelda. Link to the Past was a prequel to both. Then came Ocarina of Time which went even further back. There is a timeline.

Of course he was talking about the first game. They didn't have this whole thing planned that different stuff happened before the first Zelda (Skyward Sword, Mini Cap ect. (besides the story that was in the manual). It was slowly added as games were released. Every game after Zelda has been a sequel or a prequel mentioning the events of the other games. Though this is the case for most games with sequels that sell well and are not something like Star Wars.

WiiLovePeace

#11

WiiLovePeace said:

I would've been far more shocked had I found out that they had the whole timeline planned out when the first game was made :p

Zyph

#12

Zyph said:

After the more recent Zelda titles the timeline seems to have more sense recently. By now I think they're already basing the Zelda series within the timeline since they already made it official.

hiptanaka

#13

hiptanaka said:

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody. Who comes up with such a crazy storyline for an action adventure like the original Zelda, which barely has a story to begin with.

MrL1193

#14

MrL1193 said:

This is not surprising at all. I never understood why some people obsessed over the timeline so much, and in my mind, this confirms that they were all just overthinking it. The developers essentially said, "We don't have any idea what the timeline is either! But if you want an official timeline so much, we'll retcon one in and patch it together with tape and bubblegum, just to make you happy." It all emphasizes how meaningless the timeline is; the series never needed a timeline in the first place and could have easily continued on without one.

MrGawain

#15

MrGawain said:

I read somewhere that in the upcoming Link Between Worlds the inverted 'dark' triforce is a big deal, and this connects to an insignia in Skyward Sword. I have just literally bought Skyward Sword as I've never played it, to see me through until Pikmin 3 arrives. I also wonder if the Windwaker will have any minor edits of design to fit the timeline? An insignia here, a scripture on a dungeon wall there.

The fact there is a timeline now means Nintendo must be planning to use it- it makes the overall story far more important in a way. I also think the fact it splinters into 3 realities is interesting, connecting with the number 3 with the Triforce. With all the games now connected, I wondered if Zelda Wii U will somehow re-amalgamate the diversions and unify the storyline, with Link visiting each of the 3 continuities?

Varia01

#16

Varia01 said:

I actually have the Hyrule Historia and the story timeline goes like this:
Skyward Sword>The Minish Cap>The Ocarina of Time>>THE HERO OF TIME IS TRIUMPHANT: The Twilight realm and the legacy of the hero: Majora's Mask>Twilight Princess>Four Swords Adventure/ The hero of winds and a new world: The Wind Waker>Phantom Hourglass>Spirit Tracks/ THE DECLINE OF HYRULE AND THE LAST HERO: A Link to the Past>The Oracle of Ages and the Oracle of Seasons>Link's Awakening>The Legend of Zelda (First game, NES)> The Adventure of Link

I wonder how this game may fit into the story?

DestinyMan

#18

DestinyMan said:

This makes sense. It's not like The Legend of Zelda series is a series of novels. They're video games!

Pod

#19

Pod said:

@MrGawain

I sincerely hope that Nintendo DOESN'T plan new Zelda games according to the timeline.
That's a surefire way to hold creativity back and only make narratives more convoluted for everyone but the very few who care.

KAHN

#20

KAHN said:

the official timeline is wrong, so they need to plan it correctly.

Zombie_Barioth

#21

Zombie_Barioth said:

@MrGawain
Thats an interesting idea. I don't think the timeline is anything more than alternate realities but Nintendo could certainly use it as a reference. I wouldn't want them to follow it too closely though otherwise it could end up coming to a dead end story-wise like MGS is.

I think unifyingthe time lines thorugh one game is a bit much but it might be neat if they have Link realize his current path leads to the wrong outcome and needs to find a way to correct it, kind of like switching between child and adult in Ocarina of Time or time traveling in Majora's Mask.

Haxonberik

#22

Haxonberik said:

I harldy think they came up with some general idea of the timeline before Wond Waker.

Kaine_Morrison

#23

Kaine_Morrison said:

After the First Game was released Starting with Zelda 2 Nintendo DID have a TimeLine.
I for one think that the TimeLine is BullS**t.
I have played Ocarina of Time dozens of times and have NEVER died!

sinalefa

#24

sinalefa said:

I don't even think there should have been a timeline. This is supposed to be a legend, tales passed from one generation to another, and as such, there would be different accounts, contradictions and inconsistencies. Kinda like greek myths or any other oral tradition.

I never bought that they had a timeline until I saw Hyrule Historia. And even then, they could not think of one logical path for every game, so they put a three way fork to fit every game in.

That_Guy_from_Faxana

#25

That_Guy_from_Faxana said:

@Kaine_Morrison Surprise :) Yeah, Zelda 1 & 2 were the only games connected in the beginning, everything became a mess when Nintendo started using "other" Links. Well, to be honest even Zelda II messes things up with the talk aobut "another princess Zelda".

The games are best played as separate experiences, there isn´t much of substance in the story anyway. Just very enjoyable games.

3Daniel

#26

3Daniel said:

The timeline came into being with OoT. Its rumoured that you were originally to explore past present and future rezulting in the three way split but along the way they cut out one of the times.
Regardless the timeline is just cherry on top of great characters gameplay and music.

Tasuki

#27

Tasuki said:

The AVGN did a segment on this a bit ago and I agree with his conclusion, and that is that the Zelda games arent suppose to connect except where it was meant to be like Zelda and Zelda II for example or OoT and MM. He said yes they have similar themes and such but if you think about it the Zelda games weren't written like the LotR, Chronicles of Narnia, or even Star Wars series. People are just trying to find something thats not there. It would be like taking Nolan's Batman series and trying to figure out how it fits into Burton's Batman series. Sure they have the same characters. and themes but they just their own separate little story.

That to me makes the most sense.

KaiserGX

#29

KaiserGX said:

The thing is all the games have ties if you actually look at them. They all reference another game. Link to the Past, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, to name some. It started with OoT.

MotorTCD

#30

MotorTCD said:

This proves the zelda developers are liars,because they previously said they're had always been a secret timeline document.

DarkKirby

#31

DarkKirby said:

I was fairly obvious Zelda doesn't have a concrete timeline. Very few of them have any real connection. But for some reason, a lot of fans couldn't accept that and insisted every Zelda game was connected, so they made a timeline to satisfy them.

DerpSandwich

#32

DerpSandwich said:

Wow, I'm shocked. The storyline has always been so consistent and cohesive.

Seriously though, this fact always bums me out. I love Zelda so much and would love nothing more than to geek out over it like it was Star Wars or something, and get into the lore and everything, but each game is just kind of stapled onto the series, making that sort of thing pretty impossible.

scrubbyscum999

#33

scrubbyscum999 said:

Well that was obvious, the idea of a timeline probably didn't occur to them at all till at least WW. Why would it, they were just making fun games not asking "Hey, if this becomes a super big series how will all of this tie together 15 years from now?"

TravisTouchdown

#34

TravisTouchdown said:

This comes as no surprise to me. I remember reading an article on a gaming news site way back in 2003 that had an interview with Miyamoto asking how Wind Waker fit into the timeline with its opening and the great sea seemingly throwing a huge wrench in virtually every timeline theory. Miyamoto had (supposedly) said that the setting was intentionally made to defunct timeline theories because, while some Zelda games are connected to each other, Ocarina, Mojara, & Wind Waker for example, there never was one set timeline that made every game fit.

He said (supposedly) that the Legend of Zelda was just that; a legend, and depending on where you hear a legend, certain details are bound to be changed but the essential story is always the same. In Zelda's case, it's usually Link, Zelda, a great evil, & the Triforce.

I took that interview as Zelda Law and laughed at every timeline theory I read. Then Hyrule Historia came out and threw everything I knew out the window.

Mizzah_Tee

#36

Mizzah_Tee said:

I thought people already knew this. Miyamoto said years ago that every Link is a different Link because he wanted creative freedom going into every game and therefore he wouldn't have to be tied down to a certain story-line or premise. The timeline is basically fan service as Zelda was never meant to have an episodic story. That's how Nintendo is able to keep their franchises feeling fresh because they are not cow-towed to a setting and character types based on the story.

mikeyman64

#37

mikeyman64 said:

Yeah, this isn't really news.

I was honestly not too excited about the Hystoria. It's an incredible book, but the timeline felt rushed and non-too silky smooth. Reason being, of course, is that they emler's glued it together due to fan demand.

I wish they had left it alone, personally. :-/

greg_leon

#38

greg_leon said:

People upthread, you should note that that all that was said here is that there was no grand timeline plan from the beginning which is understandable and expected. It in no way implies that there isn't a timeline at all, that all of the games are standalone, that they were never meant to have an episodic story, or whatnot. Almost all of the games are linked through in-game references and the linking started with the very first sequel (Adventure of Link), which was explicitly stated to be a sequel of the Legend of Zelda. Similarly, A Link to the Past was placed prior to these two games by box material. These kinds of connections are abundant throughout the games. Furthermore, Aonuma had confirmed the existence of a timeline document before the Hyrule Hystoria. The linked article also contains a powerful sentiment which sometimes gets confused under the umbrella of "there is no timeline" discussions: even though there is a total relative ordering of the individual games, Nintendo deliberately refrains from stating the absolute order. In other words, there is no first or last game, and no two games can be said to contain no other stories between them with absolute certainty, with precisely the reason of preserving artistic creativity and freedom for future games.

Personally, the timeline doesn't seem rushed to me at all and I consider it aesthetically pleasing. Also, since it is now official, there is no doubt Nintendo is going to continue using it to plan placement for future games, validating the timeline further. I think that at this point, there is no purpose in denying it.

Henmii

#39

Henmii said:

Of course there wasn't a timeline from the beginning, but Miyamoto should have been asked, not Tezuka! After all, Miyamoto is the creator!

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