The Legend of Zelda is one of Nintendo's most well-known franchises, and for good reason. The stories are engaging, the gameplay is iconic, and the games have dazzled audiences for 35 years. While these games and the central protagonist, Link, hold a special place in our hearts, I can't help but wonder why the game's namesake never had the chance to forge her own adventure!
There are plenty of Legend of Zelda titles, both in the main series and its spin-offs, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a decent one starring the unrelenting Princess Zelda herself. So, as we await the release of Breath of the Wild 2 and approach the series' anniversary, we think it's about time that Zelda had a chance to show why she deserves a game of her own.
Zelda's legend: Always a princess, never a lead
Zelda has come a long way from a kidnapped princess. From the beginning, Zelda served as the prize at the end of Link's long traveled tunnel. She has appeared in nearly every Zelda game, except Link's Awakening, Majora's Mask, and Tri Force Heros, where she appears in flashback or not at all. While this may be a small thing to overlook, it's a little strange for a game not to feature its title character.
In the earlier Zelda games, the princess played the role of damsel in distress. Whether she was captured by the evil Ganon or under a sleeping spell, she was a bystander in her own story. It wasn't until the cartoon series that Zelda took matters into her own hands while a hapless Link lucked into saving the day.
While it's not considered canon, Zelda did feature in two of her own games for the Philips CD-i: Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon and Zelda's Adventure. Nintendo did not have any involvement in creating these games beyond the character design, and they are universally despised. Unfortunately for the princess, this was her only chance to headline her own game. With terrible voice acting, wonky controls, strange animation, and a terrible story, this was Zelda's legacy as a hero for a while.
If you don't consider the TV series or CD-i games cannon (and most don't) Zelda didn't take charge of her destiny until Ocarina of Time. From that point on, Zelda began to evolve as a strong, capable leader with the courage to face impossible odds. The subsequent versions of Zelda experienced more growth, character development, and acted more as a partner to Link rather than an object to save.
Her Breath of The Wild incarnation is by far the most spirited yet. She struggles with her pre-ordained fate, her position as princess, and her choice to make the ultimate sacrifice. Surely, with such leaps, she finally deserves to take center stage in an adventure.
The Legend of Zelda: Princess problems
Unfortunately, Zelda's position in the game's lore can make it difficult to make her the lead of a main series adventure. Though players take control of Link and he "acts" as the protagonist, the silent hero is really just the vessel for players to control. He doesn't have any character to speak of, but rather is the place holder for us, and we become him.
Zelda typically takes on the role of the central character, with Link (and therefore the player) offering his support in her journey. That's pretty much how most Zelda games have been structured from the beginning. That's not saying that things can't change. However, with the established lore of the three core pieces, Zelda, Gannon, and Link, it can be hard to reimagine a main series journey without rethinking the entire concept.
And we all know how fan bases love change.
Still, there's no reason why Nintendo can't play with the formula a little bit for a spin-off or DLC. Zelda deserves that much, at least, especially after her only solo adventure was pretty much garbage.
Legend of Zelda: A tale of a princess
Zelda is no longer sitting back in her story. Her incarnations have established the princess as a fierce leader, a gentle soul, and a capable sorcerous with the ability to wield the power of the Goddess (or Goddesses). Far from a damsel, she has been a pirate captain, a fearless princess in the face of overwhelming Twilight, and even taken on more relatable roles like in Skyward Sword.
She now takes part in Link's journey. In her latest version, Breath of the Wild, Zelda is a scholar, a leader, and a fierce princess who takes charge of her own destiny. She is clearly a character that has a lot to offer, and it might bring a fresh look to the series to give her a shot as the main protagonist. She has proven that she can handle the likes of Ganon, and if Link can have a solo adventure without her, why can't she?
We should at least give her that chance.
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Sara is the Freelance Coordinator, writer, and editor at iMore. When not editing or writing away, she's glued to her Nintendo Switch, Xbox, or PS5, though she's a retro gamer at heart.