The Legend Of Zelda has always been depicted as such; a legend. A myth or tale passed down to the people of Hyrule, featuring a hero called Link, defeating a demon named Ganon, to save Princess Zelda. That’s why the games have never been connected to each other, unless they are explicitly sequels to a previous game like Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link, Majora’s Mask, or Spirit Tracks.
Fans have made their own theory on how the games connect and have pressed Nintendo for an official timeline. In 2011, the Hyrule Historia was released, putting all the games in order into three parallel universes. With the series explained, every subsequent new release have made fans wonder on how they fit into the timeline. Just today, on Nintendo’s Japanese Zelda site, Nintendo has updated the placements of the last three Zelda games, A Link Between Worlds, Triforce Heroes, and of course, Breath Of The Wild.
A Quick Guide
As stated, the timeline was established with the release of the Hyrule Historia, a compendium of all things Zelda to coincide with the series’ 25th anniversary. The timeline was made by series producer Eiji Aonuma, who has been working on the Zelda series since Ocarina Of Time. The 25th Anniversary also saw the release of Skyward Sword, which was canonically established as the first game in the series.
Following Skyward Sword comes The Minish Cap, Four Swords, and Ocarina Of Time. The introduction of Ocarina Of Time is where the timeline gets a little weird, all of the time travelling shenanigans ends up with the timeline of the series being split into three. The Adult Timeline, Child Timeline, and the Downfall Timeline. All this results in the things that transpire in Ocarina Of Time, with the Adult Timeline taking off at the end of the game as Zelda sends Adult Link back 7 years into the past, the Child Timeline being where Link ends up, and the Downfall Timeline is a timeline that happens when Link fails in his quest.
The Timelines of Hyrule
The Adult Timeline goes off with Ganon being destroyed but there’s no Link to protect the world when Ganon reincarnates. This leads to the cel-shaded world of Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where Ganon went on a rampage as there was no hero to fight him, which leads to Zelda and her band of wise Sages flooding the world to stop the Demon King from destroying the world.
The Child Timeline consists of Majora’s Mask, Twilight Princess, and Four Swords Adventures. This leads to Link being sent in time and stopping Ganon before a majority of Ocarina’s events transpire. This leads to an early victory for Link and Zelda, and Ganondorf is executed. From there, Link travels to Termina and the story of Majora’s Mask happens. This timeline is pretty straightforward all things considered.
The Downfall Timeline is the most controversial as most fans note that it cannot exist with the other two timelines at once, as it can only happen if the player fails in Ocarina Of Time, meaning it cannot happen concurrently unlike the previous two timelines. Nonetheless, Nintendo still counts this as a proper timeline. This timeline consists of A Link To The Past, the Oracle games, Link’s Awakening, and the original The Legend Of Zelda and Zelda II. While Ganondorf does win in this timeline, he does get imprisoned, which leads to the opening of A Link To The Past.
Additions To The Timeline
In 2014, a sequel to A Link To The Past was released, titled A Link Between Worlds. It begins a few generations after A Link To The Past, with a new incarnation of Link, and still taking place at the same Hyrule as its predecessor. Few Zelda games actually take place at the same geographic locations as each other, and A Link Between Worlds is the first to do so, with the map being the exact same between games.
A year after that, Triforce Heroes was released for the 3DS, using the same artstyle and engine as A Link Between Worlds. This multiplayer title had 3 players play through a number of challenges and dungeons together. It takes place a few years after A Link Between Worlds. Another minor alteration to the timeline is the placement of Link’s Awakening, which was moved up from being before the two Oracle games, to taking place before the events of the Oracle games.
The Breath Of The Wild Conundrum
Even before the release of the critically acclaimed Breath Of The Wild, fans were widely speculating on BoTW’s place in the timeline. For starters, it definitely had a big, open world like Twilight Princess, with Gerudo Desert, Zora’s Domain, Hyrule Fields, and most of the areas returning with the same relative geographical location to the Twilight Princess map.
But then it had a cel-shaded look, though not as cartoony as the Wind Waker timeline, it still evoked the same feeling. The bird-like Rito people were also back from Wind Waker, yet the world wasn’t flooded in water.
Another point of contention was that the world in BoTW went through a sort of great calamity, placing the world in a post-apocalyptic landscape, thus making the Downfall Timeline a likely candidate for BoTW to be in this timeline. So a year has passed since the release of Breath of the Wild, where does Nintendo place it?
The answer is all of them! In a move that’s surprising even for Nintendo, Breath of the Wild takes place after every timeline, converging all the different alternate timelines into one. As if the whole idea of the timelines wasn’t confusing enough, making it all converge kind of makes it all the more pointless.
In an interview with Japanese magazine Famitsu, Eiji Aunoma was asked on the timeline placement of BoTW. He states that “Of course it is at the end, but which timeline?” he teased. Hidemaro Fujibayashi, director of BoTW, says that it is up to the player’s interpretation.
So basically, what this confirms is that any of the timelines can lead to Breath Of The Wild, like how Skyward Sword was always the definitive start to the series, as of now BoTW serves as the very end of the series. Who knows where else the series may go? Maybe we’ll get a BoTW sequel that muddles the series timeline even further. Who knows indeed. Keep up with Gamehubs on Facebook and Twitter to be up to date on all things gaming.