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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Link: The Hero of Time!!!

Link is a fictional character (too bad that he isn't real right? :( ) and the main protagonist in Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda series of video games. Created by Japanese game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, The Legend of Zelda is one of Nintendo's core franchises, and has sold over 47 million copies worldwide as of 2007 (ha! I want to see a PS franchise beating that record!). The series' enduring popularity has led to many incarnations of the story and Link himself; the character's first appearance was in the game The Legend of Zelda. Link has been featured in other video games from Nintendo, including its merchandising, comic books, and an animated television program. Link was awarded with a star on the Walk of Game in 2005, alongside Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog.
Link is depicted in some games as a human and in others as a Hylian boy from the fictional land of Hyrule. His age varies in each game, usually varying from pre-teen ages to a young adult. Link often travels through Hyrule, defeating creatures, evil forces and the series' primary antagonist, Ganon, while attempting to save Princess Zelda and her kingdom. To defeat him, Link usually requires the mystic Master Sword and Light Arrows, or a similar legendary weapon, obtained after many trials and battles gathering magical objects or using other items such as musical instruments and weaponry. Each Zelda storyline (normally) contains a different incarnation of Link, as whenever a new threat emerges in Hyrule, a new hero must arise (this reminds me of Duffman's motto: "Duffman never dies! Just the actors that interpret him").
Link has almost no audio dialogue in the game series (though does have literal confirmative dialogue in every series). Facial expression has only been visible since the series appeared on the Nintendo 64. Miyamoto has said in interviews that his conceptualization of The Legend of Zelda, and of Link, was based on his childhood memories of books, movies, stories and personal experiences. He intended to make people live the legend he created, immersing themselves in that fantasy universe and having the opportunity to become heroes, with Link as an avatar. Also, he wanted the players to grow and develop together with their avatar; although at the end of some games Link becomes vastly talented in physical and magical arts, he usually starts off the game as a regular boy.
Link does not speak or have any written dialog, which has led some people believe him to be mute; his voice actions are limited to shouts and grunts. In addition, Link does not show signs of a strong and deep personality, nor does he present much of his personal motivations. However, the idea that Link is mute is disproved by his ability to interact with other characters in conversation.The true reason for this blankness and apparent muteness lies in Link's own essence: He seems to be the personification of the immersion experience, and in that way he is an extension of the player, a "link" between the player and the Zelda universe (that explains the default name "Link", which can be changed according to the player's will). Miyamoto and Nintendo designers themselves pointed out several times that the focus of the series lies in the player's personal experiences and in the concept of "the player being the hero", with Link as his/her avatar.
In that way, he was made blank so the human player can fill him with his/her own characteristics, experiences, motivations, feelings, thoughts and emotions; this is in order to allow the player to enter this fantasy world and to have an intimate experience with it, and with those who live in it. So, the intention is for his role in dialog and plot to be filled by the words and thoughts of the player, to some extent. His speech is usually replaced with simple and concise answers that the player can pick.
However, despite that, there is one feature in Link's personality that is greatly emphasized: his courage. Link is humble but brave, attributes consistent with his role as the rightful bearer of the Triforce of Courage. He is known as the "Hero of Time" in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask and the "Hero of Winds" in The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass.
Link is the chosen bearer of the Master Sword, a powerful magical sword that can be used against evil. As a child, he challenges Ganondorf in order to protect Zelda before he inadvertently helps Ganondorf find the Triforce in Ocarina of Time, forcing Link to undo the damage he had caused. Link has several family members, including an uncle in A Link to the Past; an unseen mother in Ocarina of Time, who dies fleeing a war when Link is a baby; a grandmother, who raises him, and a sister, Aryll, in The Wind Waker; and a grandfather inThe Minish Cap. He has a utilitarian relationship with Midna from Twilight Princess, though the two grow to become friends as time goes on, and by the end of the game, it is suggested that Midna might even have feelings for him. His mother and father appear as spirits in the official manga.
Link is a young Hylian boy who is renowned for his swordsmanship and fighting skill, such as his boomerang accuracy. Every iteration of Link wears a green tunic, tights, and a long green cap and has long, pointed ears, a distinctive trait of the Hylian race and their descendants. In the Zelda trading cards released by Nintendo early in the series, it is stated that pointed ears are a sign of the Hylian royal family. In episode 4 of the Adult Saga in the official Ocarina of Time manga series, "Link Vs. Link", Impa gives Link earrings, describing it as a "rite of passage for young Sheikah men". He has a Triforce mark on his left hand, marking him as the one who will find the Triforce of Courage. He uses many weapons and items, such as Bombs, the Hookshot, the Boomerang and the Bow and arrow. When he transforms into a wolf in the Twilight Realm in Twilight Princess, he reflects the mystical aspects of the transformation and his heroism.
Canonically, Link is left-handed, although this detail has changed over time, with his sword hand being different between games. The Adventure of Link's instruction booklet describes Link setting off "with a magical sword in his left hand and a magical shield in his right". In A Link to the Past, he alternates hands, but this is due to sprite mirroring. The reason for this is explained in the official Nintendo Player's guide as a Hyrulian superstition that requires the shield to always face Death Mountain (located to the North) to protect oneself from the evil powers originating within the mountain. Starting with Link's Awakening, Link holds his sword in his left hand and his shield in his right, no matter what direction he is facing. In The Minish Cap, however, Link returns to alternately holding his weapon in the right or the left hand, depending on his orientation. At the beginning of the Four Swords Plus(Four Swords Adventures) manga, Link is referred to as the "left-handed hero" after defeating pirates that were raiding a Hylian town. In addition, Link's figurine description in The Wind Waker lists his "manual preference" as left. However, in the animated TV series, Link is right-handed. In the Wii version of Twilight Princess, Link is right-handed, but this was done to better mirror the game's control scheme. In the game's official artwork he is shown holding his sword in his left hand. In the GameCube version, Link remains left-handed, as the game uses a traditional control scheme. Skyward Sword will thus be the first game in the series to feature a definite right-handed Link, with even the concept art reflecting the fact.
The character Link has been overall well received by critics and fans. In the 1988 and 1989 Nintendo Power Awards, readers voted him as the best character. He was voted by readers as the number one and three "Best Hero" in the 1993 and 1994 Nintendo Power Awards respectively. Nintendo Power listed Link as their second favorite hero, commenting that his courage always wins out over evil. Link was also awarded a star on the Walk of Game in 2005 along with Miyamoto, the creator of the character. Game Informer listed Link as the number one "Hero of 2006". Link has also appeared in multiple GameFAQs "Character Battle" contests and is the only character to have won more than once. In one of IGN's 2007 "Hero Showdowns", Link was voted the favorite over Cloud Strife. Link ranked first on GameDaily's Top 10 Smash Bros. characters list. They also listed his appearances on the CD-i as some of his worst moments, describing this incarnation of him as feminine ( >:/ ). However, the more mature appearance used in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was described by them as one of the best moments in Nintendo history. Link ranked first on IGN's top 10 list of video game characters who should die. IGN editor Colin Moriarty stated that while he loved Link, it's time for Link to give his life to save the day, calling it the emotional finale the series needs. IGN asked its readers to vote for their favorite Nintendo character in which Link came first. GamesRadar stated that while he does not talk, "Link has shouted the same "Hyea! Hyea! Hyeaaaaa!" since 1998", and they expressed a concern for Nintendo to record a new shout. CNET listed him second on their list of the "Top 5 video game characters".

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