If I were to ask you “What mysteries are among the most widely debated in the gaming world?” what immediately comes to mind? It probably wouldn’t take you long to come up with the timeline for the Zelda series. Beginning with The Legend of Zelda and releasing a complicated string of games since A Link to the Past, the Zelda series is the most confusing series we have. As more Zelda games were produced over the years, gamers grew even more puzzled over the sequence, since the series presented gamers with prequels and some titles in a seemingly parallel order.
The Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN) created a 19 minute episode called “Chronologically Confused about the Legend of Zelda Timeline,” featuring none other than the confusing mess of Zelda games that has likely driven people to the brink of insanity when trying to determine their sequence. AVGN shares a quote by creator Shigeru Miyamoto from an interview with Nintendo Power magazine before Ocarina of Time was released, “Ocarina of Time is the first story, then the original Legend of Zelda, then Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and finally A Link to the Past. It’s not very clear where Link’s Awakening fits in. It could be anywhere after Ocarina of Time.” That’s helpful…
It seemed gamers would never solve the mystery of the Zelda timeline. It was as though Nintendo had doomed gamers to forever debate the order of these games – that is, until December 21, 2011. It’s fair to say that December 21st now marks a historic day among gamers, as the debate following the third installment in the series – A Link to the Past – was finally put to rest. A collector’s book was released that day called Hyrule Historia. As the book was only released in Japan (and subsequently only in Japanese), the rest of the gaming world is still waiting to get their hands on this Holy Grail.
Hyrule Historia includes artwork from the past 25 years of the Zelda series with a 32 page manga by Akira Himekawa for Skyward Sword. The manga comprises the third section of the book with “The Origin Story” (events from Skyward Sword) making up the first section and the entire history of Hyrule in the second. This timeline called “A Complete History of Hyrule” includes a complete storyline for each game and showing the placement of games within the series. This 274 page encyclopedia even incorporates concept artwork never before released.
Fortunately the entire timeline has been translated into English, so we too finally have the chronological sequence. The timeline is separated into different eras and splits into three branches following Ocarina of Time. The entire story begins, of course, with Skyward Sword, followed by The Minish Cap, Four Swords, and Ocarina of Time. The timeline splits here into “The Hero is Defeated” and “The Hero is Successful” for both the child and adult eras. In the branch “The Hero is Defeated,” Hyrule’s decline is outlined – A Link to the Past, Oracle of Seasons & Oracle of Ages, Link’s Awakening, The Legend of Zelda, and finally Adventure of Link. In the child era branch for “The Hero is Successful,” the sequence is a bit shorter – Majora’s Mask, Twilight Princess, and Four Swords + Hyrule Adventure. The adult era for “The Hero is Successful” completes the timeline with The Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks. Ah, the mystery is solved!
KitGuru says: As exciting as this timeline release is, it does leave us wondering – why now? Did Nintendo realize “Oh hey, the 25th anniversary of the series is coming up…this might be a good opportunity to finally get our **** together, develop a timeline, and get some extra publicity for the big anniversary year.” Or maybe Nintendo did indeed have a top secret document chronicling the sequence of the Zelda series all these years as Eiji Aonuma claimed. Whatever the reason, the long debated topic has finally been put to rest, hopefully leaving gamers with a sense of satisfaction now that the elusive timeline is finally set in stone.