The Missing Link
There’s been a lot of speculating and postulating about the plot of Twilight Princess over the past few months. Back at E3 2005, we found out a huge bit of plot about what’s going on in the state of Hyrule during Twilight, but surprising as it may be to say it, that only brought more questions than answers. We know about the Twilight Realm slowly eating away at Hyrule, and we know about Princess Zelda cloaking herself in her funeral shroud warding away the poisonous air, but why is Link able to survive it? What magic is causing this to happen? Why is this happening? And just how are we going to turn back the tide?
We are even fortunate enough to know the tentative placement of Twilight in the overall timeline—should you happen to believe in timeline stuffs. It’s supposed to go after Ocarina and Majora yet before Wind Waker. As everyone who has played the game knows, between these two points in time, all Evil Realm breaks loose, and Hyrule is locked away, the Great Sea filling in above it. Thus, many speculate, it makes sense therefore that Twilight is supposed to end with this inevitable result that the hero will fail in his quest, that evil will win the day, and Hyrule will flood in the final moments of the game.
Could this possibly happen? Are we going to see tradition broken where the hero finally loses?
Everyone who knows Zelda at all should remember the E3 2004 video which held those memorable words, “Blades will bleed. / Shields will shatter. / But as the light fades… / Will the hero rise again? / Or will darkness reign?” A year and a half ago, when this video came out, the images of these words flashing across the screen were quickly dismissed as a needless pontification. I’m sure most video game titles somewhere—whether in its game trailers, box text, manuals, strategy guides, you name it—inserted one of those phrases doubting whether or not the protagonist would live through the game. You know, something like, “OMG! The land is in trouble, and it is up to you, TEH HERO! Should you fail, the world shall perish!!!111one” Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.
Yet over a year later, everyone is now looking at these phrases in an entirely new light. This month’s issue (Dec 2005) of Nintendo Power has an interview with Takumi Kawagoe, the man responsible for many of the preview trailers for Nintendo. When questioned about the plot of Twilight, he answered, “…[N]otice that we dwelled—at just the perfect moment—on the gloomy image of Princess Zelda? Her dark melancholy is just as essential to the game experience. Personally, I hope that Zelda will liven up and regain her cheer by the end of the game, but I suspect that it may not be in Hyrule’s destiny this time around” (70). What wicked webs we weave; just reading those words are enough to send chills through my spine. The imagery here is so doom and gloom, and there is such a foreboding of failure in there; it’s almost scary to think about it.
So it’s really easy to see where the argument is coming from. The PR machine is in full force at Nintendo, placing this dark theme in the game, chugging away with the whole fatalistic ending, reinforcing it at every turn, and that should be the all the proof we need. Or is it?
Despite all of this, however, I think a lot of this is pure PR, plain and simple. I’m going to go out on a limb today with a prediction, and you can all hold this over my head come spring. (If I’m wrong,
“Why do you believe that, TML?” I hear you cry, to which I respond, “Quiet, you whippersnappers! I was about to explain myself already!” (Ahem.)
TML’s memory isn’t exactly the most efficient machine out there, but some days it works like a steel trap. I had thought I’d remembered a little titbit of information from a while ago, and after a little research, I found the very gem that I was looking for. Just before E3, 1UP posted an interview between Eiji Aonuma and a staffer at EGM, and they discussed the issue of light and dark in Twilight:
There it is, straight from the horse’s mouth. Aonuma says that the game is dark, but not disproportionately so from the Zelda norm that we’ve grown to love over the past years. The only reason we get this impression of fatalism on Twilight’s part is from the trailers. Guess where our two previous quotes came from? The first was inserted into the trailer itself; the second was a quote from one of the very people who worked on the trailer. Coincidence? I think not.
So we’ve debunked the chance that these are guaranteed insights into the game, but the fact that the timeline still places us smack dab in the middle of Ocarina and Waker is still potentially troubling. Fear not, for I’ve got another trump card to play on this one. The opening scene to Wind Waker tells of the time period in which Twilight Princess is supposed to fall. Waker tells us that “…a day came when a fell wind began to blow across the kingdom. / The great evil that all thought had been forever sealed away by the hero / …once again crept from the depths of the earth, eager to resume its dark designs. / The people believed that the Hero of Time would again come to save them. / …But the hero did not appear.” Aonuma, now at the pilot’s seat for the Zelda series, is a stickler for timeline concerns; he’s the guy that wants to unite the Zeldaverse behind a single timeline, so if we’re at the point where evil has to win in Twilight, why then do we have Link? Sure, we can reason that perhaps Link isn’t the Hero of Time in this game, or perhaps the legends of the past have been twisted and distorted over the years, but I really don’t think that’s the case here. We’ve know that Link will make a valiant effort in beating back the Twilight Realm and that he’ll slowly restore more and more of Hyrule to its former glory late in the game, so it seems to me that Link can’t be completely disregarded in the legends. He deserves a mention, even if he failed. It wouldn’t be that “the hero did not appear,” but it would be that the hero appeared but failed in his quest. Aonuma, who values timeline, wouldn’t let a discontinuity as major as this slip past his radar screen.
Lastly, and here’s the killer question, are we as players honestly ready to have evil win the day? Given that the game is slated to be 70 hours in length, are we going to fight all this way, dedicate so much of our lives to this, and still be satisfied when, in the end, all of our work was for naught? Sure, such an ending would be an emotional experience, but, with a show of comments, how many of you actually come out of a movie ending with evil winning with this warm feeling in your stomach? Any time this happens, the first thought that comes to mind is that they’ll fix that in the inevitable sequel. Matrix Reloaded and (dare I mention it?) Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith both have sequels in which the plot inevitably ends have much brighter endings. Sure, we have Wind Waker to finish it off, but being that Twilight is supposed to be the “ultimate” Zelda experience, are we really going to be satisfied with Waker finishing off the legacy that this hypothetical Twilight would begin? Don’t get me wrong; I love Wind Waker. I merely find the thought of Twilight’s evil ending overshadowing the “good ending” of Waker a pinch irksome.
So there you have it, the case for a happy ending. I don’t think we’re ready for Ganon(dorf) winning just yet. However, do not misread what I’m saying here. Link or Zelda could very easily die in the last battle just after Ganon(dorf) is defeated or somewhere during the game; in fact, I would not be surprised were it to happen. Sure, the victory would be bittersweet, but it would nevertheless be a victory. I think, despite all the politicking that Nintendo is doing, trying to portray this darker element of Zelda, I don’t think we have to fear about the fate of Hyrule just yet. There may be moments of sadness or even tears coming out of Twilight, but I do believe that Ganon(dorf) won’t be as lucky as some of the pundits believe.Follow This Entry | Read Other Posts by The Missing Link