Or Will Darkness Reign?

November 12th, 2005 at 9:35 am by 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?

Before I try to answer that question, let’s take a good look at the context clues, shall we?

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, I’ll quit ZeldaBlog you’re more than welcome to come back at me with all the I-told-you-so’s that you can hurl, and I promise I won’t shy away from them either!) Be it known that I do not believe that this game will turn out in such a way; I believe that Ganon(dorf) will once again be defeated and will have to go back to the drawing board once again.

“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:

EGM: How would you describe this Zelda in relation to the others, besides just “realistic”? Will it be a darker game?

EA: What part of the game demo made you think this might be darker?

EGM: Well, it was more of an impression left by the two trailers. Like the dungeons, or where it’s in the woods, it’s raining and Link is fighting those Skeletal [sic] animals. And just the realistic graphics alone might make it seem darker or grittier…

EA: Actually, that’s not what this game was intended to be. In order to show good-looking bright action, we needed to feature darker aspects, to highlight—literally highlight—the lighter portions. That’s simply because the people [who chose what to put in the trailer] tended to choose the darker areas, and maybe as a result people have the impression that this is going to be a darker game.

EGM: So if it’s not “darker,” what words would you use to describe it yourself?

EA: [Long pause] It’s very hard to say. We’re not trying to make it a very dark game, despite that impression, but we are trying to create a big contrast. For example, it should sometimes be very dark, and other times very bright, so people can enjoy the sheer contrast. And as for the emotions, sometimes people will feel very sad, and sometimes very happy. Those kinds of contrasts are something that I always try to incorporate into a game. Unfortunately, there’s no one appropriate adjective yet. As always, we’re trying to make it a very mysterious game. And now that we’re going to make it photorealistic, I think that can intensify the mystery. (¶ 3-8)

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.

Filed under Twilight Princess, Timeline, Editorials

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36 Messages from the Gossip Stones about “Or Will Darkness Reign?”


    You’ve made some very good points TML. I’ve actaully been thinking along similar lines myself.

    What we’re going to find out is that Aonuma was confused. The game that goes in between Ocarina and Waker is Tingle RPG. Oops!

    Seriously, I’m not anticipating a sad ending. Though I could be wrong, after all, Link’s Awakening had a bittersweet ending. I won’t elaborate on it here, but I’m sure most everyone knows what I’m talking about. But as Link’s Awakening shows, a Zelda game can end on a somber note and not tarnish the game. Sure I put down my gameboy feeling a bit remorseful. It wasn’t the usual rush of excitement I got from finishing A Link to the Past or The Wind Waker, but it was something different and just as good.

    What I want to know is how is Hyrule going to be restored after the events of Wind Waker, Hyrule, Ganondorf and the Master Sword are all buried under the waves, is Ganondorf dead, is the Sword of Evil’s Bane and Hyrule lost forever, what the *Navi* is gonna happen?

    who say’s it’s after Majora’s mask, you know EA only said it was after Oot he never mentioned Majora’s mask… If it was after Majora’s mask wouldn’t he say: “It’s after Ocarina of time and Majora’s mask.”?
    I still believe in this split timeline.

    Not after Majora’s Mask? Last I checked, Link is grown up in the screenshots and not a kid.

    • 6. TSA says:

    Eiji Aonuma has said so many incorrect things before a game’s release, I don’t know if he’s just saying stuff to throw off the fan base. First he said the game was after TWW. Then he says before. He says the game isn’t dark, but then he says the game is supposed to capture a mature Link who is dealing with more mature emotions, and as a Wolf he becomes “wild”. When asked about Colin being used as bait on that pole the Marauder has in the boss battle in the E3 2005 Demo, Eiji said they would not hesistate to do what is necessary to convey the appropriate mood.

    While you make a good case for this Happy Ending, I firmly think your PR argument is something I’d use against you. Nintendo is trying to hype up the game, yes, but at the same time they give out tibdits which turn out to be untrue to throw off fans because Nintendo has locked themselves into a situation where fans expect a certain outcome based on existing information (OoT and TWW’s stories).

    If TP doesn’t end with a major tragic event … I’ll think of something to do to make it interesting.

    At the same time, TSA, your argument backfires on your own argument just the same. If Nintendo is spewing two conflicting theories such that one must be false, there’s no way in saying WHICH is false. ;) I most certainly believe that, once you get down and dirty with that truthhood, the moral argument about whether or not the fans will accept a bad ending would be the inevitable trump card; however, that’s an argument that can be made for both sides.

    • 8. JC says:

    TML is right, theres an argument to both sides:

    Will Link win?
    Will Link loose and the story ends sadly?

    Theres too many contradictions. We have to wait. Maybe no one dies. Maybe everyone dies. It’s too early to tell.

    Then again..we still have to wait 6 months. :-(

    The game appears darker now than we first thought it to be. If it’s as dark as it appears to be, I wouldn’t be surpised at a tragic ending like Link dieing. Zelda can’t die cause isn’t she one of Tetra’s ancestors? Unless Zelda has a sibling, how else can the royal bloodline be continued?

    If anything is going to happen with Link’s end, then it would most likely be that he would be sacraficed in some way to achieve victory.

    Though with this issue of timeline consistency and what we know is supposed to happen, isn’t there a chance that the legends would forget this current Link, as he is not the hero of time with the sword of Evil’s bane, and also they are caught in the Twilight, and I would think that they would not as easily remember what is happening then. Also, if you think about it, your average citizen wouldn’t have known that it was Link that destroyed Ganon(dorf) last time, unless someone such as Princess Zelda told them, which could easily be the case with OoT, as we have the celebration in Hyrule Field at the end. But, if everyone is caught in the Twilight, then there is a good chance that they would not remember Link doing anything, or perhaps may not even remember being in Twilight.

    But whatever happens, I think it will only become clear once we have a chance to play through the game. After all PR is meant entirely for marketing, and though we can pick out bits and pieces of the games from it, in the end, it is marketing.

    All very intimate and interesting points. I’ll shelve this in the back of my head like I have everyother speculation, but it’s been growing to become just total excitement in the back of my mind. Perhaps the darker image is all PR, I do agree with Aonuma’s words of contrast (this is very true - to have a climax, you must have the lows to accent it), but overall I think they’re pushing very hard to actually weave all that feeling that has accompanied past games, yet managed to be strangely absent from the games themselves. LttP guide/manga anyone? They helped paint a picture of the world that the game could not. I know some people just look at LttP as a very nearly hollow game, but I get to feeling that they just haven’t experienced the story and concepts in their entirety. Perhaps the aren’t considered canonical as others would outcry that they debunk their own personal claims over plot twists and whole in the games that have followed, but surely when looking upon them with that untainted eye - the adventure gleams as a polished stone.

    They accomplished an atmosphere, a story in OoT, but the technology was not up to par. You loved it still. They accomplished a seamless game with LttP, yet the story was tucked away in the folds of other mediums. Wind Waker they halved both, and hoped for the best.. Perhaps now they’ve seen the light, and will finally give all of the aspects of this Zelda their own rightful due?

    I have no real predictions about the ending of Twilight Princess, but regardless of how happy or bittersweet it may be, I’m sure it will be satisfying. Considering that bittersweet endings are not entirely unprecedented in the Zeldaverse–as Masamune pointed out with Link’s Awakening above–I would not be surprised if the ending of Twilight Princess will give you that, “Ahhh… a job well done!” end-of-game rush, while also fading out on a vaguely ominous note of events to come (in WW). I agree that hopefully it won’t be too ominous, considering that Windwaker’s ending felt only marginally “happy” (in my opinion, anyway). Heck–even the ending to Ocarina of Time was vaguely bittersweet in its own way!

    Who knows? The Zelda games are only vaguely connected in the first place, and their order (for the most of the games, anyway) is debated by fans every day. Twilight Princess may “take place” between OaT and WW, but it may have only the *slightest* hints of continuity with the two other games. After all, do we know the exact amount of time that passes between OaT and WW? There could be multiple versions of Link that lived in those years/centuries/millennia. For all we know, Nintendo may do something entirely unpredictable with the plot and surprise us all.

    There’s only one way to find out. :3

    First of all, I agree. There’s only one way to find out. Now I’m going to completely ignore what I just said and give you my spin on it. What if, in OoT’s timeline, Gannon(dorf) was not defeated in child-Link’s time (assuming you’re going with the split timeline thoery)? If Gannon(dorf) hasn’t been defeated, and the Master Sword is locked away, how is Link supposed to defeat him in the future? That would mean that in that timeline, a hero did not rise….yet. What if Twilight Princess provides the time that the hero rises in child-Link’s time? What if I’m full of *Navi*? Once again, we won’t know for a long time. Why lose sleep over it?

    The more I hear about the split-time theory, the more I like it. ^_^

    I know this is a little off subject but have you guys introduced anyone to the Zelda Games, I recently got my 7 year old nephew playing Ocarina of Time (which is my personal fave) and he cant stop playing it which reminds me of myself when I played my first Zelda game (it was Link to the Past amd I was 10) so have you guys got anybody else playing the Zelda games or not?

    EGM Magazine’s pre-E3 interview with Eiji Aonuma also contained this interesting tidbit:

    EGM: Where does this Zelda fall in the overall series timeline?
    EA: I can’t really go into that, partially because I want to keep it a secret, but also because we haven’t decided yet. There are some kinds of…unstable, uncertain ideas we’re working on. Depending on what course we choose in terms of development, the final ending may change.

    I’m betting he was referring to the flood issue there, and that that quote explains why there had been all the confusion about Twilight Princess’ timeline placement.

    Personally I hope that the flood issue will be dealt with eventually, and TP looks like the perfect game for it. I’m sure that while the ending may be gloomy or tragic, it will give the player some sense of accomplishment, not just a big message saying “You failed.” I doubt the majority of the game’s audience would accept that. Link may not save Hyrule, but he has to achieve some good. After all, the flood didn’t just seal Hyrule away, it also stopped Ganondorf (temporarily, anyway).
    If TP doesn’t deal with the flood, that might feel like a cop-out, especially if a lot of people are anticipating it. If Link stops Ganondorf and saves Hyrule again at the end of TP, we’ll still know that that won’t accomplish much, since Ganon will have to escape again and Hyrule will ultimately be destroyed. I’d rather see TP deal with the heavy issues than give us an inconsequential happy ending.

    Well, My bro-in-law introduced me into Zelda a few years ago by lending me his OoT cart. I’m trying to introduce my “boy friend” (boy friend in quotes cause he and I are best friends of opposite gender with similar feelings, but we’re not dating) I’ve been able to persuade him into buying a GCN and a DS. I should probably play FSA with him. That might get him into Zelda.

    At first I didn’t like the idea of multiple timelines, but then I considered the bittersweet ending on OoT, and I placed the games I could not find a solid place in the adult Link timeline, into a young Link timeline, and with the information that we already know, all of the canon games finally made chronological sense.

    ‘how many of you actually come out of a movie ending with evil winning with this warm feeling in your stomach?’
    -*puts hand up* I love it when that happens. Seriously.

    Anyway, who remembers the screen that popped up when you died in Zelda 2? The Return of Ganon anyone? I think too much has been read into the trailer, as TML said, it’s PR. Although in recent Zelda games it has become harder and harder to die, I think (and hope) that TP may be a little more difficult. Therefore, the words in the trailer simply refer to the possibility that, yes, you could die and therefore darkness will reign. Of course, you just hit continue, but still. I’d love to see a Z2 style splash screen that shows you what does happen if you fail (a Hyrule covered in darkness or a preening, laughing Ganon would be nice) >] Ah well, I can always dream.

    Anyway, TML makes a very good argument against TP addressing the flood issue, as he pointed out in WW, we are informed no hero appeared. Obviously, the hero does appear in TP (there wouldn’t be much of a game if he didn’t, given that the player is the hero), so it can’t have a flood at the ending.

    Still, I’d love to see a Zelda game where Ganon does win. I doubt it’d ever happen of course, but there you go. ;)

    If anybody remember’s WW’s beginning - the hero road off after saving the people, then Ganon restored him, and no HERO EVER CAME. Meanining that NO Link came, at all. He didn’t fall to Ganon, he just NEVER CAME. Think back to Ocarina - even if you DIDN’T defeat Ganon, wouldn’t people still remember the heroic deeds done to get yourself to that point?

    Anyhow…I can just imagine the last scene, as a huge wave rises and rushes over the plains, concealing all the land beneath it…that’d be cool. ^_^

    Excellant article by the way, The Missing Link.

    Yup, I was thinking along those exact same lines myself, TML. You ROCK!!! Honestly, this, I think, will be the Zelda game we’ve been waiting for–for twenty years. (No, I wasnt alove when The Legend of Zelda came out, but… you know, it’s Zelda.)

    hmmm, you’ve made a good point with the wind waker thing
    it probably fit’s in

    It’s funny, how nobody seems to think that the ultimate outcome of TP may be that Link causes the flood, as his only way to defeat Ganon. Could it be that “no hero” might mean that nobody defeated Ganon, and would thus not be called a hero? Instead of winning, Link had to get the gods to flood Hyrule, so it would be safe until a way to defeat Ganon was found. It is a distinct possibility, given what we’ve thus far seen and heard.

    It’s funny, how nobody seems to think that the ultimate outcome of TP may be that Link causes the flood, as his only way to defeat Ganon.

    …that makes so much sense that I feel really silly for not considering that before. ^^;;

    ya so what if link realy hearts ganon then minda all like totaly stabs him in the back so then minda’s top dog then ganon all like”i will not lose to and elf and an imp” ganon uses his strength to try to destroy all of hyruleso then link begs the godesses to stop ganon so there all like the oonly way to stop ganon is by using a willing sacrsfice to make hyrule sleep for ever but it will be like the sacrafice never exsisted so then link becomes the sacrafice then bam ww

    You know, it might be a sad ending without hyrule being destroyed. I mean there alot of years butween OOT and WW, so this might be the game that talks about the game or it could be a game that has nothing to do with the flood. I personally think that in this game there will no flood, because its decades after OOT meaning if in this game there is a flood it might ruin the series.

    Here is what I think will happen: as it said in the begining of wind waker the evil was defeated. But returned later and there was no sign of the hero…pause it there…. have you thought that Link does win in the twilight princess and leaves on a journy after and never returns then the evil comes back.

    I’m wondering why nobody has run anywhere with the thought that the “Twighlight Realm” bears a striking similarity to the Dark World, right down to the fact that Link transforms when he’s in it. I’d like to see something more on this…


    Except there is a bit of a difference. In the case of the Dark World, it was in a physically different dimension of sorts, I’m not entirely sure what the appropriate word is. However, how they have made it sound is that the Hyrule you are in and the Twilight Hyrule are in the same dimension, just in some places you have the transforming Twilight, and in others you do not.

    queenhank said:

    It’s funny, how nobody seems to think that the ultimate outcome of TP may be that Link causes the flood, as his only way to defeat Ganon.

    It’s a good idea; yet, the King of Red Lions in Wind Waker said it was they who prayed for the gods to flood Hyrule, so I can’t entirely believe that that would be a likely scenario. Even if Link actually flooded Hyrule (unbeknownst to all the people of Hyrule), you still (a) need to have a king (whom so far seems to be missing) and (b) have to consider that Hyrule was not flooded directly but rather encased in water much like a terrarium, so some godly invention had to create that.

    It’s a thought, and it’s possible, but I think it’s still unlikely.

    Daemar: So maybe the Dark World is encroaching upon the light world? Perhaps the Seal is breaking? The seal remained intact throughout Link to the Past. If I recall correctly, if the seal breaks, Ganon will cover the light world with darkness as he has done with the once-golden-realm.


    Yeah Fools Run I thought of that, thank god Link dosent turn into that cute Rabbit creature (was it Pink or Blue?) the game would suck then, lol

    wait a minute is hyrule atlantis


    What if, at the end of the game, Ganon kills Link, and then the goddess flood Hyrule? To be truthful, someone who fails can’t be called the Hero. For example, in my country we have a national hero who burnt down an enemy’s headquarters. However, two other soldiers tried to do it first and where killed.
    No one remembers the ones who failed, just the one who did it is honored. So, if Ganon kills Link in this game, all his efforts would be for nothing and therefor he won’t be remembered.

    If Link died it would tie in nicely with Wind Waker. And if in the future they made a game set after Wink Waker in a new Hyrule and the sea had receided to make one vast land-the new Hyrule… Now THAT would be good. but i’ll leave it to Nintendo to make the games. I’ll just keep on dreaming…

    What if he gets frozen in time and then gets released some time after Wind Waker, wouldnt that be interesting huh?