Exploring Influences: The Legend of Zelda

This week, we begin the transition away from books and delve into something else near and dear to my heart: Video games.

I grew up with an NES in the house, and with that, the gold cartridge that any gamer worth their salt knows all about.

There’s something special about Zelda games, see – Not just that the first wave of cartridges (and then later, CDs) released come in gold. Zelda was my first foray into a massive, immersive and interactive world.

With the exception of the latest release (I’m sorry, Skyward Sword, I just can’t love you) I’ve spent countless hours enjoying being drawn into the world of Hyrule again and again. The story itself is straightforward, but each game approaches the same story from a slightly different angle. Time, too, is of an extreme importance to the series. All of the later games feature puzzles where time itself must be manipulated to solve them.

There is, of course, the small problem of the major time paradox created in Ocarina of Time, but it can be forgiven, since the game was otherwise just so darn good.

You see, Zelda does something I love, but you never see in books: Every game features the same cast of characters. There’s always Link, who always has to rescue Zelda. There’s a persistent bad guy, Ganon, who comes back time after time to try the same scheme. And yet, for all that the same characters are used, the story plays out differently in each setting.

And why can’t authors re-use beloved characters? Why is it so unheard of in literature? Among roleplayers, it’s not uncommon at all to take a favorite character and re-outfit them to fit into another world, another story, another version of themselves. Comic books delve into this, as well – We call it an Alternate Universe storyline. This particular type of story is almost unheard of in books, but for what reason?

I’d love to try it, someday. Take one of my characters from one story and give them a cameo in another, in a completely different setting. I don’t think I could write them as the main character, but wouldn’t that be something?
Of course, it won’t be happening any time soon. I have too many other stories to write, first.

Last week: My Neighbor Totoro
Next week: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

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