April 19, 2019
Every Zelda fan, young and old, sees Link as this humble but skilled warrior who battles all kinds of adversity to fulfill his great destiny as the Hero of the land, the beacon of hope and purger of evil. These are titles which we all strive, in one form or another, to achieve for ourselves. But in this article, I would like to shed light on one particular incarnation of Link, who had to battle a different kind of adversity in his life: the Hero of Time.
At the beginning of all Zelda games, we are introduced to the Link whom we will be joining in a whole new adventure. We are also introduced to the society which the relevant Link is a part of. In both Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess, Link is shown to be a well-liked member of the people residing in Skyloft and Ordon Village, respectively. The elders greatly acknowledge Link’s contributions and value to the community and (except for some bantering with Groose) the young look up to him as an ideal to strive towards. In Wind Waker, Link is happily living with a loving sister and grandmother. A Link to the Past sees him living with his uncle. Even the latest entry to the series, Breath of the Wild, portrays Link as a highly rated knight who is bestowed the great honor of becoming Princess Zelda’s royal escort. But what about the Hero of Time? This is where things are slightly different. Here, Link is part of a community where he is looked upon as an outcast, a misfit, the odd one out. He is, after all, a Hylian who, due to tragic circumstances, had to live among the childlike Kokiri race. But why do his circumstances as the outcast resonate with me so much? Because I have lived through such an experience myself.
I’m sure most of us have fond memories of our early school life (Elementary school in US/Primary school here in the UK). I was no different. I relive those cherished memories when I had friends who loved Nintendo as madly as I did. During class, we would fanboy about the various games we played at home, like Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Donkey Kong 64 to name just a few. When break time would come, we would pretend to be those characters and relive iconic moments from the games; for example, I would pretend to be Luigi, one of my friends would pretend to be Mario and his older brother would pretend to be Bowser, and we would be having epic imaginary battles, even altering events from games, like Luigi defeating Bowser at the end of Mario 64. That all changed when we graduated from Primary School. All my friends went to a different school, I was the only one to go to the secondary school that I did.
As a result, my persona became much quieter. This was something mentioned a lot by my teachers in school reports, being referred to as ‘the silent kid’. What makes things more difficult is that at the age of 11-13, kids are going through both physical and mental changes, hence their interests sway towards more so-called ‘mature’ things. So I was left without anyone to share my nerdy passions with, often scoffed and laughed at by my peers. This made me more and more lonely, usually relying on comfort eating during the day and putting on weight. And we all know how much of a target an overweight child becomes for bullying. So I became more and more of an outcast in school.
When you are a silent child who is seen as an outcast by others, people see you as someone who has no hope in life to do anything. At this point, I began searching for inspiration. Who could I relate to? Were there any fictional characters that I knew? Fortunately, I didn’t have to think long. Such a character did exist. A silent child seen as an outcast by others. And it was indeed a character who I spent so much of my childhood playing as. The Hero of Time himself!
Here, Link was always taunted as the ‘kid with no fairy’. But what hit me hardest was this quote from Mido: “Well, even with all that stuff, a wimp is still a wimp. I, the great Mido, will never accept you as one of us!” This is a quote which defined such a huge part of my secondary school experience. I tried to fit into many different subgroups in the year group, but I was always reminded how I just didn’t fit in. “Stop trying to be something you’re not”, “You can’t walk with us” were some of the words I was subject to on a daily basis.
As time passes, people mature. College was where I managed to develop my interest in sports and fitness, and by losing weight, I was more accepted by the sporty people. By University, I became a much more confident person and now, I’m someone who sees myself as outgoing and always looking to engage with all types of people, regardless of their background, culture, likes and dislikes, and as a result, I have made lifelong friends who accept me the way that I am and the interests that I hold. But those feelings of loneliness and not belonging during secondary school are something which always stay with me. And these gave me a much higher level of affection and appreciation for the Hero of Time, how he didn’t just have to battle physical enemies, but also non-acceptance from those around him due to being different. But with it, I also strongly believe that as for me, the Hero of Time serves as a role-model for people like me who have ever gone through feelings of loneliness and being seen as different from their associates, no matter which facet of life they experience this.