The Legend of Zelda is one of the greatest franchises ever created. Nintendo, when re-building the gaming industry after the crash of the 80s, really produced hit after hit. You can demonstrate it by just observing how many of these games are lately turning 25 years: Metal Gear, Mario Bros., Metroid… definitely I would dare to call the NES-era one of the golden times of videogaming.
Specially Zelda holds a dear place in our hearts. How many times, after all, did we go ahead and save her? Across the wide lands of Hyrule and other kingdoms, time and even universes our hero link has restlessly picked up item after item to rid the world of evil and, more specifically, Ganondorf (although not always).
I may have not played every game, but I am definitely enthralled by every new one that comes out. Twilight Princess is the only reason I am planning to buy a Wii!
But then there is the other side to this fandom. During years the community, loyal to their Zelda games, have been discussing the order of the games in a timeline that would sound as convincing as possible. Multiple videos have come out in response, and many more articles joined to discuss such a matter. It has come up to ending friendships!
Recently, while browsing my usual favourite game reviews and bits of information I stumbled across the last episode of Clearing the Confusion, a very interesting series in which NecroVMX gives us an outline on sequels and storylines of the different most popular games ever released, no matter if it was in Japan or the world. This particular episode one was dedicated to the game we are about to tackle… or to be more specific, the fandom around it.
The video is 30 minutes long and definitely worth a watch. At the end he basically gives his opinion on the whole “creating a timeline” issue that has plagued the Zelda fans for years. In a nutshell he beseeches the community to just enjoy the games and leave the timeline the way Nintendo envisioned it when they released the most recent installment, Skyward Sword. Now, even though I like the idea of just enjoying the games, as they were intended to be used, I can not share the criticism towards the fans of the series.
In an alternative, much earlier review, AVGN also had a few words on this particular expression of fandom. For him it was a sign of the passion that many gamers displayed towards their favourite series. Despite all the swearing he usually does, I must agree on that. Enjoying the game goes much times beyond just sitting in front of the T.V. and pressing the right buttons. It is about, and specially in this day and age, to share the experiences with others, to discuss the game and to expand it beyond its limits.
I must be honest, until I saw the AVGNs review, I had never thought that there should be a timeline for the Zelda games. And even now I am reluctant to even think of that. For me every story has its own unique take on almost the same legend, unless it is explicitly a sequel to a previous game (like it happens in Zelda 2). I always thought it would be too bothersome to try to find some coherence from game to game. But some fans did. And I do not criticize them for that. It is great for them to take the work and to do this. It is in their freedom to try to figure this out, however useless it may be. It is, after all, their way of experiencing the game.
What I do not condole is that the passions just get out of hand. In other words, I do not agree with ending friendships over such a detail. This effort of putting the games in a timeline is just a way to express fandom. I never ever fought my friends when we tried to explaining a detail on an orc’s way of life. Sure, we would debate heatedly, but at the end we would just nod and agree that the discussion was useless… and thus fun. In other words, the discussion should never affect a real life. Because that is what really should underline the criticism towards fandom.
I am not a fanboy in the sense that everything I see about my music, games or books drives me nuts. As a historian myself I have learned that going to the extremes just provokes more trouble than it is worth anything. Discussion, no matter what levels they are on, should always reach a healthy quota. If you can not understand the other person, then why bother? We are not defining the destiny of humanity itself!
In any case, the accusations made by NecroVMX, whether intended or not, are not really ideal. I understand what he’s trying to say, since some fanboys exaggerate a lot and one as a gamer can get fed up by it. But we can not condemn a whole fandom just because of some bad apples!
May they smile upon your way!