One of my favorite aspects of the Legend of Zelda is the story. Eiji Aonuma and Shigeru Miyamoto have both made it clear on multiple occasions that the various games fit together in a specific chronological order. Eiji Aonuma has also commented that he has a confidential document on his work computer that contains that order, but he has also made it clear that very few people have ever seen that document, and that fact isn’t something likely to change.

I think Nintendo ought to rethink their stance on the Legend of Zelda timeline.

Releasing the Timeline will Create a Better Story

Some of the biggest video game series in the industry today are set in expansive universes with very detailed storylines. More and more video games are expanding into comic books, novels, cartoons, and movies. Video games have been moved into other mediums for years, but they have previously been separate from the video games themselves. Pokémon is a great example of a video game series spanning multiple mediums that have nothing to do with each other. The events of the Pokémon cartoon series and movies are completely unrelated to the events that take place in the various Pokémon games.

It is becoming more common for major video game franchises to have a single cohesive story that spans multiple mediums. I’ve put together some examples:

  • The story of Warcraft includes three real-time strategy games, an online game, novels, comic books, manga, and online short stories.
  • The Halo series spans multiple video games and also includes comic books and novels. It’s especially worth noting that the novel The Fall of Reach covered the events of the video game Halo: Reach eight years before the game was ever announced.
  • The Mass Effect story is currently a trilogy of video games that also includes novels and comic books. A movie is currently planned, and the movie will fit into the existing story.
  • Final Fantasy 7 was originally just a single video game, but since then both a prequel and sequel have been released. The prequel is another video game, but the sequel is a movie.
  • Star Wars didn’t begin as a video game, but the expansive story now covers every medium imaginable.

The Legend of Zelda deserves this kind of continuous story. It is likely that the story exists, but only in a confidential document. If the story of Hyrule is ever going to compare to the competition then that document must be released.

As it is now, the timeline theorists in the Legend of Zelda community have been able to put together logical timelines for the series using the information Nintendo has provided (both in the games themselves and in interviews). While a few different timelines are the most logical (and therefore the most widely accepted), it still hurts the series when gamers have to guess at how the story goes together (though I will admit I do enjoy debating the timeline from time to time).

Why is the Timeline Confidential?

While I believe releasing the timeline would produce a better story, there are a few reason why Nintendo could continue to keep the timeline a secret. The first is to keep a false-sense of creative freedom.

The idea is that if the timeline is never released, Nintendo has the freedom to do whatever they want with the story. It wouldn’t matter if they completely rearranged things in order to fit one new game in the timeline because only a few people would ever know the change had happened.

Even though Nintendo could change the story on a whim, they never do. While the timeline was mostly a mystery for years, the developers have been much more open about timeline placements recently. For example, I can tell you with absolute certainty (and proof) that Spirit Tracks takes place about one hundred years after Phantom Hourglass, which is a direct sequel to The Wind Waker. I can also tell you that Skyward Sword takes place shortly before Ocarina of Time.

All of these timeline placements have been specifically stated by the developers of the latest Legend of Zelda games. It is clear that Nintendo prefers to keep the story mostly “as is” and add new storyline without interfering with the existing storylines.

Furthermore, even if Nintendo did release the timeline, they are still the writers of the story and have the ability to change events when necessary. This is not an uncommon practice, and it is something I know Blizzard Entertainment has done on multiple occasions when dealing with the massive Warcraft storyline. The downside to changing the existing story is that it sometimes causes confusion or anger among devoted fans. Ultimately, that fear of backlash from fans may be what keeps the timeline confidential.

The actual timeline could make fans angry even if it were released without any changes. There are fans who spend significant amounts of time debating the timeline, but releasing it would end most of those discussions. Those same fans have also put together many different timeline theories, but only one of them (or none of them) could be the correct one. Regardless of what the news is, there are going to be fans who are not pleased with what they hear.

In the end, I think the benefits to the series would far outweigh the possibility of upsetting a niche group of Legend of Zelda fans. One of those benefits is the possibility of expanding beyond video games.

Expanding Beyond the Games

The Legend of Zelda is no stranger to other mediums. The Legend of Zelda series has already had a cartoon and several manga published to elaborate upon the story, but they follow the same philosophy as the Pokémon series in that they are completely separate from the video games canonically. No one considers the cartoon to be a true part of the Legend of Zelda series.

I believe this needs to change if the Legend of Zelda continues to be adapted to other mediums. In the past, the manga have loosely retold the stories of each game, but what if the manga were actually new stories that fit into the series on their own? What if they released a Legend of Zelda novel that served as the backstory for an upcoming Legend of Zelda game?

I’m sure the community will be split on ideas like this, but it is something I would fully support. The Legend of Zelda has a fantastic story, but it could be so much better. For all we know, our timelines are completely wrong and that confidential document could contain a story that we could never imagine. I hope that someday we know for sure.

  • Yoko

    I do agree with releasing the timeline, but making the mangas canon is too much

    • mcdude910

      Unless they did a single, short, canon series, made exclusively by Nintendo.

      • demonlordghirahim

        hell no i am not reading manga, i love the games but i am not a fan of manga and never will be. I'm sorry but thats just not my thing, Zelda however is, and if nintendo were to release a connon series of manga at all it would rip me apart. :/

    • sycotickid528

      the thing with releasing the timeline is that, if we were to all know what the timeline says then we would be able to see which games are coming up next and what games haven't been released yet, this may also include spoilers that would ruin our Zelda experience. I also enjoy theorizing and debating with friends and forum members about the timeline. And I've read the mangas, most of them at least, and most of them are pretty closely connected to the game plot, just shorter. I enjoy them because they give a sense of story seperate to that of the game. It's over all a very fun thing to read as a fan 😀

  • MDH

    Please no. Right now most people are happy. Timeline theorists get to go nuts with speculation and discussion and everyone else has a good time viewing each game as a separate retelling of the Legend. Zelda doesn't need an epic, aeon-spanning story on the level this article describes.

    • TheMaverickk

      I don't think they are retelling in the slightest…. they are like different portions of one giant book of myths. Myths that happen to pertain or relate to a Zelda… princess or not.

  • CommanderLink

    Implying you know better than Nintendo, Joshua? Just like our government, they do everything for a reason, they arent running the company for nothing.
    Just saying, there are many more unforseen reasons that they don't release the timeline, many to do with marketing tactics IE: People discussing the timeline helps spread word about games, people may have never heard of a certain zelda game, hear it discussed, buy it on virtual console.

    • The government isn't exactly the best example. XD

    • Marcus Aurelius

      If you think our government actually has a point other than to control us, then they're doing there job right because you sir, are blind to what really goes on within the government.

      • Darktoonlink88

        You really have serious problems…

    • Joshua Lindquist

      The government is a terrible example.

      However, I do understand what you are saying about the "marketing tactics."

      Even so, I don't think it is something Nintendo did intentionally. As I mentioned in the article, they have recently been much more open about the exact placement of newer games in the series. That has left significantly less to debate and only makes your argument relevant to older games in the series.

  • Hussain

    I disagree. A lot of people constantly replay Zelda games and read about them day and night trying to figure out the timeline. Releasing the timeline would be a big ‘F you’ to those people, and would ruin the fun.

  • TYPO: Why is Timeline is Confidential?

    • A_LINK_IN_TIME

      Welcome to Zelda Universe!

      • sikora360

        say what? i've been here for over a year :/

        • A_LINK_IN_TIME

          But you only now got an intense debate account! So you begin anew!

          • mcdude910

            Intense Debate ftw!! and I haven't said "ftw" in a long time.

          • =/ but you said zelda universe, not intense debate

          • owned.

    • Nathan Mueller

      Because there is no timeline ; )

  • Charles

    Yeah, I completely disagree with this article. It's so much fun to have things just hinted at. It's great that they leave it open to theorizing because that's part of the fun. Also, I don't ever want to see another Zelda cartoon, and I FOR SURE never want to see a Zelda MMO. Keep dreaming.

    • sikora360

      A-MEN

    • Joshua Lindquist

      The Legend of Zelda wouldn't work well as an MMO. That doesn't mean it can't have the same extensive story that exists in an MMO – look at Elder Scrolls.

  • sean

    Giving it a cohesive story would ruin everything. Zelda is not meant to have one and I hope it never does. This article is garbage.

  • ChainofTermina

    well I agree with the article. you people do realize that Zelda is like the only game that even HAS timeline theorists, right? no one ever complains that other games DON'T have timeline theorists, so if Zelda's story was released, then it'd just be like all the other fantasy based action games. why does Zelda have to be littered with question marks and blind folds and "well maybe but you'll never know :3"s The timeline theorists hard work is never going to pay off or end because with each new Zelda games some new information or event is gonna come along and shatter all their theories, and that's going to keep happening again and again. plus, even if theorists can come up with a time line that (briefly) works and makes sense, it's not going to be one that every one will like or accepts, which just creates more arguments than it does 'fun'. you know what I think is fun? being able to understand the plot line of a franchise.

    It'd also be nice if they stuck with the same Link, at least for a little while. I mean, am I really the only one who would love to play as Oot Link in Oot Hyrule with all the OoT characters in a brand new story? am I really the only one who wants that? really?

    Zelda suffers from Nintendoitis, which is to say that it focuses a little too much on gameplay and not quite enough on story. I don't play games just so I can get a big "F*** you" middle finger Game Over screen again and again, I play them for the experience and storyline. Gameplay and Story should have EQUAL importance.

    all I'm say'n is, there is a reason why I'm much more absorbed into the stories of games like Mass Effect and Assassin's Creed than I am in Zelda. and I for one wish I could be as absorbed in Zelda's story as I am in Mass Effect's.

    • Charles

      "so if Zelda's story was released, then it'd just be like all the other fantasy based action games."

      do you realize what you just said?

      • ChainofTermina

        yeah. Zelda deserves to be treated just like all the other video game franchises, and not rebooted with every single installment. I like getting attached to characters and seeing them grow and develop over time, not having them be dumped in the trash and forgotten by the creators just because the game is over, and then have to meet all new characters and get interested in them only to have THEM tossed aside for the NEXT new game.

        • mcdude910

          Well, what are the odds that a character is simply going to keep having adventures throughout their entire life? Of course the games are spanned throughout generations! The Hero of Time had a hard enough damn childhood. Can't he just have a simple, peaceful life with Malon after MM?

    • sean

      If you absorbed in Mass Effects story that is just sad shit is shallow and just bad.

    • Gamma grl

      when i was younger, i always thought i was playing with the same link from OOt because that is what i would do. Until i got older and read on a site that each link (most) were different ones (reincarnations) i was kinda disappointed. but then i looked back to the games and noticed the changes. Majora's mask had the OOt link though.

      first time (i think) that they kept him.

      • TheMaverickk

        I've played games like God of War, Mass Effect, Halo… Final Fantasy…. and seriously even though they have cohesive stories, it's dull.

        Zelda has mysticism, it's fan base is as passionate about it thanks to the fact that there is something to discuss and interpret. Take that away and you take the whole Zelda series down a notch. It also constricts what Nintendo can do graphically as well… I mean when games are sequels and prequels, directly related people expect the graphics to resemble one another.

        I much prefer the variety of art styles we have been getting in the Zelda series for ages, and I don't want that to be restricted just for the sake of a Timeline.

        • ChainofTermina

          who said Zelda can't have all the stuff and a solid plot line? look at Majora's Mask. that game by itself does have a cohesive solid plot, and it also has all that mysterious and in depth thoughtful meanings and hidden messages and all that. why can't they just do that for the whole series? I know Nintendo could still make it all mysterious and thoughtful and deep and tie it all together with a cohesive story if the weren't so preoccupied with trying to "redefine the way people play games" all the time.

          • TheMaverickk

            Yeah Majora's Mask is a spectacular game, and it's a game that doesn't go off as being "Ocarina of Time's" sequel. Although it's the same Link, the game itself is absolutely ambiguous to it's connection to Ocarina of Time. Except for a single flashback to Princess Zelda teaching the Song of Time, and the vague mentioning of Link searching for Navi. There is little in the game that even requires you to have played OoT in order to understand.

            Each Zelda title has a cohesive and deep rooted story without having it be tied to every other single Zelda game in the series.

            Also redefining how people play games is what makes Nintendo games great and memorable. Lets put it this way, they defined context sensitive buttons, they defined lock on targeting in video games… if they weren't defining new ways to play you wouldn't have half of the amazing titles you have out there today.

            Lets not forget also that video games are not movies or books… gameplay is the key component which separates video games from other forms of media. So pushing how we play video games and interact with the video game world should be the most important aspect.

      • n00nickn@yahoo.com

        Nope…..Way back in the 80's Link from AoL is the same as LoZ

    • ChainofTermina

      now I remember why I stopped commenting here. everyone always blows things way out of proportion. i never said Zelda NEEDS to have a solid story through out every single game in order to be good, all I meant was that I don't like being confused or oblivious as to the universe in which I am playing. I meant I wish Zelda didn't seem like every single game takes place in a completely alternate universe that has absolutely nothing to do with each other, because it does.

      also, case in point- arguments. I don't like arguments, and that's all discussing the timeline ever does; results in and produces arguments.

      • gward

        LEGEND of zelda. The way its done makes it feel more like a LEGEND, as it should be. There are a few cases where the same link appears in multiple games. OOT and MM, WW and PH, zelda and zelda2 and links awakening.

        • mcdude910

          I, personally believe that it's the same Link in ALttP, OoX and LA. Four adventures aren't enough for you guys?

      • ChainofTermina

        that being the case, I've had enough. fine, you all want the Zelda characters to be left in the dust after each game, if you're all okay with that, then fine. what do I know. I'm getting sick and tired of Nintendo's half assed "story isn't important" philosophy anyway. I'm done here. every time I say something on this website, people just bitch and whine at me and tell me I'm retarded. well great, fine, I give up.

        • Chris

          The discussion of timeline placement does not result in arguments; it results in debates, which are fun. And the plot for every Zelda game gets me enthralled (well, the modern ones anyways). I love Assassin's Creed and such as much as the next guy, and the storyline's good, but it's a bit too complex at some parts and really, I play THOSE games for the gameplay. Stabbing someone in the face from a blade hidden n your wrist, who wouldn't enjoy that. But the fact that every Zelda game can stand alone without missing out on key parts of the story is awesome. My first Zelda game was Twilight Princess. If they all had one flowing story, I would not have picked it up; I hate starting any game series in anywhere but the beginning. And I had no way to play any Zelda games pre-Wind Waker. So, I just wouldn't have played.

          • Arg

            This just shows the problem with Zelda as a franchise: it happens to be unfortunately saddled with a fanbase so conservative and so woefully unimaginative and conceited that it quibbles over whether it is actually GOOD to make a coherent plot. It comes to the conclusion that because past Zelda games have been good without a coherent plot, that any tampering with that formula would result in a game that is bad. It also seems that the secondary failing here is that it is a fanbase that is more concerned over the nuances of temporal paradoxes more than it is things such as—story, characters, and drama.__

          • ChainofTermina

            that's sorta the way I felt, I'm just too stupid to say it right, I guess.

          • TheMaverickk

            Just give it 5-10 years when you see the Halo, Mass Effect, and Assassins Creed fans be just as conservative.

            The truth is that fans of all sorts get miffed when their franchises get changed. Look at Prince of Persia 2008… they changed the graphical style, started a new story… and it was completed rejected by fans. What happened after that? Or well they went back and produced a new game to following the story set up previously and in the same graphical style.

            Another example…. look at Metroid Other M. People had a shit fit about Samus' inner monologue, and the fact that her upgrades were always with her, but that she needed to be authorized to use them. People complained about the amount of cinematics as breaking up the game play too much.

            You know how many Halo fans were interested in playing Halo Wars? Not a hell of a lot. I'll place a bet now that people won't want to play a cel-shaded version of Halo, or a Rebooted Halo with a completely new story and mythos. Fans will be unimpressed.

            To change a franchise is a difficult and gradual process. Small changes here and there are what are needed.

          • Charles

            Zelda makes some pretty decent changes with the release of each game. I mean look at Wind Waker! That is one of the most revered games amongst Zelda fans. They are always trying to add new quirks to change it up. Look at LoZ > Zelda 2. There is a reason that the only series I really stand by any more is The Legend of Zelda. The gameplay is always fun, the story-lines are decent, and they are accessible at any level. Who on earth remembers the history of Morrowind? They threw all the books and story elements into that game (which was fun mind you) but ultimately nobody cared after ES:IV came out. Because the story was really lackluster and dull. There are plenty of characters that Zelda fans love and plenty of them make re-appearances. I see nothing wrong with this 😛

          • ChainofTermina

            well personally I don't think "debates" are all that fun.

            and yeah fine. I actually really wish I could just delete my original comment. I'm tried of people pointing out stuff that I already know, just forgot about.

        • mcdude910

          They're not getting thrown away. They've completed their adventure. They're living their lives. Remember, TP Link is a descendant of OoT Link. This means that after MM, the Hero of Time lived his life. He settled down with Malon and had a ranch together. They had children, and then eventually, you have TP Link. This connection has you feeling for, not only the Hero of Time, but also Malon, as TP Link shares many of her qualities as well. Even though it's a new character, it's still the same spirit.

          • ChainofTermina

            how do you know TP Link is a descendant of Oot Link? you don't, because that is yet another Theory that hasn't been nor will ever be confirmed.

          • mcdude910

            Well, I'll give you that it isn't absolutely confirmed, but it is still heavily implied, and widely accepted. Besides, that doesn't disprove that it isn't the same spirit within the games. Link is the same person, essentially. You can still feel for the character as a person. As well as Zelda.

      • mcdude910

        "I don't like arguments"
        You are making an argument, sir.

        • ChainofTermina

          I'm not the one who started it. all I did was state me opinion and personal preference, and then every one started yelling at me.

    • ChainofTermina

      okay, you know what? forget I said anything, no, really, just pretend this out of control explosion of arguing just didn't happen. I change my mind, Zelda should be all vague and incoherent and stuff, okay? yeah, your all right, I'm wrong, I'm sorry for typing a comment right after I woke up and wasn't thinking clearly. I agree with everyone. you happy now? I still think it would be nice if we had some re-occurring characters besides Link and Zelda, but whatever. I don't care anymore. just leave me alone.

      • GorCoronSumo

        No, it's perfectly alright to have an opinion different from other people. Tons of great people had opinions the differed from the popular opinion. Comment all you want about your own opinion, but realize that some people may beg to differ.

        • ChainofTermina

          if people beg to differ that's fine I just don't like it when people all gang up on me and have a hissy fit yelling at me.

  • Anon

    Halo Reach has nothing story wise in common with “The fall of Reach”….

    • Marcus Aurelius

      Great book.

  • Although I would like to see the timeline very much, Aonuma said himself that if everyone knew about the timeline and where each game should go, it would be less fun for them because everyone would care more about the timeline than actually playing the game itself. He said that if that were to happen, the game-making process would be more serious and hard to think about than it is fun.

    • Joshua Lindquist

      And I disagree entirely with Aonuma. It's a cop-out. If the Timeline Document actually exists, then Nintendo already does the extra work to make the story fit. It wouldn't change their development process at all.

      And why is it a problem if someone cares about the story of the game more than the gameplay itself? Is that so unusual? I know plenty of people who play games for the story more than the game itself. More and more, video games are becoming movies (that's not something I really like, but it's worth noting).

      The Legend of Zelda deserves to be treated like other modern video games. Nintendo is stuck in the 90's when it comes to story development.

      • I understand where you're coming from with how some people play the game more for the story, and that it wouldn't change much, but Aonuma said he's only shown the timeline document to a few number of people. I think the people at Nintendo work to make the games connect, but Aonuma's keeping the document confidential so that they can work new ideas into the LoZ when they want to without having to worry about the limitations of finding a place to put those ideas into a solid timeline without it interfering with the sequence of other events.

        I'm not sure if I'm making much sense but I have a little trouble typing my words as opposed to speaking them ^_^;

        • DragonChi

          One major risk with making the proper timeline public knowledge, is that if they wanted to change something, (and heaven knows how many times that may have already happened without us knowing) there could be a major backlash in the fan community to the point where they are forced to be at our mercy with how the story continues. Which, If they don't comply, may result in an exodus of fans leaving the franchise, putting the series in danger of ending.

          I'm not saying that definitely WOULD happen, but it's certainly not out of the question, and certainly not worth the risk. It would put way too much stress on them. It would be terrible for that to happen, and certainly don't wish for them to be put in that amount of stress. Given how much pressure they are in, as is, to make each new iteration up to everyone's' standards.

          I believe its probably best that we don't know.

  • Evan

    Zelda has never been about story, it's never been a priority. The other games that you listed really can't be compared to Zelda because they contain huge worlds with a lot of history, where there is story to be told, whereas Zelda is centered around a single character who doesn't have much personality to begin with. I would be all about releasing media that shows us parts of Hyrule we haven't seen or focuses on and develops side characters.

    • Kitty

      I have to say, they have the game mechanics down, game after game after game not much has changed. Which I am perfectly fine with. It is familiar and enjoyable. I think it is time they start to bring up the story though.
      They have mechanics that people enjoy, now they could take the time to solidify the world. If they don't, oh well. I still have my lovely Shin Megami Tensei games for a story I care about.
      It would be nice to make Zelda's story a bit deeper now though, of course this is just my opinion. Maybe show us a story in Hyrule that had nothing to do with Link and Zelda, I'm more than sure there have been more threats than those of Legend.
      We either take what Nintendo gives us though or stop playing in the end though.

  • 1. In this context, the plural of medium is "media". Mediums is a group of people who "can" communicate with the spiritual world.
    2. I think that Nintendo should still keep the timeline to themselves. I don't know about you, but I consider theorizing about the timeline really fun.

    • mcdude910

      I love it. It was what attracted me to the series in the beginning, and now I have every Zelda game, including SS pre-ordered (and paid in full, special edition), and I have completed every released game, except for the NES games. (It is my goal to complete them before November 20)

  • fyi the game "Halo: Reach" completely contradicted the book "fall of reach"

    • Jarek Matthew Jones

      we like to think of it as "also happening alongside" the Fall of Reach….except for the whole Cortana thing. Idk wtf they were thinking there.

  • I have to disagree. As stated by Aonuma, he believes that if he were to release it would cause his workers to focus more on the story and less on the gameplay. And you can’t say EITHER of those things are currently not well written.

    Also, stories that have a definite timeline has ALWAYS had them. And the public knew about it. Like Starwars. They go in order. They have numbers. They didn’t just give them nicknames and then all one day be like “OKAY HERES THE ORDER!” No. That wouldn’t work.

    And like others have stated, it would totally spoil the fun. People work really hard and have a fun time thinking of timelines.

    And it’s rare for games to become GOOD movies. Or TV shows for that matter. I’m actually not even sure how Pokémon still has one, because it’s not really at it’s height of popularity anymore. It was in the 90’s when EVERYONE loved pokémon, not just gaming nerds, so they knew it would work. I don’t thhink that’s the case for Zelda.

    So I’m going to have to disagree with you. Sorry.

    • gward

      Pokemon still is really popular, even for people who are not gaming nerds.

    • LinkMasterYoda

      About Star Wars, they do NOT go in order, they go 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, and 3, originally there was going to be ANH, ESB, ROTJ, and a sequel trilogy, In fact, A New Hope, originally had NO NUMBER when it was first released, it was just called STAR WARS.

  • Hey ZU staff! If you guys read the comments (and I know you do) your 'Contact Us' page isn't working. It just says 'One moment please' in perpetuity. I am trying soooooo hard to contact you. XD

    J.M.J.

  • Flare

    You've really made no point that suggests the timeline NEEDS to be released. The major point of your argument seems to be "If they release a timeline, then they can release Zelda on other mediums". But really, that's not necessary.

    Think about it.

    Right now, the Zelda team creates a game, and then figures out where it fits in in the grand scheme of things. They were about gameplay and entertainment first (which I think is a good strategy, honestly). What's to stop them from using this same approach with a movie or a comic, or a show? nothing. If Nintendo really wanted to, they could easily craft an expansive novel, or commission a movie, and then figure out where it fits in after the fact. It'd be no different than what they are doing already.

    While I can certainly understand a desire to know the truth behind the story, I don't think Nintendo should or shouldn't release their "official" timeline. I think things work fine as they are. I mean, honestly, the lack of an official timeline is only a very small portion of what is holding the Zelda franchise back in this new era of gaming. But, hopefully, Skyward Sword will live up to the hype and really will be a re-envisioning of Zelda while still maintaining everything that makes Zelda great. If so, it'll be the first step towards the Zelda franchise really 'growing' since OoT or MM.

  • Chris

    I couldn't read this whole article without feeling sick to my stomach, The time line as much as I would like to know what it is, is better left disclosed, as it gives you imagination and let's each new Zelda game fit into a creative possibility to where it fits in, like adding a new piece to the puzzle. For now I am satisfied right now however that the time-line is kept confidential, it does give the sense of creativity to the fans as to what happens. As you have said many other series have expanded into other mediums to showcase their story, the opposite is also true, many games leave the ending wide open, for the players to engage and believe what they will as to what actually happens.

    I believe this is is equally as important to storytelling today, I mean who wants to know the whole story of a book before you read it, what fun is the story if you know how it ends? As Iwata stated keeping it confidential, gives the team more focus on the game itself, then trying to fall in a pretense of an existing time-line, which I find would limit their imaginations and they would be focused harder on trying to fit the game in an ideal space.

    Why do you think Link doesn't really have a voice or pre-set dialogue, it is also as Miyamoto states to have the player be in Links' shoes and immerse themselves in Hyrule, you get a stronger feeling of attachment to the character and formulate your own bonds within the game. The experience itself would be entirely different and may work for some games but not everyone, even a game a renowned game like Mass Effect gives you the same option, yes you can play as Commander Shepard, or you can create your own character. Even within the game, your dialogue isn't just chosen for you, you make those decisions as you go through the game, in which you feel most strongly towards as it's a reflection of your character.

    Which brings me to my point that the time-line works in the same way, by revealing it to the public, it limits the creativity on what the Zelda universe is, another good game for an example of this is Borderlands, there is a Borderlands 2 coming out, but they didn't show you the whole world, just only a sample of the world, so when you are introduced to other parts in the world some years down the road from the original game, it still has the potential for creativity from both the developer and the gamers to imagine what is possible.

    I am not saying that knowing the time line for certain franchises is bad, it just doesn't work for all franchises, a game like Gears of War already had a preset vision, where other mediums like Star Wars expands over the years, to games like final fantasy which don't necessarily have any continuity within their games, just elements you can recognize from one game to the next. Everyone has a different approach to their franchise, and Zelda is no different, Castlevania and Metroid are also in the same boat, while the placement of both of these franchises' is a bit more obvious then Zelda, they are able to expand and add to the time line cause they haven't pre-defined it. it's part of what makes these franchises' what they are today, because they are given the freedom to expand on the storyline and give the most powerful tool, creativity to us the gamer to help immerse ourselves in the game play and become part of the experience.

    Sorry Joshua but I definitely disagree on this article entirely, for someone who grew up with Zelda since the very first game, and to be the same age as the Zelda franchise, I appreciate what Zelda was back then, and what it is now today.

  • ovafaze

    For a minute I thought I was reading an IGN article. Nintendo has made this far by doing what they do, pushing them to do what everyone else does will make them like everybody else.

  • TheMaverickk

    I disagree with the timeline thing.

    I'm sorry but it's such a friggen Western ideal that storties need to be told in a line… and you either have sequels and prequels.

    The Legend of Zelda should be viewed as a collection of stories. Like one giant book with various stories which have connecting threads but that each story can be read without having prior knowledge of the last story.

    This is actually very much the way old mythology was created. Greek mythology tells many stories and involves similar characters but it doesn't always connect properly.

    The timeline theory not being released means that Nintendo can create a Zelda game that is self contained…. they don't have to go and forcibly put in connectors to make it connect to other specific Zelda title. It gives them more options and more creativity to do what they want with the game series.

    Then when you get games like Skyward Sword that really connect dots it's extremely appreciated. From what I've seen Skyward Sword is going to have a lot of connections to other Zelda titles timeline wise. From having Geabora in it, to have items like the Gush Bellow, Mole Mitts (connecting this game in ways to Minish Cap), and most importantly the creation of the Mastersword. Even going farther it connects to Twilight Princess the sort of loose canon in the timeline by going back to a time period where people living in he sky was talked about.

    I'm sorry but I don't need my stories to be told to me in linear fashion. What a western idea… boring and simple. I have always viewed The Legends of Zelda as sort of massive book and we get to hear different stories from it from various parts.

    • gward

      exactly! that's why it is the LEGEND of zelda.

    • Nathan Mueller

      I personally agree with you; I don't think Zelda needs a timeline. My problem is that Miyamoto and Aonuma have both claimed that there is an overall timeline – which makes me want to know what it is.

    • Nathan Mueller

      Even though I agree with your argument in general, I have a couple of problems with your it:
      1) It's a little ironic to criticize Western ideals, and then argue that you want Zelda to follow a Western mythology.

      2) Stories always have a linear flow because events take place within time. The only thing that can be varied is the order in which the events of a story are retold. (Ex. Star Wars started with 4-5-6, and told 1-2-3 later. Note that this doesn't change the order/linearity of the story itself, only the order of the retelling of the events).

      3) Greek Mythology has a much more linear flow than the Legend of Zelda. I think that it would be better to argue that Zelda to mirrors Noah's Ark (and you want it to continue to do so). Let me explain: Almost every civilization on planet earth has, in its mythology, a variation of a story about one man surviving a cataclysmic flood (Noah, Gilgamesh, Chinese mythology, even the Aborigines in Australia have a flood story – search list of flood myths in wikipedia). However, each mythology varies on the specific details of that event, leading to some wildly different details surrounding one main idea.
      Under this approach, all of the LoZ games involving Ganon(dorf) would simply be a retelling of the same event – with differences attributed to how far removed the tale is from the original event.

  • A_LINK_IN_TIME

    I support releasing the timeline. The Legend will still be a Legend even if we know the order the games fit together in.

  • Drizzt

    i honestly like the mystery to the Zelda timeline, we should all have our own idea of what the timeline is. its just part of Zelda. in my opinion.

  • zarco

    Why should Zelda be like those games? I feel the separate entities of the Zelda series allows people to get into the series more easily- it’s much easier to pick up “Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” than to pick up “Legend of Zelda 5” (arbitrary number but you get my point)

    I think the ambiguity of the timeline makes it interesting and entertains all us Zelda fans between releases (and Nintendo takes forever to release new Zeldas), so it may be to their advantage to not release it. After all, I think they’re arguing about the order just as we are- they’ve dug themselves into a hole by releasing games without an actual timeline in place, and there may not be 1 correct way to arrange the games anymore.

    • TheMaverickk

      Well said… I mean considering how many Zelda titles there are now… Imagine if you had to start from the beginning just to understand the story going on?

      IT would take forever to be caught up. Each new Zelda title is meant to be a game that even new players can jump into without much knowledge of the series. Considering that now a days we get a new Zelda game roughly 4-5 years…. I mean that's a long time.

      Games like Mass Effect and Assasins Creeds come out almost every year and a half. I mean in the lifespan of the 360, there has been 3 Mass Effect games and 3 Assasins Creed games… that's a huge difference between the fact that the Wii in truth has gotten one true Zelda game for it (sure you can count Twilight Princess, but that's a fine line since it was designed as a Gamecube game).

      As for the timeline thing, I believe that each time they create a new Zelda game they try to connect some dots or create new launch points for new Zelda titles.

      • mcdude910

        "Considering that now a days we get a new Zelda game roughly 4-5 years"

        OoX-2001
        FS-2002
        TWW-2003
        FSA-2004
        TMC-2004
        TP-2006
        PH-2007
        ST-2009
        SS-2011
        What?

        • TheMaverickk

          Sorry I should've been more specific but I was referring to console releases. So the console list would be this;

          LoZ – 1986
          AoL – 1987
          LttP – 1991
          OoT – 1998
          MM – 2000
          TWW – 2003
          FSA – 2004
          TP – 2006
          SS – 2011

          Portable Titles:

          LA – 1993
          OoX – 2000
          TMC – 2005
          PH – 2007
          ST – 2009

          Also for arguments sake I went by NA release dates to be consistent. So if you add up and average the amount of years it is between releases here is the average:

          So probably better number would be 3.25 years between console releases.
          Then an average of 4 years between portable releases.

          Of course this neglects remakes and releases and extended stuff like Crossbow Training. Which of course can always be argued and everything. Mind you I should add if you are going to make a list, you may as well include all the original Zelda releases. Not just Zelda titles after 2000. You know there was Zelda titles before then right.

          • mcdude910

            I understand what you mean, now, but the portable Zelda games are partly meant to hold you over for the console releases. Also, you asked if I knew that there were Zelda games before 2001, and, yes, I knew that, but you said "Considering that 'now a days'…" I was simply giving you the benefit of the doubt and going back ten years. In fact, I have every Zelda game, so there is no confusion here.
            EDIT: Also, you forgot Four Swords: 2002

    • Nathan Mueller

      Your first paragraph doesn't make much sense. How would knowing the order (in the timeline) of already released games make it more difficult for newcomers to jump into the series? You are right about the numbers – I never want to see Zelda 5, 6, etc. Nintendo has dropped hints about the timeline in the past, adding more concrete hints in future games wouldn't turn it into a linear story line.
      I suspect that you are pretty spot on with your last sentence – I'm not sure that Nintendo has agreed upon a single timeline, which would explain why we only get little hints here or there instead of a definite order.

  • Personally I feel the debates and discussions are what make the Zelda series. Countering this, I also believe that releasing the timeline would be beneficial. But not now. Since the third or fourth game of the series (based on release date) the timeline has been discussed. Heck, even since the Zelda II, it's been confusing as to what EXACTLY is going on. That's what makes the Zelda titles refreshing for me. Each new game is a new clue, or sometimes a new mystery, to the bigger picture.

    • 20th

      that deserves 18 thumbs up.

  • Nathan Mueller

    Personally, I don't care either way. I am okay with each Zelda being it's own unique story (not tied to an overall narrative of Hyrule). I am also okay with the Zelda franchise being a linear epic (as the creators have suggested). I care more about how each individual game feels and plays, and how it tells its own story (whether or not it's tied to some overall narrative).

    Having said that, I feel like Nintendo needs to make up their mind. If they have a legitimate timeline that they have been keeping, I'd really like to know how everything ties together. If they don't have a timeline, then Nintendo needs to stop teasing us with it.

    Contrary to many of the responses, I don't see how having a timeline hampers creativity. Nintendo can always release games which are not canon. Star Wars uses a huge variety of both canon and non-canon media. Why couldn't Zelda do the same thing (with the games – I'm not suggesting cartoons/movies/etc.)?

    A final thing which Josh touched own – the story. As I said, I couldn't care less about the overall timeline (if it's even real). However, I would like to see each individual game tell it's story well. I believe Nintendo needs to do more to flesh out the story. I think that they should go deeper with the character development – maybe even give the characters (other than Link) voices. I'm liking what I'm seeing from Skyward Sword in this regard. It looks like Nintendo is going to flesh out more of the characters this go round. Ultimately, Nintendo needs to simply make a decision and stick to it – I'll still be a fan, timeline or not.

    • gward

      they have made a decision, and are sticking to it………………………

      • Nathan Mueller

        lol. I suppose you're right. The decision to leave the fans in the dark is still a decision.

        • gward

          EXACTLY!! But leaving us in the dark is good, because then the franchise has more 'wonder' around it, and it fits as a 'legend' better

          • Nathan Mueller

            Now that's your opinion (ultimately every post on this article is opinion). As I said earlier, I don't really care about the overall (timeline) story of Hyrule (if it exists), I care about how well done the story of each individual game is.

  • bishoujo688

    I sincerely disagree with you. Not knowing the timeline is a BIG reason why I am even a fan in the first place!! I love the mystery of the timeline (how does this game or that game fit?), and I would be so heartbroken to see one of my (if not THE most) favorite game series to suddenly become like other games… let's see here, do I play Mass Effect? No. Do I play Halo anymore? No. Do I play Warcraft anymore? No. Do I like Star Wars? Yes, but I haven't gotten into the whole expanded Universe as much as my significant other has. You see, there is a very fine line between knowing too much and knowing too little! Just the mere fact that I have kept up with Zelda while leaving other series behind reinforces my point!

    • Nathan Mueller

      I find it hard to believe that you got into the Zelda series specifically because of the mystery surrounding the timeline. The way you phrased your comment makes it sound as though you were simply at the store looking at videogames and thought "Hey, I have no idea what this Zelda game has to do with the other Zelda games. That makes this series awesome, I'll take one!" Having said that, I suppose it is possible that there are fans out there who only buy the game so that they can attempt to further piece together their timeline theory.

      Letting fans know what the overall timeline is (if it exists at all), will not change the past games or suddenly morph the series into a trilogy with a clear beginning and end. I think if you're honest with yourself, the reason you play Zelda probably is more related to a combination of nostalgia, the atmosphere of the games, and the variety of gameplay elements (platforming, puzzle-solving, combat, item collecting) as opposed to the narrative of the series as a whole (which if I'm honest is pretty weak and archetypical).

  • Windfish

    I for one think that it seems as if the developing team is giving less and less energy on the stories of their zelda games. The story is,in my opinion, only getting worse and worse. TP was nothing but bullshit of a story so bad that i dont even have the energy to consider it when I think about the timeline. And don’t get me started on spirit tracks and phantom hourglass…. Uuuh.

    • Windshark

      you didnt just say that on a zelda website. oh, and by the way, **** you.

    • kamikazemind

      I didn't particularly care for TP either. But…your very emphatic about it lmao.

    • TheMaverickk

      Although I agree that TP was definitely one of the weakest Zelda titles to date, the reason it was has nothing to do with the Timeline but on other factors.

      For starters Twilight Princess was created as fan service, that was the Zelda teams first mistake. It was their way of trying to please and appease to people who were outraged by Wind Waker's cel-shaded and cartoony world. It's why they went for a more realistic and dark graphical style (the first Twilight Realm was absolutely black and white if almost to say, well you hated all the colour in Wind Waker so much we took it all out).

      The other fan service they did was create it for those people who had been fans of Ocarina of Time. So the story mimicked Ocarina of Time very closely. You had the Forest Temple, Goron Mines, and Water Temple…. completely mirroring the first 3 dungeons (and temples for that matter) that were in Ocarina of Time. Which when completed meant you got the Master Sword as well.

      Bar and far though the biggest mistake in Twilight Princess was the fact that they waffled on almost every element in the game. They didn't have any mechanic that really defined the game. They had the wolf element…. but you were only a wolf in the Twilight Realm (which in the first half of the game is very short stints). Then half way through the game you can be the wolf whenever you want, but it was barely required to complete more then a single dungeon in the game. The twilight realm like wise was another element that was weak…. it imitated Link to the Past's Dark World, but again this element of the game disappears after those first 3 dungeons through the game. There is no more fighting to push back the Twilight Realm half way through….

      Which is also when you learn that your games villain, isn't the real villain to boot and Ganondorf is introduced.

      Twilight Princess was a poor game for waffling… it didn't have a solid gameplay mechanic that the game was built on… it tried to be cinematic, and epic, and dark…. it was trying to pander to OoT fans… and in the end you had this mish mashed game trying to please so many people instead of focusing on a core component to deliver a compelling gameplay experience.

  • PiBox

    I wouldn't mind, per se, if they released some sort of timeline, but I like things how they are right now.

    For example: Assassin's Creed. The series has already had a short movie, animated one coming up, comic books, actual books and even an encyclopedia is getting released. But it has a solid, set timeline for everything and it cannot variate from that. And I like that, I like that it goes from earlier era to later.

    But Legend of Zelda is different. I don't mind having an occasional prequel, sequel or midquel, it's a collection of stories (legends), and it's entries are not easy to number. And legends do not have to have absolute cohesion with each other. They are myths that may have been exaggerated over time.

    I find it nice, to think up some sort of connections between games, and while getting an official timeline for the series would not destroy anything or force Nintendo to start actually releasing games in order I am perfectly fine with it staying as a secret to everybody – if it even exists.

    • A_LINK_IN_TIME

      Hey, nice to see you on Zelda Universe as well.

  • prince

    "media", not "mediums".

  • Kitty

    My personal thought is to give us 'timeline fragments' you know groups of games that they say 'ok these ones are definitely related to each other and in this order' as OoT to MJ, or WindWaker to its DS games.
    Just minor cohesion to the stories, not a grand overall plot, but fragments that make sense, and then people can still have the fun of putting those pieces together.
    Also they have the game mechanics down by this point, personally I'm a bit tired of Link saving the day, and that is it (for the most part).
    It would be nice if they started to build up a deeper story in each game. I don't know how, maybe something along the lines of a Shin Megami Tensei game? Regardless they have solidified what LoZ's gameplay is, give us some new story though! These are just idle thoughts.

  • Arya

    Don't fix what isn't broken, I say. If they don't want to follow the herd, good for them. I prefer people who play by their own agenda than people who just follow the crowd.

  • kamikazemind

    I must disagree with this post. I like not having a timeline. To be honest…I think Zelda wasn't meant to have a timeline…and the only reason they mention nowadays when what game goes where is to satisfy zelda fanboy/fangirls. Also, i don't think zelda "deserves" a timeline…a better word needs to be used there. zelda is fine the way it is. And I also do agree with Ninty that a timeline would scale back creativeness because now you have to follow a set rule book of some sorts.

    The real article should be Zelda deserves a movie! but…we all know that would be horrible…so nevermind lol.

  • Matthias

    All great STORIES have at least a kernel of truth behind them. Legends get embellished overtime as it gets told traditionally by word of mouth. They may keep some kernels and discard kernels over time. but that's what keeps a story evolving. Nintendo has done essentially just that. For all you know each game could be a variation of the same story. Maybe the timeline is a myth maybe it isn't. Personally, I would rather have to keep guessing the timeline then be told what it is. For I am a problem-solver not a solution beggar.

  • Releasing the full timeline would only remove surprise from the games and make them predictable. I'd prefer they keep it all as it is now and release pieces of it in each game.

  • kkk

    Why is the timeline document such a secret? Because it doesn't exit, it's just a make up so idiotic fanboy can keep their zeldgasms going, Miyamoto himself has told the story of the games is the last thing he hinks about, he focuses on gameplay and then throws in a fitting story, is only recently that stories in the Zelda series have gotten more detailed, only because Eiji Aonuma likes them, and even thought they don't always have coherency. Publicly claim there's a child timeline and an adult timeline was like the worst thing ever done to the Zelda franchise, chaging it from an epic story to a Fringe episode, I lost faith in Zelda having a master timeline ever since, I love the games thoughm¡, they're great, and their stories are good, but there's is no real time line, they just throw them here and there as they want, leaving things deliberately ambiguos enought for people to fantasize,

    • lark

      i dislike your name.

      • kkk

        Thank you!! I dislike you name, too.

  • I've said it before. I'll say it again.

    It is utter garbage to suggest that all the Zelda games are somehow connected. No, not even the series' creator can make it so. It is ESPECIALLY ridiculous that the timeline is some confidential document on one guy's computer. What's gonna happen? Is he going to blow our minds one day with an official timeline? What will that timeline even reveal to us? Even after we learn what the timeline "really is", how will that affect how we perceive the games?

    Frankly, it's a waste of time. Each game is a retelling of the story of Link and Zelda. There is no connection.

  • Yes, I am aware of the existing obvious connections (MM after OoT, WW being long after OoT, etc.) but the rest don't matter.

  • Chapushki

    I think it might be better to leave it to the player's imagination. I mean there are some games that are obviously connected, like Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask…and Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. But that doesn't mean every single game in the series has to be connected to the other in some continuous timeline. There can be some games connected in their own stories, and other games as totally different retellings of the Zelda legend. Or maybe they are all part of the same continuous story. But that can be left up to the imagination of the player. The timeline can be whatever they want it to be. This is just my opinion, though.

  • JSKT

    NO! leave it as it is!!
    burn the one who wrote this article!!

  • Lilly

    It'd be nice to know, but I think I like the mystery 🙂

  • mrnjlw1090

    Couldn't Spirit Tracks be a little closer to Phantom Hourglass than 100 years? Remember–Niko is the same person in all three. Unless he was really young or somehow lived to be well over 120. But this is the Zelda Universe, so really anything is possible. Right?

  • Dan

    The timeline is confidential because there is no timeline. It's just something they say to keep the hype among fans going. If they release an official timeline, hordes of websites and forums would be dead because there would be nothing to discuss. That's the last thing Nintendo wants.

    • TheMaverickk

      Dude… saying there is no timeline is a GANNON-BAN you know that right. If Miyamoto and Aonuma both have said there is a timeline, and basically if they say there is you take it as fact, they created Zelda and if they say there is a Timeline there is a timeline, until the day they say "there is no timeline". Simple as that.

      Not to mention that saying their is no timeline would be a slap in the face to the fact that Majora's Mask references learning the Song of Time from OoT, and other moments…. and Wind Waker has references to OoT all through out it… and Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks both say that they happen during and after the journey to find a new Hyrule and features those characters.

      There is a timeline… what would be a better debate would be how fleshed out is their timeline. Does it include only games they've created, or possible ideas for future games… and things like that. Those are the details we don't know.

      • Dan

        I love Zelda. I always have. I've owned every one of the home console entries in the franchise (except the Philips CDi games… good Lord…) and have speculated om the timeline more than I care to admit.

        Obviously some games have direct sequels, and almost all the games allude to something from another game in one way or another. But it's all so disjointed. References are little nods, to the other games, but I don't think they mean anything anymore. I want them to mean something, we all do. But honestly, I think we're just being strung along.

        I'm not trying to be a troll,but I'm not going to pray in the temple of Miyamoto either. He works for Nintendo. Nintendo isn't our friend, Nintendo wants our money. If saying there is a timeline is what they think is best to get free advertising hype behind every release, then that's what they're going to do. Sorry if you think that's "GANNON-BAN" or whatever, but we're all entitled to our opinions. You're stance is that there is a timeline because they say so, and mine is that there is no timeline until they prove it. Not saying you're wrong, just saying we disagree.

    • yo yo

      look dan there is a time line because i know what it is

  • yo yo

    the legend of zelda:skyward sword came after twilight prensess because if it came before ocaraina of time then link wound have to be 3. And in oct when child link piks up the master sword its about as tall as him,so if skyward sword came be for oct how would he use the master sword (the skyward sword) and the hyland shield oh yea I know what the time line says

  • yo yo

    No one ever told me the time line but its easy to figure out think about it

  • sycotickid528

    I disagree with this article, if Nintendo did release the Official Timeline, it would prevent us from theorizing to our hearts content. And releasing the timeline will tell us where everything is, therefore spoiling the excitement of figuring out how the games are connected. (Ex. In the Wind Waker, when I entered to retrieve my Master Sword again, I became so excited when I saw all of the window art of the sages from the Ocarina of Time! And I don't think it would be fair to take that away from me and every other Zelda fan out there.

  • Zelda's Scribe

    In my opinion the storyline is a very important part of a game. I think Zelda does a really good job at creating an interesting world that makes you feel like you're in the story. Though sometimes I wonder what it would be like to know the true order of the Legend of Zelda, I like the mysteries and the secrets of a Zelda game more. Long live Zelda!!!

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