Zelda and Link Skyward Sword
The series is named after her, but Zelda is often little more than the name of a damsel in distress who needs to be rescued. In some games, she’s more of an idea than a character and we learn little of her story or her personality. It’s no wonder that from time to time people assume that the guy dressed in green running around must be Zelda, since the game’s called The Legend of Zelda and he’s the one we’re following. The Wind Waker and Spirit Tracks can be considered exceptions, and Zelda has a stronger presence in those games, but even then she wasn’t as strong a character as she could be (or had an alternative form or character). Skyward Sword is the first Zelda game to not only sketch out her personality in the beginning but establishes a solid relationship between her and Link that gives him motivation for pursuing her and also keeps her on the player’s mind, according to Gamasutra.

Gamasutra’s article establishes a fact that we Zelda fans all know well: the series has a lot of themes that have remained consistent throughout its run. Link will have to leave his home in order to rescue a princess and/or save the land from an evil force. He’ll collect items and venture into dungeons. The article suggests that these themes are metaphoric: Link will go from being a boy into a man. The princess as the object of rescue is a fairytale, an ideal toward which to strive. Link himself dutifully achieves his goals but remains essentially a blank canvas and he grows because the gamer makes him.  In Skyward Sword, not only is Zelda given a solid characterization herself for the first time, but Link is also characterized through her.

All Zelda games featuring the titular character involve Link having to rescue her at some point, and Skyward Sword is no different. What it does do is set up a relationship between the two prior to the drama unfolding  so that when Zelda is finally taken away, we know and feel Link’s determination to get her back. The game also keeps Zelda on your mind by the way it makes you think that she’s always just ahead of you. You arrive at a location just after she left. You see her, but then she’s whisked away. Not only does this help the gamer empathize with Link’s loss, her presence creates a higher emotional stake.

You can read the entire article at Gamasutra.

Source: Gamasutra
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  • occultfan

    Very good point Lysia. This is one of the most-important accomplishments in Skyward Sword. Without this surge in empathy to the story-line, to the series, we would not have been able to someday look back and understand this as a human connection to 'who' Zelda and Link 'are'. Somehow, this lets us care 'even more' about 'them'.

    Too we have the 'inside joke' or running theme connected by the 'sleepyhead' pet-talk between the two. That would be a welcome addition to any examination of this game and its place in the larger part of the Zelda canon.

    Its important than Nintendo not take this 'too far', that they allow for some part of this all to remain in the fan's own individual creation of how they love the game, the series. But this feels to fit well without crossing that border. This game only tempers-further, it doesn't water-down.

  • The part where Zelda explains her purpose in Skyward Sword is my favorite scene out of every Zelda game I've played. It brought out the most empathy, and reestablished my resolve to save her. I love how Zelda turned from lighthearted to determined, though she felt obvious pain when mentioning she had to perform her duty over a life with Link.

  • Link and Cuccos

    One of the biggest surprises in this game for me was when I first catch up to Zelda for the first time, only to watch Impa block her, remind her of something, and then hear Zelda apologize and run on ahead of me. I was pretty shocked, cause I immediately thought, wow, she's choosing not to go to Link? And with each encounter like that, it made me extremely curious and motivated to find out the reason for her running ahead of Link and choosing not to go back to him at the time. I really wanted to find out what she was up to. It was something different from all the previous Zelda games because now, not only is Link going on a journey, but Zelda is traveling on her own journey as well.

    The cutscene with Zelda's revelation is my favorite. I did NOT see that coming at all because it's not something I would've thought Nintendo would pull. Of all the possible plot twists I thought of, that was not one of them! Link's reaction and emotions at that point really connected with me as the player. I have never felt that shocked and that emotional in a Zelda game. This game made me care about Zelda even more. Skyward Sword definitely excelled in tugging our hearts with their storytelling and characters without going overboard. Even Groose was a nice surprise – he has such a huge fan following now!

    I agree with the writer about Link's characterization through Zelda.
    It was a very effective way of showing Link's emotions while still giving us, the players, the freedom to be Link and feel what he's feeling.

    Great article! I really enjoyed reading this.