Twilight Princess is a game about love. Make no mistake about it– it is not strictly romantic love: it’s love between a father and son, between childhood friends, between citizens and the world they live in, between soldiers and the world they protect. It’s love between ancient races and their traditions, and even the love a researcher has for knowledge.
It is the kind of love that causes a knight to fight for his country, or a princess to give up a life of luxury to save her people, or even a madman to stop at nothing for power; it’s the kind of love that never dies no matter how dire the circumstances. However, in a game so centered on this all-encompassing concept of love, how is it that our hero never finds it?
The concept of romantic love is an endearing and alluring topic; it draws fans of all kinds and occasionally causes them to argue. It is, however, not to be taken lightly… or played too simply. It seems not even I am able to escape the allure of finding the hidden meanings behind cutscenes, to figure out precisely who Nintendo intends to hook our hero up with.
In this latest grandiose adventure, there are three main characters that appear to be vying for the affection of the chosen hero. First: Ilia, the childhood friend; second: Midna, the knavish imp and loyal sidekick; and last but not least: Zelda, the princess Link is out to save in the end (as any good knight should). After explaining the pros, cons, and hints of romance hidden within the immense script for each character, I will present you with my final conclusion: the truth to which Nintendo was planning to hook out hero up with. All of that will come in time, however… first, a look at Link’s childhood friend and closest confidant: Ilia.
In-game Story: Born and raised in the sleepy village of Ordon, Ilia and Link were seldom separate as the two grew up, or as Ilia described:
“I… I knew you once…Yes… This feels so familiar… The scent of hay…Long ago… When we were young, you and I…You were always there… You were always beside me…Link.”
This clearly shows that the bond between these two is very tight, nigh unbreakable. However, their peaceful life was tragically torn asunder when their village was attacked, and Ilia was kidnapped.
Although others were taken, Ilia seemed to be carried the furthest and somehow ended up trapped by vicious beasts in a forgotten sanctuary –the house of an old lady in the same situation as her. After promising that she would find help for the kind and weary soul, Ilia managed to escape to the outside world, but at no small cost: her memory was all but shattered. As she moved closer to castle town, she found a dying Zora boy, and even without knowing who she was, she selflessly took the boy into town looking for help.
While in the city, she ran into our hero, himself just returning from restoring light and peace to the Lanayru province. Link escorted Ilia and the Zora child to Kakariko, but although she was thankful, Ilia was unaware of the special bond that the two shared. In her own words:
“Th-Thank you so much for this. Um, if you don’t mind me asking, what’s your name?…Link?! I will never in all my life forget your kindness, Link.”
Safely nestled in Kakariko, she selflessly nursed the still-ailing child back to health. While in town, the shaman attempted to help Ilia with her own problems, and began to work with her to restore her memory. Link came back for an attempt at restoring her memories, and as she started to realize much of what she had forgotten, she insisted that Link help the woman who had sheltered her. Her memory did return, and she eventually took a back-seat role, heading back home with the child refugees and eventually watching as Link left Ordon, always waiting for the day he returned.
Pros: The close bond that the two shared as children would doubtless carry over into any other relationship that could develop between them, dramatically reducing the risk of any kind of fight happening between the two of them. Furthermore, Link’s duties as the chosen hero would take precedence over any sort of domestic life he could lead, which Ilia would understand and work around because of her selfless nature (definitely a plus).
Cons: Ilia definitely has a temper, as evidenced here:
“Link? How could you! You were pushing Epona too hard again! I bet you hurt her leg jumping fences, didn’t you!”.
Furthermore, she is a bit dull compared to the other two possible love interests, having led a life of simplicity.
In-game Hints: It’s hard to ignore the signs sprinkled throughout Twilight Princess: the spring scene and the scene where she regains her memory topping the list. Here we see two friends staring into each others’ eyes, love struck smiles on their faces. If that’s not a nudge by Nintendo I don’t know what is.
Personal Thoughts: I’ll admit, I am a bit biased. This coupling is the personal favorite of mine; probably because I think the “Girl next Door” aspect is adorable. However, it’s hard to ignore the final scene in the game, with Link riding away from his hometown as Ilia watches. Even still, my hopes are personally riding on these two getting together.
Relationship: Traveling Companion
In-game Story: Once standing tall as the ruler of the Twilight Realm, Midna found herself trapped in the form of a mere imp, cast out of the realm of her regency by the crazed usurper known as Zant. She took to scavenging for a means of restoring her power in the outskirts of Hyrule, vowing to exact her revenge upon Zant. It was there that she came across Link, trapped in his Lupine form. Taking interest in the strange human that was able to retain substance in the realm of Twilight, she followed him to his place of when he was consequently dragged off.
Midna agreed to free Link from prison, with the caveat that he would then assist Midna in her goals. Link, being in no real position to disagree, assisted Midna in collecting the artifacts that would eventually grant access to the citadel of her tormentor, Zant. Throughout the course of their journey, it became apparent that Midna’s affection for the creatures of the light, Link especially, was growing all the while. It was perhaps with this sentiment (combined with inconsolable rage, of course) that Midna destroyed Zant after Link had weakened him significantly.
When Ganondorf, the King of Evil inevitably presented himself, endangering Link and the princess Zelda (who had already saved Midna’s life once before), the duty fell upon Midna’s shoulders to assume the god-like form that she had only entered once before, putting herself in extreme danger. She fought back the beast that was Ganon, and transported Link and Zelda to safety, sacrificing herself in the process.
All hope seemed lost when Ganondorf, human again, appeared on horseback holding the crumbling remains of Midna’s helm in front of Link. However, through valiance, swordplay, and an unobstructed sensor bar, Link vanquished the King of Evil once and for all. It was only then that Midna returned to her original, humanoid form. When she and Link reunited, she greeted his trademark stoic silence with, “Am I so beautiful that you’ve no words left?”
However, all things must come to an end, and it was with a tear and an outstretched hand that Midna, ruler of the Twilight Realm again, departed the tangible realm for good, leaving only the words, “Link…I…See you later…”.
Pros: The powerful Twili princess sorceress seems to be a perfect fit with a green-garbed hero. She is nice, and does not take herself too seriously. Furthermore, she also has a strong will, and is the best looking of all the suitors (Despite the strange colored skin…but you never know… Link might be into that ).
Cons: She’s a bit of a *****. I mean seriously.
In-game Hints: There are far too many to mention, the entire game is riddled with them, from the first line she speaks.
“I found you! Oooh! Aren’t you scary! Eeh hee! Are you sure you want to be doing that? Snarling and glaring at me? Well, that’s too bad…I was planning on helping you…if you were nice.”
This seems to be her playful way of teasing, and in the final lines in the game it even appears that she is about to confess her love for him. If you played the game and did not get the impression they had feelings for each other (the “breaking into Hyrule Castle” scene, the scene when Zant attacks, etc.) then you really need your eyes checked.
Personal thoughts: I am against inter-species dating. Think of the children! (not yours, theirs)
Relationship: Damsel in Distress
In-game Story: Actually, the princess story is rather small, appearing at the beginning, middle, and end of the game only. Her first appearance was as a prisoner, where she explained to Wolf Link what she had to do in order to save Hyrule. And though it was not pretty and not the heroic thing to do it was the correct thing, as a leader, to do.
She appeared again about halfway through the storyline, when Midna was dying from exposure to the Light Realm. In a selfless act, she gave up her life force in order to save the weakened imp. She disappeared, seemingly into thin air, as Midna was restored; this made many people think she had died.
In her last scene Link entered the Hyrule Castle throne room to discover that she was strapped to a stone Triforce above her old throne like a trophy, as Ganondorf sat underneath delightfully bored. Turning his body into shadow fragments, he possessed Zelda and forced her to attack our two heroes. After her body was defeated, she was only revived after Link had vanquished the beast Ganon. It was then that Midna transported the two of them to safety.
Zelda then prayed to the gods and they granted her a single wish, taking power from the light spirits she was crafted a set of “Light Arrows” capable of wounding Ganondorf. Atop Epona’s back, she managed to weaken him enough for Link to de-horse the madman. However, as Link approached, a field of magic stopped her from intervening further, forcing Link and Ganondorf to fight alone.
In her last appearance, she watched as Midna left for the last time into the Twilight realm, almost trying to convince her to stay.
“Shadow and light are two sides of the same coin…one cannot exist without the other. I know now the reason the goddesses left the Mirror of Twilight in this world… They left it because it was their design that we should meet. Yes… that is what I believe.”
That’s nice of her.
Pros: Unlike Midna, Link wouldn’t have to cross a dangerous desert to see her –given the Mirror of Twilight still existed- and unlike Ilia, he would not have to be stuck in a small town in order to live with her. She’s also a selfless person and the ruler of a kingdom. I also would imagine Zelda as having a large treasury, which I guess could be considered a plus.
Cons: She seems a bit timid, not nearly as outgoing as the other two. Furthermore, I would imagine her princess duties would take up a lot of her time. And she doesn’t really seem that interested in Link…or anything other than helping her people for that matter.
In-game Hints: The only in game hint I could find here comes in the form of the cut scene before the last part of the Final boss. Where Zelda asks for links help and he graciously bows and offers his hand. It’s almost a hint…right?
Personal Thoughts: I see it as very unlikely, they hardly spoke and hardly interacted but I know a lot of fans like the idea of the hero saving the princess and falling in love. In any case my vote is still with Ilia.
Conclusion: It’s not hard to see that our hero’s heart is being pulled in many directions, and while he had bigger thoughts on his mind during his adventure, now that the evil is dead he has not much else to do. So who will he choose, though it is impossible to say who he did choose –if anyone at all- (unless of course Nintendo makes a direct sequel). In truth, all we as fans can do is read between the lines and possibly write fan-fiction if we are feeling daring enough. I said at the beginning that I would tell you who Nintendo intended link to end up with, and after reading through hundreds of lines of dialogue and watching almost all the cut scene again I am going to take a stand and give the conclusion that now seems so clearly before me:
All three, and none. Link the Hero is not just a character Nintendo created; he was intended to be an extension of the player. The actions Link made were because the player decided they were the right actions, Link’s thoughts were that of the player’s, and his words can only be imagined by the person controlling him. What does this all mean? Nintendo intended to give Link options, because they knew fans would like it that way. Link is the player and in the end it is the player that gives Link value. Simply put: Link will get together with whomever you the player decided he should.
Of course, that doesn’t stop people from arguing about it.