For Legend of Zelda fans, voice acting is a touchy subject. Go to any Zelda forum and suggest that maybe Link could have a voice in the next game, and you will be met with the enraged howls of long-time Zelda fans, who insist that if this was implemented the Zelda series would be “ruined FOREVER!”
Why is this the case, though? Certainly, when the Zelda series was first created, there were some reasons to keep the character silent, but as time went by and the series evolved, these reasons started to become less and less relevant. Could it be that now is the time for the series to take that extra step further?
The main argument, one argued by developers and fans alike, has traditionally been that Link is a “link” to the player – rather than a character in his own right, Link was originally designed as a tiny version of yourself on that screen.
The problem with this argument is that it is no longer the case. The various Links have had personalities of their own for a while now – for example, even if Wind Waker-era Link spoke no words, he certainly spoke a lot about himself through his wide range of emotions, and Twilight Princess Link was no different. Smiling, glaring, blushing, and even making actions of his own via cutscenes – all of these are things that Link constantly does. He can no longer be considered simply a link to the player.
Another commonly heard defense of a voiceless Link is that “if they give Link a voice they will make him sound like he did in the stupid cartoon series!” For one thing, that is a very strange leap of logic – why on earth would they do that? These are the people who brought you the high quality Zelda games that we all know and love, not the creators of the corny pun-filled Super Mario Brothers Super Show.
If you’re still not convinced, then read this, from Bill Trinen, Localization Manager for the Zelda series and Miyamoto’s main translator:
“If we were to try to do voice acting, I would expect not just the best voice acting you get in videogames, but really high-quality, movie-caliber acting, and obviously that’s very difficult to do.”
That aside, there are also some sensible objections, such as the worry that voice acting would stop players from being able to choose their own name. Fortunately, it has been shown that this can be worked around. Final Fantasy X, a game with enough voiced cutscenes to make a full-length movie, managed to go through the entire game without the main character’s name being voiced even once.
I’m not claiming that Link should run around chatting to everyone – he can still be a quiet, heroic protagonist, but that is perfectly achievable without cutting out his voicebox.
At this point, refusing to give Link a voice is only hurting Link as a character, while redirecting the character development focus to his talking sidekicks. Therefore, in the interest of improving the Zelda series, it may be finally time to give voice a chance.