“Hi, fairy boy!!” Anyone who played Ocarina of Time had no doubt that the ranch girl, Malon, had a crush on Link. Two weeks ago, I took a look at the games to see if Nintendo hinted at a relationship between Link and Zelda. We certainly cannot neglect Link’s other possible love interests, however.
Indeed, Malon is a very popular choice for those who ask the question, “Who would I rather see get together?”, but I remind you once more that it is essential that we try to ask the question “Who did Nintendo intend for Link to hook up with?” With that in mind, let us look at another leading lady, “the girl with red hair.”
Ocarina of Time
Ocarina of Time is of course the game in which Malon appears, meaning that we are dealing with Link I here, and not his descendants. At first glance, Malon appears to be simply another one of various girls who adores Link. The fellow has a good number of girls after him, but he’s generally completely oblivious to it. As a friend of mine said, “Typical guy.” Link doesn’t seem to think in romantic terms, and so he typically does not recognize the girl’s love unless it is practically shoved in his face (his “I’m shocked!” animation at Ruto’s talk of marriage is but one example of this). Keeping this in mind, Malon, Saria, and Ruto are all quite interesting possibilities.
There are a few key points about Malon to consider. First, as a child, Talon asks you if you would like to marry Malon. It is most unusual in that it presents you with a “yes-no” option for something like that. The fact that Nintendo added interaction with the player on that particular point adds emphasis to it. Regardless of how you answer, he laughs, saying that he was joking and that Link is too young for that. Ultimately, this does not really tell us very much, at least not by itself.
Second, there is the gossip stone that says, “They say that Malon of Lon Lon Ranch hopes a knight in shining armor will come and sweep her off her feet someday.” This forms an interesting connection with Talon’s earlier question. Link is too young to truly consider marriage at that early age, but when he becomes older he could “sweep her off her feet.” This connection hints towards a future relationship between the two of them. I am cautious as to whether or not this is true, but sources say that this gossip stone actually referred to a scene that was originally part of the ending, in which Link and Malon ride into a sunset on Epona. If so, that would indicate that Nintendo pointed towards a Link and Malon relationship.
A case could conceivably be made for a match up between Link and Malon based on Ocarina of Time alone. But to get the full picture, we must turn to two other games.
Link’s Awakening is a truly fascinating game, with a storyline of pure genius. What is relevant to us, however, is that there is a parallel between Talon and Malon and two of the characters in Link’s Awakening: Tarin and Marin. Aside from their parallel names, they are connected by their personalities and, most importantly, by their rather obvious reference to the Mario games. Except for his more realistic proportions, Talon almost looks identical to Mario, even down to the clothes. Ingo looks like Luigi. Malon looks like Peach, although in this case she is the daughter of “Mario.” Malon even wears a Bowser emblem. Tarin of Link’s Awakening bears even more resemblance to the cartoon style of Mario than Talon does. He even shares a fondness for mushrooms.
Now, in an earlier article, I identified The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia. Some people wrote in to tell me that I was in error. Actually, I was correct; it was the first book C.S. Lewis wrote, even though it is not the first book in terms of the mythic storyline. This raises an important point. We must not only think in terms of the game timeline, but of the publishing timeline. If we think in those terms, we find out that Nintendo made Link’s Awakening before they made Ocarina of Time. We can safely say, then, that Malon and Talon were based off of the characters in Link’s Awakening.
Here’s the interesting part. Those of you that have played Link’s Awakening (and I certainly hope you have!) know that Marin and Link fall in love. The Hero of Time falls in love with someone who is the daughter of someone based on Mario (can you guess who the mother could be?). But when the Wind Fish awakens, the whole island of Koholint vanishes, Marin included (although she “survives” if you complete the game without dying). For our purposes, the only thing that matters here is that Nintendo based Malon on Marin, and that the “romance” aspect of the character was preserved in the transition to Ocarina of Time. In that light, it seems relatively clear that a Malon-Link relationship was intended.
But if we truly want to understand the relationship between Link and Malon, we must move from Koholint to Termina.
The designers said quite explicitly that one of the most important aspects of Majora’s Mask was that it gave you a greater insight into the characters that you had encountered in Ocarina of Time. (Of course, the characters also give you insights into the designers. We know that the carpenters’ grumblings about not finishing in time corresponds to the game makers’ fear of not finishing the game on time.) No doubt you noticed that Malon happens to have two parallel characters in the world of Termina: Cremia and Romani.
Like younger Malon, Romani likes Link (even more explicitly, actually). Like older Malon, Cremia is more mature about it. “Wait, what did you imply, Trahald? Cremia likes Link?” Well, do you still have your Nintendo 64 and copy of Majora’s Mask? Good. Using an old file, make sure you already have the Romani Mask. Now go save the cows from the Poes once more. The next day, join Cremia for the wagon ride. As you ride along, Cremia tells you that she’s lonely, and then opens up to you, even mentioning the marriage of her friend Anju (remember, Cremia once loved Kafei, but he chose Anju). When the thieves attack, loose your arrows into them and save the wagon once more. Now that you’ve saved the milk, Cremia will be rather happy, and will smile and sway a bit, saying “Thank you . . . You were pretty cool . . .” Since you already have the mask, one of two things happens. In one case, she gives you a Huge Rupee. But the other case is very interesting. When the translator mentioned that many people would not even see a large portion of the text in the game, he wasn’t kidding. What happens next is hilarious. It’s best to see it first hand, so I recommend you go see it right now.
For those of you who are lazy, I’ll describe it to you as best as I can. The camera shifts to a unique position, with the horse and Clock Town behind Cremia and Link. She grabs him and hugs him in a, um, rather interesting manner, to say the least. It’s completely not what you would expect from a Nintendo game. With the horse bobbing its head in the background, she pulls his head into her chest. This scene lasts for several surprisingly long moments. When the little scene has finished, a happy noise plays, and a text box pops up. It says, in pink (!) text, “You did it! You helped Cremia!” “You feel all warm and fuzzy inside! Sigh . . .You could get used to this!” Yes, the game actually tells you, using the unusual pink text, what Link feels. Yes, Nintendo actually employed text to convey Link’s emotions. Cremia has (literally) put herself “in Link’s face,” and this has aroused the idea of love in Link’s young brain, but he still does not entirely understand it yet. The implication? Link has a thing for Malon, or will have a thing for Malon.
Ocarina of Time, Link’s Awakening, and Majora’s Mask. Link them together and compile the evidence you find in each of those games. I find that it becomes quite clear that Nintendo intended for Link to fall in love with Malon.
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