Zora. What comes to mind when you hear the word? The blue colored Zoras you see in Ocarina of Time, or the tan-greyish Zoras you see in Twilight Princess? No matter what type of Zora you picture, the Zoras are a race with a large history as well as a race that has evolved throughout the entirety of the Zelda series.
Ocarina of Time
The first appearance of the Zoras is in the game Ocarina of Time. The appearance of the Zoras here comes in two main important parts: assisting Link in collecting the Zoras’ Sapphire, and assisting Link in collecting the Water Medallion. Later in Link’s child journey, after he has already collected the Kokiri’s Emerald and Goron’s Ruby, he finds himself on a trek towards Zora’s Domain, the place he knows houses the Zora’s Sapphire. After he passes through the monster-infested Zora’s River, he plays Zelda’s Lullaby and gains access to Zora’s Domain. He makes his way through the domain to see the King, but finds the King does not have the stone he searches for; Lord Jabu-Jabu does. He gives Link permission to enter Lord Jabu-Jabu only if Link promises to save his daughter, Princess Ruto, while searching for the Zora’s Sapphire. Link agrees and enters the large fish Lord located in Zora’s Fountain.
Using Princess Ruto to press switches for Link, to throw her onto ledges he cannot reach, and carrying her around with him throughout the dungeon, they finally reach the root of Lord Jabu-Jabu’s issues: Barinade. This electrical boss can only be defeated with the help of Link’s boomerang, but is pretty easily defeated. Once defeated, Princess Ruto and Link exit Lord Jabu-Jabu, who is now at peace. As promised, Princess Ruto gives Link the Zora’s Sapphire, along with a marriage request once they are both older. Link reluctantly agrees, then leaves quickly to the Temple of Time, where he opens the Door of Time.
When Link awakens as an adult in the Temple of Time, he is given a mission to collect the six medallions from six temples across Hyrule: The Medallions of Light, Forest, Fire, Water, Shadow and Spirit. With the Light Medallion given by Rauru, Link begins his treks across the land, eventually finding himself in Zora’s Domain once again in search of the Water Medallion. When Link arrives, he is shocked with what he sees: Zora’s Domain has frozen over, trapping most of the Zoras in ice. As Link makes his way towards the Zora King, he finds him covered in red ice, something that can only be melted by a substance called blue fire, which Link can keep in his bottle. Once Link is able to track down and melt the red ice around the Zora King, the Zora King tells Link of what happened and how he can fix it. Link must trek through the Ice Cavern and find Sheik before he can go to the Water Temple to get the Water Medallion. During his tough journey through the cavern, he finds a pair of Iron Boots, which is one of the key things he needs to survive the Water Temple. When Link reaches the end and defeats the White Wolfos guarding his way, Sheik appears to teach him the Serenade of Water, a tune that will teleport him to the entrance of the Water Temple.
As Link begins to make his way through the temple, he finds someone he had not seen for a long, long time: Princess Ruto. Princess Ruto tells Link their marriage plans must be postponed, and leads him to where he needs to go next in the temple. After Link successfully defeats Morpha, the boss of the Water Temple, the curse is broken and he discovers Princess Ruto is the sage of the Water Temple. She gives him the Water Medallion, and he is then teleported back outside. Lake Hylia returns to the usual water level, but, for reasons unknown to all Zelda fans, Zora’s Domain still does not unfreeze unless Link goes back in time.
The Zoras make their second appearance in the game Majora’s Mask. In this game, Link’s main goal is to prevent the moon from falling with the help of the four sages. Each sage is trapped in a temple around Termina: Woodfall Temple, Snowhead Temple, Great Bay Temple, and Stone Tower Temple. Now, when talking about the Zoras, only Great Bay Temple is really very relevant. After Link frees the sages from Woodfall and Snowhead Temples, while he treks towards the Great Bay Temple, he finds Mikau, the guitar player of Zora band the Indigo-gos mortally wounded on the beach of Great Bay Coast. Mikau tells Link of what happened. The Indigo-gos were set to play in the Carnival of Time but after the lead singer, Lulu, had her Zora eggs stolen, she lost her voice, forcing them to cancel the performance. Mikau attempted to retrieve the stolen eggs at the Gerudo Fortress, but was mortally wounded in the process and left to die in the waters of Great Bay. Link realizes that no matter how he tries to help, Mikau is going to die. To free him, Link plays the Song of Healing, a song Link has used to heal others before. Mikau thanks Link, then dies, leaving Link his mask. This mask allows him to transform into a Zora by putting it on, basically taking the form of Mikau.
Up to this point, the other band members of the Indigo-gos are unaware of Mikau’s death and believe Link to be Mikau while in his Zora form. Link then must finish Mikau’s dying task to retrieve Lulu’s eggs from the Fortress and when successful, is taught the New Wave Bossa Nova by the eggs. This song will allow Lulu to recover her voice. When Link returns to Zora Hall, he plays the New Wave Bossa Nova for Lulu, restoring her voice, as well as awakening the entrance to Great Bay Temple. The entrance just so happens to be a giant turtle; the only living creature who is able to navigate to Great Bay Temple.
Once Link enters the temple and defeats the boss Gyorg, he frees the sage of Great Bay Temple and restores peace to the area. Once this all occurs, The Indigo-gos (including Link posed as Mikau) plays for a large crowd on the grand stage in Zora Hall.
Oracle of Ages
Zoras’ third appearance is in the game Oracle of Ages. There are Sea Zoras, as well as River Zoras. When Link comes across a village south of Labrynna, he comes across a race of Zoras called the Sea Zoras. The Sea Zoras tell Link of the evil breed of Zoras called the River Zoras. Like in Ocarina of Time, the Zoras’ leader is Lord Jabu-Jabu. Link must make his way through Lord Jabu-Jabu to collect Rolling Sea, an Essence of Time. Unfortunately, the only way for Link to enter Lord Jabu-Jabu is with the permission of the Zora King. Even more unfortunately, the Zora King has already died once Link reaches the Zora Village. Link then must travel back in time to find the Zora King, and when he enters the past, he finds the Zora King mortally ill, but not dead. Link must find a potion to cure him, and once he is able to do so (from a Gasha Seed), he finds the Zora King alive when he returns to his present time. The Zoras played a crucial role in allowing Link the chance to collect an Essence of Time and for that he would be thankful.
The Wind Waker
In The Wind Waker, Zoras play a significantly less role than in the aforementioned games, yet there is one who is crucial to completing the game. After Link progresses throughout the game to the Earth Temple, Link enters the temple only to find the old sage dead. This old sage is a Zora by the name of Laruto. Laurto teaches Link the Earth God’s Lyric, allowing him and the new Earth Temple sage, Medli, to enter the temple and complete it.
The involvement of the Zoras in Twilight Princess increased greatly from The Wind Waker. This time, during Link’s journey, he is sent to Lake Hylia, and eventually Zora’s Domain, which he finds frozen in ice, as it was the last time he encountered the Domain in Ocarina of Time. After Link melts the ice using a molten rock, Zora’s Domain returns to normal, and Lake Hylia fills back to its normal level. It is around this time Queen Rutela visits Link and asks him to save her son from the dangers he will encounter, and return him back to Zora’s Domain, she will aid him on his journey. After Link restores light to Lanayru Province, Link helps Ilia and Telma take the Zora Prince, Queen Rutela’s son, back to Kakariko village where Renado will heal him. Once this occurs, Queen Rutela returns and guides Link to her husband’s grave, where he is given the Zora Armor, clothes that allow him to swim underwater without a limit, but are weak to fire and ice attacks. This allows Link to complete Lakebed Temple and collect the third fused shadow.