In Ocarina of Time, Link always seems to be involved with the opposite gender. Saria is an instant guilt trip, constantly reminding the Hero of Time of the life he gave up in order to pursue his destiny. Ruto is demanding but also contains great promise; her father is the Zora King, so there’s got to be wealth involved with that relationship. Malon has a reputable farm at her disposal, along with the kindness that goes into rearing horses. Last but not least, Zelda cannot express her affection without life-altering consequences. With all of these viable candidates and only one valentine to give, who is the ideal match for the reserved Hylian?
Mastering puppy dog eyes was one of Miyamoto’s primary goals with the N64.
Link treats Saria a bit haphazardly; he runs away without responding to her goodbye, he disposes of the Ocarina she seemingly hand-carved for him once he gets a better alternative, and he only tries to communicate with her when he’s stuck and doesn’t know what to do. There is a reason for this, however–Link knows he cannot be with her, so it’s pointless to try. Before exiting the forest, they are the same age, and on their current trajectory would be perfect for each other. So perfect that another Kokori purposely tries to thwart his visit to the Deku Tree because he is enraged with jealousy.
No shield could protect Mido from heartbreak.
Link seals his fate by leaving the forest. It’s doom and gloom to run away from Saria because there is no return. He will grow old, she will stay the same, forever young. In an alternate universe, perhaps the pair could have remained as close as they were when they were childhood friends. But Link embarks on an adventure, and in doing so, permanently shelves the closeness he experienced with Saria.
Overly-attached girlfriend before memes even existed.
Ruto displays possessive tendencies pretty early on, as she tries to rope Link into a marriage contract by withholding a precious stone that he needs to continue on with his quest. Ultimately she moves forward with the plan, accepting that they will marry without waiting for his response. Offspring is doubtful, and Link seems as though he would be a family man. Ruto is loyal, however, as seven years pass without any form of contact and she still remembers their “agreement”. Their personalities are bound to clash, as Link is very non-committal with how he spends his time and she is quite the opposite. Ultimately, their relationship exists to serve a purpose… and the purpose is entirely different depending on who you ask.
Somehow connected to the Royal Koopa line.
Malon has the best voice of the bunch, and she’s always singing. Having a happy spouse is perfect for Link’s sanity, who often faces a stressful day at work as he is constantly fending off creatures trying to annihilate him. She also sets him up with Epona, placing the life of her beloved horse in his hands without any hesitation. Marrying Malon would put Link in a predicament with his possible father-in-law, Talon. He is over-protective, consistently feeling the need to check up on her. He also is an incompetent business man, as he turns over the ranch and gives Link a valuable bottle just for sorting chickens. Link, who likes to roam free, would ultimately have to become a farmer and raise Cuccos, his sworn enemy, all day. Malon, who seems like an ideal mate for Link, arrives with baggage. And a creepy Bowser brooch.
“No, I couldn’t have picked another location for our first date…”
We’ll forgive Zelda for constantly blinding Link with Deku Nuts whenever she needs to make a getaway as Sheik, because she truly has his best interests at heart. She wants to protect him, plain and simple, as she recognizes her role in his involvement with the vile Ganondorf. It is fun to rescue the “damsel in distress,” as that can boost one’s self-esteem, so sticking with Zelda is a good move in that regard. While she does not have an overly protective father like Malon, she does come with the baggage of a big red target painted on her back… for as long as Link is in her company, he will always be in danger. This is the sort of lifestyle Link welcomes, however; as his primary goal always tends to be protecting her. She is certainly a smart, independent woman.
In the end, Zelda is the perfect woman for Link. While it is true that their relationship gets messy when you start involving all of the timelines, the fact that they care about each other is indisputable. She perfectly quenches Link’s yearning for adventure, and he always bails her out of danger when evil incarnate starts to take over. While Saria, Ruto, and Malon all possess qualities of a suitable valentine, Zelda remains the perfect option. Through analyzing these relationships, it’s easy to spot one aspect of Ocarina of Time’s lasting appeal… how many other games present this many characters, and their storylines, to process?
“Hey, when do we get an article?!”
By involving all of these unique girls and their relationship to Link, we begin to understand him on a deeper level despite him not providing a single line of dialogue. Although there is not a single “valentine” presented in-game… it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where Link ends up spending too much time alone. Wherever he roams, there will always be suitors. It’s just a question of whether or not their personalities and desires will ultimately match.