Back when I first played The Wind Waker, I never really thought about the Hylian text littered across the game. Obviously, I thought it looked cool, but at the time, I don’t think I knew that the text I was seeing was all part of a fully realized language.
Yet you see it scrawled across all of the game’s signs, maps and banners, and of course, there’s a ton of it in that beautiful prologue sequence. It can all be translated, and oftentimes it can introduce some new and interesting context to the game. Other times, it seemed like an effective means for the developers to have some fun.
Princess Zelda’s Study is a series where we examine the history of The Legend of Zelda to bring you some fascinating (or just plain weird) trivia. In our studies, we’ll explore each game’s development, curiosities within the rich lore of the franchise, and the impact it has had on our culture. From time to time, we’ll also look at Nintendo’s past to unearth some facts about our favorite company.
In The Wind Waker, you may recall the menacingly large sword carried by the boss of the Forsaken Fortress, Phantom Ganon. I know I certainly do, as I had a lot of fun swinging it around as Link after defeating the phantom in Ganon’s Tower.
The text on that blade reads “Zubora Gabora” in Hylian. These are the names of the blacksmiths in Majora’s Mask, who can upgrade Link’s Kokiri Sword to the powerful Gilded Sword.
Venturing further into a hole of references (and going on a bit of a tangent), it’s possible that the names Zubora and Gabora themselves are a reference to Kaepora Gaebora, the talking owl character in the Zelda series. In turn, this name is likely inspired by the Japanese onomatopoeia, “bora bora”, which means “one after another” (which may explain his recurring appearances and his infamous habit of repeating information).
On the topic of Japanese meanings, Zubora means “slob” in Japanese. This makes sense because, in Majora’s Mask, Zubora is the short man who relaxes while his business partner, the huge Gabora, appears to be doing all the work.
While this connection to Majora’s Mask in The Wind Waker is likely no more substantial than a passing Easter egg, it’s funny nonetheless to imagine Phantom Ganon’s sword being forged by a lazy coffee enthusiast and his assistant who is “about as smart as a Deku Stick” (Zubora’s words, not mine. Personally, I wouldn’t want to anger the big man).
In the 15 years since The Wind Waker launched, I’m still discovering new things about it. Now knowing about the Hylian language and the new Sheikah language adds another layer of curiosity and enjoyment to new games for me, with even Super Smash Bros. Ultimate hiding a similar Easter egg. Thanks to the internet and its endless power to unravel mysteries such as these, I’ve learned to never underestimate the level of detail lovingly poured into Nintendo games.