Today, Ubisoft launches its new interstellar adventure game, Starlink: Battle for Atlas. Those of us picking the game up on the Nintendo Switch are in for a special treat; the Star Fox team and their arch-nemesis Wolf O’Donnell are integrated into the story, and Fox McCloud is playable through the entire campaign. This crossover got me thinking about the times everyone’s favorite furry/feathered/froggy flying crew has appeared in The Legend of Zelda series, occurrences I’ll collectively refer to as “Star Link” (get it?).
Star Fox references are found in both of the Nintendo 64 Zelda titles. Do you remember peacefully wandering about Kokiri Forest in Ocarina of Time, only to be suddenly bombarded from above by an Arwing? Yeah, me neither. However, applying a cheat code causes an Arwing to take to the skies over Link’s hometown (yes, it can even do a barrel roll).
The miniature spacecraft (which is only slightly larger than a Keese) fires twin lasers as it approaches Link, then quickly retreats. Link can block the lasers, which will not ignite his Deku Shield. You can use your Boomerang, Fairy Bow, or even your sword to damage the intruder. Upon defeat, the Arwing will spiral uncontrollably to the ground, exploding in a great ball of flame which can damage Link. Check out this video from TheNewerGuy showcasing his encounter with an Arwing.
The Ocarina of Time developers revealed in 2011 that the Arwing was included in the game’s code as a placeholder for the Fire Temple’s boss, Volvagia. The dragon’s movements mimic an Arwing, its tail acting like enemies ship tracking Fox’s famous vessel. The developers built Volvagia around this code and switched the model when they were finished. The Arwing’s code remained in the game, including the GameCube and Virtual Console ports (although not in Ocarina of Time 3D), allowing players to battle an intergalactic foe if they enter the cheat.
Majora’s Mask also includes what are believed to be Star Fox references. Five masks bear striking similitude to members of the Star Fox team. The Keaton Mask, Bremen Mask, Bunny Hood, Don Gero’s Mask, and Mask of Scents are thought to resemble Fox McCloud, Falco Lombardi, Peppy Hare, Slippy Toad, and Pigma Dengar (a Star Fox member before turning on Fox’s father). On the mask selection screen, the five masks appear next to each other, lending credence to this rumored cross-game tip of the hat (or mask, if you will).
And then, of course, there’s Star Fox Adventures. Okay, okay, it’s not actually Star Fox appearing in a Zelda game. More like Star Fox pretending to be a Zelda game. But I wanted to include Star Fox Adventures because it is a solid Zelda-like that I highly recommend. It includes great puzzles, fun combat, and some of the best graphics of its time. It was even made with the Ocarina of Time engine. I mean, look at the picture below and tell me it doesn’t look like Link holding up an item found in a chest. You can almost hear the accompanying “dun dun dun duuun.” If you’re interested, check out this article from Zelda Dungeon on why Star Fox Adventures is worth a go.
Here’s hoping everyone enjoys Star Fox‘s newest collaboration in Starlink: Battle for Atlas and to more appearances in future Zelda titles! If you are interested, check out our recent column on Zelda references in the Animal Crossing series.