One of the joys of following a long-running series is hunting for Easter eggs and other references to previous installments in the most recent release. Zelda games are no exception. I always appreciate the creative ways Zelda developers allude to preceding titles in their work.
In A Link Between Worlds, one of the primary story and puzzle-solving mechanics is the ability to become a painting and move along walls. It only makes sense that great thought would be put into the pictures that hang in the structures of Hyrule and Lorule, and the designers didn’t miss the opportunity to use this as a means of nodding to the game’s forerunners. Let’s take a look at the references and other fun inclusions on the walls in A Link Between Worlds.
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.
The first reference is a bit on the nose and can be found before you even step outside. As Link wakes up from oversleeping yet again (time to lay off the melatonin), you can see that Majora’s Mask (from Majora’s Mask) hangs on the right wall. Returning after you have gained the ability to transform into a painting allows you to slide behind the mask and give the appearance that you are wearing it. Fortunately, this doesn’t cause the moon to come crashing down.
When behind the notorious mask, you can also see a painting to the left on the same wall hanging behind a broom and other junk Ravio has so courteously shoved in a pile. The painting depicts an ocarina, a recurring item in Zelda games. This ocarina is most likely a reference to Ocarina of Time and/or Majora’s Mask because the finger holes are arranged as they appear in those titles. Noticing these trivial details is why I get paid the big rupees (all Zelda Universe contributors are unpaid).
Link’s walls also showcase pictures of a mustachioed man and a rupee. I thought at first the man might be a reference to Ingo from Ocarina of Time, but the mustache shape doesn’t match. It could be a depiction of Link’s boss, the Blacksmith. Or maybe it’s just some random dude. As for the framed currency, if you slide behind it your rupee count will increase by one. This goes for similar paintings found elsewhere in your adventure. If you ask me, I wouldn’t suggest storing your savings behind a giant picture of money. But no one asked me.
Alternatively, it could be that the man is a stylistic rendering of the famous Mario. Although it may be hard to look at the picture itself and conclude it’s the Mushroom Kingdom’s hero, I posit the theory because A Link to the Past included several pictures of Mario hanging in houses in Kakariko Village. It’s possible that the painting in A Link Between Worlds is an obscure reference to this past minutiae.
Venturing out of Link’s house and heading north, we reach Hyrule Castle, the seat of the land’s royalty. As one might expect, the halls are adorned with magnificent art. The centerpiece is a five-panel series proudly depicting the epic events of the game’s predecessor, A Link to the Past. As Link gazes upon the glory of the past, I can hear him whisper to himself, “Geez, better up my game…”
Kakariko Village to the West is the primary settlement in A Link Between Worlds, and as such there are several homes and shops to explore. Various art is displayed in these structures, but many do not appear to be references to other Zelda titles. However, in the Milk Bar there are multiple. Behind the musicians to the right, there are two paintings of instruments.
The one on the left is the Goddess’s Harp, which appeared in Skyward Sword and, at least according to widely accepted theory, Ocarina of Time. The instrument on the right is Makar’s violin from Wind Waker. To the left on the other side of a wood beam is a portrait of an owl in a tree. But I don’t think this is just any owl. I believe it’s a depiction of Kaepora Gaebora, who first appeared in Ocarina of Time. The epic eyebrows don’t lie.
The Milk Bar has one more painting that I believe is a reference. On the left wall near the upper left corner, there is a tall picture that resembles a totem pole. On the bottom, there is a round face with one large eye and one small eye, a triangular nose, and a button-size mouth. This is most likely a reference to the Ancient Robots from Skyward Sword, particularly the LD-301 type. Above the robot appears to be a bird, which could be a reference to a Loftwing, or perhaps to the Rito tribe. Given that both the Ancient Robots and Loftwings appear in Skyward Sword, that may be the most logical guess.
In a house in the northeast corner of the village just south of Sahasrahla’s House, there are two references to The Wind Waker. The big painting on the wall depicts a leaf with holes that make a crude face. For fans of Wind Waker, it is instantly recognizable as Makar, the small Korok who aids Link as the Sage of Wind. This same painting also appears in the Blacksmith’s Forge. Looking to the far left, there is a painting of a lobster (or according to Medli, crawfish) closely resembling the one that appeared on Link’s shirt on Outset Island.
At the Stylish Woman’s house elsewhere in town, a painting of a fairy hangs on the right wall. This fairy resembles Navi from Ocarina of Time and similarly designed sprites from Majora’s Mask and Phantom Hourglass. If you position yourself just right, a lipstick mark on the wall matches right over Link’s mouth. Wait, does that mean that the Stylish Woman was kissing the wall?
There are many other paintings that are not references to a specific game, but instead, refer to a recurring Zelda item or feature. In the Bomb Shop, for example, there is a painting of a — wait for it — bomb. The Veteran Thief’s House in Lorule displays a painting of a heart with half-damage. The house to the west of the Milk Bar in Kakariko Village showcases a portrait of a Cucco, and a counterpart showing an enraged Cucco hangs in the Thieves’ Town of Lorule.
The Vacant House in Lorule, assumed to be Ravio’s former digs, contains a painting of a castle on the floor leaning against the left wall. I’m going to go ahead and guess the castle’s design was modeled after Hyrule Castle, but since we are in Lorule, it could have been intended to depict Lorule Castle. The painting appears in much smaller form in Sahasrahla’s house, along with a picture of a heart, one of Osfala, and three — count ’em — three pictures of Zelda. I know as one of the seven sages he is tasked with protecting Hyrule and the royal family, but it comes off as a bit obsessive.
Some of the art is just fun, too. In the Bee Guy’s House, Link can merge into the wall and slide into a painting so that he looks like he has become a bee. Bee Guy is buzzing with joy.
Once you have the Titan’s Mitt, you can move the large boulder in the Miner’s house, which allows you to merge to the wall. Here you’ll discover a bunch of paper pinned up, including what looks like a “Wanted” poster with the picture of the suspect missing. The alphabet provided in the Zelda Encyclopedia confirms that the Hylian text reads, “Wanted.” Link can slide into the frame and appear as though he is Hyrule’s number one fugitive.
Those are all the references and fun diversions I found while ignoring my quest to save Hyrule in A Link Between Worlds. Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments down below!