Appearance evolution: Zelda characters in Super Smash Bros.
by on July 6, 2018

As console generations pass by and art styles change with game releases, so too do the appearances of some characters in the Super Smash Bros. franchise.

Some of the biggest evolutions in art style can be seen in The Legend of Zelda characters. We had a look at how each Zelda character changed through the series, from the original Super Smash Bros. on N64 right up to Ultimate on Switch (we are respectfully ignoring the 3DS version this time around).

A lot has changed through the years. So, off we go on a nine-year trot down memory lane.


The Hero of Time had just finished his adventure in Ocarina of Time the year previous to Super Smash Bros. on the N64. He made his debut with 11 other familiar Nintendo characters. Thankfully, he’s been available for every release of Super Smash Bros.

Link in the original Super Smash Bros. on N64, taking in those beautiful low res visuals of Hyrule.


Link continued to be based on Ocarina of Time in Melee and looked how we all imagined in updated graphics.


When Brawl came along on the Wii, Link was updated to wear his Twilight Princess attire.


Link had a bespoke outfit for Wii U, not overly based on a specific game from his own franchise.


Link wears the Champions Tunic in Ultimate with a moveset that is clearly inspired by Breath of the Wild, such as the inclusion of remote detonating rune bombs

Young Link

The star of half of Ocarina of Time and the protagonist of the dark and incredible Majora’s Mask, Young Link hit the Smash Bros. scene back on GameCube in the evergreen Melee. Unfortunately, it was the last we saw of the courageous boy until he was announced in Ultimate on Switch.

Young Link was a popular character in Melee, sporting the Kokiri Sword and Shield instead of adult Link’s Hylian Shield and Master Sword.


Young Link looks incredible in Ultimate and it induces greedy wishes of an HD version of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask!


Everyone’s favorite princess (you would be dramatically wrong if you think it’s Peach or Midna) first appeared alongside Young Link in Melee. She managed to make herself comfortable in every game since. With her trusty wardrobe, she has been seen in a few different styles since her Ocarina of Time design on Melee. It’s exciting to see her character based on A Link Between Worlds for Ultimate.

Zelda sported her classic Ocarina of Time look in Melee.


Twilight Princess provided inspiration for Zelda’s look in Brawl.


Zelda obtained a more detailed Twilight Princess aesthetic in the Wii U version of Super Smash Bros.


We are huge fans of Zelda’s A Link Between Worlds style in Ultimate.

Toon Link

Having stirred up immense controversy when he was first seen in Wind Waker for his new cel-shaded look, who’d have predicted that he is now a firm favorite with fans or that Wind Waker would be so highly regarded today? Toon Link introduced himself into Super Smash Bros. on the Wii in Brawl.


Toon Link made a welcome debut in Brawl and replaced Young Link in the roster.


Toon Link returned in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U time with a slightly more ‘clay’ look; it still worked a charm though!


Awesomeness resumes as Toon Link makes himself available for Ultimate.


Sheik is Zelda undercover, and she was delighted to demonstrate to Link that he perhaps wasn’t needed after all when she unearthed herself in Melee as a transformation from Zelda. From then on, Nintendo decided to go the whole hog and separate the two characters. She’s been present as a part of Zelda or alongside her ever since popping up on GameCube in Melee.

Much like the other Zelda characters, Sheik was based on Ocarina of Time in Melee.


While Sheik didn’t appear in Twilight Princess, her dress sense took some inspiration from the darker tones of the game. Her style was based upon concept art from Twilight Princess that wouldn’t be revealed until we got Hyrule Historia.


Sheik looked just how you might imagine on Wii U.


Sheik is back with her costume similar to the Stealth Mask, Chest Guard and Tights, based on the Breath of the Wild outfit.



Ganondorf has also been available since Melee on the GameCube. From his terrifying bad man look in Ocarina of Time, Ganondorf has been a popular character in Super Smash Bros. and the Zelda games themselves.

Ganondorf looked bad boy cool in Melee as he dons his Ocarina of Time style.


Ganondorf brought with him his Twilight Princess iteration in Brawl on Wii, following suit with the rest of the main cast.


Ganondorf sported a slightly updated, yet familiar look on Wii U since Brawl with Nintendo opting not to go for his Wind Waker style.


Reverting back to his cool and iconic Ocarina of Time look, Ganondorf returns in Ultimate, this time using a sword within his attacks rather than just throwing elbows.

New characters?

It is fantastic to see Nintendo pay homage to the Zelda series and to introduce various styles and art direction into their characters to reflect contemporary games. They have developed tremendously in the past nine years, and it is commendable that the developers took the time to work not only on these small and fine details of appearance but an updated moveset in line with more recent games in the series.

We can only hope that new characters from the Zelda series will be introduced and will enjoy a similar treatment in the future. Will Skull Kid, equipped with Majora’s Mask, make his debut in Ultimate? Perhaps Ghirahim can reign as a new character later this year? We can’t wait to hear more on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate before its December 7th launch.

Update: Article has been modified to correct editorial errors