Fast on the heels of the E3 2010 announcement of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (and just mere seconds after the celebratory jig done across the vastness of the intertubes), many of us blurted out a series of questions that probably resembled something like this:
When is the game coming out (Pssst, in early 2011!)? Will it be as good as Ocarina of Time? Will it look graphically better? How smooth will the Wii gameplay be? How is the story going to shape up? Aw jeez, how long is the line for the midnight release going to be?!
To be honest, you probably had to go pretty far down the list until you arrived at this one: Where in the Zelda timeline will Skyward Sword fit in?
Nintendo continues to leave us in the dark regarding many of the former questions, but it has surprisingly answered the latter: Skyward Sword will take place before Ocarina of Time. In an interview with Nintendo Magazine, Eiji Aonuma, chief architect of the Zelda installments Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, The Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess, confirmed Skyward Sword's place in Zelda's narrative timeline:
"Yes, there is a master timeline, but it’s [a] confidential document! The only people to have access to that document are myself, Mr. Miyamoto and the director of the title. We can’t share it with anyone else! I have already talked to Mr. Miyamoto about this so I am comfortable in releasing this information — this title [Skyward Sword] takes place before Ocarina of Time. If I said that a certain title was ‘the first Zelda game’, then that means that we can’t ever make a title that takes place before that! So for us to add titles to the series, we have to have a way of putting the titles before or after each other."
While the confirmation of the existence of a master list regarding the Zelda timeline might have blown people away during the heyday of the Nintendo 64, it rings a little bit hollow in our current video game era. With a dozen or so games already to the franchise's name (Not all of them made by Nintendo, mind you), a litany of back-stories and legends, and a multitude of landscapes, enemies, villains, and dungeons, the task of trying to make sense of such a convoluted timeline can only fall to the most adventuresome of Zelda fanboys.
And let's be honest here: The Legend of Zelda series isn't about some overarching, interconnected narrative that spans the course of multiple games. Rather, the series is about a singular story and a whole lot of dungeon exploring, item hunting, and Master Sword mashing. Instead of being at rapt attention listening to the Great Deku Tree droning on about the Triforce goddesses and wondering how it all fit in with the other Zelda games, we were trying to figure out what we could bash to death with a Deku Stick.
To top it off, it feels like Nintendo has its work cut out for it if it really wants to make a sensible timeline out of The Legend of Zelda. Only in the latter part of Twilight Princess did we even get a strong sense that the individual games of the series might be connected with one another. With so many installments of the franchise already out there, Nintendo faces a whole lot of backstory to try to fill in.
Perhaps Skyward Sword will go a long way toward bringing the overall narrative of The Legend of Zelda into focus. From the look of the game it certainly seems like it is capable of getting that job done.
But is that what we really want?
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword will release in early 2011.