The Legend of Link: an open letter to Nintendo

With more and more female video game players joining the nerd bandwagon, there has been a change in video games. Tomb Raider finally created a game following a non-sexualized, and even personified female protagonist, Lara Croft. The game is the prequel to the earlier Tomb Raider series; showing how the young Lara Croft became the tomb raider. The game shows Lara expressing strong emotions like fear, sadness, grief, and guilt. The game also displays Lara having great courage facing the worst circumstances. Lara’s emotions, and character are vital traits in the game, because it creates a realistic character for young women to look up to. To clarify, Lara Croft has gone from big-busted sexual object, to a realistically size busted heroine. The 2013 Tomb Raider is a game directed to female gamers.

Unfortunately for Nintendo, it is games like these that are making Nintendo look bad. The truth is, Nintendo is falling behind in this nerdy feminism movement. Nintendo needs to make a new game for The Legend of Zelda series following a female heroine. The Legend of Zelda is one of Nintendo’s most loved series. As great as the series is, it still follows the male hero, Link, in all seventeen games. In most games Link is saving the princess Zelda. It is this exact narrative that needs to be challenged in order to reach equality. However, the basic plot is not the only problem with the series.

In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, there is a level where Link ventures into “Jabu-Jabu’s belly and rescues Ruto, Princess of the Zoras. That she is another princess to be rescued is a small point. The fact that Ruto is arguably the most annoying characters in all of video game history is the much bigger problem. First, she declares that she does not care that her father is worried about her, and refuses to go home. In protest, she refuses to walk, causing Link to carry her throughout the rest of the level. This effort of carrying her around is actually referred by Ruto as “the honour of carrying me.”

This negative female stereotype is further shown when Link leaves her behind and comes back to her, and she gets mad. In spite of leaving her behind, she even says,“If you’re a man, act like one,”to Link. Why do female characters need to be represented in a way that is easy for the player to dislike them?

One might argue that Ocarina of Time is an old game, and female gamers weren’t quite as common yet. This is not an excuse for Nintendo; while Ocarina of Time might be an older game, The Legend of Zelda: Link Between Worlds is not. Link Between Worlds was released in 2013, and has a very similar level to Inside Jabu-Jabu’s Belly, as they are both frustrating levels where you have to save a female character. This level in Link Between Worlds is called Thieves Hideout! Link saves a pink haired girl. The good news is, this character is vey polite and the level is not as frustrating as Jabu-Jabu’s Belly. She doesn’t even make Link carry her. While there is some obvious improvement from Ocarina of Time, this damsel in distress trend still needs to be broken.

Link Between Worlds has other negative representations of women throughout the game. The Queen Zora is only shown in two ways: angry and fat, as well as skinny and happy. This shows the player that women can only be seen in two ways, creating two strong stereotypes for women.

In Nintendo’s defence, I feel it important to mention that The Legend of Zelda series has at least one strong representation of women. In Ocarina of Time, a mysterious gender-neutral stranger helps Link while in the future; Sheik. At the end of the game, you learn that this strong character is Princess Zelda in disguise. This twist ending and strong portrayal of a woman was ahead of its time in 1998. They are both strong characters with an equal opportunity of winning.

Nintendo needs to create a game following a strong female lead. It is in my opinion that Nintendo should create a game called A Legend of Link, where the game follows princess Zelda in her story as Sheik. This could be a new story line, or just Zelda’s perspective of Ocarina of Time. A female Link is a rumour in the video game community, and has been met with disappointment with the news that the new Zelda Wii game would not follow a female Link. If the series gave the player the option to choose between a female Link and a male Link, it would be a great start. Female characters need to become less annoying and more likable.

About Jenny Fisher 17 Articles
I am a photographer at Arthur newspaper and a student a Trent university taking a joint major between English and Media Studies. My plan is to continue in the field of journalism after I graduate Trent.