Link (リンク, Link) is the protagonist of The Legend of Zelda series by Nintendo. There are multiple different incarnations of Link seen throughout the series, but they all have saved Hyrule and Princess Zelda from evil many times (usually from Ganon, who serves as the main antagonist of the series). Many of the incarnations wield the Master Sword, hold the Triforce of Courage, and all share the spirit of the Hero of Hyrule. An "adult" Link has appeared as a playable fighter in all four Super Smash Bros. games. Link is marketed as one of Nintendo's flagship characters alongside Mario, with some sources considering him one of the greatest Nintendo characters and gaming protagonists of all time.
Link's first appearance was in the original The Legend of Zelda, which depicted his quest to rescue Princess Zelda and the land of Hyrule from the evil Ganon. Link is designed with a green tunic and a green hat, which (like Mario's design) was due to limitations in the NES hardware. This appearance has since been traditional for Link.
It is worth noting that while there have been many Zelda games, it has not always been the same Link who the player controls. The timelines in which the Zelda games take place skip forward and backward across the centuries, and each time a new Link with a new origin is created, they have received many titles throughout their adventures, which have included the "Hero of Time" (referring to the Link from Ocarina of Time/Majora's Mask), "Hero of Winds" (referring to the Link from The Wind Waker/Phantom Hourglass), or "Hero Chosen by the Gods" (referring to the Link from Twilight Princess). However, each incarnation of the hero is tasked with defeating the main antagonist of the story, typically Ganondorf, from either taking over the world or in other cases, destroying it.
As the Zelda series traditionally does not give Link dialogue during conversations, there is very little insight into Link's personality. However, it has been shown that Link is a brave and polite young man who is very humble.
Because of the different Links, Link's origins can vary, but he is almost always a child or teenager who starts out as a normal person until learning of his destiny to save Hyrule and Princess Zelda from the evil Ganon (or Ganondorf) and as his journey presses him, he becomes a hero. In Ocarina of Time, he is a young Hylian, whose mother, before dying, entrusted him into the care of the Great Deku Tree. In The Wind Waker, he is a young boy living on Outset Island, given the legendary Hero of Time's clothes. In Twilight Princess, he is an ordinary young man working at Ordon Ranch until several of the villagers' children are kidnapped by monsters which starts his adventure.
One thing that has varied with Link is his age. In some games, such as The Wind Waker and the first part of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Link is a child, which is the basis for the two "alternate" Links appearing in the Super Smash Bros. series (Young Link and Toon Link). In Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and the second part of Ocarina of Time, Link is depicted as a teenager, which is the basis of the "main" Link's appearance in the Super Smash Bros. series. Other games, such as A Link to the Past, depict him as being an adolescent.
Link made both his first fighting appearance and his first official appearance in a Nintendo game outside the Zelda series in Super Smash Bros., and has appeared in all installments of the series since. In each of his appearances within the Super Smash Bros. series, Link wields the Master Sword and the Hylian Shield.
In Super Smash Bros.
As a playable character
Main article: Link (SSB)
Link's first appearance in a fighting game is in the original Super Smash Bros. as one of the starting eight playable characters. He is based off his appearance in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. He is a slow character, but as the wielder of the Master Sword, Link possesses many disjointed moves to continue combos from a distance. His neutral special move is a fast Boomerang that will return to Link. His up special move is the Spin Attack, which is powerful but does not give him much distance for recovery, which is often sited as his main flaw holding him back. His down special move pulls out a throwable Bomb which can be thrown either directly at opponents for comboing or to rest on the ground. Link is currently placed 11th of 12 characters on the tier list.
Link's in-game character description says:
In Super Smash Bros. Melee
As a playable character
Main article: Link (SSBM)
Link returns in Super Smash Bros. Melee as a starting selectable character. His appearance is still based off The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. While his play style is similar, his moves have been slightly tweaked. His up special move is now a much more reliable recovery jump. His new neutral special move is the Bow, which allows Link to fire an arrow. The arrow's range depends on how long the player holds down the B button. His Boomerang has been moved to be his side special move.
Link has been buffed from Super Smash Bros. to Melee, ranking 18th on the tier list. Due to increased distance to Spin Attack and higher air speed, Link has an improved recovery, which is considered his main flaw in his previous appearance. He has many projectiles and disjointed hitboxes from his Master Sword. However, he has a very slow dashing speed and is easy to combo due to his weight and falling speed.
Main article: List of SSBM trophies (The Legend of Zelda series)
As a playable character, Link has three trophies - a normal trophy won beating the Classic Mode with Link on any difficulty, and "Smash Red" and "Smash Blue" trophies are acquired by beating the Adventure and All-Star modes, respectively. His Classic Mode trophy reads as follows:
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Main article: Link (SSBB)
Link is again a starter character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. He has undergone a visual update (so that the Twilight Princess incarnation of Link appears, rather than the Ocarina of Time one), but he is essentially the same fighter as he was in Melee.
Some of his moves have been slightly tweaked. To match Twilight Princess, his weapons were also updated accordingly; while his boomerang became the Gale Boomerang and the Hookshot became the Clawshot - the former now pulls opponents and items in a small tornado, while the Clawshot homes in on the nearest ledge but cannot grab plain walls. The other changes are that the arrows of his renamed "Hero's Bow" disappear after a distance, and his Spin Attack is now chargeable.
Like all of the game's returning characters, he now has a Final Smash attack that he obtains when he breaks a Smash Ball. His final smash is the Triforce Slash, in which light from the Triforce of Courage on Link's hand shoots out and traps an opponent in between two large Triforces. Link then dashes at the opponent, unleashes a barrage of sword slashes, and finishes with a powerful blow with enough knockback to one-hit KO the opponent if nothing gets in the way.
Link has been nerfed from Melee to Brawl and is ranked 35th on the current tier list, placing him in the F tier. While his attacks are stronger, his recovery was nerfed to where it is as poor as his recovery in the first game. His mobility is also poor, as his air and dashing speeds are very low.
Main article: List of SSBB trophies (The Legend of Zelda series)
Link has a trophy that is awarded each time the Classic Mode is completed with Link on any difficulty. See Triforce Slash for the trophy description of Link's Final Smash, and Toon Link for the trophies based on Wind Waker Link:
Main article: Link (SSB4)
Link appears as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. His design is once again based on Twilight Princess. He receives a few more buffs, such as his new dash attack, which is Link's staple jump attack from the Zelda series. Toon Link also returns in the games.
In addition to his playable appearance, Link's costume serves as the basis of a downloadable content costume for Mii Swordfighters. Nintendo also released a QR code for those who wish to have the exact Mii used in the costume's advertising. While the costume is based on Link's own SSB4 appearance, its simplified design, brighter colors, and mirrored hairstyle closely resemble the Skyward Sword incarnation of Link.
Link has improved from Brawl, resulting in a rise in his tier list ranking, now at 43rd out of 58. Many of his attacks are quicker and stronger, and Smash 4's new edge mechanics makes his tether recovery more dependable. His projectiles have also seen some improvements, as Hero's Bow can charge faster, Gale Boomerang's launch trajectory allows for follow-ups, and Bombs do additional damage if they explode on the opponent's feet. However, Link is still rather sluggish in movement, and as a result is highly weak to rushdowns by characters much quicker than him. As a whole, Link does have some notable players in tournament play, yet his overall standing and viability is debatable due the varying degrees that other veterans have been buffed.