The Legend of Zelda (universe)
The Legend of Zelda universe (ゼルダの伝説, The Legend of Zelda) refers to the Super Smash Bros. series' collection of characters, stages, and properties that hail from Nintendo's long-running and famous The Legend of Zelda game series. It is a series of fantasy action-adventure titles produced by Nintendo throughout the company's history. It is widely considered one of the most influential video game franchises ever created, and has earned a spot as one of the company's flagship franchises alongside such notable series as Mario and Pokémon, with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time being the best-reviewed game of all time by certain sources. It has had over fifteen official titles which together have sold over 60 million units, making it the 7th best-selling video game series ever. As a result, it is heavily featured in the Super Smash Bros. series, with five separate characters playable in Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. 4, and 6 separate characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: The main hero Link, his younger counterpart Young Link (Melee & Ultimate) and Toon Link (Brawl onward) incarnations, the titular Princess Zelda, her alternate ninja-like guise Sheik, and series villain Ganondorf.
In 1986, the development team of game designer Shigeru Miyamoto worked concurrently on two equally ambitious projects for the recently released Famicom/NES: Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. The team made a conscious effort to conceptually separate the two titles; while Mario was a linear platformer, Miyamoto wanted Zelda to feel like an open adventure that forced the player to think about what they should do next, and also to convey the idea of a game "world" that could be explored at one's leisure. Miyamoto drew his inspiration from his experiences around Kyoto in his early life, where he explored nearby fields, woods, and caves and realized the feeling that could be instilled by going on such an "adventure". Meanwhile, Miyamoto designed the player character, Link, as a coming of age motif for players to identify with; Link begins the game as an ordinary boy, but is strengthened by his quest until he triumphs over a great, evil force. Further revolutionary features of the title were a replay mode that, very unusually for the time, contained an entirely new set of more difficult levels - the "Second Quest" - and the first-ever instance of password-free progress-saving in any cartridge-based system or game, made possible by battery-powered RAM.
The Legend of Zelda, released in the Americas in August of 1987, was an all-time bestseller for Nintendo, and much like Super Mario Bros. before it, it often appears on the highest spots in game publications' listings of the greatest games on the NES. It is often considered a spiritual forerunner of the RPG genre, more specifically the action RPG genre, despite lacking key RPG mechanics such as experience points, and is largely responsible for a surge of RPGs that focus on real-time action combat as well as puzzles. It was the spawning point for one of Nintendo's longest-running and most popular video game franchises, which as of 2013 has released over fifteen "primary" installments and several spin-offs. The now well-known "Zelda-style" Action RPG formula is central to almost all of the main series, which in some ways is ironic because the first Zelda sequel ever released, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, was the only game to feature a considerably different style of gameplay: a side-scrolling platformer with JPRG elements.
At least three other releases in the main series were arguably revolutionary in their own right. The third game, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for Super Nintendo in early April 1992, advanced many of the conventions introduced by the original game's formula to resemble what a modern-day top-down Zelda-style game traditionally features, with refined combat, item-usage, puzzle-filled dungeon aspects, and more detail to the archetypal story. It is widely considered today to be one of the greatest video games ever released, and the many Zelda games that make use of this top-down style are typically relegated to Nintendo handhelds. However, even more momentous was the late-1998 release of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64, which seamlessly converted the Zelda formula into a fully realized and detailed three-dimensional world presented in the third person, and introduced what has since become common elements in 3D action-adventure games: a target-lock system to orient the player-character towards specific enemies and circle strafe around them in combat situations in areas with a freely rotatable camera, and context-sensitive buttons. On its initial release, it received perfect review scores from the majority of video game publications that reviewed it, and it sold over seven million copies worldwide. Like A Link to the Past for the top-down 2D perspective, Ocarina of Time introduced to the series the 3D-style of gameplay regularly used by console-based Zelda releases, which typically are the "biggest" releases in the series. Finally, after years of elaborating on the formulas set by A Link to the Past and Ocarina, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was released in 2017 for the Wii U and Nintendo Switch. Breath expanded Zelda to a highly engrossing open-world style, giving the player freedom to explore the game's world at their own leisure and adding a high degree of realism to the gameplay mechanics, and received near-unanimous praise as one of the series' best entries and the first truly revolutionary Zelda game since Ocarina of Time.
It is customary for at least one main Zelda title to be released over the lifespan of a given Nintendo console or handheld. Many of these adhere by default to a realistic, comparatively "adult" aesthetic, starting with Ocarina of Time and including titles as recent as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild; however, in early 2003, a radically different "younger" alternative look and style was introduced into the series with the release of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker for the GameCube. This introduces a heavily cartoon-stylized, cel-shaded design and graphical style both to Link and the rest of his world, and this exact "Toon Link" design and aesthetic is reused in several subsequent releases on Nintendo handhelds, all of which are separate from the games featuring the "adult" aesthetic. Given the nearly-Mario-scale importance and relevance the Zelda franchise has had both to Nintendo and to the industry as a whole, it is unfailingly one of the first franchises confirmed for a starring role in each game of Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series of crossover fighting games. Later games in the Smash Bros. series have featured content from both the realistic and the cartoon Zelda styles.
Each of the Zelda games, for the most part, are set in a fantasy land named Hyrule, which had been created by a trio of goddesses that subsequently left behind embodiments of their power in a three-triangle artifact called the Triforce, a great evil - most often a demonic being named Ganon, or alternatively a powerful humanoid sorcerer named Ganondorf, depending on the game - threatens the land, and the only hope is for a young boy or man garbed in green, Link, in cooperation with a princess named Zelda, to go on an adventurous quest across Hyrule to smite the evil, most often with a blessed blade in an altar named the Master Sword. There is almost always some sort of variation to a given installment's narrative that ties both into the story and the gameplay; in some games there is a parallel world that Link must explore, while the world may be mostly covered in ocean in other games. Link himself may undertake his quest under a different set of circumstances each game, such as in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess when he can transform into a wolf and receive assistance from an imp-like creature named Midna, or The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, where a talking hat he acquires allows him to shrink and grow back in size at will. Even Zelda's backstory, role, and relevance can vary between games, such as whether she is a classic damsel-in-distress or a capable ally of Link, but very rarely is any sort of romance between her and Link even implied.
Besides instances where some games are direct sequels and continuations to each other, there is usually no relevance in continuity between any of the seemingly independent portrayals of Hyrule. But this did not stop fans from speculating wildly on how all of the titles could be ordered in a chronological timeline that assumes Hyrule in all of these games is, in fact, the same world in different stages of its history, and that the reappearances of Link and related characters represent different individuals that are unwitting reincarnations of eras and Links from the past. But due to contradictions between games that arise when trying to place them all in a linear timeline, estimates were made that the Zelda chronology branched off into separate directions. In 2011, during the 25th anniversary of the franchise, Nintendo posted an official timeline for the series that affirmed that there were, in fact, three separate branches with their own corresponding games. The current official ordering of The Legend of Zelda series is explained below:
The most recent game in the core Zelda series is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild released in March 2017, where Link awakens after a 100-year slumber and is tasked with exploring and saving Hyrule from the return of Ganon, now an amorphous abomination known as Calamity Ganon. Link is able to gather materials, conquer Shrines (serving as small-scale dungeons), and explore the vast open world of Hyrule with virtually no limits. This is primarily facilitated by Link’s ability to climb virtually any surface and paraglide through the skies, in addition to riding on horseback. The game and its primary goals were originally announced in early 2013, with brief gameplay sequences shown periodically through its development cycle before being officially rerevealed at E3 2016. These primary goals of this installment, according to Eiji Aonuma, were to break from the conventions that the series had held onto since Ocarina of Time and provide a Zelda experience unlike any game in the series before. Serving as the swan song for the Wii U as well as a launch title for the Nintendo Switch, the game has been universally lauded for returning to the open-ended, non-linear structure of the original The Legend of Zelda, leaving gameplay aspects up to the player's sense of curiosity, discovery, and experimentation, and introducing elements of realism and interaction with the environment. Breath of the Wild's timeline placement is currently unknown, but has been officially stated to take place sometime after Ocarina of Time. The game went on to become the single best selling entry in the entire franchise, and one of the top ten best selling games on the Nintendo Switch. An Expansion Pass was released throughout 2017 in two DLC packs: The Master Trials in June and The Champions' Ballad in December. A direct sequel is currently in development exclusively for Nintendo Switch. In the meantime, a Warriors-style prequel detailing the events of the Great Calamity 100 years prior, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, was released for the Nintendo Switch on November 20th, 2020.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was the most recent Zelda game at the time of the release of Super Smash Bros., and certainly the most popular and notable at the time, so the Zelda content in the game stemmed from the first 3D entry in the series. The Zelda universe contains one fighter, stage, and item.
Despite the fact that Majora's Mask was released before Melee, most of the Zelda content in this game is once again based on Ocarina of Time. The Legend of Zelda franchise gained a massive amount of new content, including four brand new characters. This makes the Zelda franchise tied with the Mario franchise for having the most amount of playable characters, being five.
Bold italics denotes an item new to the Smash Bros. series.
Main article: List of SSBM trophies (The Legend of Zelda series)
As one of the original 10 franchises to be featured in the Smash Bros. series, representation from The Legend of Zelda came as expected to be featured in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Young Link has been cut; however, newcomer Toon Link is featured and the four Zelda series veterans now have updated designs to match their incarnations in the most recent console installment, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
On the final character select screen (after all characters are unlocked), the Zelda characters take up the third column.
Bold italics denotes an item new to the Smash Bros. series.
Main article: List of SSBB Music (The Legend of Zelda series)
Main article: List of SSBB trophies (The Legend of Zelda series)
Main article: List of stickers (The Legend of Zelda series)
With almost no content from Brawl removed and the addition of several new Assist Trophies, items, and stages, The Legend of Zelda is well represented in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Though there are no Zelda newcomers, all veterans from Brawl return. SSB4 features content from Zelda titles released after Brawl, including Skyward Sword and A Link Between Worlds, but the majority of the playable characters are still based on their appearances in Twilight Princess.
for Nintendo 3DS
for Wii U
Main article: Items
Bold italics denotes an item or Assist Trophy new to the Smash Bros. series.
Smash Tour items
Main article: Enemies
Main article: List of SSB4 Music (The Legend of Zelda series)
Arrangements and remixes introduced in SSB4.
Arrangements and remixes from previous Smash Bros. titles.
Compositions and arrangements directly sourced from The Legend of Zelda series with no alterations.
Main article: List of SSB4 trophies (The Legend of Zelda series)
Of the "perfect-attendance" franchises, the Zelda series has undergone the most substantial reworks of all in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Ultimate marks the first time since Brawl that the designs and voices for each fighter (except Young Link and Toon Link) are completely overhauled. However, Ultimate also marks the first time that the design overhaul is no longer uniformed, with the designs for Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf completely drawn from different games throughout the Zelda series; previously, all three had been based on their Ocarina of Time designs in Melee and their Twilight Princess designs in Brawl and Smash 4. In fact, Ultimate features no character designs from Twilight Princess for the first time since the release of Melee seventeen years prior, as while Sheik has maintained her design, she was never in Twilight Princess to begin with and now wears the Sheikah Set clothes from Breath of the Wild. Due to these changes, Toon Link gains the distinction of being the only Zelda character to feature a consistent design for three separate Smash Bros. installments, being based on his The Wind Waker design in all three of his playable appearances. Additionally, all past stages have been curated and updated for Ultimate, in addition to a new stage being added that is based on Breath of the Wild. With these change, the Zelda franchise is better referenced as a whole.
All Zelda stages from previous Super Smash Bros. games return.
Bold italics denotes an Assist Trophy new to the Smash Bros. series.
Main article: List of SSBU Music (The Legend of Zelda series)
Arrangements and remixes unique to Ultimate
Arrangements and remixes returning from previous Smash games.
Tracks sourced directly from their original games.
Main article: List of spirits (The Legend of Zelda series)
Games with elements appearing in the Super Smash Bros. series
Main article: The Legend of Zelda
Main article: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time