Young Link (こどもリンク, Child Link) is one of Link's multiple incarnations in The Legend of Zelda series. Although several prepubescent Links have appeared throughout The Legend of Zelda series, the one that appears as a playable character in the Super Smash Bros. series as "Young Link" is the Hero of Time, the main protagonist of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.
In Super Smash Bros. Melee, Young Link is an unlockable character, and returns in that capacity in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate after being absent from both Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. 4.
The first appearance of a prepubescent Link is in the series' first installment. This is confirmed by Young Link's trophy description in Super Smash Bros. Melee, which refers to the Link featured in this game as his debut. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate also uses Young Link as a placeholder for the original Link: Pac-Man's Classic Mode route uses Young Link to represent The Legend of Zelda series' debut in 1986, and the Spirit Battle for Link (The Legend of Zelda) uses Young Link as a puppet fighter.
However, the playable Young Link in the Super Smash Bros. series is based specifically on the incarnation who made his debut in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, in which the "Hero of Time" begins his quest as a young boy. Initially growing up in Kokiri Forest under the assumption of being a Kokiri, Link was eventually summoned by the Great Deku Tree to receive his very own fairy, Navi. During this, the Tree also reveals that Link is destined to save Hyrule by preventing a desert man clad in black armor from acquiring the Triforce, an almighty relic that can grant any wish.
However, the Tree is under attack by monsters pillaging its innards, and even after Link dispatches them, the Tree has nevertheless has been cursed to death by the man in black armor. Before dying, the Tree imparts his final words of wisdom, telling Link to venture to Hyrule Castle.
Upon arriving at Hyrule Castle, a chance meeting with Princess Zelda results in her telling him of her prophetic dreams of Ganondorf, who is revealed as the aforementioned man clad in black armor, and a young boy clad in green who would emerge from a forest while accompanied by a fairy. Due to fitting this description, Link allies with Zelda and proceeds to collect the Spiritual Stones in order to assist her in preventing Ganondorf from accessing the Sacred Realm and acquiring the Triforce that lies within it.
Although Link is successful in acquiring all three stones, he is too late to reunite with Zelda, who escapes on horseback alongside Impa, her attendant. However, Zelda nevertheless manages to throw the Ocarina of Time into Hyrule Castle's moat, allowing Link to claim it and proceed with their plan of stopping Ganondorf. She then telepathically directs him to play the Song of Time in front of the Temple of Time's altar, which would open the Door of Time and allow Link to access the Master Sword that lies beyond it and use the sword to stop Ganondorf.
Upon drawing the Master Sword from the Pedestal of Time, Link is accepted by the sword as its master. However, it nevertheless seals him away within the Sacred Realm, owing to him being too young to truly challenge Ganondorf. To further compound this, Ganondorf anticipated his and Zelda's plot and managed to acquire the Triforce for himself upon Link's sealing within the Sacred Realm.
Seven years later, a 16-year-old Link is awakened within the Chamber of Sages by Rauru, one of the six Sages. Upon explaining what happened to Link and the Triforce after he drew the Master Sword, Rauru declares him to be the "Hero of Time". Rauru proceeds to grant Link a Medallion before instructing him to awaken the remaining Sages and collect their respective Medallions in order to gain their assistance in defeating Ganondorf.
During this quest, the Great Deku Tree's newborn sprout additionally reveals that Link is not a Kokiri, but actually a Hylian that was left in the Tree's care by his dying mother in order to survive the Hyrulean Civil War that was going on at the time. By using the Master Sword and Pedestal of Time's collective power to travel back and forth between his childhood and adult ages, Link proceeds to awaken the Sages, gain their support, and acquire the Triforce of Courage to finally defeat Ganondorf and save Hyrule.
Immediately after stopping Ganondorf, Zelda sends Link back in time in order for him to relive his essentially lost childhood. A few months later, Link leaves Hyrule to search for Navi, who inexplicably left him after he placed the Master Sword back into the Pedestal of Time soon after stopping Ganondorf. During his search, he is ambushed by a Skull Kid wearing a mysterious mask. Upon giving chase after having Epona, his faithful steed, stolen by the Skull Kid, Link winds up in the mysterious parallel world known as Termina.
Soon after Link becomes an unintentional ally of Tatl, one of the Skull Kid's fairy friends, he meets the mysterious Happy Mask Salesman. The Salesman reveals the Skull Kid's mask to be Majora's Mask, an ancient artifact that possesses a tremendous amount of magical power. Link and Tatl soon encounter Skull Kid and Tael, Tatl's brother and the Skull Kid's other fairy friend. Tael reveals a clue on how to stop the Skull Kid, which leads Link on a quest to stop him from using the vast power of Majora's Mask to launch the Moon into Termina.
As Link's quest progresses, the clue turns out to be a reference to the Four Giants, Termina's guardian deities. Due to lashing out against Termina and its people long ago because of the Giants' decision to protect the land while laying dormant, the Skull Kid was expelled from Termina by the Giants. Ultimately, Link frees the Four Giants from being confined by the magic used by Skull Kid. With the Giants' help in halting the Moon's descent, Link then proceeds to destroy Majora's Mask after it abandons Skull Kid, who had used him as a puppet the entire time. Upon saving Termina, Link bids the Skull Kid, Tatl and Tael farewell before returning to Hyrule to resume his search for Navi.
Although Link is ultimately revered as the Hero of Time in a parallel timeline created upon Zelda sending him back in time, he becomes full of regret over his near-total lack of recognition as a hero within his own timeline. When coupled with his failure to teach his skills to any successors during his lifetime, Link's regret became so significant that it prevented him from passing on to the afterlife upon his death. This subsequently resulted in him lingering on as a sword-wielding, armor-clad spirit.
A number of centuries later, Link, under the guise of an ethereal, golden wolf, would encounter his bloodline descendant, the Link of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. After teaching all seven of his skills, Link finally eases his regrets and passes on to the afterlife, but not before bidding farewell to his descendant and offering him some final words of encouragement. Ultimately, these skills assist his descendant's destined growth into the "Hero of Twilight", who succeeds the Hero of Time as the savior of Hyrule by stopping the Twilight-based invasion led by Zant and his ancestor's nemesis, Ganondorf.
As a playable character
Main article: Young Link (SSBM)
Young Link appears as an unlockable character in Super Smash Bros. Melee. He is a clone of his older self, and differs in a number of ways: he is unsurprisingly smaller, weaker and lighter, yet boasts better mobility thanks to his much faster dashing speed, ability to wall jump, and longer wavedash.
Although Young Link's special moves are burdened by his aforementioned shorter range, they nevertheless have benefits to compensate. Fire Bow boasts combo potential, thanks to its Fire Arrows' higher hitstun. Young Link's Boomerang can be thrown at wider angles, while his Spin Attack is useful for punishing rolls thanks to its multiple hits. Lastly, Young Link's Bomb has twice as many hitboxes as Link's Bomb, which give it greater damage potential and make it better in regard to combos.
Thanks to his strengths, Young Link is ranked 16th on the tier list, placing him in the E tier. In addition to rendering him as a mid-tier character, this places him two spots above his older self.
Main article: List of SSBM trophies (The Legend of Zelda series)
There are three Young Link trophies available in Melee.
Young Link was one of the five playable characters in Melee who did not return in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Instead, he has effectively been succeeded by Toon Link, owing to both functioning as a younger, smaller, weaker, and faster version of Link. Toon Link also derives most of the moveset differences Young Link had from his older self, such as forward smash's first hit having set knockback, grounded Spin Attack hitting multiple times, and down aerial being capable of meteor smashing.
Various forms of Young Link, however, still appear as stickers from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.
While Young Link does not make any appearance whatsoever in Super Smash Bros. 4, he is referenced in the trophy "Adult Link (Ocarina of Time)". Young Link is also indirectly referenced via Link's eighth alternate costume, which is almost identical to Young Link's Fierce Deity transformation. Lastly, Toon Link's Hero's Bow has a custom variation based on Young Link's Fire Bow.
As a playable character
Main article: Young Link (SSBU)
After a two installment absence, Young Link returns as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. This marks his first appearance of any kind in the series in 10 years, and is his first playable Super Smash Bros. appearance in 17 years, with the latter distinction being shared with fellow Melee veteran Pichu. Although Young Link's descendant, the "Hero of Twilight", has been succeeded by the "Hero of the Wild" as a playable character in Ultimate, Young Link nevertheless functions as a smaller, faster, and weaker clone of the new Link.
Despite the term "Echo Fighter" being used in Ultimate to denote clones, Young Link is not labeled as such. While no official reason for this has been given, it is possible that Young Link's moveset deriving a number of mechanical and aesthetic aspects from his descendant's moveset in SSB4, as well as the aforementioned attribute differences, are the primary factors for this.