History of the Zelda Timeline/Timeline Quotes
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Creator Quotes are commonly studied in the Zelda Timeline discussion by theorists attempting to interpret the Nintendo-intended path of the storyline. The precise meanings and relevancies of these quotes are commonly debated, and often raise more questions than they answer.
On A Link to the Past
After Ocarina of Time was released, Shigeru Miyamoto was asked "Where do all the Zelda games fall into place when arranged chronologically by their stories?" and gave an answer suggesting that he saw Link to the Past as taking place after the original games:
|Ocarina of Time is the first story, then the original Legend of Zelda, then Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and finally A Link to the Past. It's not very clear where Link's Awakening fits in—it could be anytime after Ocarina of Time.|
|— Shigeru Miyamoto|
On Ocarina of Time
Below are comments from two staff members of the OoT development team; one from the Character Designer, Satoru Takizawa, and one from the Script Director, Toru Osawa. In this interview, conducted at the time of Ocarina of Time's release by the Japanese website Ki no ue no Himitsu kichi and translated by Zethar-II, Takizawa confirms that they were dealing with A Link to the Past's Imprisoning War (also known as the Seal War) when designing Ocarina of Time's story, and thus was meant to be the account of the seven Sages' seal on the Sacred Realm in that backstory.
- Takizawa: In past, when you thought about Ganon in Zelda, he was a pig. This time, when were collaborating ideas, we thought "He wouldn't be a pig, would he?" There were even some who thought "I don't want him to be a pig." But I still thought that at least the end should have Ganon as a pig. The whole time I wanted to know what Mr. Miyamoto thought, but in the end, I realized that Mr. Miyamoto didn't have an opinion on the matter, so I decided to do it the way I wanted.
- This time, the story really wasn't an original. We were dealing with the "The Imprisoning War of the Seven Sages" from the SNES edition Zelda. To give that game a little "secret" recognition, I thought that keeping the "pigness" in Ganon would be the correct course. So we made him a beast "with the feeling of a pig."
Osawa then states that the Sages' names in Ocarina of Time later become the basis for the town names in The Adventure of Link (though in reality, the Sages were actually named in reference to the towns themselves as a throwback to that game, as was the case with Talon and Malon, and their similarity to Tarin and Marin from Link's Awakening).
- Osawa: Though in this game Zelda is now included in the Seven Sages, the other six have the names of the town names from the Disk System edition "The Adventure of Link."
- In the SNES edition game, the story "Long ago, there was a war called the Imprisoning War" was passed along. A name in the Imprisoning War era is the name of a Town later. They were like "pseudo-secrets." We wanted to throw these out through the entirety of the game. That thing from then is now this.
- Tarin and Marin, a father and girl who appeared in "Link's Awakening" (GB) were used as the base for a different parent and child who comes out in this game. These are the things that when they are seen by a person who has played Zelda before they will understand. If people begin to think "Do you think that this could be that thing from then?" then I will be happy.
For some time, this was regarded as undeniable proof that Ocarina of Time was meant to be the Seal War in A Link to the Past's backstory, and thus shared a connection with the older games. Of course, after the release of The Wind Waker, and even more so after Twilight Princess', many increasingly felt this connection breaking so as to give way to newer games in the series, as both games contradict the Ocarina of Time-A Link to the Past connection in their own ways. Nevertheless, the intent to connect these games seems to have been there since Ocarina of Time's release. What is debatable is the extent to which they were willing to preserve that connection.
On the Four Sword Series
On May 17, 2004, an "Embargo" Nintendo had placed on information from the Game Developer's Conference (early March 2004) was lifted and a wealth of new Nintendo information flooded the internet.
The first recognised timeline relevant quote was found in a GameInformer interview
- Aonuma: The GBA Four Swords Zelda is what we’re thinking as the oldest tale in the Zelda timeline. With this one on the GameCube [(FSA)] being a sequel to that, and taking place sometime after that.
This was excellent! A concrete Nintendo placement with no argument against made timeline theorizing that much easier.
A deeper look at the May 17th, 2004 interview pack revealed the Aonuma's statement may have had little credibility.
- Aonuma: In an example with Four Swords Adventures, I was the producer.. I didn’t actually put the story for that game together... Mr. Miyamoto then came in and upended the tea table... we changed the story around quite a bit... storyline shouldn’t be something complicated that confuses the player... and the storyline changed all the way up until the very end
This suggests that the development of the FS arc's storyline was a chaotic process which Mr. Aonuma was barely involved with. Opinion was suddenly split; some saw fit to completely disregard the first interview and allow Four Swords to occur elsewhere in the timeline, while others stuck by Aonuma's original words and kept Four Swords pre-Ocarina of Time.
Further discussion was initiated by a much ignored interview, by Nintendo Power with Eiji Aonuma and Hidemaro Fujibayashi of Capcom, who colaberated with the former in the creation of Four Swords and The Minish Cap.
- Nintendo Power: "This title is the third game in the Four Sword series. Did you plan it as a trilogy from the beginning?"
- HF (Capcom): "We did not think to develop a trilogy from the beginning. When we developed the first Four Swords game for GBA, we created a new Hyrule legend that said that a long time ago, evil Vaati brought crisis to Hyrule and people sealed that evil. We had some thought that we wanted to carry over that story into future titles some way."
The implications of which shortly become fairly obvious, since Nintendo rereleased A Link to the Past for the GBA, and added Four Swords Adventures as a playable game, this game, headed by Nintendo was obviously placed in the timeline fairly close to its 2nd counterpart.
When Capcom took over the Four Swords series, this interview suggests that they "created a new Hyrule legend that said that a long time ago, evil Vaati brought crisis to Hyrule and people sealed that evil" and that they were taking off with the idea of the four sword saga.
On The Wind Waker
Aonuma had discussed this idea before, to varying interpretation. Many considered the following two infamous quotes to support the double timeline ideal, and they have only become more zealous with recent developments.
The first came in a summer 2002 Game Pro interview:
- Q: Where does The Wind Waker fit into the overall Zelda series timeline?
- Aonuma: You can think of this game as taking place over a hundred years after Ocarina of Time. You can tell this from the opening story, and there are references to things from Ocarina located throughout the game as well.
- Miyamoto: Well, wait, which point does the hundred years start from?
- Aonuma: From the end.
- Miyamoto: No, I mean, as a child or as a...
- Aonuma: Oh, right, let me elaborate on that. Ocarina of Time basically has two endings of sorts; one has Link as a child and the other has him as an adult. This game, The Wind Waker, takes place a hundred years after the adult Link defeats Ganon at the end of Ocarina.
- Miyamoto: This is pretty confusing for us, too. (laughs) So be careful.
Followed by a similar (though better worded) comment on the Official Zelda Homepage:
- In terms of the storyline, we've decided that this takes place 100 years after the events in The Ocarina of Time. We think that as you play through the game, you'll notice that in the beginning the storyline explains some of the events in The Ocarina of Time. You'll also find hints of things from The Ocarina of Time that exist in The Wind Waker.
- There's also a more complicated explanation. If you think back to the end of The Ocarina of Time, there were two endings to that game in different time periods. First Link defeated Ganon as an adult, and then he actually went back to being a child. You could say that The Wind Waker takes place 100 years after the ending in which Link was an adult.
On Twilight Princess
The current trends in timeline theory began on March 6th, 2007 when a then-two-month-old interview with Eiji Aonuma on the Japanese Nintendo-owned website nindori.com was translated into English. The Hylia has provided the most recognized translation thus far:
- –When does Twilight Princess take place?
- Aonuma: In the world of Ocarina of Time, a hundred and something years later.
- –And the Wind Waker?
- Aonuma: The Wind Waker is parallel. In Ocarina of Time, Link flew seven years in time, he beat Ganon and went back to being a kid, remember? Twilight Princess takes place in the world of Ocarina of Time, a hundred and something years after the peace returned to kid Link’s time. In the last scene of Ocarina of Time, kids Link and Zelda have a little talk, and as a consequence of that talk, their relationship with Ganon takes a whole new direction. In the middle of this game [Twilight Princess], there's a scene showing Ganon's execution. It was decided that Ganon be executed because he'd do something outrageous if they left him be. That scene takes place several years after Ocarina of Time. Ganon was sent to another world and now he wants to obtain the power...
It is expected that many interpretations of this quote's various statements will soon follow.
It should be noted that the section where Aonuma mentions that it takes place "a hundred and something years later" was erroneously translated. The original text said "百数年", which literally means "several hundred years", rather than "a hundred and something years".
On Phantom Hourglass
While nothing timeline-specific besides the confirmed connections to The Wind Waker has been stated thus far, Mr. Aonuma has stated that the development team for Four Swords Adventures is the same team he employed for Phantom Hourglass in a GameInformer interview from GDC 2007:
- GI: It was...announced that when the DS was first shown that there was a Four Swords Zelda game also coming to the DS. Are you think of incorporating the Four Swords concept into Phantom Hourglass as a sub-game much like when you released Link to the Past for GBA?
- Aonuma: I remember talking about that game. I think there was something lost in translation. The staff of Four Swords Adventures is working on Phantom Hourglass, not that we’re creating a Four Swords Adventure game for the DS.
This seems to be a continuation of a previous trend between A Link to the Past and Four Swords Adventures; most of the Four Swords Adventures developers had an extensive background with A Link to the Past, and A Link to the Past is widely believed to be connected to Four Swords Adventures, so the speculated connections between Phantom Hourglass and the Four Swords saga may possibly bear fruit. Some may note that Aonuma denies that Nintendo is creating a Four Swords Adventure game for the DS (more accurately, that he ever said it; he claims he was mistranslated), but one must consider that the question to which he was responding seems to have been intended to refer to the multiplayer Four Swords franchise, not Four Swords spin-offs like The Minish Cap.
Of course, it may prove to be nothing. After all, any choices made by the development team do not have be relevant to timeline theorizing whatsoever.
On Skyward Sword
During a 2010 interview for the Official Nintendo Magazine, as part of a feature on Skyward Sword, Aonuma makes yet another comment about not just the existence of a "confidential timeline document", but the confirmation as far as the developers are concerned in regards to Skyward Sword's placement in the timeline:
- Yes, there is a master timeline, but it is a confidential document!... The only people that have access to the document are myself, Mr. Miyamoto, and the director of the title. We can't share it with anyone else! I have already talked with Mr. Miyamoto about this so I am comfortable with releasing this information - this title takes place before Ocarina of Time.
Aonuma goes on later in the same interview to describe how Skyward Sword's placement and promotion leaves much leeway for more pre-Ocarina of Time titles:
- If I said a certain title was the 'first Zelda game' then that means we can't ever make a title that comes before that! So for us to be able to add titles to the series, we have to have a way of putting titles before and after each other.
Aonuma's latter quote hints at the possibility of a title that precedes even Skyward Sword, the title known to be the origin story of the Master Sword.
- Translations of various in-game quotes and some manuals
- Translation of The Legend of Zelda manual
- Translation of The Adventure of Link manual
- Translation of the A Link to the Past manual
- Translation of the quotes in A Link to the Past
- Zelda Legends Nintendo Power Vol. 116: Interview with Mr. Miyamoto
- Ki no ue no Himitsu kichiOcarina of Time interview - Osawa and Takizawa comments
- Game Informer:A Legend Of Zelda: The Eiji Aonuma Interview
- Hidemaro Fujibayashi of Capcom interview
- The HyliaNintendo Dream: Eiji Aonuma Interview 1
- :Zelda's Link to the Past and Future: The Eiji Aonuma Interview
-  Official Nintendo Magazine Scan