At some point in our gaming lives, we’ve found ourselves in heated debate over the true timeline for The Legend of Zelda series. For fans it’s perfect cocktail party chatter fodder; since the release of Wind Waker we’ve known something was up, and as new titles kept rolling out we got the distinct impression that Nintendo wasn’t just reusing motifs and symbols — they were connecting the games’ plots.
Nintendo has teased the existence of an official timeline, but has yet to see the light of day. That is, until the release of the new series artbook, Hyrule Historia. Inside of the book is a Zelda timeline.
This is not a joke.
The legend begins with Skyward Sword, following by The Minish Cap, then Four Swords and Ocarina of Time. This is where things get tricky: from Ocarina the timeline splits not twice, but into three different paths, each one based on the different ways the game could have ended.
The first possible path goes into A Link to the Past, followed by the Oracles games, Link’s Awakening, the original The Legend of Zelda and The Legend of Zelda II - we can assume that this timeline is the result of Link failing to defeat Ganon in Ocarina.
The second branch-off follows the timeline in which Zelda sends Link back in time to relive his childhood as a normal boy — Majora’s Mask, Twilight Princess, and then Four Swords Adventures.
The final path follows Link’s defeat of Ganon without going back in time, forever leaving those lost seven years behind him — The Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks.
Alternate universes, parallel universe… there is a lot going on here. Note that this is a translation of a fan’s postingin Korean, and that Nintendo could still jump out and surprise us all with an official-official-official timeline.