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Are The Zonai a Beneficial Addition to the Series?

Spiritual Mask Salesman

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The Zelda series is not new to tribes being added out of the blue for one off games, incorperating new things to the lore, even if in the grand scheme none of it really matters. That's what we've gotten with the proper introduction of the Zonai in Tears of the Kingdom, but somehow this time around this feels very different than with past instances.

If we look back on a game like Twilight Princess, where the Twili get introduced as a sort of mirrored kingdom to Hyrule existing in a different realm, it's a similar situation where we have this new group that didn't exist before adding new layers to the lore we had before. However, I feel very differently on the Twili than I do about the Zonai. The Twili feel like a nice addition to the lore because they don't majorly disrupt anything; in fact they actually add to the lore with them being a banished tribe that invaded the Sacred Realm to obtain the Triforce.

Maybe the Oocca are a better example, coincidentally also introduced in Twilight Princess. They add more lore elements that are different than what we might have expected. Things like the character Shad saying there are theories that the Oocca actually built Hyrule simultanously with the Hylians. It's not a piece of lore that was ever hinted at before Twilight Princess, but even with it being established it still didn't change much. There were still core things like: the goddesses created the world, they left behind the Triforce, and the Triforce is the most powerful relic to exist and remains a staple in iconography and legend. Nothing about the Oocca challenges any of that.

With the Zonai things are challenged. Rauru and Mineru are the only two we get to see, limiting our interaction with the tribe. We are told the Zonai descended from the sky with secret stones gifted from the gods, and the stones amplify the abilities of those who wield them. So now we have new relics, which is fine but the Triforce has disappeared without explanation and doesn't exist on much iconography either.

Rauru's era is supposedly the founding of Hyrule, so you'd think the Triforce would get mentioned (if you believe it isn't a refounding of Hyrule after a collapse). Creating a Champion did state that Zonai ruins are supposed to depict the Triforce from an ancient perspective, resembling boars (power), owls (wisdom), and dragons (courage). But It would seem that during Rauru's time the peak of Zonai civilization in Hyrule has already diminished.

So it points to the Zonai existing outside the confines of anything established in the original lore, which is disappointing compared to the way other tribes have been introduced in the series. Like, we don't know a huge amount about the Twili, but we know a lot more about them and how they fit into history laid out in previous games than we do with the Zonai.

Overall, I feel the potential of the Zonai is greatly wasted. I feel like there could've been a way to use them to tie a lot of lore together that people are already trying to do. Things like Hylia being a Zonai and bringing their involvement with the goddesses and Triforce closer. Or having the Zonai's third eye inspiring the Sheikah tribe's eye design on their foreheads.

What do you all think? Do the Zonai add to the lore, or do they just confuse things more than it needs to be?
 

Malon

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The Zelda series is not new to tribes being added out of the blue for one off games, incorperating new things to the lore, even if in the grand scheme none of it really matters. That's what we've gotten with the proper introduction of the Zonai in Tears of the Kingdom, but somehow this time around this feels very different than with past instances.

If we look back on a game like Twilight Princess, where the Twili get introduced as a sort of mirrored kingdom to Hyrule existing in a different realm, it's a similar situation where we have this new group that didn't exist before adding new layers to the lore we had before. However, I feel very differently on the Twili than I do about the Zonai. The Twili feel like a nice addition to the lore because they don't majorly disrupt anything; in fact they actually add to the lore with them being a banished tribe that invaded the Sacred Realm to obtain the Triforce.

Maybe the Oocca are a better example, coincidentally also introduced in Twilight Princess. They add more lore elements that are different than what we might have expected. Things like the character Shad saying there are theories that the Oocca actually built Hyrule simultanously with the Hylians. It's not a piece of lore that was ever hinted at before Twilight Princess, but even with it being established it still didn't change much. There were still core things like: the goddesses created the world, they left behind the Triforce, and the Triforce is the most powerful relic to exist and remains a staple in iconography and legend. Nothing about the Oocca challenges any of that.

With the Zonai things are challenged. Rauru and Mineru are the only two we get to see, limiting our interaction with the tribe. We are told the Zonai descended from the sky with secret stones gifted from the gods, and the stones amplify the abilities of those who wield them. So now we have new relics, which is fine but the Triforce has disappeared without explanation and doesn't exist on much iconography either.

Rauru's era is supposedly the founding of Hyrule, so you'd think the Triforce would get mentioned (if you believe it isn't a refounding of Hyrule after a collapse). Creating a Champion did state that Zonai ruins are supposed to depict the Triforce from an ancient perspective, resembling boars (power), owls (wisdom), and dragons (courage). But It would seem that during Rauru's time the peak of Zonai civilization in Hyrule has already diminished.

So it points to the Zonai existing outside the confines of anything established in the original lore, which is disappointing compared to the way other tribes have been introduced in the series. Like, we don't know a huge amount about the Twili, but we know a lot more about them and how they fit into history laid out in previous games than we do with the Zonai.

Overall, I feel the potential of the Zonai is greatly wasted. I feel like there could've been a way to use them to tie a lot of lore together that people are already trying to do. Things like Hylia being a Zonai and bringing their involvement with the goddesses and Triforce closer. Or having the Zonai's third eye inspiring the Sheikah tribe's eye design on their foreheads.

What do you all think? Do the Zonai add to the lore, or do they just confuse things more than it needs to be?
They just confuse things. Everyone believes that the imprisoning war in Totk was the thing 10,000 years ago, but that can't be the case. We had SHEIKAH tech for the 10,000 years ago thing, not Zonai, so it doesn't really explain anything.
 
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I think the Zonai do add to the lore.

More than that, I think the Zonai positively adds to lore that has been building for a while. Many games reference a mysterious sky people and a civilization that predates the history of the game in question. The creators have been playing with the idea for quite a while. Now we have a name and a face to put to many of those mysteries.

Granted, many people are put off by revealing the creature, as in the old hokey horror films where the imagined monster was usually better than what the costume department could come up with. I think the Zonai are suffering from some of the same mindset. Some people had more enjoyment in theorizing about the people when there was no real limits. Now that we have some answers, many feel limited. Now that we have seen the creature's face, the imagination can seem to take a back seat.

In the end, we still have a mysterious people, from the sky, with abilities far beyond the Hylian people, who have left many ruins behind. The needle hasn't really been moved very far.
 
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thePlinko

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They’re the worst addition to the series lore yet.

In BotW they were a complete bag of nothing. Just a random name thrown into the game to get theorists to talk about them despite the fact that they had absolutely nothing interesting about them whatsoever. It was just yet another way BotW pretended to be well made without actually putting in the effort.

In TotK they finally get… something? They somehow manage to have close to nothing to them yet simultaneously retcon the entire damn series. It’s one thing for a one off race like the Oocoo to have a few throwaway lines that contradict a later game, it’s another thing entirely to have a race that contradicts previous lore be the entire focal point of your game.
 
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mαrkαsscoρ

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They just confuse things. Everyone believes that the imprisoning war in Totk was the thing 10,000 years ago, but that can't be the case. We had SHEIKAH tech for the 10,000 years ago thing, not Zonai, so it doesn't really explain anything.
I don't think the backstory 10,000 years prior is supposed to be the fake imprisoning war, the fake imprisoning war is supposed to take place shortly after hyrule's founding, so the 10,000 year backstory is its own thing still
 

Malon

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I think the Zoni do add to the lore.

More than that, I think the Zoni positively adds to lore that has been building for a while. Many games reference a mysterious sky people and a civilization that predates the history of the game in question. The creators have been playing with the idea for quite a while. Now we have a name and a face to put to many of those mysteries.

Granted, many people are put off by revealing the creature, as in the old hokey horror films where the imagined monster was usually better than what the costume department could come up with. I think the Zoni are suffering from some of the same mindset. Some people had more enjoyment in theorizing about the people when there was no real limits. Now that we have some answers, many feel limited. Now that we have seen the creature's face, the imagination can seem to take a back seat.

In the end, we still have a mysterious people, from the sky, with abilities far beyond the Hylian people, who have left many ruins behind. The needle hasn't really been moved very far.
Why do you say "Zoni"?
 

Spiritual Mask Salesman

CHIMer Dragonborn
Site Staff
More than that, I think the Zoni positively adds to lore that has been building for a while. Many games reference a mysterious sky people and a civilization that predates the history of the game in question. The creators have been playing with the idea for quite a while. Now we have a name and a face to put to many of those mysteries.
I would disagree that they've only been building up to it, they've already tried it before with the Oocca, for example.

I also don't think we can now look at a bunch of things from previous games and go, "oh, this was all related to the Zonai" I feel like it actually diminishes value in elements of past games, especially considering how under developed the Zonai are.
 

Mikey the Moblin

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The Twili ... don't majorly disrupt anything.
I prefer the zonai to something like the twili because of this. The twili have no impact whatsoever on the lore, they could exist or they could not and things wouldn't be any different.
I like the idea that the zonai, or the picori, or the wind tribe, or whatever, have been hanging around somewhere and could be reintroduced at any time.

I don't mind inconsistencies here and there in the grand scheme of things, because the timeline is full of those. I'd rather just nintendo make a cool game and sometimes that involves creating new interesting tribes, even if it's hard to explain where they were in previous installments. Now, how botw and tears USE the zonai is a different conversation altogether, but the fact that they exist is something that I'm in general a proponent of
I get the sense that nintendo went out of their way to frustrate fans of the timeline, like they almost feel like it's something that they need to try to break away from. Their policy should be something more like pretending the timeline doesn't exist unless it provides inspiration for a particular story they want to tell, or if the game they're currently working on can pretty easily be slotted into an existing timeline
 

Bowsette Plus-Ultra

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No.

The very existence of the Zonai and the implication that they were active during the earliest bits of Hyrule is at odds with the kingdom's history as we know it, since they just didn't exist back then. Unfortunately, it's just what the series does. Nintendo seems afraid to offer any direct callbacks to elements from earlier in the series. Rather than use the Skyloft civilizations they decided to create a new stand-in.

Nintendo will never reuse a previously established plot device, but they will fabricate a new one that fills the exact same role and easily could have been the previously established plot thing.
 
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Why do you say "Zoni"?
Just a typo. I'll go back and fix it.

I would disagree that they've only been building up to it, they've already tried it before with the Oocca, for example.
The Oocca never sat well, in the world, though. They are posed as builders of advanced technology, and prolific builders, yet they never seem to use that tech, and the structures they supposedly built are made for larger people than themselves. And, just before that game, we had Wind Waker; there were no parallels to be drawn to the Tower of the Gods, despite there being evidence of some higher level of technology being used. The one game props them up, in to a position they just never quite seemed to fill.

The Zonai ruins, in the other hand make sense for who was supposed to have built them, we see some of the tech being used, and the plausible references to older games are relatively solid. We see similar architecture in the Tower of the Gods, as the main example I am drawing on here. (When I have the time again, perhaps I should dig through each game and find possible Zonai remains. A few I have not directly theorized about have been brought to my attention.) In other words, yes the Oocca was presented as the same thing as what the Zonai are now, but the Zonai are a much better fit.

I also don't think we can now look at a bunch of things from previous games and go, "oh, this was all related to the Zonai" I feel like it actually diminishes value in elements of past games, especially considering how under developed the Zonai are.
I do agree that they are under developed. I would argue that we absolutely can look back to previous games, to see what fits, and what doesn't. Those that are complaining that the Zonai retcons established lore (Which I don't think they actually do) are doing just that. You say that it deminishes the other games, while I say it forms a stronger connection. We even see common Hylian archetecture between Skyward sword and Breath. Connections to previous games was intentional. I get It that in previos games, it was just a mysterious advanced people, usually from the sky, and now we have been shown the creature. It doesn't genuinly change the mysterious advanced people from the sky part. All of that is the same. the only difference being there is a name and a face now.

I like the idea that the zonai, or the picori, or the wind tribe, or whatever, have been hanging around somewhere and could be reintroduced at any time.
I feel the same way.
 
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No, just yet another stain that will never be cleaned off. They're more like symptoms of the real problem, which was TotK itself and how it insisted on attaching itself to the old games, only to screw up in every way imaginable. I don't know if it's a blessing or a curse that Ninty will probably just sweep them under the rug.

Their policy should be something more like pretending the timeline doesn't exist unless it provides inspiration for a particular story they want to tell, or if the game they're currently working on can pretty easily be slotted into an existing timeline
That's really what they've been doing for the longest time, but it's also the reason their stories are so terrible. They want a timeline, but only when it's easy and convenient.
 

Mikey the Moblin

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That's really what they've been doing for the longest time, but it's also the reason their stories are so terrible. They want a timeline, but only when it's easy and convenient.
I disagree. To me, it feels more like they're going out of their way to "prove" the timeline wrong and in doing so sabotaging their own stories
 

thePlinko

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People really like to ignore that the timeline has been pretty consistent for the most part. The capcom games are really the only time there’s any wild inconsistencies, and I hardly blame Nintendo for that.

I’ve said it before, but the sheer severity and amount of inconsistencies in the latest 2 games feels like Aonuma is just giving up. He was tired of people complaining about the timeline in Hyrule Historia (even though it didn’t even reveal anything that we didn’t already know) and decided to completely give up on it like he did with every other aspect of Zelda.
 

Bowsette Plus-Ultra

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People really like to ignore that the timeline has been pretty consistent for the most part. The capcom games are really the only time there’s any wild inconsistencies, and I hardly blame Nintendo for that.

I’ve said it before, but the sheer severity and amount of inconsistencies in the latest 2 games feels like Aonuma is just giving up. He was tired of people complaining about the timeline in Hyrule Historia (even though it didn’t even reveal anything that we didn’t already know) and decided to completely give up on it like he did with every other aspect of Zelda.
As if Nintendo hadn't given up before. :eyes:
 

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