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The life (and death) of advanced technology in Zelda

Storm_Echo

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I would like to explore the somewhat jarring presence of hyper-advanced technologies in a world of high-fantasy sworsdmen, farmers, and monsters.

First, the facts:

1. Highly advanced technologies exist in Zelda. Examples include forcefields, lasers, electricity, fully-autonomous robots, whatever ancient weapons are made of, "time travel" on demand using timeshift orbs / stones, the sheikah slate, etc.

2. These technologies are near-universally described as "ancient" or "lost", being extremely rare and/or irreplaceable. It's implied in Breath of the Wild, for instance, that the only reliable way to repair or build new sheikah technology (such as Purah's beloved guidance stone) is to salvage pre-existing technology and, essentially, use it for parts. The techniques for creating these items have apparently been lost to time. This is consistent with other high-tech examples in games such as Skyward Sword or Twilight Princess.

3. Despite the cycle of Malice and Calamity brought upon the land, there are periods of time (sometimes over 1000 years long) where civilization is able to build and develop. It is during this time that research on advanced technologies bears fruit. It's been specifically stated that advanced weaponry (e.g. Guardians) were developed in response to monsters and the cycle of Malice, so that can be assumed to be the impetus for the development of many of these technologies.

4. Magic exists in Zelda. This is perhaps obvious, but the influence of mystical forces such as the Triforce, the Goddesses, Fairies, the Master Sword / Fi, the Fused Shadow, even Malice / Ganondorf / Calamity Ganon, are everywhere. The strongest magical artifacts and items are often described, nay, proven to be the only effective way to purge evil from the land for long periods of time while the strongest enemies are nearly always magical in nature. Notably magic influences are rarely lost, with forgotten shrines and artifacts retaining their power even during times of malicious calamity.

Now, the conjecture:

1. Because advanced technologies exist and are created during periods of extended peace and prosperity, but they are always lost during present-day "game time", it can be assumed that the coming of great evil to the land obliterates the civilizations that created the tech.

2. Because great evil obliterates the ancient civilizations that create powerful tech, and calamitous evil appears cyclically (along with a 'Link' and a 'Zelda'), then technology reappears in cycles across timelines as long as there are long enough periods of peace and prosperity.

3. Magic is a reliable way of defeating great evils, and because it persists or is even strengthened during times of strife, we can say that magic is more powerful than technology even in the most advanced form we know of (the Sheikah tech in Breath of the Wild).

And the big unproven theory:

Because 1. Magic is more powerful, reliable, and present than technology and 2. technology is built up during times of peace earned using the power of the Triforce/Master Sword/Zelda's Magic but then 3. destroyed when the calamity arises again, I posit the following:

Calamity Ganon is a force of nature, used to maintain a "natural balance" between good and evil magic in the world when technology begins to disrupt the natural order (by using guardians as a monster elimination force or to defeat Calamity Ganon the first time around). Perhaps the gods/goddesses of the world actually have a hand in bringing him back from defeat as a sort of "purge button". This explains BOTH why ancient technology is able to be built up so impressively AND why despite that it is always defeated and Link must save the day with magic once again.



This theory has a few flaws and I haven't really closely examined my arguments, so let's see if we can discuss and refine it!
 

Spiritual Mask Salesman

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This is a pretty interesting take, but it looks like in some cases the Hylians screw themselves over in terms of technology.

Firstly, Ganondorf isn't beyond using technology himself, so if he is some force of nature to bring magic back into the forefront of the civilization, it would be counter-intuiative for him to use what he's intended to destroy. We see Beamos in his Castle/Tower in games like Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker. And of course, in Breath of the Wild his malice extends into the very technology being used against him, but even while possessing that tech he leaves it intact. This doesn't seem like the actions of someone trying to put an end to technology.

It seems the Hylians purposefully forget their technological advancements. The prime example being after Calamity Ganon's first defeat, during the period of peace they decided to hide away the Sheikah tech on their own accord.
 

Storm_Echo

Gamer of Videos
Joined
Feb 21, 2020
Location
Ethereal Plane
This is a pretty interesting take, but it looks like in some cases the Hylians screw themselves over in terms of technology.

Firstly, Ganondorf isn't beyond using technology himself, so if he is some force of nature to bring magic back into the forefront of the civilization, it would be counter-intuiative for him to use what he's intended to destroy. We see Beamos in his Castle/Tower in games like Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker. And of course, in Breath of the Wild his malice extends into the very technology being used against him, but even while possessing that tech he leaves it intact. This doesn't seem like the actions of someone trying to put an end to technology.

It seems the Hylians purposefully forget their technological advancements. The prime example being after Calamity Ganon's first defeat, during the period of peace they decided to hide away the Sheikah tech on their own accord.

The fact that Calamity Ganon and his blight forms are spefically composed of corrupted Sheikah technology did stymie me a bit at first, but I think that in the frame of my theory that it's a magical rejection of technological advancement brought on by the gods, it's a sort of ironic tragedy. The very tech they thought purge the calamity forever ended up being their downfall. For the sake of this theory, it's less about Ganon intentionally abusing technology and more about his possession of it enabling him to destroy the civilizations that created it.


I love these sorts of "what if" thought exercises because they bring up old or forgotten facets of beloved games!
 
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I think you´re right, but not exactly. I think Ganon IS a force of nature BUT he ended up to taking advantage of his power.
Here´s the facts:

1.) Ganondorf was originally the King of Thieves, and in his greed, used his armies to usurp the king.

2.) The three goddesses, Din, Farore, and Nayru, created the world. They appointed the Goddess Hylia to watch over and protect the land.

3.) Link is "The Chosen Hero" who saves the world through any circumstance.

Here´s what I can assume from your theory and what I have:

(I´m gonna use a balance scale as an example.) The Goddess Hylia appointed Ganondorf as one side of the scale, representing evil, as he IS evil as it is. That´s when he got his ability to transform into his alter-ego, Ganon. Then, she appointed Link to the other side, representing good, making him the sword´s chosen hero. BUT, as we see in BotW, Calamity Ganon takes over Hyrule Castle, and that´s when things don´t go according to plan. As we know, in BotW, Link falls and is taken to the Shrine of Resurrection. As that happens, the evil side of the scale overweighs the good side (for a time of course). What I´m trying to say is, there´s a border Ganondorf shouldn´t have crossed. But he did. I say that because Hylia wouldn´t want Hyrule to go through such destruction. And when the time comes, she´ll have to take away the power she mistakenly gave away. Until then, may The Legend of Zelda resume.
 

Spiritual Mask Salesman

CHIMer Dragonborn
Staff member
ZD Legend
Comm. Coordinator
Site Staff
The fact that Calamity Ganon and his blight forms are spefically composed of corrupted Sheikah technology did stymie me a bit at first, but I think that in the frame of my theory that it's a magical rejection of technological advancement brought on by the gods, it's a sort of ironic tragedy. The very tech they thought purge the calamity forever ended up being their downfall. For the sake of this theory, it's less about Ganon intentionally abusing technology and more about his possession of it enabling him to destroy the civilizations that created it.


I love these sorts of "what if" thought exercises because they bring up old or forgotten facets of beloved games!
This take could be possible, but my point is that usually there is no reason for the Hylians to abandon technology, even with Ganondorf tampering with the technology meant to destroy him. If antthing the only take away after Ganondorf's rises to power is that he used tech, therefore it is taboo. This is a stretch, though.
 

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