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The timeline is real, but do we really need it?

Jun 7, 2023
This has been on my mind for quite a long time. I used to be one of those hardcore fans who could recite the entirety of the Zelda lore and timeline from the top of my head. I cared about each game's placement immensely and would spend hours trying to puzzle it all together. It was a lot of fun to be honest! A few months ago though, I revisited my childhood darling A link to the past. I really wanted to get back into the spirit of things (imo, the key to really enjoying its story is to not only talk to NPCs but also to read the manual first). As we all know though, the NoA translation wasn't exactly perfect, so I read a fan-translated version instead.

That's when it really hit me: the story and mythology for Alttp is a lot more interesting when you don't know about SS or Oot. It also makes much more sense and feels more cohesive. In many ways, it feels like Oot simply mirrors this event in an alternate reality (yes yes, Downfall timeline. Please don't get me started on that). I really prefer the idea of Ganondorf just being this greedy mysterious man of talent, who got so swayed by greed that he stumbled into the power of the gods. A mere thief who achieved demonic powers and immortality. Oot is a great story, but it abolishes the whole idea of Ganondorf betraying his own followers and managing to break into the sacred realm on his own. How the imprisoning war went down. How that Link isn't the one hero, just one of many that could've arisen from the bloodline of the Hylian knights. Which Alttp talks about. SS is a great story, but it turns this interesting chance event into destiny and making Ganondorf the embodiment of the literal devil in the Zelda universe. It also reinvents the Master Sword and its origin story which is cool in the context of Botw and Totk, but not as interesting for other titles.

I think the lore retains far more cohesion, and intrigue, if we simply pair Zelda games where it makes sense to do so. For example:

(SS, Botw, Totk)
(Oot child, MM, TP)
(Oot adult, TWW, PH, ST)
(Alttp, Oox, LA, Tloz, Taol)
(Albw, TFH) <- I have reasons for separating these

There'd be "mirror events" across all universes. Basically events that will always occur in some shape or form. For example, I could argue that the imprisoning war is consistently mirrored (as seen in Alttp, Oot, Totk, FSA and Albw respectively).

I think embracing a proper multiverse of this nature would improve the series overall, instead of trying to cram it all into 2 or 3 timelines. I'd argue that plenty of things in the series already support the idea. World of the ocean king, Lorule and Termina are all parallel universes, not to mention the classic Oot split. What's your opinion on this?
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