A lot of you are probably unsurprised at my choice for the final letter, letter “Z”. After all, I’ve already chosen video games, and “The Legend of Zelda” series is up there with some of the greatest video games of all time. That said, some of you are probably quite surprised because, really…Zelda? Sure, the games are named after her, but she’s not even in most of the games for more than a few scenes. Link is the important character, the hero, so why talk about Zelda?
Well, there are two “Legend of Zelda” games in my history that were terribly important. One is “A Link to the Past”, the Super Nintendo game that is well-known by anyone who grew up through the 90’s. The other is “Ocarina of Time”, on the Nintendo64.
SPOILER ALERT, if you have somehow managed to avoid this game (not to mention all the “Smash Bros.” games) and yet have reason to want to play it in the future. I loved this game for a thousand reasons, and one of those reasons was “Sheik”, the ninja-like sheikah who appears throughout the game to help Link out, and then disappears just as quickly in a puff of smoke. Though you never got to play has him, Sheik was an extremely cool character in the game. He was mysterious and suave, skilled and knowledgeable. Playing through the game you just kept waiting for him to show up and desperately wanted to know who he was.
And then you found out that he was a she all along. It turned out that Princess Zelda had created the alter-ego for herself in order to escape capture, and had used that alter-ego to guide Link through his adventure.
From that moment on Zelda became one of the coolest characters ever. A princess, who until that point had only ever been good for getting captured, had suddenly become her own hero. Sure, she still relied on Link to do a lot of the adventuring, but it was also his destiny, so what can you do? The point is that the princess took matters into her own hands, designed a whole new persona for herself in order to outwit the bad guys, and then too it upon herself to journey into dangerous situations in order to assist Link in his destined tasks. She also apparently spent some time learning ninjutsu or something because damn.
The point is, I’m always a fan of female characters who refuse to sit around waiting to be saved, and I’m just as fond of characters (male or female) who realize that sometimes they need to stand back and allow others to help them out. Zelda – at least the “Ocarina of Time” version of her – has that in spades.