Me being the characteristically Slowpoke gamer that I am, I sat out the initial Wii U release of the Legend of Zelda/Dynasty Warriors sorta-crossover Hyrule Warriors. I finally joined the battle in June when I needed entertainment for a plane ride to Alaska for my bestie’s wedding. DLC is planned through the end of the year though so I say it’s still relevant to discuss. The frenetic hack ‘n’ slash gameplay plus delectably gratuitous Zelda fanservice of Hyrule Warriors hooked me instantly, but early on, something else caught my eye: a crossbow-toting farm girl who bears a striking resemblance to the series hero Link. This erstwhile adventurer goes by the imaginative name of…Linkle.
Before we get into her in-game story, we need to talk about her backstory in the strange realm known as the ‘real world.’ Linkle sprang to (fictional) life from a concept art book included with the Japanese special edition of Hyrule Warriors. The first idea was for her to be a female version of Link, and later, his sister. Legend of Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma nixed this idea because it seemed too similar to Aryll, Link’s sister in Wind Waker. This plus time concerns kept her out of the Wii U game, but her concept art’s unexpected popularity led to her being fleshed out as an original character and given story missions of her own in the 3DS port, Hyrule Warriors Legends.
She isn’t royalty. She isn’t imbued with the power of the three goddesses of Hyrule. She isn’t a prophecized warrior. Linkle only thinks she is, and that is all she needed to become a great hero in her own right.
Spoilers for Hyrule Warriors Legends and other Legend of Zelda titles follow.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Recycled
This series loves its recurring themes of destiny, fate, reincarnation, and cyclical stories recurring across time (or three separate branches of time). While story tone, art style, and gameplay have varied greatly over the years, the old structure of ‘green pretty boy saves magic kingdom from a pig-man or some other villain who’s actually a lackey of the pig-man’ remains. The protagonist is always a reincarnation of the same hero. The princess always has the same name. The Master Sword always comes into play. Skyward Sword cemented this cycle when Ganon’s ‘predecessor’ promised he would plague the holders of the Triforce of Courage (Link) and Wisdom (Zelda) again and again throughout the ages.
Even supporting characters, who may not be princesses or knights, tend to get caught in this cycle of destiny and fate. Link’s childhood best friend Saria from Ocarina of Time? A legendary sage. Medli, the humble bird-girl attendant of her island’s guardian in The Wind Waker? Reincarnation of a different legendary sage. The weird guy dressing up like a rabbit in A Link Between Worlds? A reincarnated hero from a different dimension playing hooky on his legendary quest. Just about every playable hero of the Hyrule Warriors cast either hails from royal lineage or reincarnation.
A Linkle to the Past
This suspiciously familiar blue-eyed and blonde-haired girl has a backstory that wouldn’t sound out of place at the beginning of one of Link’s stories. She lives with her grandmother in a remote village and raises cuccos. Since childhood she held the belief that she was reincarnation of the legendary hero. Her ‘proof’ was a supposedly enchanted compass passed down through generations of her family and her grandmother’s insistence she was (though an NPC villager scoffs that everyone’s grandmother says that). She wastes no time when she hears monsters have attacked Hyrule Castle and hits the road with a familiar green cloak, dual crossbows, and an entourage of cuccos.
Linkle answered the call to adventure, even if she wasn’t who adventure was trying to reach.
What follows is a comedy of errors as Linkle continually misreads her map to Hyrule Castle. She stumbles around in the background of the main plot, like a Legend of Zelda version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Linkle meets most of the main story’s players, but never crosses paths with Link. She earns the respect of all she meets, but respectfully, they all decline to inform her the real hero is someone else.
Along the way Linkle fights Skull Kid, stumbles into a time portal and assists Princess Ruto and Darunia in repelling the dragon knight Volga, and wanders into the Twilight Realm (an alternate dimension) and assists Midna against Zant. By the time she finally reaches Hyrule Castle the main antagonist had already bit the dust. She gets her own final battle though as a remaining faction of monsters advances on the castle, and as the game’s narration proclaims, “Linkle knew the time had come to fulfill her destiny.”
The Other Hero
While other Hyrulian civilians cower from monsters and await the Hero’s arrival, Linkle immediately grabs her weapons and takes a stand against evil. This belief keeps her grounded and focused, even as she wanders into alternate dimensions and portals through time. These wrong turns may have delayed her arrival to the right place, but for the people she helped along the way, she always arrived at the right time.
What makes Linkle such a great character, other than her endearingly awful sense of direction, is her selfless dedication to helping others in need, even if she has no divine heritage or preordained destiny. The only thing that matters is the fact that she thinks she is a great hero. In some ways, this makes her more impressive than Link, who holds the Triforce of Courage and receives backing from the Goddesses of Hyrule. This dauntless ditz has no supernatural backing. All she has is a belief, and that’s all she needs.
Sometimes, a crazy belief that we can make a change is all we need. You don’t have to believe you are the reincarnation of a legendary warrior reborn again and again across time, but just thinking things can be better is the spark that makes a wildfire.
She may be confined to a non-canon spinoff (still say she’s worth talking about, Theditor), but her brief story makes an impact. The Legend of Zelda series is fraught with prophecies and fate, but this farmgirl with delusions of grandeur unknowingly spits in the face of destiny. Linkle is an inspiration because she makes a name for herself despite thinking she’s making a name for someone else. She creates her own legend by selflessly helping others, and that’s what matters most.