Tidman’s Take: Link’s Groundhog Day

Link, always the silent protagonist, speaks in our exclusive tell-all interview!

By Matthew Tidman. Posted 02/02/2011 13:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

There are few gamers who don’t know Link. At the tender age of 12, depending on the story you are told, he was defeating Ganon and bringing peace to Hyrule. In fact, he has a ground-breaking memoir coming out in about a week titled My Life in Hearts, or, Everyone I’ve Ever Killed: Confessions of a Legend. But life has not always been heart containers for this hero. Check out our exclusive interview with the legend himself as he tells all about how difficult it is to be the hero everyone turns to when the world is going to Armageddon. And be sure to check out a few exclusive portions of his memoir coming to Nintendojo soon.

It’s a quiet day in Chateau Romani, a high-end milk bar located in lower Manhattan. You wouldn’t know the the diminutive youth in the green tunic was anyone important, unless you saw his eyes. His eyes speak of worlds, wonders and terrors that you and I have never even dreamed about.

“Mind if I sit down?” I ask, knowing that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to speak with the man and legend I’ve grown up hearing about. He shrugs, but doesn’t tell me to get lost. I pull up a chair but don’t jump right into conversation. It seems that he’s enjoying the quiet bustle of the milk bar, caught up in reminiscences of past times and adventures. “The Ballad of the Wind Fish” is playing softly over the speaker system.

“May I buy you a drink, Mr. Link?” I ask, trying to break the ice.

“Sure, kid,” he responds, though I know he can’t be more than a few years older than me at the most. He motions for the waitress and she comes to take our orders. “I’ll have a the Chateau Romani Special, and don’t hold the ‘magic’ on this one.” It’s not even noon, and I sense the waitress’ trepidation at filling such a hard order so early in the day.

“Don’t worry, miss,” I reassure her. “I’ll make sure he gets home.”

She’s still not sure about filling the order, but I get a Red Potion and she steps away to the bar to fill our orders. “Used to be that anyone could order a Chateau Romani,” my pensive companion commented. “I remember in Termina they were selling them to kids even. Of course, that was a different time, a different place. It was the end of a world…” He drifts off into silence again and we pass a moment in amicable silence.

The drinks arrive and I attempt to strike up a conversation again. “So, I hear you have a big book coming out soon,” I attempt, but his look tells me to stop.

He takes a hard swig of his drink and says, “What do you want from me, kid? You need me to save someone? They always have some hard-luck story.”

I can tell this is a sore subject for him at the moment and I should leave it alone. But it’s almost like something compels me to ask, “I just want to hear more about your life, man. We hear so little about these grand adventures from your perspective, and I know I’m not the only one who wants to hear more.”

He gives me a hard look and then sighs before saying, “So, you want to hear about things from my perspective? Sure, what the hell, kid. I got nothing but time. Tell you what, why don’t you write all this down and share on your blog or whatever so that everyone can hear what it’s like to be a ‘Hero.'”

I pull out a voice recorder and some paper and a pen. “Ready when you are, Link.”

He chuckles. “So, you were planning this, were you? Figures. I go out of my way to find a secluded spot and yet they always turn up. I guess that’s the big problem, kid. It’s easy to be the hero when it’s just once– when you have one major decision and the right choice makes everything better for everyone. But ‘career heroes’ like me? We shouldn’t exist. Oh sure, some guys seem to like the fame and the glory. I hear Mario and Bowser have some sort of deal where Bowser kidnaps the princess about once a week and Mario goes to save her just so the Mushroom Kingdom can have a parade in his honor. Not me, though, kid. I just wish I could settle down somewhere, have a family.

“It doesn’t matter what I want, though. Every time I go somewhere, they find me. It’s always the same thing, too. There’s some sort of evil afflicting the land. Oh, the details can be different. Maybe it’s an evil dictator that took over the throne, maybe some sort of terrorist group of Gerudos staged a coup and turned the entire kingdom into a despotism. Hell, maybe there’s a nutjob who used a magical artifact to pull the moon out of the sky¬†and destruction is just around the corner.

“It doesn’t matter. No matter the situation it’s my job to ride in, find a couple of specialized items, defeat some monsters and face the key villain man-to-man thus saving the entire kingdom, country, or world. Then I have to ride off into the sunset. It’s not safe for me to stick around. If I do, sooner or later the cycle is going to start all over again.”

He polishes off his drink, and I signal to the server to bring us another round. He nods appreciatively at me. “Thanks, it’s tough to get a drink around here sometimes. So what was I saying again?” he asks.

“You were saying you can’t ever stay in one place, but surely you’ve tried to once or twice.”

He laughs aloud, but there’s no humor in his laugh. “You ever hear of a country called Hyrule?” I nod. “Well, I tried living there for a while. Of course, that’s where I was when I hit the big time. I stopped this Gerudo Wizard from turning everything to ruin. Boy, that was an experience. Trapped him in the sacred realm, but you’ve probably heard all of the details. After that I went off looking for my fairy friend Navi and had a bunch of adventures, though I never found her. It was exciting, at first, you know. I was going new places, meeting new people… it’s the kind of thing that is really hard to put into words, but even then I knew I was cursed. ‘The gods have called you to us in our time of need,’ the people would say when I showed up. But why was it always me? Why couldn’t someone else have stepped in and lent a hand?” He trailed off into private thoughts for a moment before continuing.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Concept Art“So anyway, I get back home to Hyrule after all this traveling to find that same nutjob who I originally trapped in the sacred realm had broken out to terrorize everyone once again. This time he made a deal with some shadow race of magic users who could only really exist in the twilight. He was trying to bring about an eternal twilight or something like that. I took care of him again, or so I thought. I actually got a little bit of rest then.

“I moved in with my uncle who had a job as a soldier for the Hylian court. It was a pretty good time, all things considered, until the drought came. There were all sorts of disasters and suddenly this guy appeared and was able to fix things. I should have known something was amiss, then, but I was really hoping that peace was there to stay. Turned out this new guy was a patsy for the first wizard and once again I had to save the day.

“You’d think that would be enough, but no, eventually he broke free and managed to kidnap the princess… again. I’d had enough. I was tired of this guy seeming to escape over and over again, so this time I killed him. But he had… followers. Even now they could be out there looking for me. Apparently he laid down some sort of dark magic that made it so he could be resurrected using my blood. I don’t know all the details, but trust me, it would not be good.”

“I still don’t get it,” I said. “I mean, I know that it’s got to be harrowing, but you’re doing real good in peoples’ lives.”

He snorts abruptly, cutting me off. “Good?” he asks incredulously. “What lasting good have I done for anyone? Nothing ever really changes. It all ends up being another pointless battle because I know eventually there’s going to be another fight, another monster, another villain. My life is essentially repeating itself. I bet that if I were to die, I’d be reincarnated¬†into the exact same situation I just came from. It’s just too much for any one Hylian to handle. I just wish sometimes… sometimes… that people wouldn’t get themselves into this mess every time I think the problems are over.”

The Legend of Zelda - Wii Concept Art

I can tell he has more to say, but a postman wearing a toga barges into the milk bar and hands Link an official-looking letter before immediately rushing out, mumbling about keeping to his schedule.

“Oh, great, looks like an ‘invitation’ from Princess Zelda again. Look, I’m sorry to run, but if I let this one go, the world’s going to come to an end. Thanks for the drinks, though.”

He rushes outside and plays a tune on a flute. The wind picks up and before I can say another word he’s gone, flying with the wind itself. I pay off the tab and head out the door, wondering what the headlines will say about this adventure.

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