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The Trademarks Of The Legend Of Zelda

by Dan Ryckert on Sep 14, 2011 at 06:00 AM

Throughout The Legend of Zelda's 25-year history, Link has utilized dozens of different items and weapons. Some have been around since his NES debut and are crucial to virtually every title in the series, such as bombs, the bow, and the boomerang. Others were introduced later or came and went as the series went on. With Skyward Sword on the horizon in just a couple of months, we're likely to see most (if not all) of the following items once again. Read on to learn about the series' running trademarks.

The Master Sword

First Appearance: A Link to the Past

While The Legend of Zelda featured a powerful and coveted magic sword, the official Master Sword wasn't introduced until Link's SNES debut. This legendary blade can repel evil, and typically isn't acquired until several dungeons have been completed. Depending on the game, it features different abilities like shooting magic (A Link to the Past) or advancing/rewinding time (Ocarina of Time). Based on the information we received during our cover trip, signs point towards the blade making its return in Skyward Sword.

 

Boots

First Appearance: The Adventure of Link

Link first gained access to magic boots in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, allowing him to walk over certain bodies of water. Later in the series, various boots granted him a wider range of mobility. Navigating Hyrule in A Link to the Past was much faster thanks to the Pegasus Boots, Iron Boots and Hover Boots allowed him to sink in water or briefly hover in air in Ocarina of Time, and the Iron Boots in Twilight Princess let him stick to magnetic surfaces like in the picture above. Considering Link has the ability to run in Skyward Sword, we'd expect the dash to be learned thanks to a new pair of boots.

 

The Big Key

First Appearance: A Link to the Past

Keys have always been required to navigate Zelda's dungeons, and A Link to the Past introduced a special one that must be collected before entering a boss chamber. This concept has returned in all of the future titles in the series, with occasional changes in name (the Nightmare Key in Link's Awakening) and function (the Big Key had to be carried to the boss room in Spirit Tracks).

Magic Instruments

First Appearance: The Legend of Zelda

When Zelda fans think of musical instruments throughout the series, the first to come to mind are most likely the titular Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker. However, the recorder from The Legend of Zelda is technically the first magic instrument in the series. Featuring the ability to warp to various dungeons, it was the quickest way to navigate the world of Link's first adventure. Most games only featured one musical instrument, but several were available in Majora's Mask thanks to Link's various forms (Ocarina for human, drums for Goron, guitar for Zora, horns for Deku).

 

Bottles

First Appearance: A Link to the Past

One of the most versatile items in Zelda history, these simple bottles could store everything from killer bees to Lon Lon milk to a life-saving fairy. Collecting all four of these items is typically optional, but they'll make the trek through any post-LTTP Zelda a lot easier on the player. If you're feeling cocky, you can even use an empty bottle to reflect magic during several of the series' boss battles.

 

Pieces of Heart

First Appearance: A Link to the Past

Heart containers have been around since the beginning of the series, but A Link to the Past introduced the concept of collecting several pieces of one. Useless on their own, they'll form a full heart container once four are collected (or five in the case of Twilight Princess). These are typically collected in hidden areas, in treasure chests, or won in minigames.

 

Spin Attack

First Appearance: A Link to the Past

Slashing in a 360 degree motion was available in A Link to the Past from the moment you received your first sword from Link's uncle. It didn't require a special item to activate, and it didn't take up any magic power. As the series progressed, variations of the attack were introduced. An enhanced spin attack was available in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, and this used some of Link's magic. The powerful hurricane spin was introduced in Wind Waker, which featured Link spinning numerous times in a massive attack before finally becoming dizzy.

 

Alternate Worlds

First Appearance: A Link to the Past

A Link to the Past's overworld was large enough on its own, which made many gamers surprised when an entire alternate world was introduced partway through the game. The Light World and Dark World were similar in structure, but color palettes, enemies, and dungeons were completely different. Ocarina of Time continued the alternate world concept with two versions of Hyrule set seven years apart, with Young Link and Adult Link experiencing distinctly different versions of the world before and after Ganondorf's takeover. Twilight Princess was no different, with drastically different gameplay options depending on whether you were human Link or wolf Link. While The Legend of Zelda technically featured an alternate quest on the cartridge, I'm not including it as the first appearance considering it wasn't presented during the main quest.

 

Fairy Companions

First Appearance: Ocarina of Time

Perhaps the most polarizing trademark on this list, Link's fairy companions could either be helpful when you're stuck or ridiculously annoying when you're not. Ocarina of Time featured the most notable of these companions, Navi. She'd point you in the right direction if you were lost, but her constant cries of "Hey!" and "Listen!" were a pain if you were just trying to mop up some sidequests before continuing on in the story. Things got worse in the 3DS remake, as she had added dialogue that instructed you to take frequent breaks. Fairy companions returned in Majora's Mask and Phantom Hourglass, and the spirit of the Skyward Sword (Fi) will take over the companion role in Link's upcoming adventure. Here's hoping she's not as grating as her predecessors.