Ever since “The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker” was released on the GameCube fans have been speculating on when the games in the series take place. Some have supported a linear timeline and say that it could all work with each other, but Nintendo threw a wrench in it all by saying that the timeline split when Link traveled through time in “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.” Then, as if that wasn’t complicated enough, Eiji Aonuma said earlier this year that there was only one timeline for the series (although he did not elaborate on what he meant, though many took that to mean the timeline was indeed linear).
Well, most of that is all out the window now, as yesterday an official art book was published by Nintendo called Hyrule Historia.
The book features official artwork, sketches, maps, mock-ups, and other works of art from the various games in the series in honor of the series’ 25th anniversary (1986-2011). But, accompanying this artwork are stories and explanations as well as some lore about the series.
Yet, it gets even more interesting than that: Hyrule Historia presents readers with a timeline on the series, despite the very fact that Nintendo executives have claimed time and time again that such a timeline would likely never be made public. And, what’s more, this timeline isn’t merely split into two, but instead has THREE timelines.
Time timeline apparently goes like this:
BEFORE THE SPLIT: Skyward Sword -> Minish Cap -> Four Swords -> Ocarina of Time
TIMELINE 1: Ocarina of Time -> The Wind Waker -> Phantom Hourglass -> Spirit Tracks
TIMELINE 2: Ocarina of Time -> Majora’s Mask -> Twilight Princess -> Four Swords Adventures
TIMELINE 3: Ocarina of Time -> A Link to the Past -> Oracles of Ages & Seasons -> Link’s Awakening -> The Legend of Zelda -> Adventure of Link
According to the book (or rather, early unofficial translations by fans), this split happens the moment Link draws the Master Sword in “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.” When he takes the sword and travels into the future he vanishes from the initial timeline, creating the split towards Timeline 1 where the hero did not return to save Hyrule from Ganon. When Link defeats Ganon in the future, he is sent back to the “past” by the adult Zelda and, in the past, Link and Zelda plot to have Ganon executed (and due to that failure sealed away) by the Sages, thus resulting in Timeline 2. Finally, the timeline that leads into “A Link to the Past” is the one that Link departs from when Zelda sends him back into the past, creating Timeline 3.
Of course, there is something to be said about reading this all for yourself, and while the book is so far exclusively available in Japan, it is likely that in 2012 the book will be released overseas. Until then, now there’s a lot more to speculate on and discuss!