Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Zelda: King of Limbo Synopsis, Part 4 - The Golden Realm

Jump back to Part 3.

Yet I want my Graveyard Temple, with its spooky theme of undead warriors and supernatural vapors. Reality ripples down here. It would be great for Zelda to have a showdown with the Shadow Link inside. After dispatching the doppelganger, a ghost resembling Link appears rises from its remains. For a moment he touches hands with Zelda, before dispersing into the mist. Maybe a sign that Link’s not gone entirely?

Shadow Link is a classic Legend of Zelda enemy.
Now that Link's been supplanted as the series's hero,
how symbolic is Zelda fighting against it?

Stranger things wait deeper in the Graveyard Temple. Some tiles aren’t grey stone, but rather gold like the Triforce. Go deeper still, and she finds rifts in reality. The Master Sword allows her to wedge her way through them, and to pass into a shining alternate reality version of the Graveyard Temple. Here it’s a gilded Pyramid Temple. The basement is locked, but if Zelda ascends and exits, she’ll be in The Golden Realm, an appropriately shiny version of Hyrule.

This realm is also at war. Limbo’s familiar dark army is evenly matched with a heroic Golden Army, largely comprised of incredibly idealized versions of the knights from Zelda’s camp. They’re led by someone else, someone who looks a lot like Sheik. Sheik seems to be our guide through this, knowing way more than she should about Zelda and Link.

But in Ocarina of Time, Sheik was...

Our androgynous guide explains about the Legend-cycle. For reasons we don’t understand (but might know about if we played Skyward Sword), from age to age the Kingdom of Hyrule comes into being on the lower plane, always preceding the birth of a great evil that calls itself Ganon. As though connected, a version of Link is also always born into the realms and stops Ganon’s ambitions. Once slain, Ganon’s spirit returns to an infernal prison called “Limbo.” Apparently the wizard Zanath is from here, and helped Ganon escape from Limbo and into The Golden Realm, where he studied the cycles in order to pre-empt them and conquer the realms permanently. He’s already drawn so much power from Limbo that it’s driven him mad. It’s a wonder that realm hasn’t ruptured open. He intends to undo everything, which included getting rid of Link, gathering the Triforce and Golden Power himself, and inhabiting all the places that were traditionally safe.

The Golden Realm’s Castle Hyrule and dungeons should all have retro-feels, and tableaus with reference to the events of all the major Zelda games. Stained glass depictions, mosaics, etc. This is also where Zelda finds the Goddess Bow and silver arrows, the enchanted things that have slain Ganon before, and that feel incredibly familiar to her. We know why.

At the heads of the dark army in the Golden Realm are three of Ganon’s former forms, all raised from the dead as his slaves. So we get a Zombie Pig-Nose Gannon, Zombie Wind Waker Wizard Ganon, and finally Zombie Agahnim. Zelda, Sheik and Navi fend them off at the Temples, and Zelda extracts their darkness into her arrows, until they are nearly powerful enough to harm the real Ganon.
Agahnim, from promotional art for Link to the Past.

Yet Zombie Agahnim reveals he’s only the second to last; Sheik is actually the last. Sheik was going to be Ganon’s next incarnation, before he broke out of Limbo and disturbed the Legend-cycle. She can feel parts of his spirit inside her, but has suppressed him while he was in Hyrule, and disguised herself to keep out of his attention. Now he knows, and tries to take her over. Rather than giving in and attacking Zelda, she sacrifices herself to yield the energy necessary to stop him.

There's nothing else for Zelda in The Golden Realm. The remaining Army of Limbo is scattering. After she mourns, Zelda has to return to Hyrule to stop this.

Jump to Part 5!

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