So far this month we’ve discussed our favorite games and pieces of music produced by Nintendo, so it’s only natural that we move onto what is perhaps their most influential creations: their characters. Great games need great characters, and Nintendo has plenty of these! Mario, Samus, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Fox, Kirby, the list just goes on and on. Only one character can take the top spot, and for me that character is Link from the Legend of Zelda.
The above video basically captures my very first glimpse at the world of video games. It completely captured my imagination and compelled me to find out what exactly was going to happen in this mysterious land of Hyrule. I must have been 5 or 6 years old at the time. Ever since then, Link (whose name I wouldn’t actually learn until years later) has been my absolute favorite Nintendo character. Heck, he might even be my favorite character, period.
It’s not so much that I think Link is well-written or has fascinating and complex motivations. He’s actually quite the opposite if I’m to be completely opposite. Link is much closer to an avatar than he is a fully-realized character, but he still has enough presence that it still feels like his actions are his own. He gets surprised; he steels himself for what’s to come; he has things and people he wants to protect; Link pushes himself forward when everyone else steps back, and he does what he needs to do to achieve his goals and defend what he cares about. In other words, Link (in all his iterations) is genuinely heroic, and I truly admire that.
Of course, there are many genuinely heroic characters in video games, but I still think Link is unique in that his special “hero” status doesn’t actually help him out most of the time. Link doesn’t succeed because he’s the “hero of legend; wielder of the Triforce of Courage.” Rather, it’s by his own wit, ingenuity and skill that he’s able to overcome his trials. The monsters he destroys are brought down through the clever use of unusual tools and and even the environment itself at times. Link isn’t overly strong; he cannot simply overpower his enemies, so he outsmarts and outlasts them instead. His strength lies in perseverance more than anything else, and that’s what I find admirable about him.
I am of course very heavily biased towards Link since he’s the very first game character I ever played as, but I think my observations still stand. Link is the best kind of hero: the kind that achieves their victories by their own strength and persistence, and that’s why he’ll probably always be my favorite Nintendo character.
Who’s your favorite Nintendo character? What about them sets them above the rest?
Lede image is official Nintendo artwork for Ocarina of Time