Seriously. It’s a lot simpler than people think, and yet, people don’t seem to get it.
Let’s start with the basics.
Here are the games we’re dealing with:
LOZ, AOL, ALTTP, LA, OOT, MM, OOA/OOS, FS, WW, FSA, MC, TP, PH, ST.
Excluding SS obviously cuz we don’t know anything about it yet.
So let’s piece together what we do know:
As we know, OOT is the “originator” of the whole timeline problem due to its split timeline.
As a result, there is the adult timeline, in which Ganondorf has ruined Hyrule but is at this point imprisoned in the Sacred Realm, and the child timeline, in which Link, as a boy, prevents the events of OOT from happening by warning the royal family ahead of time- the royal family is imprisoned by the then-sages, who then send him into the Twilight Realm.
Let’s deal with the Four Sword related games right now.
MC, FS and FSA all appear to take place within the same timeline and involve the rise and fall of Vaati. However, with their alternate version of history and incredibly altered origin story and backstory for Ganon, these series of games appear to take place in a separate universe entirely. So we can rest easy and put those three off to the side.
| | |
FS MM WW
| | |
FSA TP PH
Now we’re going to get into some of the harder stuff. So let’s take care of something easier first. A lot of the concept art for OOS/OOA and even the backstory of those games as well would appear to suggest that OOS/OOA features the same Link as ALTTP, who, after saving Hyrule, decided to sail the seas and explore other lands. This makes a lot of sense, and my vote is to include those in the timeline for ALTTP.
But even when we string those together, where the heck do they go?
Hear me out, gang, cause this is tricky. OOT was designed as a prequel to ALTTP, so they feature the same origin story- a war in which people attempted to seize control of the Triforce through the sacred realm, which resulted in the Seven Sages sealing Ganon into the Sacred Realm. In ALTTP, Ganon manages to break free of the sacred realm, but luckily, Link is there to stop him just in time.
Now note the backstory for WW- It’s the same up to one point- in WW, the claim is when Ganon broke free from the sacred realm, no hero came to help them, and therefore the gods decided the only way to stop Ganon was to flood Hyrule.
So, lets get this straight- BOTH games take place in the adult timeline. Why? How is that possible? Well, you might argue that the ALTTP series takes place somewhere in-between OOT and WW, but WW makes it pretty clear that once Ganon came back no one was there to stop him. It’s tricky, but it really sounds like the only possibility is that there was somehow a second timeline split at some point after OOT. I wonder if a future game will go into this time-changing event in more detail? That would be really cool! 🙂
To summarize the relationship between ALTTP and WW in a simple, succinct way:
WW takes place in an alternate universe, where the events of ALTTP (namely Link stopping Ganon before he could cause much damage) didn’t happen.
| | | |
FS MM WW ALTTP
| | | |
FSA TP PH OOS/OOA
Okay, so that’s just about every game. The only ones remaining now are the original games, LOZ (which *I* think should be retconned as “The Legend of Zelda: The Hyrule Fantasy” [which is a reference to its original Japanese name] ) and AOL.
These games were made before a lot of what gives Zelda is rich history was even born, so it’s really hard to place them due to their discontinuity. Crap, you might think, what do we do now?
Aahh ah ah. Fear not, friends. There is some info we can rely on.
What do we know about these two?
1. It must take place in old Hyrule.
A lot of people got excited when ST came out, due to the timeline possibilities that game appeared to open. That concept is unfortunately wrong, though, and I’ll tell you precisely why. Look at the major landmarks in LOZ- they clearly resemble the Old Hyrule we know and love- Death Mountain, Spectacle Rock, The Lost Woods. New Hyrule doesn’t really have any of those- there’s the new Lost Woods but that’s about it. What does it for me is the Hyrule mountain range that appears in almost every game- Death Mountain, and within it, Spectacle Rock, the twin spires that are the home to Ganon’s lair in the original game. So we know it has to take place in Old Hyrule. What else do we know?
2. It must take place in the Adult Timeline.
Wait, what? No, seriously, let me explain why.
In AOL, we see that several towns have, generations later, been named after the Seven Sages that imprisoned Ganon and brought peace to the land. Why is this significant? Because those sages never existed in the Child Timeline.
Remember Twilight Princess- if you were confused as to why the sages were these bright shiny ghost dudes, don’t be. It makes sense. They always existed, and were around even behind-the-scenes in the early parts of OOT. What probably happened was, Ganon, once he became Supreme Ruler Of All Badassery, had the sages all offed as quickly as possible, which is why their places even need to be refilled by the new sages you “awaken” one by one during the course of OOT. Note that since Link got an early chance to rat on Ganon once he was sent back to the Child Timeline, those sages never got offed (except for one of them…) and were in fact responsible for Ganon’s imprisonment in the Twilight Realm as seen in TP, and in fact were still around during the days of TP.
So people in the Child timeline would have never heard of Saria, or Darunia, or any of those folks unless they knew them personally. Becoming the sages that saved the world would of course inspire the towns to be named after them. So it has to take place in the Adult Timeline.
3. ALTTP was originally intended to be a prequel to LOZ.
Hence the title.’Nuff said, really.
So the safest bet is probably that the original two games take place in the distant future of the ALTTP games, and while there’s not that much official info in the games to justify this, it makes a lot of sense. The only other explanation would be a third split timeline, at which point is just retarded.
So let’s see how this looks:
| | | |
FS MM WW ALTTP
| | | |
FSA TP PH OOS/OOA
Perfect! Anyone who wants to challenge me on this is free to do so, but, I think the evidence is pretty undeniable. The only thing I *know* is iffy about this is the placement of LA, OOS and OOA, since those three are pretty much interchangeable. The order of OOS and OOA doesn’t appear to matter, and all we know is that ONE comes after the OTHER, and LA could come either before or AFTER the Oracle games. But that’s not really a huge deal, the important thing is that we understand the timeline.
RETROACTIVE EDIT: So, the official timeline was revealed in Hyrule Historia December 2011. It ended up actually being very close to my prediction! The historia revealed that there was indeed a second timeline split after OOT, as I had predicted – the split is caused by Link failing in his final confrontation with Ganon, forcing the sages to handle the sealing of the triforce themselves. The only thing I got wrong was MC -> FS -> FSA, which is worked into various points across the official timeline. How cool!