As many frequent visitors know, I'm not too big on figuring out a master timeline for the series. As far as I'm concerned, it's impossible to create one that gels 100%. However over the years, Nintendo has made reference to a master timeline document, and this week's release of the Hyrule History book in Japan has what may be the official Nintendo timeline.
Here are the rough concepts, gathered from a fan translation of the book.
The series starts out with everything happening together in the same universe.
- Skyward Sword is the beginning of the series.
- Then comes Minish Cap
- Four Swords
- And then we come to the game that makes things a little complicated ... Ocarina Of Time
Because of Zelda sending Link back to his childhood, the timeline splits.
Split 1: Child Link
Link and Zelda, knowing what Ganondorf is up to, convinces the king of Hyrule to execute him. The execution fails, so Ganondorf is banished to the Twilight Realm. Link, satisfied that Hyrule is safe, leaves to search for Navi. Four Sword Adventures is kind of tacked on to the end of this one, for reasons I haven't completely come to terms with yet (FSA features pig Ganon, does it not?)
- Majora's Mask
- Twilight Princess
- Four Swords Adventures
Split 2: Adult Link
This is Adult Link's timeline ... it features the Toon Link games. Well, since Link was sent back to be a child, Link no longer exists in this timeline. Ganondorf breaks out and Link isn't there to stop him. With no other option, the Goddesses flood Hyrule.
- Wind Waker
- Phantom Hourglass
- Spirit Tracks
Split 3: Link Fails
This is more of a "what if?" timeline than the other two. Somehow Link didn't stop Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time. Most likely he was killed while fighting Ganon (since Ganondorf is in the pig form in Link to the Past, and because you also need to kill the owner of a Triforce to get their piece supposedly).
- So in A Link To The Past, Link has been defeated so the Imprisoning War happens, and it's up to the remaining knights and the Seven Sages to lock Ganon up.
- Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons happens.
- Link's Awakening
- And then The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
At first glance, I'm a little put off by the "what if?" timeline ... feels like a cop-out. I had an email comment saying that Zelda 1 and Zelda 2 couldn't possibly have happened because Ganon was locked up in the Imprisoning War, but of course he got out in Link to the Past. I've thought of ways that Zelda 2 can happen BEFORE Zelda 1, even though some points in the instruction manual make that impossible, but I'll save that for another time.
All in all, it's nice to have some clarity (though remember this is just a hasty editorial based on a fan translation of a book that may or may not have the official timeline) ... but I don't think this will quiet any serious debaters on the topic.
Let me know what you guys think