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Link (Japanese: リンク Hepburn: Rinku) refers to several different incarnations of the same fictional character and the protagonist of Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda series. Link has been featured in other media from Nintendo, including its merchandising, comic books, and a cartoon series.

Link is depicted as a child, teenager, or adult of the Hylian race, originating from the fictional land of Hyrule. Link often travels through Hyrule, defeating creatures, evil forces, and the series' primary antagonist, Ganon, while attempting to save Princess Zelda and Hyrule. To defeat him, Link usually requires the mystic Master Sword and Light Arrows, or a similar legendary weapon, obtained after many trials and battles, and magical objects or using other items such as musical instruments and weaponry.

Character designEdit

Link has almost no spoken dialogue in the game series, except for his grunts (not including the CD-i version). Prominent facial expression has only been visible since the series appeared on the Nintendo 64. Link's creator, Shigeru Miyamoto has said in interviews that his conceptualization of The Legend of Zelda, and of Link, was based on his childhood memories of books, movies, stories and personal experiences. He tried to make people identify with Link and have the opportunity to be heroes like the character. Although at the end of some games, Link becomes vastly talented in physical and magical arts, he usually starts off the game as a regular boy. On the origin of the name "Link", Miyamoto had this to say: "Link’s name comes from the fact that originally, the fragments of the Triforce were supposed to be electronic chips. The game was to be set in both the past and the future and as the main character would travel between both and be the link between them, they called him Link.”

There have been several iterations of Link in the history of Hyrule. The existence of multiple Links is made obvious on many occasions in the games; for example, the introduction sequence of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker refers to an ancient, legendary champion who is identical in appearance to Link, and directly mentions the "Hero of Time" (a title given to Link in Ocarina of Time) as a historical entity. Miyamoto has stated, "For every Zelda game we tell a new story, but we actually have an enormous document that explains how the game relates to the others, and bind them together. But to be honest, they are not that important to us. We care more about developing the game system ... give the player new challenges for every chapter that is born." However, the exact chronology of the Zelda series and the lineage of the various Links, though written down by Miyamoto and his team, has long been kept secret. Nintendo released an anthology titled Hyrule Historia in celebration of Zelda's 25th anniversary. Released in Japan in December 2011 and in North America in early 2013, the anthology details the long-sought-after official Zelda timeline.

Link's teenage appearance in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was designed with the aim of making him more handsome and cooler than all previous forms of the hero. On the deformed design of Link in The Wind Waker, Miyamoto explained, "Link was a young boy and trying to create a very active and very energetic young boy and trying to choose the right style for portraying the young boy in a game like that we tried many different experiments. The ultimate decision we came to was that the cel-shading in The Wind Waker was the best option for expressing that." However, with the decision to make Link a teenager again in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Miyamoto explained, "Ultimately we decided that in showing a teenage Link really the best style of expressing him would be something that's closer to our graphical style in Ocarina of Time."

Portrayal Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Link, at E3 2004.In the 3D games, beginning with Ocarina of Time, Link was voiced by six actors: Nobuyuki Hiyama as adult Link; Fujiko Takimoto as young Link; Sachi Matsumoto as Link in The Wind Waker; Akira Sasanuma in Twilight Princess; Yūki Kodaira in Spirit Tracks; and Takashi Ōhara in Skyward Sword. As no Zelda game to date has contained substantial spoken dialogue, the part consists only of short phrases, grunts, battle cries, and other sounds. In The Wind Waker, however, Link has been heard saying the phrase, "Come on!". Voice acting in the series has been deliberately limited, so as not to "contradict players' individual interpretations of the character".In the fan-made Zeldamotion series produced by Aeipathy Industries, Link is voiced by Todd Haberkorn.

Link was portrayed by actor JR Killigrew in the live action Zelda trailer produced by Rainfall films, an elaborate April Fool's joke by IGN. Although the trailer portrayed Link as faithfully as possible by not giving him any dialogue, fans still noticed that the live action Link was right handed; director Sam Balcomb said that Killigrew did not have time to train left-handed. The Wii version of Twilight Princess is a mirrored copy of the Gamecube version because most people are right-handed, so the game character matches the real-world hand movements for a larger number of players.

CharacteristicsEdit

Humble but brave, these attributes consistent with Link's role as the rightful bearer of the Triforce of Courage. He is known as the "Legendary Hero" in A Link to the Past, "Hero of Time" in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, "Hero of the goddess" in Skyward Sword, "Hero of Winds" in The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass and "Hero chosen by the gods" in Twilight Princess.

Link is the chosen bearer of the Master Sword, a powerful magical sword that can be used against evil. As a child, he challenges Ganondorf in order to try to protect Zelda before he inadvertently helps Ganondorf find the Triforce in Ocarina of Time, forcing Link to undo the damage he had caused. Link has several family members, including an uncle in A Link to the Past; an unseen mother in Ocarina of Time, who dies fleeing a war when Link is a baby; a grandmother, who raises him, and a sister, Aryll, in The Wind Waker; and a grandfather in The Minish Cap. His mother and father appear as spirits in the offical manga.

He is a young Hylian boy who is renowned for his swordsmanship and fighting skill, such as his boomerang accuracy. Every iteration of Link wears a green tunic and a long green Phrygian Cap and has long, pointed ears, a distinctive trait of the Hylian race and their descendants. In the Zelda trading cards released by Nintendo early in the series, it is stated that pointed ears are a sign of the Hylian royal family. In episode 4 of the Adult Saga in the official Ocarina of Time manga series, "Link Vs. Link", Impa gives Link earrings, describing it as a "rite of passage for young Sheikah men"; these later became default aspects of Link's design, starting with Twilight Princess and in Skyward Sword. He has a Triforce mark on his left hand (with the exceptions of Skyward Sword and the Wii version of Twilight Princess), marking him as the one who will find the Triforce of Courage. He uses many weapons and items, such as bombs, the hookshot, the boomerang and the bow and arrows. When he transforms into a wolf in the Twilight Realm in Twilight Princess, he reflects the mystical aspects of the transformation and his heroism.

Interestingly, Link bears a resemblance to Peter Pan, as they are both elf-like, wear green clothing, fight with swords, and are sometimes accompanied by a Fairy. Link also fights his shadow in some games, either Dark Link or Shadow Link, just like Peter. Surprisingly though, Miyamoto has stated that he used Peter Pan as a bit of an inspiration for Link's design in The Legend of Zelda.

Though most titles in the series have depicted Link as left-handed, this is not a hard, set rule and is subject to change between games. The Adventure of Link's instruction booklet describes Link setting off "with a magical sword in his left hand and a magical shield in his right". In A Link to the Past, he alternates hands, but this is due to sprite mirroring. The reason for this is explained in the official Nintendo Player's guide as a Hylian superstition that requires the shield to always face Death Mountain (located to the North) to protect oneself from the evil powers originating within the mountain. Starting with Link's Awakening, Link holds his sword in his left hand and his shield in his right, no matter what direction he is facing. In The Minish Cap, however, Link returns to alternately holding his weapon in the right or the left hand, depending on his orientation. At the beginning of the Four Swords Plus (Four Swords Adventures) manga, Link is referred to as the "left-handed hero" after defeating pirates that were raiding a Hylian town. In addition, Link's figurine description in The Wind Waker lists his "manual preference" as left. However, in the animated TV series and the Wii version of Twilight Princess, Link is right-handed, but the latter was done to better mirror the game's control scheme. In the game's official artwork he is shown holding his sword in his left hand. In the Gamecube version, Link remains left-handed, as the game uses a traditional control scheme. Thus, Skyward Sword is the first game in the series to feature a definite right-handed Link, with even the concept art reflecting the fact.

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