New Zelda? Yay! No Female Link? Boo! Nintendo’s Explanation? WTF.

I don’t have a Wii U.  It might be just that I’m getting older and I don’t have time to game all the time anymore, so I’ve lost interest in following what’s coming out for all the major systems.  More likely though is the fact that Nintendo’s always been a company that does outstanding work on its first party titles, but never really attracts any other interesting developers (also, and I’m a curmudgeon about this, I just like the way a traditional controller feels better than any of the innovations since the Wiimote).  Its recent systems are not built on the strength of their game libraries and particularly since I seem to be gravitating towards smaller games and studios these days, which generally don’t port to Nintendo’s systems, that’s a major detriment.

Link looking just as androgynous as ever, but apparently still with a penis. (Image credit: Kotaku)

Anyway, the point is that I’m not up to date on all the cool Nintendo stuff, but I do know that there’s a new Legend of Zelda coming out.  It’s apparently supposed to be massive (probably following the same pattern as recent Western adventure RPGs like Dragon Age: Inquisition and The Witcher III that pack in tons of side content to pad the experience out to be close to a hundred hours), and there’s much excitement since it’s the first new major Zelda title since Skyward Sword, which was fun but not really what a lot of people were expecting from a Zelda game (super constricted outdoor areas, an over world that was extremely empty even in comparison to Wind Waker, a combat control gimmick that was fun until it made your arm tired and you realized you had to change the batteries in the remote every four hours and the low battery warning went on forever before it was actually time to get some replacements, and also Link was right handed again).  I’m sure it’ll be a lot of fun for everyone who wants to enjoy another Zelda game; I expect I’ll probably pass because I’m not a big enough Zelda fan to invest in an entire game console.

Anyway, that’s not the really big news here.  The big news is that designs for Link have been floating around for a few months now, and all the art got everyone’s hopes up because this new Link looks super androgynous (I mean, more so than usual) and a lot of fans were wondering about the possibility that the hero for the new Zelda game would be female.

As we learned at E3 this week, that did not happen.

Now, there’s a perfectly rational explanation for this creative decision: the developers are older Japanese guys, and Japanese culture is sexist as hell.

Full stop, end of story.

Except that’s not the end of the story, because the game’s producer Eiji Aonuma had to explain the rationale behind keeping Link male.  It generally goes along the lines that since development on Breath of the Wild began three years ago, they had always planned on Link being male, long before they released any details and fan speculation started to heat up.

Okay, sure, I can buy that.  I’m not going to get up in arms over an incredibly conservative company just not thinking that they could mix up the gender of their hero without prodding from fans.

Then he said this (from the Kotaku article linked above):

“You know there’s the idea of the Triforce in the Zelda games we make. The Triforce is made up of Princess Zelda, Ganon and Link. Princess Zelda is obviously female. If we made Link a female we thought that would mess with the balance of the Triforce. That’s why we decided not to do it.”

I don’t know what to do with this.  Does anyone else see the absurdity of trying to pigeonhole a gender binary model into a story motif that rests on a trichotomy?

If you only recognize two genders, you can’t balance a system with three parts that way.  It does not math.

Also, it falls into the ubiquitous problem of men being so unaccustomed to seeing stories about women that anything approaching gender parity looks out of whack to them.

Of course, Aonuma wasn’t content to just let that turd lie there.  He also explained to GameSpot:

“We thought about it,” said Aonuma, “and decided that if we’re going to have a female protagonist it’s simpler to have Princess Zelda as the main character.”

This idea was ultimately rejected, because according to Aonuma “…if we have princess Zelda as the main character who fights, then what is Link going to do? Taking into account that, and also the idea of the balance of the Triforce, we thought it best to come back to this [original] makeup.”

I don’t know, maybe you make Link do what Zelda normally does?  Be the background support character who hands out the quests?

Guh, I can’t even with this.

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