I’m sure everybody’s very excited for the Mario Kart 8 DLC which will see Link from The Legend of Zelda series racing against Mario and his friends in the Mushroom Kingdom (as well as adding a cool Hyrule track), but this isn’t the first crossover Link’s been involved with. Let’s look back over some of the most interesting connections between that The Legend of Zelda and other video game series.
1. Super Mario Bros. 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Before I say anything about this, I must warn you that I’m going to spoil significant plot details of these games, so if you’re not familiar with them, tread with caution. In Super Mario Bros. 2 Mario dreams that he finds a strange door which takes him to another world. He tells Luigi, Peach and Toad about his dream and then they find the door again in real life. This world, Subcon, is ruled over by the evil tyrant Wart who is wrongfully imprisoning its people. Mario and co defeat Wart and liberate Subcon only to discover that, my goodness, it was all still a dream (perhaps he’d been playing too much Doki Doki Panic before bed?).
In Link’s Awakening Link is sailing the ocean, only for his ship to be sunken at sea. He washes up on an island and soon finds himself on a quest to awaken the great Wind Fish (who is trapped in an egg at the top of the island). When Link does awaken the Wind Fish, we discover that the whole game was actually its dream and Link finds himself clinging to a log in the middle of the ocean… a pretty depressing ending. But, anyway, what’s most interesting is that, not only are there Mario enemies throughout the game but Wart himself makes an appearance (having reformed and turned to a career in music).
2. Donkey Kong Country 2 and Donkey Kong Country 3
I’m going to reveal some spoilers again, sorry (although much milder this time!). When you defeat Kaptain K. Rool on his airship in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest one thing that happens is that you are shown ‘Cranky Kong’s Video Game Heroes’ who he ranks against Diddy. The heroes are Mario, Yoshi and, yes, that’s right, Link. He also fills the same role in Donkey Kong Land 2. But it’s more than just that. Curiously enough, Link then went on to make an (off-screen) appearance in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble. When speaking to one of the Brothers Bear they’ll mention having seen him around recently, asking questions about tbe building K. Rool was staying in and also that he was looking for special sea shells… Those sea shells being a side quest in Link’s Awakening, so, perhaps he was rescued from his doom out at sea1!
3. Sim City
I’m sure most of you are likely to think of The Sims and The Legend of Zelda as two games with nothing in common at all, but Sim City, father series to The Sims, has some unusual Zelda links. In the SNES version of Sim City you are advised by a character named Dr. Wright and there are a couple of characters who are visually identical to him in the Zelda series. First, in Link’s Awakening (a game which seems to have a large number of cameos!) you have Mr. Write, then in Oracle of Seasons you have Dr. Left who uses the same sprite as Mr. Write and returns again in Minish Cap. It is odd that there was any desire to connect a modern city simulator with a high fantasy adventure game… Odd, but delightful.
4. Marvel Ultimate Alliance
Lately the Marvel superhero universe has become very popular due to the recent series of films. What I’m sure very few people know, though, is that Link almost had a crossover with the Marvel universe. The game Marvel Ultimate Alliance was going to feature Link (and Samus Aran) as a playable character exclusive to the Wii version. Sadly, this didn’t happen because Nintendo were not happy with it, but Activision were very for the idea. Images and video footage of him in use can still be found on the internet. While I am sad that Link was omitted (turning the game from a ‘must buy’ to a ‘probably never buy’) it certainly does seem an odd mix; of all the things on this list, I feel like Link fits in least well with a cast of Marvel superheroes.
5. Soul Calibur II
Now let’s talk about a fighting game which didn’t have its Zelda content removed. Soul Calibur II features a different exclusive character in the Gamecube, Playstation 2 and Xbox versions of the game. Quite excitingly, the Gamecube got Link. Link has a storyline which fits him into the Soul Calibur universe quite nicely; the evil influence of the powerful sword Soul Edge is having affects that extend beyond its own world and so Link uses the ocarina to travel to the Soul Calibur universe so that he can destroy it. He’s pretty much the best fighter in the whole game and has a wide range of unlockable weapons, nearly all of which are excellent little references to past Zelda games.
6. Sonic: Lost World
Fans of the Sonic series were generally not happy with the latest instalment in the series. But while the main game may or may not be that good, who could argue that a piece of free DLC that lets Sonic meet Link and explore Hyrule is bad? What I like about this is that this isn’t a small cameo, this isn’t a guest slot in a fighting game, this is an official addition to the latest game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series and it has him go to Hyrule and meet Link. Who’d have thought it? Spectacular. It features the Skyward Sword version of Link and has him flying around on his Loftwing. Plus it also features items from the Zelda universe, and several Zelda enemies. Not to mention Sonic’s wonderful outfit.
7. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Star Fox 64
Back on the subject of removed content, however, we find something very strange in Ocarina of Time. While there’s no known way to make it naturally appear in the game, people who have hacked into the game’s code have found that there is a fully functional Arwing which will attack Link. For those who don’t know, the Arwings are the ships used by the main characters in the Star Fox series. You may be wondering why exactly an Arwing would be in this game, well, the answer lies with the boss of the fire temple, Volvagia. It turns out that Volvagia flies around in the exact same way as other ships do when playing Star Fox 64 and so they included it as a placeholder and didn’t entirely remove it from the final game’s code.
8. Scribblenauts Unlimited
Scribblenauts is a wonderful series where you take control of Maxwell who has a magic notebook which can summon anything at all in order to help him on his adventures. You can summon cars, helicopters, dinosaurs, robots and, in the Wii U version of Scribblenauts Unlimited, a collection of characters from the Zelda series. The fun thing it is that the game often has you completing fairly mundane tasks, the fun, and humour, comes from how you do it and now you can use Link for all these every day things! Plus, you can also summon Cthulhu, so you can see who’ll win in a fight between him and Ganondorf.
Everybody loves Tetris, or, at least, I like Tetris a lot. One thing that’s especially cool about the NES version of the game is that, if you’re very good, you’ll get to see a special celebration scene. What is this celebration, you ask? Well, you get to see Link happily playing his flute! How cool is that? Well, it’s even cooler than you think because it’s not only Link; Samus Aran joins him on the cello, Pit plays the violin, Donkey Kong a drum (not a bongo) while world-renowned harpist, Bowser, does what he does best and Mario and Luigi dance along to it all… Also Peach is there. It’s a lovely little scene and it’s nice that Link gets to be a part of it.
10. F1 Race
Mario Kart 8 isn’t Link’s first step into the world of professional racing, he actually makes an appearance in the obscure Game Boy game F1 Race (sadly, not available on the Virtual Console yet). Every now and then (if you’re a good enough racer) you’ll be ‘treated’ to a scene of several bikini clad women running out and dancing around your car and sometimes Link joins them. Yep. I’m not quite sure what else there is to say about this particularly strange and particularly hilarious cameo. I guess I should point out that Link himself does not wear a bikini. Also, lots of other Nintendo characters dance along with them too, sometimes.
So, with ten appearances listed, I think that’s a good place to leave off. I intentionally left out all Super Smash Bros. games because they’re a bit too obvious and I find crossovers a lot more fun when you’re not expecting them. I also decided not to include any games that just use sprites or scenes from the two NES titles (this is all about actual unique Zelda content) but had I not decided to do that, I could have spoken about Link being in NES Remix, WarioWare, Tetris DS, and I’m sure many others too. In fact, I’m quite sure that there are some cameos I could have included but I’m simply forgetting, but ten is a nice number. I guess it goes to show how much of an icon Link has become as well as how varied the Zelda series can be, since Link can seamlessly enter the worlds of a variety of gaming universes without looking too conspicuous. Usually.
If you love Zelda as much as we do at Rice Digital then you might want to pick up one of these gorgeous Wind Waker Link Nendoroid figures from our store!
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