Few waifus in gaming have had as many incarnations as Princess Zelda. From her first appearance back in 1986 to today, she is perhaps the second most iconic princess in gaming but is always first in our hearts. While we wait (im)patiently for news of the Breath of the Wild sequel, let’s look back at the franchise’s true main character and celebrate her like the royalty she is.
This week’s Waifu Wednesday is going to focus on Princess Zelda’s Breath of the Wild incarnation. Despite spending most of the game trapped in her castle, this is easily the most fleshed-out and dynamic version of the character we’ve ever gotten.
Who is Princess Zelda?
Princess Zelda has always been one of the pillars of gaming waifus. Beautiful, dignified, and wielding the Triforce of Wisdom, she has spent the last three decades (and then some) capturing our attention as often as she is captured by Ganon. In nearly every incarnation, she is the one guiding Link on his quest to save Hyrule, but it isn’t until Breath of the Wild that she became a truly interesting character.
This is because Breath of the Wild was the first time we saw her fail. From the glimpses into the past we get during the game, it is clear that Princess Zelda has more interest in studying the ruins that cover her kingdom than she is in weaponising them against Ganon. Princess Zelda lives her life knowing that she must save the world, and that burden hangs over her head like the sword of Damocles.
Why we love her
In Breath of the Wild, Zelda is a fully functional character for one of the first times in her existence. Ultimately, she fails to save anyone. Her kingdom falls. Her friends die at the hands of Calamity Ganon because she cannot access the power locked away inside her. She spends the next century battling against Calamity Ganon on her own, sealing them both away inside her former home until Link is strong enough to return.
Seeing Princess Zelda struggle to balance her desire to live a peaceful life and the inevitable pull of destiny is what makes this version of the character the most interesting. She gets frustrated with her inability to wield the power that is locked away inside her, lashing out at those around her. She is vulnerable while still managing to be fierce and powerful. Playing through Breath of the Wild, I was desperate to find the rest of Link’s memories not because I wanted to see what happened to him in the past but because I was desperate to learn more about this Princess Zelda.
Why you’ll love her
The Legend of Zelda series has always been a tragedy. It is a world locked in an endless cycle of destruction and recovery, with a hero and a princess tasked with preventing Ganon from unleashing chaos every few generations. The Princess Zelda we meet in Breath of the Wild has the entire history of her people to teach her what happens should she fail, so when she does, it would have been easy for her to fall into despair and surrender. After all, she never really wanted to play the hero in the first place. She just wanted to study flowers and frogs.
This is why it is so special when she doesn’t give up so readily. As the last of her companions fall, she takes it on herself to protect the world for as long as she can. Alone with a monster for a century, she never gave up hope. Failure is only the end of the story if you don’t learn from it and keep moving forward. Princess Zelda learned from it and kept going. In doing so, she became my all-time favourite version of the character, and one of the greatest gaming waifus ever. We only ever truly fail if we don’t pick ourselves back up again.
Haven’t played Breath of the Wild yet? You should definitely pick it up before the sequel finally hits. It is well worth the hype around it.
Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on them. This is at no additional cost to you and helps support Rice Digital!
- Six of the best Stands in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure - June 2, 2023
- 4 of the best JRock tracks from May - June 1, 2023
- Hump Day Husbandos: Guts (Berserk) - May 31, 2023