It’s time for Zelda to be playable in a mainline Legend of Zelda game
Image via Nintendo

Is it time for Zelda to be playable in a mainline Zelda game?

It’s in the title, after all

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The Legend of Zelda seems like one of the most puzzling names for a video game series, if only for the fact you never play as Zelda in any of the mainline games. Instead, you play as Link, leaving the titular character for the franchise in more of a supporting role and even the frustrating damsel in distress at times.

Despite so much of the series revolving around Princess Zelda of Hyrule, she’s never had her chance to shine as the hero in the way Link has. Sure, you can play as her right now in spin-off games like Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity and the Super Smash Bros. series, but those don’t carry the weight of a core title.

After all, every mainline installment of The Legend of Zelda, from the original on the NES to 2017’s Breath of the Wild, has featured only Link as the playable hero. (Now, this could theoretically change in Tears of the Kingdom, but that isn’t guaranteed.)

As such, I feel like it is finally time for Nintendo to take the plunge and give Zelda her much-deserved time as a playable protagonist. This would considerably change the course of the series and offer a brilliant new perspective, one that is far more intriguing than the princess in need of a hero to save her.

Zelda could offer a unique perspective for the series

Playing as Zelda would offer a new, necessary perspective for The Legend of Zelda series. Nintendo hasn’t given Link a voice, for instance. Zelda, on the other hand, has had strong voice performances that carries many mainline games, including the masterful BOTW and Skyward Sword.

With Zelda as a playable character, she could be a fantastic counter to Link. I’m not saying she has to replace him entirely, but that they could be dual protagonists together. Link could offer the usual open exploration, puzzles, and gameplay; nothing has to change there.

On the other hand, Zelda has the opportunity for a more scripted and story-driven perspective. This could enhance the story and gameplay alike, providing a game that is far unique compared to past titles.

The Legend of Zelda series is always reinventing itself and trying out new ideas, and this is one that should have happened a long time ago.

This opens up numerous gameplay opportunities

Age of Calamity showed what type of gameplay Zelda could have. With full command of many of the Sheikah Slate powers, she was one of the most exhilarating and unique playable characters there. Her inclusion in a mainline game as a playable hero could do the same.

Link could have the usual Master Sword, bow and arrow, bombs, etc. But Zelda could offer fresh gameplay, such as full command of magical powers via the Triforce or the like. Perhaps this could result in a more ranged approach where she blasts foes, freezes them, and renders their abilities useless from afar.

She could even work in tandem with Link in battles as a duo. Maybe players could have the opportunity to switch characters at will, choosing how to engage with each combat situation. The same could even happen for puzzles where, perhaps, Zelda and Link each have their own powers that have to be juggled together to progress through Shrines and dungeons.

If that isn’t enough, this could even allow for the first mainline game in the series to offer co-op. Letting one player (either online or offline) to control Zelda while the other controls Link would allow for exciting gameplay opportunities never seen before.

The narrative could break its generally stale cycle

Giving Zelda the lead role she deserves helps the narrative, too. Even in the exciting Tears of the Kingdom, its final launch trailer hints at the usual premise of Link going on an adventure to save Hyrule, and likely Princess Zelda, from a familiar evil threat.

While this usual formula worked quite well thus far, the story should match the recent gameplay leaps. Zelda could bring a missing anchor to the story, providing a voice for the player and acting as the direct response to characters in cutscenes.

In addition, Link would have a shoulder to lean on, allowing for more character development than ever before for both characters. Finally, this change opens the doorway for a new type of progression and story.

Instead of facing an imminent villain or threat like Ganon or Ghirahim, we could see a story about Zelda rebuilding Hyrule and leading it after the chaos is over.

Protagonist swaps worked for other Nintendo series

It’s almost strange that The Legend of Zelda franchise hasn’t featured Zelda as a playable main character in the past. After all, several other Nintendo properties tried switching protagonists and it worked beautifully. Take, for instance, the Xenoblade Chronicles franchise.

While fans adore Shulk and the gang from the original game, Monolith Software would have missed out on so much if they didn’t opt for new heroes in Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

I also think of other mega-series like Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong, both of which have freely allowed characters like Luigi, Wario, Diddy Kong, and more to take the reins.

There are honestly few Nintendo franchises that haven’t experimented with new protagonists. And the ones that have generally find great success, sometimes leading to entirely new sub-series in the case of Luigi in Luigi’s Mansion and Yoshi in Yoshi’s Island. It’s time for The Legend of Zelda franchise to do the same with the princess of Hyrule.


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