An ode to Link’s cameos in other game worlds

A Link to the Zelda series

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Throughout all of the mainline Zelda games, Link has been the star, taking the fight to Ganon (or other villains) and saving the world in the process. But Link’s heroics haven’t always been limited exclusively to The Legend of Zelda series.

No, Link has been on many adventures outside the lands of Hyrule too, into entirely different game worlds. Some are within the Nintendo universe, and others — including maybe his most famous guest appearance — come from other companies.

So as we celebrate a new adventure for Link, I wanted to look back at the various times he’s appeared in other games. To be clear, this is not a recollection of every green tunic or vaguely Link-like character; these are, largely, the genuine article.

Image via Link’s Hideaway

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest (SNES)

Though Link wouldn’t get involved in the actual gameplay of Donkey Kong Country 2, he does appear as a potential placing in Cranky’s Video Game Heroes alongside the likes of Mario and Yoshi. What’s more, this sees Link take on a more dimensional look than we’ve seen from his traditionally top-down games up to this point.

Screenshot via TheMarioBrosNet/YouTube

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES)

Saving Hyrule is tiring work, alright? So in this Square RPG imagining Mario on a grand journey, it’s nice that Link gets to take a little nap at the Rose Town Inn. He isn’t the only Nintendo hero catching Z’s either, as you can also find Samus taking a nap in Super Mario RPG too. In full Power Armor, too.

F1 Race (Game Boy)

Here’s a classic but overlooked Link cameo. I’m not sure why Link would show up at an F1 race (maybe he’s studying up for a cameo later down this list) but here he is, cheering you on at the start of a challenge course. I’m not sure those weapons should be allowed on the course.

Image via SmashWiki

Super Smash Bros. (Various)

Link has been a part of the core Smash cast since the original game on the Nintendo 64. And as the years went on, Nintendo would add more and more versions of Link, too. While the N64 featured only Adult Link, in his Ocarina of Time appearance, the GameCube’s Super Smash Bros. Melee would introduce Young Link from Ocarina and Majora’s Mask. Soon, Toon Link would join the crew, and in Ultimate, Link was slightly updated to reflect his Breath of the Wild look and abilities, including his bomb skills.

Image via LongplayArchive/YouTube

WarioWare (Various)

There are plenty of Zelda mini-games featuring Link throughout the WarioWare franchise. Challenges have ranged from classic NES Zelda to yanking the Master Sword out of the pedestal in Ocarina, but my personal favorite was the game pictured above, taken from WarioWare: Smooth Moves. As Link’s 3D games have gone on, his glider has become a more and more recognizable tool in his arsenal. And I fondly remember beefing it on this mini-game at least a few times.

Soulcalibur II (Gamecube)

Let’s be honest: This was the reason for this list. If you played Soulcalibur II back when it came out, and I hope you did, you knew about Link. Link’s cameo in Soulcalibur might be one of the best fighting game guest characters ever, even in a series that’s had some stellar guests. The hero’s move set fit naturally fit into the world of Soulcalibur, with tons of gadgets and stance-swapping between bow, bomb, boomerang, and sword. The only bummer is that, when Soulcalibur II got the HD treatment, Link was not brought forward along with his fellow SC2 guests, comic avenger Spawn and Tekken‘s Heihachi.

Image via Nintendo

Scribblenauts Unlimited (Wii U, 3DS)

In a game where you have to imagine the solution to your problems, it turns out that you could also just imagine Link to help handle them for you. The Hero of Time cameos in this version of Scribblenauts, letting you both summon him and equip him with the Master Sword to take on evil. Or to put out a fire, or tackle other Scribblenauts problems.

Image via Nintendo

Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)

While the Link’s Awakening remake gave us the closest possible thing to a Zelda MakerSuper Mario Maker 2 introduced Link as a full-on character. While you could use a costume, previously, this made Link playable in a side-scrolling form. So I guess this is a bit more of a Zelda 2 Maker? Either way, it was enjoyable seeing what players concocted with this new set of moves, and especially seeing how Link gets by in a Mario world.

Image via Sega

Sonic Lost World (3DS / Wii U)

Mario isn’t the only classic gaming hero that gets to hang out with Link. While Nintendo cameos are much more common for Link, he also gets to pop up alongside a third-party hero: Sonic the Hedgehog.

Sonic Lost World got a special DLC, adding a new adventure for Sonic and Link to undertake that involved old Zelda enemies and areas, and saw Link sporting his Skyward Sword garb. Really, I’m just here for Sonic fleeing a rolling Goron.

Image via AC Wiki

Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)

Yes, Wolf Link counts as Link. And so, thus, does his furry appearance in Animal Crossing: New Leaf count for this list. You can get your very own Wolf Link villager by scanning a Zelda series amiibo in New Leaf, and I mean, who wouldn’t want Wolf Link around? He can fight enemies, carry small people from place to place, and even gets a fun dungeon-themed house. Well, now that I think about that last part, it might be a bit concerning. But it’s not my place to judge Wolf Link.

Image via Nintendo

Mario Kart 8 (Wii U / Switch)

Nowadays, when Link’s vacations don’t involve fighting in the arena of Smash, they’re all about racing through the world of Mario Kart. Added in Mario Kart 8 DLC and brought over with the insanely successful Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Switch, Link is a no-brainer for the Kart series. He’s got his sick ancient motorcycle, wears the champion’s garb, and even brings a new course with him. As much as I love the extended Mario cast, I would like to see some more Nintendo faces pop up in future Kart games alongside Link and the Inklings.

Image via Reddit

BONUS: Final Fantasy (NES / Pixel Remaster)

Link’s been alive for all previous cameos, but here’s a little reference that’s endured through the eras: Final Fantasy. Apparently, the original Japanese Famicom version of Final Fantasy had a grave in Elfheim that declared “Here lies Link,” a reference to Nintendo’s series. In the English localization for the NES, this was changed to “May Erdrick rest in peace,” a reference to Dragon Quest. But in subsequent adaptations, including the Pixel Remaster, it’s been returned to Link. Congratulations?

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Eric Van Allen
Senior Editor - While Eric's been writing about games since 2014, he's been playing them for a lot longer. Usually found grinding RPG battles, digging into an indie gem, or hanging out around the Limsa Aethryte.