Question 2: An often contested area, the manga has been part of this debate for quite a while since it first debuted. How do you view the Manga and how closely do you believe it is related to Canon?CH
: The manga is a separate or parallel canon that does not directly relate to the games or main canon. The manga retells the same stories found in their respective game, with a few touches of extra content. Since the manga directly contradicts the games with their touches of originality, it’s pretty hard to make any argument to consider them canon.
This case is very similar to the Transformer
series. The show, the Marvel comic, and the movies are all separate canon. Each retells the same, or similar story with mild variations between each. Popular ideas like stories and characters may be used between each canon, but they never intersect with each other. Zelda
games and manga work the same way.AP
: As a rule, the manga should definitely not be canon as it is written by people who are not in any way responsible for developing the games or other Nintendo-developed content (such as music and artwork). Like Casey said, even though the manga remains more or less a faithful telling of in-game events, it often distorts them in a way that contradicts the story. For example, the dragon Volvagia had previously terrorized the Gorons in the game, but was sealed away by a Goron hero. In the manga, however, Link befriends the dragon as a hatchling and it later grows up and becomes corrupted by Ganon. This is an irreconcilable difference between the two.
There are some moments that differ from the games, but only with respect to the game’s gameplay structure. For example, the manga usually has Link obtain “dungeon items” in a way that makes more sense from a story perspective rather than in a treasure chest within the hollow of the Deku Tree or inside a giant fish’s belly. These differences I think have some merit and are not so much contradictions but clarifications for the more literary version of the story. I think they do indicate that the gameplay features should be viewed in this sort of light, but I do not hold the manga’s specific original stories and details as canon- they are based entirely in the creative license of the author.DB
: To state it plainly, the manga releases of The Legend of Zelda
titles are not canon. To be more specific, I agree chiefly with Casey. Nintendo gave permission for the manga to be released, however they are only the author’s personal retelling of the story, where they can change, add and subtract at will. Obviously, the manga isn’t something that can be placed on the timeline, which overall corresponds with it not being canon.
Although the manga is in no way canon to the Zelda
series, the manga can be taken to form a Zelda
universe of it’s own, separate from the timeline, in which it is canon. In other words, you can take the manga as a canon series within itself, however they cannot relate to the real Zelda
series. Hence, to me, the manga stands for nothing in the world of Zelda
I like the point you mention Alex on how the manga gives more feasible stories on obtaining items, compared to the general game formula of treasure chests. It’s interesting to point out that in the release of Twilight Princess
, Nintendo did stray slightly from this formula, with the Gale Boomerang being an item obtained in a more realistic manner, somewhat borrowing that concept from the manga. AP
: I’m hoping we see more “realistic” item acquisition sequences in future games as well. I like that Ocarina of Time
and Twilight Princess
had quite a few of these outside of dungeons- for example, we needed to get the Zora clothes before we could enter the Water Temple in both games. Unfortunately this is probably pretty difficult to implement in-dungeon. Miyamoto needs to get over himself and realize that in a story-driven game like Zelda
most of the key gameplay should make sense from a story perspective, not just vice-versa, where the plot needs to cater to the gameplay. The chances of that seem slim, though…BL
: There’s not much for me to say here really other than I don’t think the manga is canon, and that’s covered.
Question 3: Do you think at this point that Shigeru Miyamoto cares less about the lore, canon, and storyline then Aonuma does? It is often quoted that Miyamoto makes the game first then the story, do you believe with Aonuma’s directed games, he believes this as well? And which do you believe should be put first in a game? Does a good story make for a better game or does a better game make for a good story?AP
: From my perspective, in practice I’ve seen very little difference between the two. Aonuma has been in charge of three major console games- Majora’s Mask
, The Wind Waker
, and Twilight Princess
- and while I think we can all agree that these games focused more on things such as plot progression, character development, and so forth, they also devote more attention to the “active player element.” The story has always been simply a tool for providing gameplay directions or hints. I can only think of a handful of plot elements that existed for their own sakes- Telma’s hinted crush on Renado in Twilight Princess, the suspected adultery between Kafei and Cremia in Majora’s Mask
In a fantasy game like Zelda
, players need more than arbitrary goals, such as collecting all 120 Stars in the console Mario
titles we’ve seen since the era of the Nintendo 64. I would say that the only way to create an engaging fantasy game experience is through a strong story. Zelda
games have never really been known for having particularly well-crafted stories or interesting character relationships- like I said, it’s usually just a vehicle that gets you from Point A to Point B. That’s not to say that the stories are bad, since we wouldn’t love discussing them so much if they were truly horrible, just that they are extremely underdeveloped. Maybe I’m just being cynical, though.
At this point, while I can imagine what the series would be like with a deeper story, I really can’t see it happening, even under Aonuma’s direction. I think it needs to be said, though, that Miyamoto does not “not care about the story,” he simply sees games as games first and foremost, and stories second (or last, perhaps). That does not mean he thinks the story is not important, just that it is not the most important element. CH
: Honestly, I don’t know very much about the different philosophies of Miyamoto and Aonuma. I believe that neither of them put as much focus on story as they do on gameplay. Personally, I feel that Zelda
is ready for deeper storytelling. The franchise has basically mastered gameplay, so Aonuma should devote more time and effort into developing better stories. Gameplay should always come first when it comes to video games, but a good story will enhance the experience and stick with the player for years.BL
: While I believe that Aonuma shares Miyamoto’s sentiments of “gameplay first, storyline last”, I think Aonuma puts more effort into the storyline when he gets there. As Alex said, Aonuma was the mastermind for Majora’s Mask
, Wind Waker
, and Twilight Princess
....and I believe these three have the most character and storyline depth of any of the games.Majora’s Mask
gave storylines to all of the non-playable characters, and Wind Waker
gave most of them storylines, and all of them unique character designs and names. Twilight Princess
was certainly a step backwards in this process, but still had quite a bit of depth.
And while he was not the primary Director, Aonuma served as the Producer for Four Swords Adventures
, a game which had its plot re-written halfway through because Miyamoto felt it was “too complicated”.
In terms of the overall storyline of the Zelda
franchise, I believe Aonuma cares more than Miyamoto as well. While he still puts the individual game first, Aonuma has been more open in talking about how games connect to each other, and claims he’s trying to make the overall storyline more clear.DB
: Both Aonuma and Miyamoto don’t give as much care to storyline as I think they should, however I think that Aonuma may care slightly more about the storyline, and how games fit together, compared to what Miyamoto does. Nevertheless, it isn’t a top priority in either of their minds. Aonuma may be quoted to have similar views on storyline to Miyamoto, however I think he leans more towards doing what the fans want.
Aonuma has said that “storyline shouldn’t be something complicated that confuses the player”
and has commented that the storyline of Four Swords Adventures
changed right up until the very end, which is possibly the same with other releases to the series. With Four Swords Adventures
, it seems to me that Aonuma was trying to relate it directly to other games, however Miyamoto changed that because it was too “complicated”. Despite his own views, Aonuma seems to follow Miyamoto’s lead regardless.
Miyamoto is often said to not care at all for the storyline, which may be a misunderstanding. He doesn’t necessarily put storyline as high as it should be, but I wouldn’t claim he doesn’t care entirely. He actually claimed that Nintendo has a ‘timeline’ when he said, “For every Zelda game we tell a new story, but we actually have an enormous document that explains how the game relates to the others, and bind them together. But to be honest, they are not that important to us.”
I think Miyamoto looks to tell a good story within individual games themselves, but doesn’t really care for the series or any sort of ‘timeline’.
I don’t entirely disagree with Miyamoto’s philosophy that video games are created to provide more than just a ‘storyline’. We can read books for stories, but video games are to be a more interactive through game-play and puzzles. The point where I disagree with Miyamoto is that storyline is an important part of making a good game, equal to the game-play mechanics. All are required for great games and I feel the storyline of the Zelda
series, though good, has been rather wishy-washy. Finer attention should be paid to the game scripts.
To me, Ocarina of Time
served as the ideal balance of storyline and gameplay, compared to new releases, which seem to lack in storyline. The storyline in Phantom Hourglass
is completely revealed half way through the game, with nothing left to discover in the latter half. It was a simple ‘collect the spirits, collect the pure metals and defeat the evil Bellum’. Sure, game-play is good, but with little storyline a game is nothing. Storyline and gameplay are interdependent, and must be in harmony for a great game. I think that Nintendo should have paid more attention to the ‘timeline’ from the beginning, and strived for better, even more complex storylines. I doubt Nintendo, with their re-releases and contradictions, can have a set timeline or a set view on canon. It has become too late for that, and although we complain, if Nintendo paid games this extra detail, we wouldn’t be able to do the theorizing that we all enjoy. Question 4: Do original manuals remain canon with updated manuals for re-releases?CH
: Remade manuals are the most canon, same with remade games and recent director quotes. If a remade manual leaves out information from the original it can still be canon as long as it does not contradict with anything else.
To be honest, manuals are really under used in modern games. Back on the NES, cartridges had little memory and not enough room to hold everything, so minor aspects, like the small story, gets bumped onto the manual along with other directions like game controls. Today games can hold a lot of information so there is no need to push extra content onto the manual. Very few people, including myself, even bother to look at them anymore.
Future titles probably won’t have any use for the manuals, but when looking back at the NES or SNES, it may be necessary to understand their position of canon in the series.DB
: Which versions of manuals to take as canon is something that I haven’t fully come to a decisive view on. As Casey mentioned, manuals for modern games are of little importance, but the manuals for the older NES and SNES games are of great importance as they give the story that the games can’t. Modern game manuals give little more than an overview and some instructions.
With some manuals being remade, namely The Adventure of Link
and A Link to the Past
manuals, I lean towards the original manuals being the canon ones. They tell the complete stories, which new manuals cut down and alter. I believe that all aspects of The Adventure of Link
manual are canon and timeline relevant, and that the original A Link to the Past
manual is more canon than remakes. Plenty of game remakes, such as The Collectors Edition
, don’t even have any manuals.
I think that the original A Link to the Past
manual is written in a way that strongly implies it is a myth, or legend. This can explain the inconsistencies in the original manual relating to the rest of the series as being due to the facts of Hylian history becoming distorted into legend over time. Thus, the A Link to the Past
manual gives the basic story, which may not match entirely with Ocarina of Time
(assuming that is the Seal War), but this is due to time- with the Great Flood and true-blooded Hylians dwindling in numbers.
I lean towards the original manuals being the most canon, and likewise, view the original versions of the game as most canon. Sure, Nintendo may change these things in an attempt for a chronology, but overall remakes help no more in placing games. The complete and original manuals for older games are more canon to me, and in newer games they don’t really have a drastic impact on canon, as they just describe minor details of the game.BL
: Manuals are a tricky thing. Unlike updated versions of the games or director quotes, there’s not always a clearcut answer to that question. In some cases they may just be saving space, but in some cases it may be done on purpose, as the old manual is no longer able to function in light of the new games.
In the case of Adventure of Link
, the manual was drastically shortened during the 90’s, but there’s debate as to why this is. Some would say with the release of A Link to the Past
and Ocarina of Time
it was purposely shortened to remove conflicting timeline indicators. Others viewed it as merely a condensed version. Then in 2004, it was re-released with the full story again. Was this done to signify the reintroduction of the removed story elements as a relevant part of the Zelda
storyline? Or was their removal not meant to be relevant in the first place?
In the case of the A Link to the Past
manual, I’d say both manuals are still to be taken into consideration, but the newer one is more canon. The original is much more detailed in its description of the era of bloodshed, the rise of Ganon, and the Seal War. Whether Ocarina of Time
is still meant to be the more accurate telling of these legends or they occurred at some other point in time, it still makes the most sense for these events to have happened in a way similar to the original manual’s description.
The newer manual that comes with the GBA release of the game shortens the story drastically, omits any mention of Ganon’s involvement, and doesn’t detail why the Sacred Realm became corrupt and had to be sealed. This takes the importance off the fact that Ganon was involved and places it on the fact that a seal was cast. In this way, I believe the original manual to be more descriptive, and with the mindset of it being a legend, still canon. However, the new manual is more relevant as it places the importance of the Seal War back on the seal, and off of Ganon.AP
: I would say anything we see in any manual is and will always be canon until another source contradicts it. Even shortened manuals in “newer” versions usually do not run against the older sources, but rather give the bare bones of the story, leaving out whatever details might complicate things.
Honestly I don’t know what to say about the Zelda II
manual. I would say that there has been little effort to “revise” content from the two original games in light of newer games, however. They remain canon, but how we are to associate them with newer games is largely a mystery.
The A Link to the Past
manual I have a much firmer opinion on. Most of the information directly covered in Ocarina of Time
involving Ganon, the hero, the threat of darkness, the Triforce, and the Sages is absent from the GBA re-release. Since we know that Ocarina of Time
was meant to be the Imprisoning War upon its release, I strongly believe that these removals excluded details for two reasons. First, to avoid redundancy against the details of Ocarina of Time
that might confuse players, and second, to cut out most of the implications that Ganon’s capture of the whole Triforce took place during that war.
In essence, the A Link to the Past
GBA manual reflects the different level of relevance the Sages’ seal has to the scenario of that game in light of the developments seen in Ocarina of Time
, where Ganon did not obtain the entire Triforce before his sealing, and another event needed to fill the plothole. Since new players will not read the original text as part of their game experience, we can no longer truly consider that text a part of the current edition of A Link to the Past
. The accounts unseen in the more recent version but present in the original are still as true as they were in 1991, however.
That’s it for today. Part two can be found here.To discuss this debate, head over to the ZeldaInformer Forums.