“I knew we had precious little time, but I never suspected how little…” – The King of Red Lions, The Wind Waker
Having taken his time to stealthily sneak through the Forsaken Fortress in The Wind Waker, Link quickly learns that his quest is actually a race against time. His companion, The King of Red Lions, constantly reinforces that there is so much to do and so little time.
It is a race to pass the trial of the Goddesses in the Tower of the Gods, obtain the Master Sword, and stop Ganondorf before he causes devastation across the Great Sea. Despite minimizing idle chitchat and getting to the task at hand, Link still finds that time flies by, leaving him lagging behind.
Upon arriving at his destination at Greatfish Isle Link finds himself too late. The isle has already been destroyed by Ganondorf and the whole Great Sea around it cast into unnatural shadow. In The Wind Waker Link learns that time is of the essence, a message which permeates right through The Legend of Zelda series.
Link from The Minish Cap has a personality that is lazier than most other Links and also has the tendency to daydream. Link is regularly motivated to use his time more efficiently by his partner Ezlo through reaffirmations such as “let’s not stand around wasting time” and “this isn’t the time to idle about, you lazy boy.”
On his quest for the four elements, and to stop Vaati, if Link doesn’t learn to use his limited time wisely there are terrible consequences. In Dark Hyrule Castle if he cannot overcome the ball and chain soldier, three dark nuts and reach Vaati before the third chime of the bell then it is game over.
Link and Ezlo make it, but only just in time. As Ezlo exclaims, “We barely made it! I was certain we’d run out of time!” Time will always run out and so it is what you achieve in that time that matters. Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks teach the same message through The Temple of the Ocean King and The Tower of Spirits respectively.
It is easy for players to become frustrated at repeating floors in the Temple of the Ocean King, but they must keep a level head and use their time wisely. They must stay focused to utilize the short safe-time provided by the Sand of Hours in the Phantom Hourglass.
On each visit to the Temple Link must become more efficient, using his new items and taking shortcuts to make the most of his time. Reaching and completing the deepest floors of the Temple requires precise time-management.
The Tower of Spirits from Spirit Tracks is similar. Although the repetition of floors is not necessary, players are once again given a limited time where they must plan and effectively utilize their time to overcome the challenges of the Tower.
In Ocarina of Time Link begins as an innocent child who does not consider the flow of time because of his constant and seemingly eternal childhood dwelling. Link does not initially sense the urgency of his quest or know of time’s value. Navi even remarks that she is uneasy about Hyrule’s destiny depending on such a lazy boy.
Link comes to learn the value of time through being robbed of it. He is stripped of his childhood and his friendship with Saria. The power of the Master Sword holds him as an idle prisoner for seven years. To lose so much time is the ultimate way to learn of its worth.
Having been sent back in time following Ocarina of Time’s conclusion, Majora’s Mask tells of a Link who, at first, knew how to make the most of his time. In the short period of only three-months between Ocarina of Time and its sequel Link builds a strong bond with Princess Zelda on the child timeline. Zelda states “Even though it was only a short time, I feel like I’ve known you forever.” To have built such a friendship is to have effectively used that time.
Majora’s Mask then goes on to tell the tale of Link losing his way. It tells of a Link who forgets the value of time and idly daydreams. He becomes fixated on one thing: regaining his lost companion Navi. Link wanders off in a futile search that cares not for the preciousness of time. Link considers his task as more important than anything else and thus it is that Termina must once again teach him time’s worth.
In the land destined to fade the menacing moon looms overhead reminding everyone that time is short. There are just three days and Link must make the most of each cycle, while also remembering that once he returns to Hyrule there is no Goddess of Time to save him. No Goddess of Time to give any of us more time.
Clock Town’s central tower and all of the clocks throughout Termina constantly reinforce this message of time’s finiteness. Tatl also regularly tells Link to “look at the time,” reminding him how little of it he has left.
It is not only Link that struggles against time in Termina, as he witnesses those around him striving to meet deadlines. Mutoh tries to motivate his carpenters to finish constructing the tower in Clock Town in time for the festival. He tells them not to stand around idly looking at the sky and starring at their feet all day.
The Rosa Sisters face the concern of not being able to prepare their dance in time for the carnival, just as the Indigo-go’s have to address the pressing matter of their vocalist Lulu losing her voice. All of these characters must make the most of the very limited time that they have.
Our time is destined to fade and so we must use it as best we can. However, we cannot fall into the trap of rushing into hasty action. We must find the equilibrium of effectively using the time given to us and not wasting it with rushed decisions.
We must take the time to stop and think. We must take the time for rest and relaxation, but we must never let time slip idly by. We cannot let our valuable time be consumed unfulfilled and unutilized. Like the Sand of Hours through the Phantom Hourglass time continues to slip away from us and soon enough it will be utterly spent.
“Time is not eternal. Please make the most of your time.” – Happy Mask Salesman, Majora’s Mask
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