Nintendo, It’s Valentine’s Day: Let Link Marry a Fish!

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Last year for Valentine’s Day, I chose to focus on the five best couples in gaming that mainstream media tends to overlook. This year, I want to do it again, albeit in a bit of a different way. You see, I’ve been playing A LOT of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild recently, and there was something I noticed not only in that game but in quite a few Zelda games when it comes to Link and his relationship with a certain princess. With that being said, it’s time that we collectively stand up and demand:

Nintendo, It’s Valentine’s Day. Let Link marry a fish already!

It’s something that I thought about when you begin the quest at Zora’s Domain in Breath of the Wild, and you’re treated to a small flashback of Link and Zora Princess Mipha together on her Divine Beast. Mipha is healing Link, whereupon she begins to recall when she first met him, saying, “You were just a reckless child,” and continuing that every time he would get hurt, she would heal him. In this small interaction, we get so much history between these two—and unlike almost every other introduction between Link and the Champions, this is a very quiet and personal moment between the two characters.

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This tender moment conveys more history and connection than any moment between Link and Zelda in Breath of the Wild. Even in several flashbacks, the two have together, it’s always punctuated by Link’s stoic silence and Zelda’s inability to channel her power. It’s always seemingly implied that have a connection, but it’s more tell than show. He’s bound to her by duty, not love.

It’s something that has carried through in almost every The Legend of Zelda game, perhaps more so in Breath of the Wild since it’s a farm more narratively cinematic game than any other in the franchise—by which I mean, there’s more cinematic backstory establishing connections between the characters, whereas previous Zelda’s mostly have cinematics informing the plot as it unfolds. Much like with Mario and Peach—there’s an assumed romantic connection between Link and Zelda since he’s always rushing to save her; when it comes to Link’s relationship with the Zoras and other characters that aren’t of the Hylian race, it’s always front and center.

When you look back on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Link and Zelda have one interaction as kids before she appears to him as an adult, only to get kidnapped by Ganondorf. They have a brief interaction again after Link defeats Ganon, only for Zelda to spirit him away to be a child, where he immediately leaves her to go be in the best Zelda ever made—I mean, find his best friend. Contrast that to his relationship with Princess Ruto—they meet as children—he spends a whole dungeon protecting her and rescuing her.

He spends time with her, and it’s part of the whimsical adventure of young love. Sure, Ruto is a bit tsundere, but they have actual interactions, not one moment of sitting in a garden while talking about the fate of the world. In the end, they make a promise to get married, and Ruto never forgets it, repeatedly bringing up her love for Link brings until the tragic ending where she has to be spirited away to the closet of Sages. Every interaction between the two is marked by a romantic tension that could be cut with a knife.

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Fast forward to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. While the young Link of that game does have a few interactions with Tetra, who would later be revealed to be Princess Zelda, she too either has little interest in Link or spends half the game locked in a closet. Do you know who Link has a real connection with? Medli, the race Bird-people who evolved from the Zora, aptly named the Rito.

Link spends a large part of his adventure with Medli, first meeting her on Dragon Roost Island, where she not only helps him enter the lair of Lord Valoo but a second time when she’s revealed to be the descendant of the Zora Sage of the Earth. The two work together and help each other in tandem—Medli reveals to Link that she’s not confident in her abilities and relies on his help as much as he relies on hers. In almost every bit of dialogue, she’s excited to see Link or relieved that he is unharmed from his dangerous adventure.

Much like with much of Ruto’s dialogue, after you complete Jabu-Jabu’s Belly, her words are underpinned with the playful romantic fancy of a young person in love. Despite her monumental responsibilities as Lord Valoo’s attendant and even as the Earth Sage, she’s constantly thinking about Link and longing for the day she can see him again. Thankfully, unlike Ruto at the end of the game, she isn’t delegated to the Hero’s Closet, so we can only hope their ship took sail…get it?

My point is this is clearly a running theme—or at least if it’s going to be a constant callback to Ocarina of Time, then they need to just commit to it. It’s the year 2023, and there’s no reason why Link shouldn’t be allowed to marry a Zora, or openly be in a relationship with one.

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Nintendo has consistently proven that Zelda will forever be either boring or locked in a closet—and any depth they do give her comes at the price of extreme martyrdom. And it’s not like there wouldn’t be some precedent for this, as there’s even a side quest in Breath of the Wild where you unite a Hylian man with a young Zora woman, and if it’s okay to be a side-quest, then it should be okay for the Hero of the game.

It doesn’t even need to be a main point in the game, necessarily. Link can still rush off to save Zelda, but in the end, even after the credits if you so choose, Link should retire to the incredible architecture of his aquatic abode to lay his head down beside his fish wife. It just doesn’t make sense why the game’s writers would constantly keep making this a storyline without seeing it through. It’s Valentine’s Day! Let Link marry a fish, or stop giving him long, compassionate histories with them.

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