I was all set to write an article about game bosses when I noticed a subject that has been getting a great deal of traction, unbeknownst to me, and that has been the rumors of a female version of Link to star in a future game. I’ve never paid attention to how big a deal this has become in the last couple of months, mostly because until there is some slight semblance of facts, I don’t chase rumors anymore. I followed Mortal Kombat Devastation news for 7 years (yeah, 7 years, waiting for a follow-up to MK Annihilation!!) before giving up. So, why exactly is taking an iconic gaming figure and flipping the gender switch such an alleged cool idea? I think this is stupid.
THE STUPID ORIGIN: Dude…Looks Like a Lady?
This idiocy apparently started with the gameplay footage at last year’s E3, where footage of the new Wii U Zelda title was first shown. I thought nothing of it, but was alerted by my Wife and Sis-in-Law that fan reaction to this incarnation and he looked like a lady! What? I had to take a look at this again and saw nothing even slightly more effeminate to Link’s visage than usual. I chalked this up to the cel shaded style used in the visuals for this game taking away some of the more defined lines from his face to adopt a more animated style. It’s been used to achieve a more cartoon/anime appeal to character models and backgrounds in 3D, giving it a very unique flair. The Wind Waker was done in the same method, in fact, I thought it looked like Toon Link stretched out and given slightly more realistic features. Nonetheless, fans are doggedly holding on to the notion that this Link is a woman, there’s even two morons on Youtube that made a video, dissecting the trailer footage “frame by frame”, giving definitive proof of Link’s gender. Not only was this stupid beyond comprehension, but this guy spoke with such disregard for Legend of Zelda, gloating that his findings are FACT, that it was past borderline disrespectful to anyone whom happened to watch it. I wont even credit them and mention his name or channel, because pompous, arrogant, misogynistic clowns with no legitimate research or concrete analysis need no advertising. This was the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen on the internet.
So then Hyrule Warriors comes out and everyone loves it, but an image from the official
artbook shows a female version of Link, perhaps originally set to be the star of the game(?) or maybe an unlockable option. Well, this is what the doctor ordered for fan fiction authors and artists need, even though they have technically been doing this kind of stuff for years. Well, social media didn’t exist in the same format that it does today, so what Nintendo essentially created was a firestorm of rumors about Link permanently becoming a woman for future games, or perhaps a spinoff universe where I assumed everyone would be gender-swapped. even a popular thread on IGN about “What if Link was Always a Girl”, to which I rephrase the question: Why would it matter if Link was Always a Girl?
SERIOUSLY, WHY WOULD IT MATTER?
Gender switching Link would add nothing new to the game mechanics at all! Even if he was a woman to begin with, the game would likely still be treated with the same fanfare, probably more, since in this parallel universe in 1986, a lead female protagonist was unprecedented. Sure, Samus was a woman and it was a super shocking reveal, but now the character has been degraded into soulless eye candy, thanks to Other M. I don’t think it would appeal to female gamers in the same degree for the same reason that characters like Bat Girl and Super Girl are merely mirrored off their more successful male counterparts, so this incarnation wouldn’t even stand on its own two feet unless producers and developers think female gamers can be easily pacified by this bait and switch. In short, the skin change wouldn’t affect the way the game is played, or even what the character does to interact with others, it’s simply there to appease people’s fantasies, whatever they may be. Like the needles addition of Minako in a special version of Persona 3, simply there to play dress-up!!
A MISSED OPPORTUNITY…
Instead of pining over how cool it would be to play as a lady Link, since that would significantly improve the quality of the game, I sit idly by and wait for Nintendo to do something more proactive with its already established female lead, Zelda herself!! Perhaps my biggest takeaway from Skyward Sword is that this was the first Zelda game to present the titular character in a human light; a plucky teenage girl without a care in the world, suddenly thrust into a scenario plunged in chaos. She’s struggling to cope with the level and burden of her destined responsibility and forced to make decisions that would make any rational thinking person’s head spin! I thought this added a great dimension to the character and I would’ve rather played Skyward Sword from HER perspective rather than Link! So why not make a game where you can play as Zelda, she’s proven to be a very capable fighter in as Sheik, or hell, even herself!! and I’m not talking about keeping the same style as the last couple of Zelda’s and putting her in Link’s place and finding the damn boomerang and bombs and other things, simply because it’s Zelda lore, I mean structure the game around her abilities and skill set. Have her being able to sneak around through hallways or crawl through areas as Sheik, build a whole new game from the ground up! Don’t stick with certain mechanics for the sake of tradition, because I’ve played the same damn Zelda game three times already! Or how about a Legend of Zelda game where instead of rescuing her, she follows and aides Link in his quest!? Like a second human player could control her or just a really responsive A.I. that follows certain commands to help solve puzzles and proceed through a dungeon because there are runes that only Zelda herself can unlock? Zelda would be able to defend herself, but in a limited capacity, as her strength needs to be reserved for cracking doors or tripping traps. Maybe the story could be some outside force is dwindling Hylia’s powers and her protecting magic has caused Zelda to no long be able to draw powers from the Heavens, leaving her with…I don’t know I’m spit-balling ideas around!! Give me something that’s different on the inside, not a cosmetic change. if you feel it’s stale, change the recipe, not the packaging.
THE BIGGER ISSUE: The Fake Call for Female Equality
I am a staunch believer of equal rights and I really do wish there were more prominent female characters in video games today, but do they all really have to be super asskickers just to gain notoriety? Being male, I might be a bit out-of-place to speak on this. I think it’s like adding an extra challenge at the end of a test as some sort of last-ditch effort to keep certain people out of the club, even though they aced the previous ones. Girls don’t always have to kick butt to be considered cool. With established characters like previously mentioned Samus Aran, Claire Redfield from Resident Evil, Bayonetta, including TV shows like Marvel’s Agent Carter, and the upcoming all female Ghostbusters (which could be cool, Kristen Wiig is in it!!), there is room for ladies to awesome on the battlefield, but why does it always have to be that way? It feels mildly demeaning to tell ladies that they can only be considered cool if they’re invincible action stars, but problems can be solved without throwing a single punch. Ask my favorite character from Gundam Wing.
And I’ll end on this. The reason Claire Redfield is my favorite Resident Evil character (and favorite female video game character altogether) isn’t because she’s a super cool tomboy that blows away zombies with a grenade launcher. No, it’s because of this… This tiny, minute detail of Claire holding Sherry Birkin’s hand when you sit idle in Resident Evil 2 is (I’ll take this to my grave) the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in a video game. It made me love her more than any other PlayStation character ever or since and is one of the most organic emotions any game could ever emit.