I’ve been a huge Legend of Zelda fan since I was 8 years old. I’ve followed the series, bought all games on their launch date, celebrated its 25th anniversary, and even sat two rows away from long time Zelda Producer Eiji Aonuma at the Symphony of the Goddess concert. Clearly I’ve supported the franchise and will continue to do so, but I feel a bit strange with its latest Wii U spin-off. A few months ago, Nintendo announced their partnership with TecmoKoei and revealed their joint project titled Hyrule Warriors. The game didn’t look like a traditional Zelda game, but more like Koei’s own fast-paced action Dynasty Warriors series. That’s fine as it provides another “Mature” take on the series by a team other than Nintendo.
Recently, information about the game and screenshots have been disseminated in huge quantities. The game looks great and could be the killer app that the Wii U so badly needs. I have an issue though. Nintendo did something similar when Tecmo developed the Metroid Other M game. Tecmo was known for hypersexualizing women in their games: female fighters appear to have sophisticated (i.e. impossible) boob physics and Tecmo even made a beach volleyball series featuring the women from Dead or Alive . At the time, it may have sounded like an excellent idea to Nintendo because sexy would make their franchise “edgier.” Other M wasn’t too visually sexualizing but sure as hell was sexist. Metroid’s main character Samus Aran was already established as a woman who BY HERSELF saved the universe on multiple occasions! Suddenly, she was answering to a man and obeying his every word and couldn’t progress until he approved. There is a snippet of dialogue from a cut scene that still bugs me: “confession time!” Samus would not say this. The game was fun, but was missing the strong female hero we all know.
Based on the screenshots, I fear that Zelda will go in the same sexist path.
In The Legend of Zelda series, we always play a male and save the girl who’s imprisoned by a monster. That alone may seem a bit sexist. The series has been making strides through its narrative lately, however. In Skyward Sword for the Wii, we learn the incredible importance of Zelda and the vital role she plays in the world. She isn’t a simple damsel in distress because she is a character working on something too large for anyone in the town of Skyloft to understand.
In Hyrule Warriors, “Zelda” is removed from the title. Now, we have the chance to see the princess not as the person we save, but maybe as an important ally. Perhaps we will finally play a game based on the wars that have been mentioned in Zelda lore. Or…not! Maybe we’ll save Zelda, AGAIN.
There will be playable characters other than Link, such as Impa, Zelda’s personal FEMALE bodyguard. Nintendo claims that the other playable characters to come will be surprising. I sure hope so.
In the screenshots, we see this new character Cia, who seems to be in love with Link and is jealous of his connection with Zelda, leading her to imprison the princess. Unsurprisingly, Cia wears metal armor that shows off her body and emphasizes her breasts. Not exactly the most practical outfit to fight in.
Zelda games have never had nearly nude characters obsessed with Link. It’s all bizarre and doesn’t quite fit (in every way).
I’m sure this game will not be part of the official Zelda series timeline, but that doesn’t excuse the sexist and hypersexual portrayal of women. I’m all for a different take, but not one in which the antagonist is a jealous, half-naked woman that you have to kill.
Sadly, I’m going to buy a copy because I’m a Zelda fan and because I have a Wii U and it’s a ghost town in the Wii U’s library. I’ll be sharing a follow-up to this article when the game releases.