For boys who like boys who like joysticks!

Archives:

« PAX East Pre-Registration Deadline Fast Approaching | Main | California Teens Debate Violent Video Game Law »

Keep Link Quiet (Please)

legend-of-zelda-nes.jpg

Dear Shigeru Miyamoto,

As the Skyward Sword is on the way, we're in for another round of complaints that there's no voice acting in Zelda games. I hear that you're orchestrating this game - thanks. The critics are right on that one; it's long overdue. However, thank you for not allowing voice acting in Zelda games. Please never, ever, ever let Link utter even a single word.

I'm not going to take this space to complain about the quality of most video game voice acting and writing; these deficits have been covered ad nauseum, and things are getting better. There are voice actors in the industry these days who don't suck, and anyone who says that video game plots are all bad is just plain wrong. However, Zelda games have always been video games first, and while the plot has influenced the design (Wind Waker's high-seas adventure influenced the bright look, whereas Twilight Princess' dark realm muddied the pallette), it's the game itself that brings people back every time. We expect spit-and-polish beyond the industry standard from Shigeru Miyamoto's flagship series, and we get it. If Link were to speak, it would have to be revelatory to live up to expectations. No game can be all things to all people, and players expect perfection from the Zelda series. So no matter what Link might actually say, this late in the game it's bound to be a disappointment to many.

So let's play the tape forward: What will happen when Link opens his mouth?

More after the jump...


If you ask me, the very construct of Link will be damaged. You've spent twenty years building him up as an avatar of sorts for the player - a broadly-drawn character who stands in for the one holding the controller. Make him talk, and this illusion explodes. Give him a bit of character, sure - make him all the things the player would like to be. Make him a hero, make him brave, make him intrepid, and skilled, and even magical. These are all things the player can't express in the real world the way Link can in Hyrule. Give Link something to say, and then you have to make him a fully-drawn character or else. You have to make him conflicted to give him depth, you have to make him limited to keep him realistic, you have to give him flaws to make him human. If you don't do these things, the story will suffer. The dialogue will suffer. Seeing as movies are the standard to which many would like to hold video game story elements, what happens when you try to make a movie out of a barely-there characters who are only superficially conflicted, who are limited only by narrative convenience, who either have no flaws to overcome, or have no intention to overcome them?

Well? What happens then? I got three words for you: The Phantom Menace. All telling, no showing. More is less.

This is all aside from the fact that, if you open Link's mouth, you have to give him something to say. That's all well and good if you get it right the first time (or fodder for controversy if it comes out like Other M), but then you've got another game coming down the road. And another. And another. After you set the precedent, you have to give him something meaningful to say every time, but how much is there for him to say? How many wrinkles, how many character flaws to iron out can you give him? Link's already older than many of the people who play his games... How long before he's addicted to chu chu jelly, or riding Epona over a tank full of sharks? How long before the echoes of his former heroic silence become too much to bear?

Please, please, please keep Link's trap shut. I don't want to hear how hard it is to be a hero. I want to experience it. I don't want Link to tell me how important he thinks it is to save Zelda. I want to think it's important to save Zelda. The Zelda games have done a great job of showing, not telling. Gannondorf snatching Zelda from castle Hyrule while Link was too young to do anything about it did not need dialogue; it provided an indelible image that propelled the millions of players through the rest of the game. Less is more. Show, don't tell. The Zelda series consistently demonstrates that you know this, and you know how to work it.

Please, sir, stick to your guns. Zelda games do not need to be like other games. Diversity is a wonderful thing.

All the best,

Jamie

Tell us what you think below!

5 Comments

bobbay said:

I completely agree with you. Link is supposed to be the silent hero and it should always remain that way. It's part of the reason that I enjoy these games so much. His emotion and depth is so much more pungent because he and I are the same person. At least that's how it feels to me..

Shin Gallon said:

Having Link talk would be like having Gordon Freeman talk...it'd ruin the mystique and throw you out of the immersion. Zelda is one series that doesn't need hours and hours of dialog. It's not Mass Effect, it's not Metal Gear Solid (both of which benefit greatly from their stellar voice acting), nor should it try to be.

Daniel K said:

I'm with you! I didn't know there was a movement to get voice acting into the Zelda games, and specifically to get Link to speak. I thought it was natural that Link was quiet, and that he would always remain so... I suppose in the same way that Mario's speech is limited to "Here we go!"s and "It's me, Mario!"s. Even then, the less said, the better.

Anakin Gaeda said:

Actually Link already has a voice. I've associated him with the obnoxious and horny boy with a hero's dedication who says "Excuuuuuuse Me, Princess" ever since the Legend of Zelda animated cartoon series of the '80s.

Also, at least one character trait/flaw seems to have carried over... He likes to sleep in. In the beginning of the A Link to the Past, he's sleeping. Same with Link's Awakening, and on two levels! (I.E. you start the game waking up after being rescued on the beach, and you end the game waking up and finding out the whole adventure was a dream, so your first waking up was actually waking up into that dream). And Navi has to wake him up at the beginning of Ocarina of Time, and sarcastically wonders how such a lazy boy could be the Hero of Time!

Anakin Gaeda said:

Actually Link already has a voice. I've associated him with the obnoxious and horny boy with a hero's dedication who says "Excuuuuuuse Me, Princess" ever since the Legend of Zelda animated cartoon series of the '80s.

Also, at least one character trait/flaw seems to have carried over... He likes to sleep in. In the beginning of the A Link to the Past, he's sleeping. Same with Link's Awakening, and on two levels! (I.E. you start the game waking up after being rescued on the beach, and you end the game waking up and finding out the whole adventure was a dream, so your first waking up was actually waking up into that dream). And Navi has to wake him up at the beginning of Ocarina of Time, and sarcastically wonders how such a lazy boy could be the Hero of Time!

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

Twitter Feed

Recent Comments

Anakin Gaeda on Keep Link Quiet (Please): Actually Link already has a voice. I've associated him with the obnoxious and horny boy with a hero's dedication who...

Anakin Gaeda on Keep Link Quiet (Please): Actually Link already has a voice. I've associated him with the obnoxious and horny boy with a hero's dedication who...

Daniel K on Keep Link Quiet (Please): I'm with you! I didn't know there was a movement to get voice acting into the Zelda games, and specifically...

Shin Gallon on Keep Link Quiet (Please): Having Link talk would be like having Gordon Freeman talk...it'd ruin the mystique and throw you out of the immersion....

bobbay on Keep Link Quiet (Please): I completely agree with you. Link is supposed to be the silent hero and it should always remain that way....

GGP Mailing List

Are you gay and working in the games industry? If you are interested in networking with other folks like you within the industry, try joining the Gay Game-Industry Professionals mailing list. Click here for all the details!

Links

The GayGamer Store

  • Help support GayGamer by purchasing your items through our store!

All rights reserved © 2006-2010 FAD Media, Inc.