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The Inspiration Behind The Legend Of Zelda's Link

The developers behind "The Legend of Zelda" series have proven time and again their willingness to transform the series in stunning ways, but for every all-encompassing evolution across the games, the core assets of what a "Zelda" adventure resembles have mostly remained the same. A soft-spoken, at-times-goofy hero clad in a green hat and tunic picks up the sword to save the kingdom from evil. Only "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" changed Link's aesthetic significantly, and even then, dedicated players can unlock his classic outfit in that game (per Legend of Zero). However, fans may not know the inspiration behind Link's traditional green attire or why the " Zelda " poster boy even received the name Link.


"Zelda" series creator and veteran game designer Shigeru Miyamoto provided insights into both mysteries in 2012. Speaking with French gaming outlet Game Kult (per Google Translate), he recalled how Link's green garb and pointed ears took inspiration from a legendary 1953 Disney film. As it turns out, designers for the original "The Legend of Zelda" also meant for the name Link to represent a type of time-travel mechanic.

A Pan between worlds

"The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" has become a cornerstone of gaming innovation partly because of its memorable time-travel mechanic. And apparently, "Zelda" designers hoped to implement time travel in the first game (per Game Kult). "When we started designing The Legend of Zelda, we imagined that the fragments of the Triforce would in fact be microchips," Shigeru Miyamoto said. "It was to be a video game that would take place in both the past and the future." Link represented the literal link between these periods, and the name stuck.


His appearance also stuck from the beginning. Graphical limitations on the NES only permitted Miyamoto to work with three colors. He settled on green and brown, taking direct inspiration from "Peter Pan." "I told myself that Peter Pan's green suited him (Link) perfectly," Miyamoto explained. "... there were a lot of forest environments in the game, green on green."

Fans have noted other parallels between the Disney movie and elements across Nintendo's plethora of "Zelda" games (via Zelda Dungeon). For example, Peter Pan traveled with the fairy Tinker Bell between the human world and Neverland. Similarly, in "A Link to the Past," Link travels to the Dark World, and Navi serves as Link's fairy companion in "Ocarina of Time."


"The Legend of Zelda" and "Peter Pan" have come full circle in a way: as the latter inspired the former, so has "Zelda" inspired other Sci-Fi games.