Tri Force Heroes is Sexist

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Since its announcement at E3 2015, The Legend of Zelda: TriForce Heroes has oftentimes found itself under fire for presenting a sexist and gender-bias driven premise. At first the criticism was stemming primarily from the lack of a playable female character. The handheld title, released on October 23, is a multiplayer experience that allows up to three players to team up to solve traditional Legend of Zelda puzzles and bosses. One of the game’s most original implementations is that of customizable skills based upon the outfits that are equipped to the the player’s avatar, Link.

If gamers are able to dress their character up in outfits of all varieties, including traditional gender conforming dresses (that is a whole other issue right there), then why are they only allowed to choose a male “Link”?

tri force heroes sexist

When pressed on the issue by IGN’s Jose Otero the game’s director Hiromasa Shikata had this to say.

I’m going to tell you a little bit about the story quickly and we’ll circle around, here. There’s this kingdom, an event happens, and the king needs heroes…So, he puts out a call for heroes to gather and one of those is this guy Link. He sees this audition, basically, ‘Heroes needed; apply here.’ And, that’s the start of his adventure…

…we do have a lot of female staff members who are playing this game and enjoying it. It doesn’t seem to be a big issue to them. They still are getting emotional investment in this game. And to be honest, Link isn’t the most masculine of guys in the world, depending on how you want to project yourself into the character.

So let me get this straight. There is an event that takes place within the game and because they asked for heroes (3 heroes really) only men showed up? Only men were the possible solution?

I know this is a touchy issue for many fans of the series, but it is time that we as Zelda fans get over the idea that Link can only be a male. The curse placed upon Link in Skyward Sword does not in any way say that it will only impact the male figures of his descendants. Therefore, the Legend of Zelda lore more than supports the concepts of a female Link.

tri force heroes sexist

Yet this discussion is nothing new to the Legend of Zelda series. The franchise has been called out for its antiquated and sexist tropes for many many years, a topic we explored last year. While this fact is not necessarily a cause for concern, it is still rather alarming to see that the series has not managed to stay relevant with the modern world’s consensus on such stereotypes. So here we are, nearly 30 years since the Nintendo Entertainment System brought us the very first The Legend of Zelda title, and Nintendo is still using the same plot device.

However…maybe I spoke too soon. Nintendo is not rehashing the same damsel in distress circumstances this time around. No! Nintendo has reached a new low and is in fact releasing their most sexist and stereotypical title to date. Let’s take a look at one of the game’s more recent trailers.

Watch this trailer, and then watch it again, and if you still see no glimpses of sexism then you are without a doubt in “fanboy denial.”

The very first sentence begins with, “My name is Princess Styla.” Hold the front door…the princess of this game, the damsel in distress of this game, the plot moving device of this game…is named Princess Styla. She is named after a really bad pun on fashion and style. Great stereotype right there. Let’s keep on reinforcing the idea that beauty and looks is all that matters for women.

tri force heroes sexist

Because she’s a girl…so she must miss her dresses and fashion options.

Don’t believe me? Then how about this…the trailer continues by explaining how Princess Styla was cursed and had her namesake stolen from her. That namesake is then revealed to be nothing other than…drum roll please…her style! Case closed and end of debate. The primary female character of Tri Force Heroes is a damsel in distress whose sole identity and self worth is based upon her beauty and style.

tri force heroes sexist

This demon seems to be more empowering for woman than anything else in the series.

The trailer continues to show its outdated ideologues by expressing that her father is embarrassed by her and wants to keep her hidden from view until she regains her style…and she doesn’t blame him one bit.

tri force heroes sexist

How will I ever force you into the patriarchy now?

Oh, I forgot to mention this as well: The name of the world that Link must explore is called the Drablands…yes drab as in drab clothing and or fashion. Another nice pun by Nintendo.

So as you “Link” up to save the world once more, please take the time to consider the severely damaging ramifications of such stereotypes. The Legend of Zelda series has of course been one of my favorite series, but that does not give its creators a free pass to push out such hurtful nonsense.

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About Author

Noah Glaser is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati where he majored in Information Technology with a minor in awesome. Noah has worked in web marketing for over 5 years and has built a reputation that has followed him both professionally and independently. He is the founder and lead content contributor for The Hidden Triforce. In the 5th grade he bought Link’s Awakening for his brother as a Christmas gift. Since stealing it back, he has been hooked to the Zelda series and has never looked back. In his spare time you can find Noah frolicking with his Porygon and Kiwi Birds. He dislikes chocolate, cheese, and bacon.

  • smcrzgi

    did you not notice that becuase the princess is cursed, EVERYONE is
    freaking out, and not just the princess? the curse doesn’t affect just
    her. also, if you think about it, this game could b seen as a commentary
    on the fact that we put so much value in how we look, particularily
    women (and not thats not a sexist thing to say, considering how the
    media often potrays them). maybe this game is pointing out the fact that
    our obsession with looking good is really just something super silly?
    if you think about it that way, perhaps the “damsel in distress” trope
    here is being reworked to point something important out. as for the
    “only men can be the hero”. why is it only zelda that seems to get
    called out for this kind of stuff when there are games out there that do
    far worse? most nintendo games maintain their main character throughout
    the series, its just how they function. i mean, you wouldn’t suddenly
    want samus to become male, would you? now i understand that with link
    the situations a tad different,with him being different links and all,
    and your right, there is no indication that the hero has to be male, my
    question is does he HAVE to be female then at some point then? are we
    asking for a female version just for the sake of saying we have one? is
    it just look feminazis in the eye and say “we are inclusive look at us!”
    cuz if thats it, thats a pretty lame reason. if we do get a female
    link, i would hope it accentuates the story of the game, and is not just
    catering to political correctness.

    sorry, i just get a little
    frustrated when people accuse game creators of being anti-women when
    really their not really trying to be and are just trying to make a fun
    game. i actually wouldnt mind seeing a female link, or a game with zelda being playable, but it would have to be done right, and in a way where the story actually points out the importance of the character’s role as being female. i know people wont agree with me, but id rather see something like that (which would actually be pretty sweet), rather than making link female (especially where in the game the story doesn’t matter that much) just to cater to the very vocal, but few naysayers.

    • Ethan Snow

      I completely agree with you, this energy should be focused on more important matters like oh I dunno making sure the human race doesn’t get wiped out?

    • Noah Glaser

      Now this is a good response. I liked reading your comment.

  • Ethan Snow

    You know what just because this is what it is it doesn’t have to mean it’s sexist! There are cases in the real world where people actually do like things like their clothing! So what if a boy decides he likes aliens and sword fighting and a girl likes barbie dolls and the color pink? People are entitled to their own opinion and freedom of expression! Also: since when have we needed a GIRL Link?! He’s always been a guy always! Over 25 years men and woman alike have slain ganondorf’s minions and NOBODY mentioned this. I do realize the fact that there are a lot of stereotypes that take place in the games, but if all you focus on is those stereotypes then it makes the game not fun. Just look at the “Demographically correct Christmas” episode of south park, you really want to take away what’s made this series successful and fun to play? It would be crap! People need to stop getting butt hurt over every little thing. Is it a direct declaration of prejudice on women? No? Then stop complaining! Don’t like the games? DON’T PLAY THEM.

    • Noah Glaser

      I do not think that Link being male is what has made the game fun. I have never thought how great this game is because I am playing as a male. It is fun because of its story, lore (which supports a female Link), puzzles, action, etc

    • Noah Glaser

      That is sort of a misrepresentation of a population to apply it to everyone. Of course there is a group that likes dolls and pink and etc. But ignoring the reasoning behind why they do is problematic

      • Jeroen Meesters

        Problematic…..subjective word. Also how is Americans forcing a Japanese company to abandon their own culture to conform to american ideals not ‘problematic’?

  • You sound like a feminist… I’m not saying you are …but that’s how you come off. This game is awesome and I don’t see it as sexist.. I guess I’m what you’d call a “stereotype” because I love dresses… and I enjoy looking cute, so if someone took away everything I had and made me feel ugly… sorry but I’d be sad too. It’s just a game. Too much criticism makes this world ugly. There are stereotypes everywhere and typically stereotypes stem from truth.

    • Noah Glaser

      You act like being a feminist is a bad thing…

      • Morgan

        if you advocate for equality between men and women you are technically a feminist, which is funny because for whatever reason the term has such a negative connotation in today’s culture.

        • fm64

          it has that negative connotation precisely because of people like the above, who support that nonsense of being feminist equals being a reverse sexist

          • Noah Glaser

            Reverse sexism is a very real issue. You see it a lot on the extreme sides of rape culture and over corrections of what constitutes consent. But being a male and acting like being one is not advantageous is patently wrong.

          • Noah Glaser

            In what ways does this indicate reverse sexism

          • Morgan

            you can’t even be a reverse sexist. sorry.

          • fm64

            i’m not sexist

          • Morgan

            probably are.

        • for as long as everyone on this site’s lived, it’s never meant that.

      • Ainrehtea Dal’nalirtu

        The “Third wave” Feminists or the “1st World Feminists” are really the reason why most people see the overall thing in a bad light.
        Those ones don’t want equality, they want reverse sexisim and complaining about everything they don’t like, just like the SJWs(Social Justice Whiners).

        • Noah Glaser

          It seems that you came into this with a bias unwilling to actually take the content for what it is. You complain about people wanting to spread justice and equality. If you think that there is reverse sexism then please point it out

          • Jeroen Meesters

            justice and equality are subjective words. he is complaining about people that belief they are entitled to push their interpretation of equality on the rest of the population. The whole ‘only a feminist can define justice and equality’ bullshit is the biggest giveaway for how intolerant these people actually are towards people who should be ‘their equals’. By acting on the idea that your morality is superior to other people’s morality you fail to address other people as equals.

      • Of course it’s not. It’s a despicable thing! The only good kind is the kind that’s fertilising my posies!

    • 5hr3k

      being a feminist just means you want rights for women. you saying feminism is bad is basically saying that women shouldn’t have rights. sorry, but that’s how it works. stop acting like feminism is about hating men.

  • Guest

    Dumbest most dipshit article ever. All Links from every game/incarnation/re-incarnation has been MALE. Why go with a female Link suddenly? Oh because it’s politically correct? Leave political correctness out of video games! Next Metroid should give Samus a brother and make him wear the suit and make him playable. There. Fair right? Idiot who wrote this garbage I swear.

    • Noah Glaser

      You do realize that my primary concern was with the stereotypes and how it had very little to do with the lack of a female Link. I in fact linked to an article we have dismissing this trope.

  • Nilla Nate

    Big…effin…deal.

  • dizimuos

    …… is this satire????

    • Ainrehtea Dal’nalirtu

      Sadly it’s not. Many people have this kind of mindset now and it’s sickening.

      • Noah Glaser

        It is really sad that you think a voice for equality is sickening

        • If it intentionally discludes the health and well-being of half the population as well as derailing efforts to fix such things it most certainly is!

          • Noah Glaser

            I would love to know how you came to that conclusion

        • ECM

          Actually what is sickening is that you have decided to slice and dice people into various victim groups so that you may feel virtuous in protecting them from imagined bogeymen (hell, ost of the ‘victims’ don’t even share your warped POV).

          IOW, don’t try to cloak your insipid masturbatory issues in high-mindedness–not all of us had our ability to think critically amputated during our college years.

          • Ainrehtea Dal’nalirtu

            Thank you, I found it laughable how he replied to me since I believe in equal rights more than these 1st world/third wave feminists actually do.

            I’m actually getting tired of all the complaints on meaningless things like video games. Not every game has to cater to 100% of the masses and I’m a Woman who had played every Zelda game since before the Early 90’s.

            I ain’t going to sit here and try to go on a crusade on fixing something that isn’t wrong in the first place.
            Which is the problem with 1st world Feminists. Instead of fixing real issues, they keep spewing garbage like this and if criticized they can’t handle it and pull the victim card or they try to silence those who don’t agree with them..

          • Noah Glaser

            Sorry that you see the objectification of women to be a trivial matter

        • Jeroen Meesters

          Equality is a subjective word. The majority of america (72%) does not call themselve a feminist so the majority of america has a different interpretation of the word equality. If people want more diverse games they should make their own games. Nintendo has an obligation to change their games to: NOBODY. People who don’t agree with that have a sickening sense of entitlement

          • Noah Glaser

            Nobody here has asked Nintendo to change their games. But yes, Nintendo does have an obligation as a leader in the industry to lead by example. Everybody in this society has an obligation to uphold and be the best members they can be. Also most people do not know what feminism actually is. People just associate it with bitchy butch women who complain and are sexist towards guys when that is not true feminism.

  • Kaycee

    Who let this BS in a zelda site.

  • Doug Howell

    Damaging to who?

    • Noah Glaser

      Any female who does not wish to be objectified

  • Marius Henriksen

    I am so incredibly sick of this stupid debate. If you want a game with a female lead then don’t play The Legend of Zelda! We don’t decide what the games are about, the talented developers do that.

    “is still rather alarming to see that the series has not managed to stay relevant with the modern world’s consensus on such stereotypes”? When the hell was Zelda relevant? It’s a fairy tale set in a magic world! The old games were no more relevant with our consensus on stereotypes than the newer games. You’re sick of playing as Link? You don’t care for the story? That’s all totally fair, but don’t say it’s because the game is sexist.

    It saddens and annoys me so much that developers can’t make a game with male heroes without a bunch of morons calling them sexist. Developers should get to create games about whatever they want and not have us getting in the way of their creativity.

    • Noah Glaser

      So if they make a game with a female Link then you will not buy it?

  • Carolina Patrão

    It’s funny how apparently shallow traits of the characters are “offensive” somehow. Logic at it’s finest. >_>
    The character =/= you.

  • John Doman

    “The primary female character of Tri Force Heroes is a damsel in distress whose sole identity and self worth is based upon her beauty and style.”
    Yes. And the primary male character of the Zelda Games, Link, is a silent hero whose sold identity and self worth is based on his ability to fight monsters and rescue the princess.
    Gee whiz, it’s almost like these games are using archetypes or sumting! Maybe…just maybe….that’s deliberate! Maybe there’s nothing at all wrong with this!

    • Noah Glaser

      One is negative and one isn’t. Your argument is not really valid…One is saying that a population is defenseless and only has a value in beauty. The other says a population is strong, brave, capable in many skills, etc

      • smcrzgi

        its also saying that the sole identiry of the male is based on his ability. not all males are top notch “monster fighters” so to speak, or particularily skilled. how is that not derogatory to them? John’s right, we shouldnt be reading to much into this becuase its just a game, and the point isnt to be politically correct, but to have fun.

        • Noah Glaser

          If you want to explore the negative stereotypes against men then go for it. You will not hear me trying to stop you. Implying that all men should be macho is a negative thing. Implying that men cannot express themselves emotionally is negative. But that is not the topic of this discussion.

          • smcrzgi

            i know, im just pointing it out.

          • smcrzgi

            actually hold on a second. how is this not what we are discussing? you bring it up yourself saying that one aspect of this is negative and one isnt. i literally just pointed out that both are in some sense negative.again, this is just a game and shouldnt be taken so seriously as though it is making a meta-narrative like statement that all girls are wusses and all guys are super tough. thats not what the game is saying at all. its not out to make a statement, its just trying to bring us something fun to play.

          • Alex Glaser

            Still wasn’t the topic of the article.

          • smcrzgi

            ugh…. nvm.

  • ECM

    Pretty much sums this article up succinctly.

  • señor_pie

    why are you so stupid?

    • Because he graduated that way.

    • Noah Glaser

      What leads you to that conclusion

  • Alonzo Tompkins

    Why is the author of this article such a fucking moron? This article shortened my life span and makes me want to vomit from the sheer stupidity.

  • Kaycee

    ditto

  • fm64

    putting the female link aside, I can’t believe how horribly bad people react to this, i’ts just a freaking opinion people, Miyamoto and Aonuma are old Japanese you know, Japanese, one of the sexiest countries on earth, they took YEARS to put relevant female characters (that peach DS game.. ugh) even if someone wants a female link, we’ll need another 30 years for them to implement it. Also, have someone considered to have a choose your gender feature? that way everyone would be happy.
    Anyway, he is right in the other points, male heroes only, etc

    • smcrzgi

      if there was an option for choosing gender i think that could work. if the main character was just changed to female with no option for male, or if zelda became the protaginist, i would like to see a storyline that actually accentuates that, rather than just having her there for the sake of having a female protaginist. buti think choosing the gender would be a good option.

  • Carcharodon

    Not this again! Don’t you people have something better to do than going around looking for things to offend you? We all know the importance of defending human rights and the equality of all, but this is ridiculous! You’re deliberately trying to find something that offends you! Stop taking offense where none is intended, you shallow, low life piece of garbage! What do you hope to accomplish in this endeavor!? Are you expecting praise for your efforts? Are you expecting us to rally behind you and fight your imaginary chauvinist enemies? Well, sorry to disappoint you, but only the most gullible of fools would think you’re defending women’s rights! You’re no crusader for human rights, you’re no hero! You’re just an overly sensitive douche who thinks that it’s his job to tell others what to be offended by! and that’s not even the worst part! The worst part is you’re not even a woman! What gives you the right to speak for women and tell them what should offend them when you’re clearly a man! You have about as much of a right to tell women what they should be offended by as me or any other man! Plus, there were women who worked on this game, and there were female gamers who played it and actually enjoyed it! Are you actually implying that these women are sexist towards their own gender?! Do you think you know more about sexism then those women?! That’s like accusing a gay man of being a homophobe, or calling the late Martin Luther King a racist! You, sir, are one of the worst kinds of people that inhabit this world! Instead of just fighting inequality when it rears its ugly head, you actually go looking for something to complain about so you can stir up trouble! You’re just as bad as any sexist, so you’ll get no respect from me, pig!

    • Alex Glaser

      lol He calls you overly sensitive and says you are trying to find something to be offended about after he wrote a borderline tl/dr bitch fest complaint.

      • Carcharodon

        Oh, I’m sorry. Do you lack the intellectual capacity to read something longer than a few sentences? Would you prefer it if I spoke like an ignorant dolt? My comment was long because I have a lot to say on the matter, and when I want to say something, I say it! I’m not going to just waste my time simply typing insults when I can counter the point one is trying to make on a debatable subject.

        • Alex Glaser

          Well you have a problem, buddy. I don’t prefer that you speak like an “ignorant dolt,” but despite my preferences, you continue to do so.

          You were too mentally deficient to comprehend my point. You cannot call someone out for being overly sensitive, as you act so sensitive to a piece of commentary that you feel the need to type out a huge rant. You yourself were the overly sensitive person.

          You say you will not waste your time with insults, but most of your words were meant to be insulting, and generally lacked specifics in terms of facts.

          Good job though, you’re still an overly sensitive dolt.

    • Noah Glaser

      Do you want to try to express yourself in a normal and mature way? Nothing you said is remotely accurate or indicative of a healthy individual

      • Carcharodon

        Oh, and looking for reasons to accuse people of sexism is? Don’t make me laugh! Why don’t you actually make a legitimate point to counter my arguement? Or are you incapable of anything but insults? So far, you’ve done nothing that will convince me to take you seriously, and you come off as an uneducated troll.

        • Alex Glaser

          You didn’t make an argument. You went on a long rant where you did little more than name-calling and whining.

  • Midnafan1

    Now before I respond, keep in mind, my response is not an attack on your article. I am not attacking you at all. I’m just merely calling this article as I see it. That being said, I don’t see a problem with this game, sexist or otherwise. To be honest, even taking into consideration your theory, I find it very hard to pull anything sexist from this game. I feel like this article was written as an attempt to make tempers flare and get people to talk about this and bring in traffic to the site. Nothing more. If not that, then you’re really just looking too deep into this. However, that’s just my opinion. You’re entitled to your own opinions as well as I am. Does this article convince me Nintendo is being sexist? No. And just for the sake of this article, do I think Nintendo would knowingly put out a game that is sexist? No, I do not. I feel like this shouldn’t be something the Zelda community is arguing about. What’s the point? Just enjoy the games for what they are and be happy that Zelda is a big part of our lives. :)

    • Noah Glaser

      I appreciate your feedback. Since playing the game more I have actually found more items that are problematic and related to the ideas of sexism. With that said, I did not make this an attack on the series or Nintendo. There can be elements of almost anything that are sexist, racist, judgmental, etc. Pretending otherwise is delusional. Recognizing such things and trying to make the world a better place is how we should all look at media. I still love the series and always will, but that does not mean that I can, or we should, pretend things are not happening.

  • lazzafraz

    This is a fucking stupid! Whoever would actually believe this trash is a complete idiot. This sounds like you didn’t have anything to actually say about the game so you end up bullshitting with pc shit. Quit pc bro, no need to crush that puss all the time bro!

  • Edith Reese!

    Unless it shows child nudity cause Japan. I agree with you on that. But this is Nintendo and Zelda? The real world, this is not? lol

    (Trust me? I seen anime that would make this game look tame in comparing.) (Children’s time, anyone?)

    Well this was before the game came out. So I guess it’s all good until someone gets hurt. lol

    Have a good day. :)

  • 5hr3k

    you KNOW zelda isn’t sexist. zelda herself is the proof. zelda is portrayed as smart and god like. link is just a small part of zelda’s plan. just because you play as male doesn’t mean it’s sexist. i’m a feminist, and i find it bad that you want to focus on a video game instead of real women’s issues. you’re a douche. you don’t care about women’s rights, you just want attention from talking shit about a popular video game. what sexist tropes does zelda have????? NONE!


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