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”?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.