The time has finally come Zelda fans! The official timeline for The Legend of Zelda series has been unveiled. While scans of the timeline are now leaking all over the net, we’ll be updating and covering every detail on the timeline as it is unveiled with translations being covered by the guys at NewNintendo (and looked over by our Associate Editor, Roger DiLuigi III).
The official timeline of The Legend of Zelda games is as follows (summary courtesy of IGN Wii):
The Zelda series starts with a simple progression. The first four games in the timeline, from earliest to latest are:
1. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
3. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords
4. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Here’s where things get complicated. Because of Ocarina’s time leaps, three timeline splits are created.
The first branch in the timeline, which we’ll call Timeline A, assumes Link actually fails to stop Ganon and dies. Here are the games that follow Timeline A:
5-A. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
6-A. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Oracle of Ages
7-A. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
8-A. The Legend of Zelda
9-A. The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventures of Link
The next path, Timeline B, works from the presented ending of Ocarina of Time, featuring Link returning to live through his childhood. As we all know, Majora’s Mask picks up shortly after Ocarina’s ending, leading to these games:
5-B. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
6-B. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
7-B. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
The final timeline split, Timeline C, starts with Ganon’s defeat in the Ocarina of Time era, and progresses from there – from the time that Link advanced and eventually left so he could be a child once again. Here are the games in Timeline C:
5-C. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
6-C. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
7-C. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
Essentially, the triple split occurs like this:
Timeline A: Link spends seven years in the Sacred Realm and dies while trying to defeat Ganon. Sages imprison Ganon. Ocarina of Time -> A Link to the Past.
Timeline B: Link arrives to the past and creates a second timeline. Ganondorf is imprisoned and Ocarina’s Link stays in this timeline. Ocarina of Time -> Majora’s Mask.
Timeline C: Link spends seven years in the Sacred Realm, defeats Ganon and travels back in time, thus creating a future without Link. Ocarina of Time -> The Wind Waker.
Still confused? Here are some more details from the Hyrule Historia, translated by NewNintendo:
Ancient Tales: Skyward Sword → The Minish Cap → Four Swords → Ocarina of Time
Classic Tales: A Link to the Past → Oracles → Link’s Awakening → The Legend of Zelda → The Adventure of Link
Child Tales: Majora’s Mask → Twilight Princess → Four Swords Adventures
Adult Tales: The Wind Waker → Phantom Hourglass → Spirit Tracks
Classic timeline further explained…
Branch 1: Link is defeated by Ganon in OoT.
Branch 2: Link comes back from the future in OoT and tells Zelda what’s going to happen, she sends him away.
Branch 3: There is no longer a hero in the future of OoT since Link was sent back.
After Link dies in Ocarina of Time, Ganon obtains the entire Triforce. The Seven Sages seal away Ganon and the whole Triforce as a last resort, but villains with their eyes on the Triforce make for the Sacred Realm, which eventually turns into the Dark World and is filled with evil power. The Seven Sages then try to seal away the Sacred Realm itself, but end up fighting with monsters. This is the Imprisoning War of A Link to the Past.
Well folks, there you have it. The case is finally closed on a 25 year old mystery. The canon timeline of The Legend of Zelda series has been revealed. Case closed. In case you are still confused, Kotaku provided a handy flowchart for following the timeline’s progression: