Some time ago, Nintendo's official Zelda site, zelda.com, released a storyline. Some have hailed this storyline as "THE" storyline, the official version that we should accept as answering all our questions. I don't think many people still feel this way now, but I will try to dissuade anybody who does. This article has a dual purpose: (1) to show that the zelda.com storyline is not an authoritative, end all time line, but a retelling of the canon that contains many theories; and (2) to analyze the storyline fully, showing which parts are theories, and which of these theories work.
A Note on the Texts
To be honest, this article is a little late. I planned to write it a long time ago, because the zelda.com storyline has been very influential. So what stopped me? I was ready to sit down and start analyzing the zelda.com storyline, and went back to zelda.com to check something. But lo and behold! Zelda.com had changed their story! They had taken out some things that had helped explain their theory very well! Specifically, they removed the first few paragraphs in their OoT and ALttP storylines, which were really good theories. So I gave up. I'm not going to try to analyze a constantly changing document.
But after a recent conversation, I checked out zelda.com again. It looks like zelda.com, after the initial change, didn't change the storyline anymore. So I don't have to worry about an evolving document. In this article I will restrict my analysis to the older version, since I think it represents zelda.com's original theory more accurately, and explains it better.
I assume that, if you are reading this article, you have already read zelda.com's storyline and are familiar with it in some detail. If not, I have the complete storyline (old and new versions) as well as zelda.com's time line up here for reference. (I also have zelda.com's old storyline posted in my Storyline section, under the Theories. It's there for reference purposes only, along with a time line I cooked up).
- Material from Zelda.com:
- Old storyline (recommended)
- New storyline
- Abbreviated version of the new storyline
Nintendo's Stance on the Storyline
I often begin my articles by explaining my point of view, and then trying to justify it. This time, I will quote Nintendo first, and show that their viewpoint of the zelda.com storyline is the same as mine. Nintendo itself didn't intend the zelda.com storyline to be "THE" storyline. The introduction of the storyline says this much:
"We consider this historical record to be a living document, always open to revisions and the addition of new details. As we continue to compile more information here in the Hall of History, we will eventually reach the most accurate account possible, free of cultural bias or exaggeration. Please recognize that there have been other studies which vary greatly from my own. No historian can ever claim 100% accuracy, which is what makes Link's life such an interesting subject."
Zelda.com admits that their account isn't complete in every detail, and that nobody, not even them, can ever claim to have a complete storyline that explains everything. Dan Owsen, a prominent Nintendo employee who helped translate some of the Zelda games, is quoted as saying:
"Ah yes, my favorite non-issue topic -- the storyline of the Zelda games. We probably spurred a lot of questions by posting our theory on the game order on zelda.com. I'd like to clarify some points on that story. First, I don't think that anywhere on the site it said, "This is the Official Ordering! There shall be no other ordering of the Zelda games anywhere, ever! So let it be written so let it be done!!" It's a theory that was created by Nintendo online staff. It's not endorsed or approved by Mr. Miyamoto. However, all that being said, it is based on conversations that I've had with some of the Zelda developers and scenario writers, and a lot of thought went into it. It makes as much sense (or more) than other theories on the Internet. And I have read a lot of them. The fact is, there is not, nor is there likely ever to be, a unified Zelda story. I've said this before, the Zelda developers do not want to create such a story that might limit their creativity in future games. It's that simple. One of the greatest things about the Zelda series is the games leave a lot to the player's imagination. The whole story isn't spelled out for you -- you need to think about it and believe whatever you want to believe."
As you can see, "Nintendo" (by which I mean, agents who represent Nintendo) is not pushing the zelda.com storyline as "THE" storyline. So if anybody still believes this, give it up.
Fact, Theory, and Retelling
Before I analyze the zelda.com storyline, I need to clarify my own position a little bit. I would like to point out the distinction between "Fact" and "Theory." Facts are things that are given to us as absolutely true (or true in the system of facts being considered). In the literary, historical, and theological fields, there is a reliance on canon, an accepted set of documents, for facts. Shakespearean scholars get their facts from collections of his work; historians rely on old documents; theologians look to sacred texts. In all these fields, theories are based on facts. Good theories will conform to, and explain, all relevant facts. Bad theories will either (1) fail to conform to the given facts, or (2) fail to explain the given facts. A theory may also try to discredit facts contradictory to its premises, but only if there is a VERY good reason. Facts must be dealt with, not merely discarded for convenience.
In our field, the historical analysis of Hyrule, we too have canon we can look to for facts: the games and manuals. (One may wish to include the comics, cartoons, manga, guides, etc., but I choose not to, for reasons stated elsewhere.) We form theories to explain how certain things in the Zelda universe work. The criteria for judging good theories and bad theories are the same as above. There is a strict division between Fact (given by the canon) and Theory (produced by people who analyze the canon). In my opinion, the zelda.com storyline falls under the category of Theory. Zelda.com, in my reckoning, is clearly not part of the canon, and cannot be referenced to for Facts. My opinion is supported by what Nintendo has said itself (Dan Owsen called the storyline a "theory"). Being a theory isn't a bad thing; we can gain many valuable insights into Zelda by studying theories, no matter who the author of the theory is. My articles are all theories.
In our field, there is a third category to consider: Retellings. The canon, in its true form (games and manuals) is often very difficult to understand and reference. Often it is easier, and more useful, to read a summary of events, in a storyline format. This is fine, just as long as the storyline accurately tells what happens in the game, and doesn't "contaminate" itself by including the author's own personal opinions. The purpose of a storyline, in its purest form, is to tell the story of a specific game, and tell ONLY the story. There ought not to be any theories. Otherwise, readers will mistake these theories for Fact. Also, everything in the storyline ought to have really happened in the game or the manual. It's no good telling about events that might have happened, and getting your personal opinions mistaken for Fact. Conversely, everything that happened in the manual and game ought to be told in the storyline. If you don't tell everything pertinent to the story, you're leaving out evidence that people could have used. Thus, a storyline, in its ideal form, is a Retelling of the canon. It retells, in an easier-to-digest format, events described in the canon.
The Books in my Storyline section are intended to be retellings of the stories in the games, not theories. As retellings, their intention is to conform very closely to the facts given in the games, and to editorialize as little as possible. Therefore, my storylines are not theories, but retellings of the canon which include maybe 5% theory just to keep some internal continuity. Originally, my Storyline section tried to tie the games together. However, each game gives very few clues as to how all the games connect. Any storylines that try to connect the games together will end up containing a lot of theories, just to fill in plot holes. Storylines, in their purest form, need to simply retell the canon, not force one's own interpretation upon the hapless reader. This is why I try to restrict my Storyline Books to only the events in each game, and to stick very closely to the original narrative structure of the games.
Zelda.com's storyline, on the other hand, attempts to connect all the games together. Their storyline is mostly concerned with retelling, but it also contains a lot of theories. Many of these theories are things that weren't told about in the games or the manuals, but which could very well have happened. Some of the theories describe events that contradict the canon. Some theories are there in order to tie the games together.
In this article, I will isolate which parts of zelda.com's storyline are theories, and try to judge them using the criteria by which all theories ought to be judged. I will point out which theories are contradictory to canon, which could have happened, and which ones give us good insights on how the games connect. Note that when I point out a theory, this doesn't mean I disagree with it. I just want to distinguish the Theory from the Retelling in zelda.com's theory, and comment on how good the theories are. I will analyze the storyline game-by-game, pointing out which parts are theory, and whether each theory is a good one or a bad one. I will also point out where the storyline gets its facts mixed up.
Ocarina of Time
The storyline starts out with an account of the creation of Hyrule. They begin with the picture of some kind of "emptiness" existing, and the golden goddesses appearing to drive the nothingness away. This might give somebody the idea that this nothingness was a kind of evil or darkness, and corrupts the hearts of Hyrulians. Not a bad theory, but not exactly canonical either. According to the three creation accounts (ALttP manual, OoT manual, Deku Tree in OoT), the golden goddesses descended upon a world of "chaos." The goddesses created "order and life" out of chaos, not something out of nothing. But besides this philosophical point, the introduction is admirably poetic and well-written (as, indeed, the whole storyline is).
The storyline messes up which goddesses created what. According to them, "Din filled the globe with water, stone, air and fire; Nayru sprinkled the newborn landscape with plants and animals, while Farore planted the seeds which would grow into intelligence, consciousness and magic." However, all three canonical accounts of the creation are in agreement. Din created land with her flaming arms. Nayru poured her wisdom on the world, bringing order to nature and creating wizardry. Farore's rich soul, through justice and vigor, created all life forms who would uphold the law. Apparently, zelda.com mixed up which things Nayru and Farore created.
Another minor philosophical point. After they are done, the goddesses are described as being filled with a "sensation of fatigue." The canon doesn't indicate that the goddesses were tired, or that they were even capable of being fatigued. The canon doesn't give us any reason to think that the goddesses are not perfect. But this theory makes the goddesses imperfect (perfect beings do not get tired), and is unnecessary to boot.
The story presents another interesting theory: the name Hyrule comes from "High Rule," i.e. rule by the Hylians. Interesting theory, but unsupported by canon.
The canon doesn't give us any hints about whether the goddesses interfere in Hyrule or not, nor whether the goddesses are in fact worshipped. But this storyline says "the three goddesses never strayed too far from this new world they created, and the people of Hyrule worshipped them respectfully." Again, why bring in an unnecessary theory that isn't even supported?
OoT doesn't tell us who built the Temple of Light. Rauru says that he helped the ancient Sages build the Temple of Time, but he doesn't say who built the Temple of Light. This storyline goes right ahead and says "Rauru planned and built the Temple of Light."
OoT doesn't tell us very much about the wars immediately preceding the game. The ALttP manual says these wars were fought by people greedy for the Triforce. The zelda.com storyline puts in its own theory: "Warfare and strife became common in Hyrule, as the armies of the Zora marched on the Hylians. The Gorons fought the Gerudo. It seemed every race of Hyrule was at the other's throat. Only the secluded Kokiri, sheltered by their magical forest and the Great Deku Tree, were spared the destruction of Hyrule's civil wars." Here the war is told in almost excruciating detail, but the canon doesn't tell us very much at all. About all we can guess is that Hyrule Castle Town was attacked and burned, since Link's Hylian mother was trying to escape from fires. But she may have been trying to escape from Kakariko, or some other village that no longer existed in OoT. The wars were not necessarily civil wars, which is why I now refer to them as the Fierce Wars (the name given by the Deku Tree sprout).
The storyline says, "After 50 years of ceaseless combat, there arose a Hylian King of great wisdom, courage and power. Through his brilliant military campaigns and wise diplomacy, he was able to bring the varied people of Hyrule into a tenuous harmony. Treaties of peace were signed, and prosperity once again seemed to bloom in Hyrule." Once again, pure fiction. The canon tells us nothing about these events. Not that things couldn't have happened this way. But it must be understood that this is only one possible interpretation.
The story goes on to tell about Ganondorf's "magical research." OoT doesn't tell us how Ganondorf came to know as much about the Triforce as he did. Something like this isn't unlikely. However, it goes on to say that Ganondorf discovered this quote (and implies that it was little-known):
In a Realm beyond sight,This, of course, is the same poem as given in the ALttP manual. ("Realm" should not be capitalized, and there should be a comma after "gold," and a period after "blue." Nitpicking, I know.) According to the ALttP manual, this poem was already well known, and is what started the Fierce Wars. The poem never actually makes an appearance in OoT.
The sky shines gold not blue,
There, the Triforce's might
Makes mortal dreams come true.
The rest of the pre-OoT events are theory, but I have no problem with them. Things could very well have happened this way. But when they start to describe the OoT events, they commit a cardinal sin. They state that Link is 10 years old! This is an old mistake which I have long since refuted. OoT doesn't tell us Link's age.
The storyline says that Ganondorf "tricked" Link, and "watched from afar" as Link collected the Spiritual Stones. But OoT gives me the impression that Ganondorf didn't really know much, but only suspected. Why would he bother trying to steal the Ocarina of Time if all he had to do was wait for Link and Zelda to open the gate? Why, when Ganondorf gloats over Link, does he say, "As I thought, you held the keys to the Door of Time," instead of saying "I knew you had the keys all this time!" Their theory is possible, but I don't like it.
After Link pulls the Master Sword, the story says, "the last thing Link remembered was opening the door to the Spirit Realm and watching as Ganondorf leapt from the shadows and placed his tainted hands on Triforce." I'm more inclined to think that Link's last memory was the shaft of light, and that Ganondorf contacted him telepathically. And I didn't see Ganondorf hiding in the shadows, did you? ;-)
Next, the storyline says that the tainted Sacred Realm was soon known as the Dark World. This simply isn't true. It became known as the Evil Realm. Only centuries later did it become known as the Imprisoned Dark World.
The rest of the storyline is pretty good. But in the ending it says "after ensuring that princess Zelda was safely returned to Hyrule Castle, Link once again traveled back through time." Where do they get this? Link and Zelda were floating in the sky! There was no Hyrule Castle; Ganon's Tower was in its place, and the Tower itself was thrown down.
The storyline begins by telling how Termina came to be created. The theory they propose (that the golden goddesses created it unintentionally) isn't a bad one. But it's not the only possible theory either. Keep in mind that there is no creation myth told in Termina. Old legends tell about the four giants, who act as guardians of Termina. The legends don't tell whether the four giants created Termina, or whether somebody else did.
The storyline tells that Skull Kid borrowed Majora's Mask, and perhaps intended to give it right back. We know this isn't right. Skull Kid waylaid the mask collector and stole the mask. The mask collector says over and over that the mask was "stolen" from him. A cinema scene shows Skull Kid taking the mask from the unconscious mask collector. And all three act very guilty.
According to the storyline, Link is searching for Navi. This, of course, seems to be the most popular theory floating around. But Link could be searching for any of a number of people, including Saria. The game itself doesn't give us any clues, other than playing Navi's flying sound after the opening.
The storyline pinpoints Skull Kid's arrival in Hyrule at the same time Link is wandering through the woods. However, we know that Skull Kid has already been in Hyrule (he appeared in OoT). And the cinema scene seems to indicate that the robbery of Majora's Mask took place in the same woods Link is wandering through (in Hyrule, presumably). So, this isn't the first time Skull Kid has been to Hyrule, and he may have been there any time after stealing the mask.
According to the storyline, the mask collector would help return Link to his original form if he "could find his Ocarina and use its power of time travel." Actually, the mask collector never hints that he knows about the Ocarina's time manipulation abilities. The deal was for Link to get back his Ocarina and Majora's Mask within three days.
After Link defeats Majora and begins a new day, the story concludes by saying "Link had many more adventures in the land of Termina, but eventually his heart led him back through the inter-dimensional doorway to his homeworld of Hyrule." Actually, the ending shows Link leaving right away, not even stopping to see all the good things he has brought about.
A Link to the Past
Zelda.com realized that centuries take place between OoT and ALttP. But they wanted there to only be one Link. Thus, they introduce the most interesting theory in the whole storyline: "When Link returned to Hyrule after his Terminian adventure, many many years had past. Whether due to the interdimensional passage or his constant manipulation of time in Termina, hundreds of years had expired since he had first come face to face with Skull Kid." As you can see, this theory opens up all kinds of possibilities for the one-Link theory. It is possible for there to be one Link if he time travels between different ages. Of course, there is a tendency to disbelieve in the one-Link theory because Link looks different in every game, and the games don't SAY that it's always the same Link. But I still like this theory. Artistic differences are weak evidence, in my opinion. And besides, none of the games, besides OoT, give any background about Link's life.
Of course, zelda.com fails to address how Ganon came to possess the whole Triforce. They also don't mention that Link had the Triforce of Courage at the end of OoT. They avoid these difficult issues by ignoring them. Bad!
According to the storyline, "the story of how [Link] overthrew Ganon had become a well-loved legend, and there had been many songs written about the Hero of Time." This is false. By the time of ALttP, everybody believed in the "Imprisoning War" legend, which eliminates Link and his time traveling adventure completely. Everybody remembers Ganon's downfall, but nobody remembers the Hero of Time. Only a few legends passed down in the Royal Family tell of his deeds (as told in MM), but by ALttP these seem to have been forgotten.
One problem with the one-Link theory is that Link lives with his "uncle" in ALttP. If I were to argue the one-Link theory, I would explain "uncle" away as a label that indicates a bond of friendship and affection. For example, when you call an old family friend "uncle" or "grandpa", even though he isn't related to you by blood. But zelda.com chooses to explain this away by saying Link "settled down in the house of his great-great-great-great uncle." Let's ignore the fact that this should say "grand-grand-grand-grand uncle" (since the man is supposedly DESCENDED from Link). And let's not think about how progeny removed by eight generations could possibly be one's uncle (since an uncle is supposed to be one generation older, not eight generations younger). How can Link have any descendants at all? Link hasn't had any children yet! Did Link have family in OoT that we didn't know about? There is too much speculation involved here.
The storyline ignores the fact that Link's uncle is the first to answer Zelda's telepathic plea, and tries to Link from getting involved. The storyline leaves out some details, and this is okay most of the time (since the aim here isn't to be a complete storyline), but I think this was something too important to leave out. Bah I say, bah!
The storyline uses the name "Mystic Pendants" instead of "Pendants of Virtue." Once again, bah!
The storyline ends by telling "In the end, Link defeated Ganon in an epic battle high atop the King of Evil's shadowy citadel. Ganon was once again imprisoned in his dark cell, but Link began to question the strength of the Seven Sages' seals on the Dark World." Actually, Link defeated Agahnim atop Ganon's Tower. Ganon reveals that Agahnim was his alter ego, and escapes to the Pyramid of Power. Ganon is not "imprisoned" again. According to the Essence of the Triforce, he is completely destroyed, and his Dark World disappears. And ALttP also tells us that the Sages' Seal was already broken, and Ganon was waiting to pass from the Dark World to the Light World. (Waiting for what, we don't know. Perhaps the Seal wasn't completely broken yet, and Ganon needed to wait for some special condition to be met. Or maybe he needed to use the Triforce to cast one last strong spell. Or maybe he was foolishly waiting for Link to come to him, so he could defeat him first.)
Significantly, zelda.com fails to mention that Link claimed the united Triforce and did many good deeds with it. This is how they justify the continuation of their one-Link theory, as we'll see in a bit.
Oracle of Seasons
I have no objection to zelda.com putting Oracle of Seasons before Oracle of Ages. The collective story of the two could be told in either order, and the story would still be basically the same (as I have pointed out in my "Oracle Mysteries" article). However, as we'll see, zelda.com deviates from how the collective story of the two games is supposed to be told, and messes up things up rather badly.
The storyline begins with some background information that the games and manuals never tell us. It says Link "had studied [Holodrum's] rich culture in school, but he had not yet found time to explore it first-hand." Of course, we have no idea if this is the case. The games don't give us any of Link's background information.
The storyline tells that Link was drawn to the Triforce because of a fascination born of his studies. But the Oracle games tell us that Link is simply drawn there by the Triforce itself, not because he's been studying it and he's curious about it.
This brings me to the first big discrepancy in the zelda.com storyline. The storyline asserts that OoS comes right after ALttP. However, at the end of ALttP Link has done many great deeds, and claimed the united Triforce. He ought to be famous, and he ought to still have the Triforce. (Because the Triforce obeys the holder for as long as they live). But Oracle Link isn't famous, and he doesn't have the Triforce. The zelda.com storyline simply ignores this.
"It was likely the power of the three Goddesses that drew Link to Holodrum. It is believed by many that the Goddesses sensed pending trouble and sent Link to intercept the danger." This isn't unlikely. The goddesses probably work through the Triforce somehow, since it contains their Essence. But the games never tell us this much.
Both Oracle storylines ignore Impa and Zelda's involvement, which is actually pretty important. It's significant that neither Impa nor Zelda know Link in the Oracle games. This argues against zelda.com's theory that the Oracle games happen right after ALttP. Link ought to be famous, and Zelda, at the very least, ought to know Link.
The rest of the storyline is pretty good. But then it messes up very badly after Link defeats Onox. The storyline goes on to describe a battle with Twinrova and Ganon. However, this battle should not occur until the next game, when Link visits Labrynna and defeats Veran! The link system is supposed to work this way: Link plays through one game completely. Then he travels to the other land, and plays through that game completely. Then, Twinrova is able to light all three flames to revive Ganon. However, in zelda.com's storyline, Ganon is revived right after Link beats the first game! They don't even mention Zelda or the three flames! Nor do they mention Link's use of the Master Sword (which he can't get in the first game anyway)! Bah I say, bah!
The storyline concludes with: "For the first time, [Link] began to doubt the strength of the Seven Sage's seals which locked Ganon's dark cell." However, in the Oracle games there is no indication that such a seal ever existed. In fact, during the game Ganon is referred to as dead, not merely sealed away somewhere! As we'll see, the zelda.com storyline depends on this "seal" concept to explain Ganon's actions. But no games besides OoT and ALttP even remotely suggest something like a seal. Ganon is either alive, or he's dead (dead in varying degrees). The Dark World is gone, along with the Sages' Seal. Of course, they could have recreated it after ALttP. But why do that if Ganon is gone?
Oracle of Ages
Zelda.com begins this storyline the same way they started the storyline for OoS. There is no transition between the two, no explanation of how Link returned to Hyrule from Holodrum. And we musn't ignore the fact that this storyline ought to be telling about the LINKED OoA game, not the normal one. Oh well. The storyline would have been better served had it put OoA first, because it seems that the OoS storyline is the linked game.
The storyline says "The moment Link's hand touched the golden symbol, he was transported to an unfamiliar realm known as Labrynna." First of all, Link didn't touch the Triforce. If he had, he would have been claiming it, and it would obey him. This is assuredly not what happened. Link approaches the Triforce, and when he gets close enough it rises up into triangular formation and transports Link. Second, the transportation wasn't instantaneous. The Triforce pieces first ask Link to accept their quest. It's not an automatic, instantaneous warping.
The rest of the story is fine (ignoring the fact that Impa and Zelda aren't mentioned, and Veran's actions aren't described in great detail, and this ought to be a LINKED game, not a normal one).
The Legend of Zelda
The storyline makes an okay transition from Oracle to LoZ. However, the storyline seems to hint that Link has never met Impa or Zelda before. If this Link is the same Link as in Oracle, he ought to already know Impa and Zelda! Bah humbug.
The storyline says Link is worrying: "Would the power of the Seven Sages' seals be strong enough to keep Ganon locked away in the Dark World?" First, as I've mentioned before, there is no hint or indication in any game (besides OoT and ALttP) that Ganon is locked away by a seal. At the end of the Oracle games, Ganon has just been revived, and defeated. However, he was not completely destroyed (most likely because Link didn't use the Silver Arrows). So, even if there is a seal, what role does it play in the story? None at all - we know that Ganon returns to Hyrule, so whether there was a seal or not is inconsequential. There's no need for this theory, and it doesn't fit into the canon at all. Second, the Dark World disappeared after ALttP. There's no way Ganon could be locked away in it, unless he recreated it. This might be the case, if the "Dark Realm" mentioned in Oracle is indeed a remade version of the Dark World. But there's no proof that this Dark Realm is really the Dark World. It may just be the Sacred Realm, but filled with darkness (like the "void of the Evil Realm" in OoT). For the purposes of their theory, there's nothing wrong with zelda.com calling it the Dark World, but there isn't any solid proof that this is actually the case.
The storyline fails to mention that Ganon's army has invaded Hyrule and stolen the Triforce of Power. Instead, it says that Ganon has returned and is seeking to take the Triforce of Wisdom. This is a very important fact, and they ignore it. Ganon's possession of the Triforce of Power is vital to the story! Link is supposed to get the Triforce of Wisdom so he'll have a chance against Ganon, with his Triforce of Power!
The storyline finishes off by saying, "Instead of returning to his prison in the Dark World, Ganon appeared to be utterly destroyed by the power of the Silver Arrow. His body disappeared, but the Seven Sages stated that they had not returned the evil sorcerer to the Dark World. Link knew better than to think that he had eliminated Ganon once and for all, but he felt confident that he had banished the beast to a nether-region with seals more powerful than what had held Ganon in the Dark World." This entire description ought to have been used at the end of ALttP. In ALttP, Link also used the Silver Arrows, and completely destroyed Ganon. In LoZ, however, Ganon's body did NOT disappear. It turned into ashes. (We know this because AoL refers to Ganon's ashes. And, if we assume that LA happens during AoL, as the zelda.com storyline does, LA also refers to Ganon's ashes.) In LoZ, there are no sages, and no seal. Ganon's body doesn't disappear, it turns into ashes. Bah!
The Adventure of Link
This storyline starts off on a high note: "After Ganon's defeat, a new golden age blossomed in Hyrule. There was no want, and there were happiness and prosperity in great abundance." This is simply untrue. The AoL manual starts off on a much more dour note: "Hyrule was on the road to ruin. The power that the vile heart of Ganon had left behind was causing chaos and disorder in Hyrule."
Worse, the zelda.com storyline simply eliminates an issue we've been debating for years, by making up complete fiction. "[Link's] worst fears were realized when Princess Zelda was stricken by a terrifying enchantment. A mysterious sorcerer, unable to wrest the secrets of the Triforce of Wisdom from Zelda, cast upon her a spell of endless, dreamless sleep." This theory completely ignores everything the AoL manual tells us. The sleeping Zelda's father used the united Triforce to maintain peace long ago. Long ago isn't just a few years ago. The Triforce of Courage has been hidden for several generations. (The treasure chest with the crystals and the note has been passed down by the Impa family for generations, according to her.) This simply isn't possible with zelda.com's storyline. The three pieces of the Triforce were in Hyrule Castle in the Oracle games, which according to the zelda.com storyline happened just a couple months/years ago. And before that, Ganon had the whole Triforce in the Dark World. So, if we are to believe the AoL manual, both the enchantment and the ToC hiding incident happened long before the events in AoL, not just a few days/weeks/years.
The storyline continues telling fiction. "Link learned that the sorcerer had fled to the ancient ruin of the Great Palace, and that the only way to break the seal on the palace gate was to gather the shards of a Magic Crystal. These shards were buried for centuries within six dungeons and guarded by fearsome creatures." The AoL manual tells us that the wizard DIED, not that he fled. And there's nothing in AoL about shards of a Magic Crystal. Link has to take six crystals and place them in the foreheads of the statues in six palaces. This will break the binding force on the Great Palace in the Valley of Death.
The rest of the storyline fits pretty well into zelda.com's erroneous vision of AoL. The only theories contradictory to canon are the ones that follow naturally from the ones I just pointed out, so I won't comment further. You can see how poorly zelda.com integrated AoL into their storyline theories.
Zelda.com has an interesting theory about where Link's Awakening fits in. According to them, when Link crossed the Great Sea on a raft in AoL (the sea separating western and eastern Hyrule), he got sidetracked, and a storm shipwrecked him on Koholint Island. This theory doesn't fit what the LA manual says: "Ever vigilant, you decided to journey away from Hyrule on a quest for enlightenment, in search of wisdom that would make you better able to withstand the next threat to your homeland. Months of difficult travel passed. After a long and fruitful voyage, you breathed deeply the sea spray from the deck of the ship that carried you home to Hyrule." Link traveled away from Hyrule on a journey of enlightenment, and was shipwrecked in the seas outside of the kingdom of Hyrule. He wasn't sidetracked during a more important quest. Why would Link journey away in the middle of AoL, precisely when Hyrule needed him the most? Besides, LA shows Link on a ship (and one similar to the one at the end of the Oracle games), not on a raft.
The rest of the story is OK, although they neglected to talk about the Nightmares, or the fact that the Koholint exists in the dreams of the Wind Fish.
Interestingly, zelda.com changed the story a bit in their new version of the storyline. Now, instead of happening during AoL, the story is: "During an exploration mission for the Royal Kingdom, it was necessary for Link to use his raft to cross the Great Sea to reach Eastern Hyrule." This still doesn't work with the story in the AoL manual.
Since I don't consider anything said by Nintendo employees to be Fact, I think the zelda.com storyline fits under the category of Retelling, with Theory thrown in so it fits their idea of how the games fit together. Nintendo employees, and zelda.com itself, agree with me.
While zelda.com's storyline isn't horrible, one might have expected something that fits more closely to the facts. After all, this is NOA's official Zelda site, and they must have known their storyline would be influential. Most of the theories aren't bad, but the storyline really breaks down in LoZ and AoL. Much of the storyline is correct, but often there are theories thrown in that clearly contradict canon. If zelda.com would honestly face all the facts, they would realize how poorly constructed their storyline is. It simply ignores too much. It ends up telling a completely different story just so the games fit their theory.
One of the storyline's few redeeming features was the theory on how Link came from MM to ALttP by time traveling. Too bad this theory mysteriously disappeared in their new version, and was replaced with... nothing. The new storyline, if anything, is worse off than the old one. It has the same mistakes, and now explains less.
Dan Owsen said that the zelda.com storyline "makes as much sense (or more) than other theories on the Internet." All criticisms aside, I have to agree with him. Zelda.com sticks with the facts just as closely as many other sites do. But this still isn't an excuse. There are several fan-produced sites that have much better storylines than zelda.com. But a great number of people look to Nintendo as the authority, not to fans who are more concerned with the facts. If zelda.com is going to put up theories, they need to make it more clear that this isn't "THE" storyline, and that their stories are only loosely based on the real facts.