The Minish Cap Mysteries
The last game of the Four Swords Trilogy is the best example of what the Zelda series have become: a complete mess. Back in the good ol’ years (those that I never experienced) timeliners had to deal with the lack of information. Now we have been overwhelmed by information: OoT has had THREE different sequels, the ALttP-LA connection has been messed up by Oracles, Hyrule has been destroyed once… TMC is the paradigm of all this. In this article I will try to resolve some of the problems regarding the timeline.
The sections of this article delineate as follows:
- Before or after OoT?- In this section I will examine the evidence for and against an early placing of TMC
- The Four Swords Paradox- An attempt to resolve the Four Swords series timeline inconsistencies.
- The Light Force-Triforce Affair-Here I will try to determine what the light force is and its relations with the Triforce.
Before or after OoT?
It was long ago, in 1998, when Miyamoto stated his infamous order:
Nintendo Power: Where do all the Zelda games fall into place when arranged chronologically by their stories?
Miyamoto: Ocarina of Time is the first story, then the original Legend of Zelda, then Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and finally A Link to the Past. It's not very clear where Link's Awakening fits in--it could be anytime after Ocarina of Time.
Even though this order has been recognized as false by most of the Zelda community, there is something from this order that has remained, nearly as a dogma, the statement that OoT is the first in the overall series. Except for a few unorthodox timelines, all timelines used to include OoT as the first game. There was no reason against it, and many for this early placement: it’s the only game where living Hylians are shown, the only game where the names of the golden Goddesses are still remembered, the game where Ganondorf’s back story is shown, the game where we see Hyrule’s foundation…
But something changed in 2002: a game with no apparent links to any of the other games was released: Four Swords. This game was unplaceable, because it didn’t display any of the classical elements such as Ganon or the Triforce. The only statement that had been made on its placement was in an interview:
Billy Berghammer: How do the Links in The Four Swords Adventure relate to the overall story line? Or is it just a subchapter or something like that?
Eiji Aonuma: The GBA Four Swords Zelda is what we’re thinking as the oldest tale in the Zelda timeline. With this one on the GameCube being a sequel to that, and taking place sometime after that.
But there is a problem with this placing, since there is a fact that clearly disproves FS-FSA coming before OoT in the timeline: in FSA, Princess Zelda calls Ganon “ancient demon reborn” that clearly implies this Ganon wasn’t the first one, whereas in OoT it seems clear this is the original Ganondorf. FSA and its direct prequel, FS, would come after OoT
The timeline remained that way, with OoT as the undoubted King of the Timeline until 2004, with TMC’s release. Timeline theorists are now split in two halves: the ones that think that OoT is still the first Zelda game of the timeline and the ones that think TMC predates all of the existing games. Since there are hardly any proofs for and against, this debate is now on the long list of unsolved mysteries of the Zelda Timeline. In this section I will examine the (very little) evidence to try to determine whether TMC comes before or after OoT.
Link’s first adventure
Thus did Link's quest come to an end. But surely, this is not the end of Zelda and Link's adventures in Hyrule. The legend will continue... ...as long as the power of the light force echoes throughout the ages. TMC Ending
This is, indeed, a very interesting quote. It can be used in the reincarnation debate, in the Light Force debate, a timeline debate…But this is not the most interesting part. It seems clear that all the European translations of TMC have been directly translated from Japanese, as stated in this interview. Because of this, I checked all the translations, and found some interesting details: in both the French and the German translation it says “and thus ended Link’s first adventure”. Since I don’t have the Japanese version (and even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to understand it), the only thing we can do is to rely on these translations.
The quote clearly says that Link will go through other adventures in Hyrule after TMC. Whether the quote is referring to this Link’s adventures or the adventures of all the Links of Hyrulean history, is unknown, but it seems the second possibility is more likely, since there are no sequels starring TMC’s Link (and it doesn’t seem there will ever be). The quote itself backs the second interpretation, since the legend (of Link) will continue as long as the Light Force guides him (it seems guide is a more proper translation, it’s at least what it says in the rest of the languages). It doesn’t seem acceptable that the power of the Light Force will disappear when this Link’s adventures finish, so the second possibility is by far the most probable one.
It is also interesting how the Spanish version says “However, Hyrule will always need Zelda’s and Link’s presence”; that clearly points towards the fact that this is the first instance of Hyrule needing both Zelda and Link. It seems clear, then, that this is a strong argument for TMC>OoT
Link’s brand new hat
Heh... You know, I've never actually seen you wearing a cap until now! It suits you, little hero. Ezlo TMC
Some have used as a proof for TMC’s antiquity the fact that Link is given his trademark cap in this game, thus making this game the first, since there are no other games where Link appears without the green cap. This point is debatable, though. No-one can tell whether this Link was the first one to wear the hat. We know the Hero of Men didn’t, but this doesn’t prove much either. One could argue that this is the first Link of the Four Sword series to wear the hat, while OoT Link is the very first Link to wear it. Thus, the Links from the main series would be dressed after OoT Link and the ones of the Four Sword series. But this theory is too farfetched for my taste, and Occam’s Razor leads us to believe it’s not correct. Another possibility is that Link isn’t the first to receive the green cap, and that this event is of no storyline significance, since it only affects this Link. This possibility, though reasonable and logical doesn’t seem what creators wanted to say here. In my opinion they used TMC to explain why Link has a green cap… but I guess both possibilities are equally valid.
Meet the races
TMC introduced in the “Zeldaverse” two new races: the Minish and the Wind Tribe. The Minish, undoubtedly the most important race of the game, even though they are only seen in this game, have been around for all Zelda history. Because it is them the ones who hide the items you find in the grass or under the rocks in any Zelda game:
Not visible to the eyes of adults, they delight in making humans happy by hiding helpful items and Rupees under grass and rocks all over the world. Figurine Gallery
This can be used as a proof for an early placing of TMC, since this is the only game where they still have a memory of them, even though they hide items in almost all Zelda games. Because of their small size, first they would only be seen as a legend, like in TMC, where only the Royal family knows they truly exist, until everyone has forgotten about them. This would place TMC a long time before any other Zelda games. But even this proof would be weak. How could Minish appear in games that were created before TMC? One could argue that the blacksmiths in ALttP or the dwarf in AoL are Minish, but the evidence is very ambiguous. However, Minish don’t seem to appear in TP, nor does it seem likely they will reappear in any other games. But since one can’t speak about the future, I will leave it as it is, as an ambiguous and highly refutable proof for TMC coming before OoT.
Another issue about races comes with the Gorons. Introduced in OoT, they have appeared in MM, OoX, TWW, FSA and TMC. TMC is the only game situated in Hyrule where they don’t appear in Death Mountain, but in the Cave of Gorons. However, they once used to live in Mount Crenel, as said in their figurine description:
These rock- and iron-eaters once lived on Mount Crenel in Western Hyrule. Now their numbers are few, and they live quietly in a cave.
There are two significant details here: that there are very few of them and that they used to live in Mt Crenel. That there are very few Gorons clearly points towards a late placing of TMC, and is very reminiscent of TWW, where there were only three Gorons. This evidence suggests that TMC comes after TWW, since Gorons apparently died out because of the Flood. But this is not without its problems. There are big numbers of Gorons in Death Mountain in FSA (that is, comparing to other races), which undoubtedly comes after TMC. Can one expect the race to remain in such small numbers for a period of time long enough to forget about the Great Flood but then, after a shorter time, they suddenly begin to miraculously recover? This seems unlikely. Because of these contradictions, I don't think this can be considered a proof.
More interesting is their move from Mount Crenel. This is really curious since, in the rest of Zelda games, they have always lived in Death Mountain. If someone identifies Death Mountain with Mount Crenel, this serves as an argument for a late placing, but this assumption ( a big one, by the way), provokes some problems. Is one to accept that Gorons used to live on Death Mountain before OoT, and after a period of time, they moved from the now renamed Mount Crenel to a cave, and after that, they went back for FSA to the again renamed Death Mountain. This doesn’t make sense, in my opinion. I think it’s more logical assuming that, since they have a different name, they must be different places. This might be used as an argument for an early placing. It would go like this: Gorons used to live on Mount Crenel, until they left it, looking for a better place. They established in the cave, and after that, they went to Death Mountain, where they stayed through all the timeline.
But these proofs are inconclusive.
The Hylian Books
Another important issue on the TMC placing is the importance of the Hylian language of TMC. As some have noticed, in TMC there is what they (used to, now TP is out) call “modern Hylian”, that is, the TWW Hylian, which appears in FSA too. This has been used as a proof for a late placing of TMC, since it is not logical that they had “modern” Hylian, then they adopted another form, and after centuries, they get back to the “modern” writing. But this argument has a very big problem: it forgets that Hylian writing is a merely game design problem. What evidence do I have for this?
We have had four different styles of Hylian writing. The hieroglyphic style of ALttP, the angular style of OoT and MM, the more developed style of TWW, TMC and FSA, and the roman-based style of TP. How can a language evolve from a Japanese based form to an English one? How does ALttP Hylian fit on this, since they are just Egyptian hieroglyphs? How is it possible that the people of TWW didn’t understand ancient Hylian even though it used the same signs as the language they speak? Because of all these inconsistencies, I conclude that the style of Hylian writing is not of storyline importance.
More interesting is what the books written in Hylian, found in the Library of Hyrule Town As pointed out in our forums, Legends Alliance, the text on the books might have some storyline importance. In particular, I find interesting the ones that say Mysterious Nuts, that is, the Japanese title of the Oracles, and the other with the name the “Triumph Forks” from TWW were given in Japanese. The first one is a clear indication of the Oracles happening before TMC. However, this proof is pretty weak, since the name just mentions the nut of a tree that could refer to anything. It is clear that it’s a reference to OoX, but in my opinion, it’s not believable that they would think of the events of these games with that name, this would be as pointless as remembering the story of ALttP as “Triforce of the Gods” or the story of OoT as the story of the “Ocarina of Time”.
I find more noteworthy the “Triumph Forks” it is a clear reference to the Triforce, which would indicate there is some kind of knowledge about it. This name clearly points towards a late placing of TMC, after TWW, since the small knowledge about the Triforce was caused by the Great Flood, and since it’s inadmisible that TMC happens between the Great Flood and TWW. So, according to this, TMC should come after TWW, and therefore after OoT.
On the other hand, this is in my opinion, too hidden to be of great storyline importance. Just like the Legend of fairy, these kinds of things are just on the limits of the Easter Egg-ness, something Capcom seems to like doing a lot.
The Three Oracles
The appearance of the Oracles Din, Farore and Nayru, is another clue for the placing of TMC. It seems simple: the Oracles appear in TMC as normal humans. Both Nayru and Din are said to come from Labrynna and Holodrum, respectively; and Nayru is even said to be descended from a line of priestess. There is no mention of them having magical powers (apart from them making special potions), so it seems likely that they are descended from the OoX ones, since it seems more logical for powers to be lost as the bloodline grows thin, than the other way round.
On the other hand, since Nayru can time travel, this proof turns weak, since they could have travelled back to a time before TMC; however, I find this possibility a little bit too far-fetched. In my opinion it’s more probable that they are just the ancestors of the OoX Oracles, hiding their powers as they do in the games.
The Hylian kingdom
One of the main issues in the TMC-OoT problem is that the kingdom of Hyrule seems to be really new in OoT, while in TMC there is a long-time-established monarchy. As the Great Deku Tree sprout says in OoT:
Some time ago, before the King of Hyrule unified this country, there was a fierce war in our world.
So,according to this, TMC can’t take place before OoT since it was shortly before OoT when Hyrule was united. This is very tricky. One can’t say that Hyrule wasn’t unified before, and it is just senseless saying that the Deku Tree would have said “reunified”, instead of “unified”, because it would have happened on a very remote time. There is proof for Hyrule having been under a unified reign, though.
There is evidence to say that Hyrule Castle Town has been the capital of Hyrule before. The evidence is on the ancient Sages from OoT. Hardly anything is known about them, but one thing is sure: they built the Temple of Time to seal the entrance to the Sacred Realm from Hyrule. Since the Chamber of Sages was made presumably by them, and bears the symbols of the Six Sages, it’s a really safe assumption that those sages protected the temples of Hyrule, like they do in OoT. This means in turn that there must have been a long peace before, since it seems improbable that the sages, each one from a different area of Hyrule, would join and built a temple during a war time, and entrust the keys to open the Door of Time to the Royal Family, to the leaders of Zoras and Gorons and to the spiritual guardian of the forest.
A more significant issue, in my opinion, is whether the people from TMC were Hylians or normal humans. Hylian, as a word, is only mentioned once in the whole English script, and it is likely to be a mistranslation. Since in ALttP it is claimed that Hylians’ bloodline slowly grew thin, it is reasonable to think that TMC would come after ALttP. This is in my opinion, the biggest problem the early placing of TMC has. However, the term Hylian has been applied in a very loose way in Zelda games, for example in OoX, that can’t come before ALttP, but has knights that claim to be Hylian. Another problem is that we have never seen true, pureblood Hylians. Even the ones on OoT weren’t able to use magic or hear the Goddesses. The Official Art doesn’t help, either, since there are very few characters represented, all with pointed ears. So, one can’t really know whether the people in TMC are supposed to be Hylians or normal humans.
From all this evidence, I suggest that the most correct placing should be an early one, separated from FS and FSA. It might seem unnatural to separate the Four Sword trilogy, but, in my opinion there is enough evidence to support the separation.
The Four Swords Paradox
Long ago in the inner reaches of Hyrule, an evil wind sorcerer known as Vaati began kidnapping beautiful young maidens, one after another. Nobody could stop Vaati, and the people of Hyrule despaired. Then, a brave young wanderer carrying a single sword appeared. When the young lad took out his sword, he split into four separate beings. The legends say that these beings worked as one and defeated Vaati. The wanderer, united once again, imprisoned Vaati deep in Hyrule and sealed the prison with his own sword. This place became known as the Realm of the Four Sword. FSA intro.
It was The Missing Link’s article with the same name what introduced me to the complicated world of the Four Swords, possibly the most complex side of theorizing. There are hardly any links with the rest of Zelda series, and there is also a lack of good proofs to situate them at a sensible place within the complete timeline. But this is section is not meant to elaborate on how the Four Swords trilogy relates to the other games, but how they relate to each other.
There is an almost unanimous consensus that the Four Sword series flows the order TMC>FS>FSA. But this placing is not without its problems. In fact it has really big problems, as TML pointed out in his article, the most important one being the fact that the back story for FS doesn’t fit at all with TMC.
The FS-TMC Contradiction
Long ago, in the kingdom of Hyrule, there appeared a Wind Sorcerer named Vaati. Vaati could bend the wind to his will and used this awful power to terrorize many villages of Hyrule. In his assaults on the villages, Vaati would kidnap any beautiful girls who caught his fancy.
Many knights from the castle and other brave men set out to subdue the sorcerer and rescue the girls, but each one fell in turn to Vaati’s awesome power. Just as people had begun to lose hope, a lone young boy travelling with little but a sword at his side appeared.
When this boy heard what was happening, he said only, “I will defeat this sorcerer.” He boldly entered Vaati’s palace, mystically trapped the evil sorcerer inside the blade of his sword, and returned the young girls to their villages. The boy then went deep into the forest and disappeared.
The villagers asked how a boy so young could have saved them all and defeated the sorcerer when no one else could. The young girls told a story of how with just a wave of his sword, the boy’s body shattered into four pieces, each of which then formed a complete copy of the boy. These four young boys then worked together to defeat the sorcerer. The people did not believe the story, but they called it the Four Sword nonetheless. As rumours of the blade’s power to divide a person into four entities spread, the people built a shrine to protect it. FS Manual
Zelda has never been a game with strong connections between each other. To an outsider might seem like a bunch of legends with no relation between each other. Of all the possible connections, this is surely the weakest. In short, what is told in the legend is completely different to what we see in TMC:
|The Minish Cap||Four Swords Story|
|Vaati is never said to be a wind sorcerer, and none of his attacks are wind based: he can use lasers, fire, darkness, spikes… But no wind||Vaati is always described as the wind sorcerer, and is seen using his tornado both in FS and FSA.|
|At the very beginning Vaati converts Zelda in stone, and at some point, he discovers she’s the holder of the golden light he’s looking for and tries to absorb it from the Princess.||Vaati kidnaps many beautiful maidens (for lust?); while in FS he kidnaps Zelda to marry her. However, he doesn’t try to kidnap any maidens at FSA (they have already been kidnapped by Shadow Link), even though he’s the one that seals them.|
|The Picori Sword is a treasure of the Royal Family, used by an ancient hero. It is never said to convert the holder into four though, when infused with the four elements, it becomes the Four Sword and gains the power to create ghosts resembling the holder when used over special tiles.||The Four Sword is a sword of unknown precedence used by a young lad to defeat Vaati, called with that name by the common people because of its supposed power to divide a person into four pieces.|
|Vaati is killed at the end of TMC||Vaati was sealed by the legendary Hero inside the Four Sword, from where it escapes in FS, being resealed until FSA, where he escapes again and is destroyed by Link. Ganon is sealed then in the Four Sword.|
|Link is said to stay in Hyrule after defeating Vaati, it says nothing about him going to the forest.|
Seeing these contradictions between the Four Swords games and TMC, one may wonder if there is a way of resolving these inconsistencies. The only one who has actually given a theory on it it, as far as I know, is a friend of mine, Jumbie, from LA Forums. His theory was based on the premise that legends tend to get confused with the passing of time. He theorizes that the legend of TMC, after a long time, gets confused with the legends of the other games:
- The legends of the catastrophes prior to ALttP would be confused with the ones of Vaati, resulting in Vaati terrorising the world with his magical power.
- Vaati doesn’t kidnap any maidens in TMC, but Agahnim does, in the search of the maidens descendants of the Seven Sages. So, according to this logic, the Hyruleans would put the blame on their bęte noire, Vaati. Vaati doesn’t kill any knights, but Ganon does during the Seal War, so Vaati is accused of having done so.
- Link disappeared in a forest during MM. So they mixed the legend of the disappearing hero with the one of the first holder of the Four Sword.
And so on. As Zelda would say:
All of this is an unfortunate coincidence
But even though I admire the attempts to overcome the inconsistencies between the game and the legend, I find this hypothesis too far-fetched to be true. Even assuming that such a big load of misunderstanding is possible, there are still inconsistencies, like the ones concerning Vaati’s seal or his interest on marrying young maidens. While the second can be explained by saying that Vaati kidnaps Zelda and the Shrine Maidens to get the Light Force he thinks they have from their body, the first is pretty unsurpassable.
Because of this I choose to believe Occam’s Razor and the easy way out: that this back story is speaking about a lost episode of the Four Sword legend, that would happen after Vaati is either reborn (what would explain why he has completely different objectives) or resurrected by Ganon (this would explain why he is merely Ganon’s pawn in FSA). There is another issue that needs to be discussed on the Four Swords, issue before the entire theory is formulated: the Palace of the Four Sword in ALttP.
The Palace of the Four Sword
One of the few links between the Four Swords series and the main one is the Palace of the Four Sword, which appeared in ALttP GBA. To gain access to this difficult dungeon, situated inside the Pyramid of Power where Ganon dwells, you must have completed FS and ALttP. Though some people think this proves the Palace is not canonical, since you are required to have beaten Ganon, something that should make the Dark World disappear, therefore destroying the palace. Although the very destruction of the Dark World seems to be something which with we can’t be 100% sure, this issue doesn’t affect in my opinion the canonicity of it, since it seems clear that it’s only a way of making sure you are already an expert in BOTH games, because this particular dungeon is really difficult.
For those that either haven’t played ALttP GBA or don’t have the chance to play FS, here is a little summary of what we see in the dungeon. The Palace of the Four Sword is located on the side of the Pyramind of Power. Inside is a room where a man blocks your path until you have proven you are “a true hero”. After a few rooms the dungeon divides into four sections. You have to go through each section, solve a few difficult puzzles and kill a super-improved version of four of the bosses you had already killed; Arrghus (from Swamp Palace), Blind (Thieves Town), Helmasaur King (Palace of Darkness) and Mothula (Skull Woods). All of them have different colours and abilities, and deal much more damage than the original ones. After you have beaten each boss, a door opens, and you pull from its pedestal one of the pieces of the Four Sword, which appear as a sword, each one in different colours. After you get the four pieces, you can access a room with the symbol of the Four Sword on the floor. The four swords fly away and four Dark Links appear. After you have beaten all of them (you have to fight one at a time), the Four Sword recombines into one, and Link holds it aloft. The credits roll while you see different scenes of the Dark World and your “statistics”. THE END
There are lots of questions that immediately arise after playing this dungeon. What is the Four Sword doing inside the Dark World? Who divided the Four Sword and how was it divided? Why was it put in its own Palace? But the main question is: how can we relate this to the Four Swords series? One of the most popular theories places FSA as a prequel of ALttP (something that will be discussed in another article) and says that, when Ganon escapes from his seal inside the Four Sword, he makes his way to the Dark World from which he cannot escape. He then divides the Four Sword into its four pieces so that it might not cause him any more problems.
But this theory is not free of inconsistencies, since it is based on the largely unsupported theory of FSA being either the Seal/Imprisoning War or a second Seal War. I am not going to delve much into this topic, so I will just say point out a few things:
- No-one, not even the Gerudos or the Shrine Maidens, seems to know anything about the OoT Ganondorf. Only Princess Zelda seems to know about an ancient Ganon, because he calls the FSA one “ancient demon reborn”. However, in ALttP there are many mentions of OoT Ganondorf. If FSA was between OoT and ALttP, the Hyruleans would have had to forget about Ganondorf after OoT, and then re-remember him after FSA, but not remembering the FSA events, only the OoT events.
- ALttP states there was a period of peace between the Seal War and ALttP. That is hardly compatible with FSA.
- When the disasters previous to ALttP happened, the King had the Sage’s Seal studied, however, there is no mention about the seal in FSA
There are many more proofs on this subject, but since that isn’t the aim of this article, I think this is enough. So, if ALttP comes before FSA, then we have the following Four Sword Timeline: TMC>OoT>ALttP>FS>FSA. How would the Four Sword appear in the Pyramid of Power?
My theory is that it returned to the Sacred Realm at the time of the ancient sages, mentioned in OoT. If we accept the Triforce to be the Golden Light from TMC, and TMC as coming before OoT, we would find that in OoT the Triforce is where it was supposed to be, in it original resting place, the Sacred Realm. But, because of the great knowledge they have in OoT about the Triforce, it can be assumed it was used before many times. Then, after realizing the Triforce would cause big problems if it remained in Hyrule (much like the “ancient ones” from MM), the Ancient Sages returned it to the Sacred Realm. What does it have to do with the Four Sword, then? The Four Sword and the Golden Light are the most important gifts given by the Minish to men, so it might be logical that, together with the Golden Light, the Ancient Sages returned the Four Sword to the Realm, and, after that, seal the entrance having the Temple of Time built.
Another question arises, why is the Four Sword inside of the Pyramid of Power? Well, this is relatively easily resolved, since there is evidence that strongly suggests the Temple of Light from OoT and the Pyramid of Power are the very same, since they are situated in the same place “The Temple of Light, situated in the very center of the Sacred Realm” says Rauru. Also, they have a similar function, i. e. to house the Triforce and it is likely that the Temple would take the shape of a pyramid, since they are a symbol of sun and light. In my opinion, it is likely, then, that the Ancient Sages put the Four Sword, together with the Triforce, inside the Light Temple.
So, from this I have reconstructed an overall history of the Four Sword:
The Minish created a sword and gave it to the Hero of Men, who used it to defeat darkness. After that, they enshrined it, and it was broken by Vaati in TMC. The Minish repair it and it becomes the White Sword. After that, Link infused it with the power of the Four Elements, and it became the Four Sword. After TMC, possibly it was re-enshrined, and eventually was returned by the Ancient Sages to the Sacred Realm. During ALttP, Link would get the Four Sword back to Hyrule, and it would be lost until the FS Backstory, where a hero came wielding the same sword, Vaati is sealed inside of it and the sword is put in the Realm of the Four Sword until FS. In FS, Vaati escapes but is again sealed in the Four Sword, and in FSA he escapes again, and is killed by Link. Ganon is sealed inside of the Four Sword instead. And from this point there are no other references to the Four Sword.
There is yet another hint for the destiny of the Four Sword: the White Sword from LoZ. This sword, the second you get in the game, stronger than the normal Sword and weaker than the Magical Sword, shares its name with the un-infused-by-the-elements form of the Four Sword in TMC. Why would Nintendo (or Capcom, for that matter) recycle such a dull name if there wasn’t a relation between those swords? And if there is, what could it be? My theory is that, after FSA, where Ganon was sealed inside the Four Sword, the Four Sword gradually lost power, until it became the White Sword once again, and Ganon was able to escape. A wise man would keep it after that, with the hope that a hero might appear to wield it.
The Light Force-Triforce Affair
A long, long time ago... when the world was on the verge of being swallowed by shadow... The tiny Picori appeared from the sky, bringing the hero of men a sword and a golden light.
With wisdom and courage, the hero drove out the darkness.
When peace had been restored, the people enshrined that blade with care.TMC Intro
TMC introduced a new concept: the Light Force. The Light Force is, as Ezlo says, “a source of limitless magical power”. This golden light was given by the Minish to men and manifested on the Royal Princesses of Hyrule. The first question that arises is: What is the Light Force? The most straightforward answer is “The Light Force is the Triforce”. After all, isn’t the Triforce the leitmotiv of the whole Zelda series? But this provokes many problems, since they don’t seem to fit neither on the way it works, nor on the way it’s transmitted. Because of this, more possibilities arise, such as the Triforce being the mystical powers of either the Royal Family or Hylians. Hidemaro Fujibayashi, the director of TMC, was asked about the Light Force by Nintendo Power:
NP: In the prologue to this game, there are some hints that The Minish People brought a golden light into Hyrule. Does this relate to the Triforce legend?
HF: Golden light is a very, very old legend of Hyrule and nobody knows how it relates to the Triforce legend. It is still a big mystery whether it has some relationship with the Triforce, which is the most important element in the Legend of Zelda series.
Since creators don’t seem to be very sure about this, I will examine the possibilities on Light Force’s identity.
The mysterious Hylian powers of the Royal Family
The legend will continue... ...as long as the power of the light force echoes throughout the ages. TMC Ending
It’s clear from this quote that the golden light is not something exclusive to TMC, but the very guide of Hyrulean history. This role is played in the other games by the Triforce and, to a lesser extent, by the mysterious powers of either Princess Zelda or the Hylians. Ever since the release of ALttP, every Princess Zelda appears to have telepathic and magic powers: ALttP Zelda could use telepathy, both OoT and OoX Zelda had prophetic dreams, FSA Zelda had enough power to hold Ganon…
Where do these powers come from? The answer is provided by one of the Composer Brothers from OoT:
We brothers also served the Royal Family, and we were assigned to study the hereditary mystic powers of the family.
The way these powers are transmitted fit perfectly with what we are told in TMC about the Light Force, I. e. they are both hereditary and are prominent only on female members of the Royal Family (this is never explicitly told, but in none of the games does the King have any mystic powers, just the Princess). Assuming that TMC is first on the Timeline (something that will be discussed in another section), the whole story of the golden light can be reconstructed:
The Minish tribe gave men the Light Force to make them happy. This force is given to the Royal Family, and only manifests on its female members, and is powerful enough to convert the one who holds it into a demigod, although it seems to require good magic skills to be able to use it correctly (Zelda’s magical shield is not enough to stop Vaati’s curse). During TMC, Vaati absorbs most of it from Princess Zelda and receives god-like powers, until he’s killed by Link. Zelda uses the little golden light she has left to restore the world. Vaati’s Light Force remains in Hyrule, as hinted in the ending, becoming the Hylian powers, which would slowly fade from generation to generation. The small amount of force that Zelda keeps passes through the Royal Family, becoming the hereditary powers of the Royal Family.
There is also another possible link between TMC and the other games:
And here is a weapon that can penetrate the Evil King’s defenses... The power given to the chosen ones... The sacred Arrow of Light!!! Princess Zelda OoT
The Light Arrow in OoT might be another manifestation of this hereditary power. The Arrow of Light doesn’t seem to be a physical object but a magic spell infused to the arrows, since the scene where Zelda gives it to Link is really similar to those were the Great Fairies give Link a spell, that is unquestionably not physical. It is said to be the “power given to the chosen ones”, something that fits with the Light Force issue. Also in TWW we see Zelda use the Light arrows, even though she seemed to have no magical abilities, while in FSA Zelda creates a ball of light, that when shot by Link, penetrates the defences of the ancient Demon reborn. However, there is a problem for this theory. In OoT, Sheik says:
Those two parts will be held within others chosen by destiny, who will bear the Triforce mark on the backs of their hands.
So the sentence given about the chosen ones seems to refer to the ones chosen by destiny to hold the lost Triforce pieces.
There persists the question about how Minish could have created such a powerful item, one with limitless magical power. We have already seen Ezlo creating the Minish Cap, but even this doesn’t have a limitless power, Zelda’s power dwarfs it. Certainly I cannot see Minish creating an object that gives godly powers, since, generally speaking, an omnipotent item should be created by an omnipotent being. The Golden Goddesses created the Triforce. Who created the Light Force then?
There is a theory that says that Minish were created by the Goddesses themselves to help Hylians and live inside of the Sacred Realm. There is evidence to back this hypothesis in the sanctuary between the Minish world and Hyrule: the Triforce is represented twice. One can argue this is because it’s the symbol of the kingdom of Hyrule, but this is certainly not true, since this place cannot be accessed by most humans, just by Minish. So one must conclude that those symbols were drawn either by Minish or by the goddesses themselves, so it might be a passage to the Sacred Realm, the original resting place of the Triforce. So the Light Force might have been a creation by the Golden Goddesses. But if this is true, why don’t they mention it on any creation myth? And why shouldn’t the Minish bring the Triforce to men instead of the Light Force?
The Triforce hypothesis
The theory that identifies the golden light with the Triforce is based in a really simple premise: “There can be nothing as powerful as the Triforce”. The Light Force, being, as said by Ezlo, a source of limitless power seems to contradict this statement, unless we assume they are the very same thing. There would be no evidence for this theory if it wasn’t for the stained glass windows of the legend where the Light Force is represented with the shape of a yellow triangle, much similar to how the Triforce is.
Assuming the Light Force is the Triforce would mean in turn that TMC happens even before OoT, since this would be the only game where the Triforce is called with this mistaken name. The Minish would be the messengers of the Goddesses that give Hylians the Triforce to help them fight evil. At first the golden light is not fully understood, but is later investigated and after a long time, it’s hidden by the ancient Sages, mentioned in OoT, in its original resting place, the Sacred Realm, because it’s too dangerous to be on the hands of men. This would explain how in OoT, where the Triforce is supposed to be untouched, there is so much knowledge of its properties.
But this theory is very problematic. The Triforce as a whole has never been represented as a lone triangle, and the golden light is too powerful to be just a piece of the Triforce. The way it’s transmitted doesn’t fit with the Triforce either: although we have already seen the Triforce of Wisdom being transmitted from generation to generation in TWW, it is not through blood, as in TMC. Vaati drained from Zelda the Light Force in a way that has never been done with the Triforce, which has well differentiated parts. The counterargument for this is that the Triforce has two forms: one “solid” or the Triforce as an object and one “spiritual” form, the one that is housed inside its holder. We have already seen in TWW how it’s different having the “solid” Triforce (Link has it like that before the gods accept him as a Hero) and the “spiritual” form. So they might even have different properties, for example, in the way it’s transmitted. But since we have never seen the transmission of it in the “spiritual” form, we cannot know. So this is merely baseless speculation.
There is yet another obstacle for the theory that equates the Light Force and the Triforce. The Triforce is everywhere in TMC. It’s seen a million times as the symbol of the Royal Family, and even above the stained glass window that depicts the legend of the golden light. This clearly disproves the theory that says that they are the same, but they didn’t have a good knowledge of it. But if it’s not the Triforce, what else could it be?
This problem can be resolved by using the probably, most mysterious quote of the whole game:
The princess who holds the power of light... That mysterious power is said to flow in the veins of every royal lady in your family ever since that day when it was gifted to your people. If I leave you now, you’ll only cause me trouble later. That will never do. […] ...?!? Empty? There was nothing in there but those monsters? What is the meaning of this? Well, I know the force I’m after is somewhere out there. I’m in no hurry. I can take my time searching for it. Heh heh heh... Vaati TMC
As most of you must have guessed, this is what Vaati says when he curses Zelda and opens the chest. What is curious about this as that he knows Zelda has the Light Force from the very beginning, but he doesn’t initially associate it with the force he is after. Curious as I am about this, I checked all the European versions of this quote, and I found that in the other versions it says nothing about the Light Force being gifted to anyone. It’s also noteworthy that in none of the other languages (including Japanese) the Light Force is called like this, but simply Force.
Vaati knows that the Princess has the power of the golden light and that the Minish gave men the Force, but he doesn’t know that they are the very same thing; he believes them to be totally different things.
My theory is that he was looking for the Force, the Triforce. He had heard the Minish had given men the holy relic, and that they had put it inside the chest. He also knew about the golden light, the hereditary powers of the Royal Family. What he discovers by reading the stained glass windows is that the golden light he knew is the very same Force he was looking for. That is, that the Triforce he was looking for is the very same force that has been passed by the Royal Family.
From this I can reconstruct a complicated series of events that, even though they look like far-fetched conspiracy theory, is the only one that can explain the golden light-force issue: the tiny Minish from the Sacred Realm gave the hero of men the golden light, the Triforce. When peace was restored, the Triforce was said to be put inside the chest, although it was in reality housed inside every female member of the Royal Family, because it’s the best way to protect it: people think that the Force is inside the chest even though it only contains the evil the hero of men sealed. People would also be told that every Princess holds the hereditary golden light, which explains the knowledge that Vaati has of it.
And which advantages has this theory? Well, it explains much more things than the other one, like where the Light Force comes from and how it was created. Moreover the Triforce fits much better with the role of guide of Hylian history than the Hylian powers. It also explains why the Triforce was represented in the stained-glass window of the Light Force. This is why I think it’s a better theory.
Almost everything in TMC is a mystery. I only have touched the very surface of the Four Swords series, and I guess a much longer article could have been written, dealing with even more mysteries I have decided to leave out. No mystery can be said to have been resolved, they never are. There is always some ambiguity, which causes alternative theories to exist. In this article I have examined all the evidence I could find on the, in my opinion, most difficult and controversial problems of TMC. That is, its placing in the overall timeline, its relation with the Four Sword series, and the possible link between the Light Force and the Triforce. The answers are based on the evidence provided by TMC and the other games, and though they might not be perfect, they are in my opinion fairly definitive answers to the biggest problems of TMC.