Aonuma says Split! Forum Violence up 15%.

Writtten by TheMissingLink

So you might have seen this juicy little tidbit [SIGNIFICANT SPOILERS] work its way through the Zelda community a few weeks ago; however, if you haven’t, and you’re too afraid to click the link, here’s the scoop in as spoiler-free a way that I can say it. Apparently good ol’ Eiji (known to many as Aonuma-san) went and had a good little talk with the Japanese magazine Nintendo Dream about all things Zelda. As is prone to happen in present-day discussions about Zelda (for reasons I’ll never understand why), the subject of the timeline was brought up. For about the eleventy billionth time, the talking heads of Nintendo were asked how all of the Zelda games related with one another. And as always, the interviewee proudly proclaims that the most recent Zelda game—in this case, Twilight Princess—takes place roughly 100 years after Ocarina of Time

But what makes this iteration of the classic timeline question different? It’s the fact that Aonuma didn’t silence himself after saying just that…

Yes, for the first time since the days of Ocarina, Nintendo tipped their hands about how the timeline is completely set up. Aonuma, as has been reported a long time ago, told us that he was working on the timeline, trying to make the story work out just so… and now the fruits of his labour are starting to come to fruition. So what did he say? Well, I think showing it is perhaps the best strategy:

There it is in all its grandeur: the Aonuma Standard Timeline (or AST for short).

Yes, people have been predicting this sort of thing back when Wind Waker came out. The timeline has officially been fragmented into two. Some of you are saying “big surprise, there,” I can imagine. As we all know, Wind Waker has always had its fair share of problems fitting in nicely with its brother and sister Zelda titles. For starters, it clearly takes place after Ocarina of Time—roughly 100 years, if you believe the first interview that discussed the notion—and continues the story of the original Ganondorf. They specifically mentioned the breaking of the seal, the seal that the seven sages and Link worked so hard to create. Of course, this caused major problems with trying to fit A Link to the Past into the grand scheme of things… because the pig we all love to hate was still being held back by the Seven Wise Men’s seal (later changed to the Seven Sage’s Seal within the version that came with Four Swords). Wind Waker didn’t put Ganondorf back behind bars to fix this either, nooooo. He’s trapped in a statue now, quite a different story, no?

This is, of course, not to mention the flooding of Hyrule, washing away that familiar Hyrule as we knew it. And by gosh, when you see such strong relationships between Ocarina’s and Past’s geography, well… yeah, it seems to defy that connection like a slap in the face.

So the solution? “Let’s not make Wind Waker count.” Of course, I’m being rather facetious and sarcastic saying it that way, but from the right angle, it looks very much like that. Wind Waker was hauled off into its own separate timeline so that the rest of the games could trod on as if nothing had ever happened to Hyrule. (Because nothing ever did happen to Hyrule.) The hardest part of this was the evidence; other than that one tiny detail at the end of Ocarina, the party out in Hyrule Field, there wasn’t any bit of evidence to back it up… nor would there ever be. (The last thing Nintendo would do would be to make a Zelda game where Link zipped back and forth between multiple timelines; even the fans of the series would get confused!) That is… unless Shiggy or Eiji said something about it…

And know we have it. So that solves it, ne? No more rampant timeline debates? Please, you’ve got to be joking!

After the bombshell that was this interview dropped, the timeline forums of major Zelda websites exploded with activity. Quite literally, old rivalries and annoyances were brought up again; some people who were on the “right side” started laughing and mocking the other people who were not. Praises were sung and nighttime vigils were held, hoping that the interview would turn out to be a sham. (It was, after all, the beginning of the April magazine cycle.) You might think I’m exaggerating when I write it this way; I assure you that I’m not. Timelining, as sad as I am to admit it, is very serious business to some people. (I, thankfully, am not one of those.)

Once everything had settled, some people finally realised that… surprise! No one won. (Actually, I’d like to think that I won, but for the sake of simplicity, I’m not going to be a braggart.) All the people who tried to connect the games in one straight line lost by default. All the people who thought there was a timeline split all these years… soon realised that there was problems with this monstrosity. The AST, you see, still doesn’t get Link to the Past to fit properly. (For this reason, you could also call the AST the “Aonuma Standard Split” for a much more inappropriate acronym, yet that acronym is ironically much closer to describing the frustrating part of this timeline!) I’m not going to reveal how Twilight Princess fails to connect to Link to the Past here because to do that would force me to spoil the game for some… and I don’t want to mark this a spoiler topic, but trust me on it. Link to the Past doesn’t fit in either timeline cleanly no matter where you put it. (The proof is left as an exercise for the reader.) To get it to fit at all, one has to start adding their own bits and pieces of story to the canon in order to make it fit in with the series, something that is derided in most timeliner circles.

(Gee, I wonder who advocated that idea a while back. Hmmm….)

And so how have people gotten around this one? Forum conversations have reached levels of absurdity the likes of which I have not previously seen. One of the prevailing schools of thought actually suggests having a third timeline to take care of all of Miyamoto’s games… as if that makes things any more elegant. Some people have been clinging desperately to every precious word of the canon, hoping that will save them. (Alas, I think not.) And some people have just flat out given up trying to adjust to Nintendo’s timeline whims, saying that they’ll believe what they always believed. (They’re probably the biggest winners of the whole ordeal, really.)

But yet here we are at a crossroads, a state of change within the Zelda series. There has been an obvious attempt to string the Zelda series together for quite some time now—since the days of Ocarina. Story now matters; timeline, at some very small level, now matters. But before Ocarina, it didn’t matter. They were just generating games in one of the most well known gaming franchises on the planet without any regard to what was going on. If they connected, that’s awesome; if not, so be it.

Shigeru Miyamoto doesn’t care about timeline; Eiji Aonuma obviously does. And so we’re left with a big question: What do we do now? Now that there’s finally an official direction on this, albeit one that is far from complete (and just shy of contradictory!), what do we do with that?

Quite frankly, I don’t think it matters one bit what we decide to do, either individually or as a community. We can all fall in line behind the Nintendo bigwigs and rigorously follow the glorious AST forever. We can make Zelda timeline clubs and force every member to spend some time every day praying to Din, Nayru, and Farore at the little Nintendo shrine in the corner of the meeting hall, praying that the AST timeline will continue to make sense and be followed with each passing game, and that’ll work remarkably well… until they decide to change direction again, of course. And a change in direction is bound to happen one of these days; Nintendo isn’t actually known for colouring within the lines. (I mean, can you believe that at one point people actually thought there was just one Link who had many adventures? That thought is laughable now!) And then once that happens, everything we “know” about Zelda will be wrong again, and so we have to start over. No matter what we believe, Nintendo will do their thing their way in order to appeal Zelda to the largest amount of people possible.

As far as what I’m going to do, well, this ol’ dog I don’t think can be taught any new tricks. I can talk about the Split Timeline until I’m blue in the face; I can even argue and defend it if I wanted. But I’ve spent way too much time talking about a deprecated timeline that I just don’t have the heart to change. So as far as I’m concerned, I think I can be content to take my timeline and stick it right up their Aonuma Standard Split… if you know what I mean. wink.gif


Person says:

I view the Four Swords series as one enormous retcon. Apparently, the TWW/ALttP connection could not be established, so FS and FSA now constitute the Imprisoning War. That makes the timeline go like this:

Timeline 1:
Timeline 2:

Now what we really need to do is find out where those darned Oracle games fit in! They could be in wither timeine for crying out loud!

ihavehospee says:

Interesting, maybe PH can help out in some way, we all know it is a direct sequel to WW, but maybe it will solve some linking issues, no pun intended.

Koroks Rock says:

I'm still waiting for the dark, apocalyptic Zelda game wherein the goddesses admit that the Triforce of Courage just wasn't up to the task and they scrap the old world of Hyrule and start over. WW came close with the flood, and TP was a good step towards the dark aspect, but still no beans. We need the highest powers in Hyrule to step in and fix it, because the highest powers in the dev team have not been doing the trick.

shindoushuichi0287 says:

that doesn't work. cus in WW didn't the history the hero left hyrule and thats why the triforce was shattered? so if anything MM happens in both time lines. but even that doesn't work cus the second time line is Adult links time line. so what the heck?

Curttehmurt says:

Zelda timeline, serious business

Kado says:

Actually, I think that Zelda 1 and Zelda 2 come after the Wind Waker saga and the two oracle games come a hundred or so years after Link to the Past. Maybe in Wind Waker Ganondorf wasn't killed, but just sealed in stone by the master sword, so hundreds of years later, Ganon breaks free of the seal when the Master Sword eventually loses it's power, returns to the new Hyrule which was founded on a large island on the Great Sea. Plus, look at all that ocean next to Hyrule. That definetly wasn't there in any other representation of Hyrule. So thats my reasoning. Do with it what you will.
So I think everything that Person said is true about the timeline, except replaces LoZ and AoL with the oracle games and place those 2 after wind waker. As for the imprisoning war, I think the 7 maidens sealed the entire Four Sword Temple inside the light realm after they sealed Ganon inside the four sword cause they knew that the normal seal inside the four sword would be too weak, but i guess they didn't realize that the triforce was being housed inside the light realm or something like that. *shrugs*

trueLOTM says:



Since it's been several months since TP, I'm going to work logically here with some TP events, but not really consequencial ones.

I personally agree with several of the comments said here, in particular with Person's idea of the Four Swords Series as the Imprisoning War. I've had that in my mind ever since I played FSA. The seven shrinemaidens in FSA serve as the seven sages of the Imprisoning War, and not only are the knights present in the game, 4 Links can be interpreted as several "Hylian Knights" as well.

As for LoZ and AoL, I don't think it is possible that they can come in the OoT-MM-TP timeline because AoL references the seven sages of the OoT adult timeline, who apparently don't exist in the OoT child timeline (because Link never had to awaken them as sages). The sages of TP therefore can be the ancient sages that Rauru was amongst, which makes sense if Ganondorf didn't have a chance to kill the sages while Link was asleep. Instead, all 7 sages survived, and tried him and you know the rest (unless you haven't played TP yet).

But the towns of Northern Hyrule in AoL are proof that knowledge of those sages in OoT still survive at least in legend, giving rise to the towns. Unless these characters had their names resurfaced elsewhere, but that makes much less sense.

As for the Oracle series, it only makes sense to me if Oracle Link is the same as Triforce of the Gods and Link's Awakening Link due to the nature of the dream world of LA and the Oracle series finale. I know that Zelda makes a comment that makes it look like she's never met Link, but I believe that this is a mistake on Capcom's account, due to the evidence contrary-wise. Agahnim's presence in OoS, the similarities between Richard and Ralph, the ship sailing off at the end of OoX, and the landscape of Koholint all point to Link's adventures in both Hyrule and in foreign lands. If we assume that Koholint is not only the Windfish's dream but also Link's dream, the characters, enemies, and landscape begin to make sense if OoX is Link's "Journey of Enlightenment" following his defeat of Ganon in Triforce of the Gods (ALttP).

Another interesting timeline tidbit is the similarity between the history of the Majora's Mask and that of the Fused Shadows. Could the Twili have been that Tribe that used the MM? This would also mean that the idea that Majora originates in Termina is false, however, or that there is more to the connection between Termina and Hyrule than meets the eye. Could the Light Spirits be connected with the Four Giants and the Four Masked Monsters? Ordona surely does looks similar to Goht. Then too, could the Sheikah be the Twili that were loyal to the Hylia? This would somewhat explain their similarity. But I digress. Here's my timeline as I see it, and as fits with the AST.

Creation of Hyrule
Dark Conflict involving the Twilight Realm
Fierce Wars
Ocarina of Time

Timeline split:

OoT (Adult Ending)
Great Flood
Ganon's Return to the Great Sea
The Wind Waker
Phantom Hourglass
Many, many years
Age of Chaos
Ganon's return (but no Master Sword to fight him, it's at the bottom of the Sea)
Legend of Zelda
Adventure of Link
The End!!

Other Timeline Split:

OoT (Child Ending)
Majora's Mask

100 Years, rivers get deeper and forge gorges, as Rivers are wont to do, Zora's move north to "Veil Falls", Kakariko graveyard becomes Royal Valley, Kakariko moves eastward, Kokiri Forest falls into ruins (purple misty area of Faron Woods), Lost Woods become the Sacred Grove, Temple of Time moved to site of Forest Temple, Lake Hylia expands to edge of Desert, Gerudo Valley passage closed off, Gerudo Fortress becomes Arbiter's Grounds, Snowpeak opened up, farmers and ranchers move from Lon-Lon south of Castle Town to Ordona, south of the Forest.

Twilight Princess

Now here comes the clincher: if we invert TMC's map, that is, like how TP inverts depending on Wii or Gamecube version, we get a map similar to that of the Gamecube TP map. This would suggest TMC supports Wii version of TP, but the Gamecube TP map is supported by all other Zelda continuity. Thus I must assume that TMC's map is inverted incorrectly, therefore "Veil Falls" is the new Zora's Domain, and "Royal Valley" is the old Kakariko Graveyard, where the Royal Tomb was in OoT, as it should be. Note that the new Kak. Graveyard is assotiated with the Zora's because of it's proximity to the old Zora's Domain and the original Zora's River that flows under Kakariko Gorge to join the new Zora's River. This also puts Mount Crenal in the location of Death Mountain, which makes sense, and Lake Hylia in the right place, and the Minish Woods are then Faron Woods. Lon-Lon Ranch is rebuilt along Lake Hylia; makes sense, the Lake was already starting to have a community in TP.

So next after TP is The Minish Cap.

Several Centuries pass.

Four Swords.
Four Swords Adventures is the Imprisoning War.
Ganon sealed in the Golden Land via the Four Sword.
Agahnim appears and helps Hyrule, but is actually of the Tribe of Evil.
Triforce of the Gods (or A Link to the Past, if that floats your boat).
Link heads off on his Journey of Enlightenment - The Oracle Series
Link's Awakening
The End!!!

This is not to say my timeline is the right one, but it is one that makes sense to me very much so. Please, discourse. That's my 2 cents. or more.

MFGreth says:

skimming LOTM's little bit was interesting. He seems to have the right idea, however...

The Minish Cap HAS to be the first Zelda game.
So many references to things later in the series suggests so.
1. The absence of the Triforce. They mention a legend about it, but it's not even a TRIFORCE... just a force. Sounds like the beginning to me, as nobody had actually found/claimed it yet.

2. It gives you an in depth backstory to even pre-kingdom Hyrule! It shows the hero that predates Link, and is hinted at being his ancestor: Gustave.

3. The Master Sword and the Four Sword are noticeably the most important swords in the series... Master Sword taking the lead. However, it's absence of use show that Link did not need the blade of evil's bane to win... Vaati was evil, but not Gannon evil.

4. Vaati's appearance. My speculation is that, like Link, Vaati reincarnates and becomes a villain again. Plus Vaati's a bad guy that can predate Gannon, it's totally possible. Just because he's the original baddy here, doesn't mean he is the baddest.

5. It gives you the origin of Link's hat. Now, assuming that the particular style of hat Link wears is commontype for Picori to wear (especially when in human-form apparently, as Vaati's magic hat is in this style also). Now, the Picori/Minish are most freaking definitely very spirity/spriteish. Regardless of origins of the Minish themselves, the Minish could have been responsible for other races not present at this time in Hyrule history, as in yet to come. Specifically referring to kokiri here. Far fetch'd because of physical attributes, they both share a lot more in common than you'd think. Just put it together. The sprite like qualities, the child-like nature, the 'hidden among anture' aspect, and there's more. Besides, doesn't Picori sound just a tad like Kokiri? in fact, doesnt it sound ALOT like it? So that would explain the clothing--- natural development of culture.

6. Dude... the map is almost the EXACT same layout as OoT...coincidence? Most unlikely.

ANYWAYS, it's apparent to me that Minish comes first. You can conclude this without even playing the game... watch the freaking opening sequence.

wring says:

I haven't played many games, but I do like the timeline I found on this site. It works if you don't think too hard about it.
Minish Cap
(A few generations)
Ocarina of Time
Four Swords
Four Swords Adventure
A Link to the Past
Oracles of Ages/Seasons
The Legend of Zelda
Adventures of Link
Link's Awakening
(A few generations later Ganondorf is revived)
Twilight Princess

And on the other timeline we have Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass.

I think they were originally intended to be the same person, but later games changed that. But the earlier games are pretty clear that its supposed to be the same person. (Young Link in the LttP remake, Oracles game, and this)