For years, gamers have argued about the existence of a timeline in The Legend of Zelda. It is often talked about, frequently speculated on, and is the source of many heated debates. Dan Owsen, who worked for Nintendo in the ’80s and ’90s and later returned as a localization manager, has confirmed that a concrete Zelda timeline does indeed exist.
Owsen (whose credits include A Link to the Past, Link’s Awakening, and Ocarina of Time) is well-known among Zelda fans for his previous comments on a definite Zelda timeline. In an interview with Zelda Dungeon, Owsen got into specifics about the fabled chronology. Like other Nintendo reps before him, Owsen assured that this plot-based aspect of the franchise is real.
“You know, at one point we had drafted a timeline and wanted to make it available online,” said Owsen. “We showed it to the guys in Japan and they basically told us that it would be best if we didn’t post it. They do have a timeline that has continuity between the games but they wanted to keep it open for how each player views the chronology of the series. There are a lot of connections between the games, but they do have a timeline that has continuity. It’s up to the player to place all the pieces together.”
Owsen went on to say that Nintendo of Japan feels that the player should be involved in each of the Zelda games as much as Link himself. By not releasing the official timeline to the masses, Nintendo is giving gamers the chance to form their own conclusions. According to Owsen, this is also the reason why Nintendo has never made Link speak. For Nintendo, the player is the hero, and they want gamers to feel as though they’re the ones exploring the universe, not some predetermined character.
I really dig how Nintendo is essentially allowing players to make their own connections, theorize on plot details, and craft a fantasy world within the Zelda universe. Though I would definitely love to see the official Zelda timeline, I also appreciate that the entire Zelda universe may be different in my mind than it is in other players’. Who knows if we’ll ever get our hands on the real timeline, but if we don’t, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.