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Controversy

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Certain aspects of the Legend of Zelda series that connote allusions to the real world have been changed from their original designs or removed entirely to avoid controversy with certain communities.

Examples

The Legend of Zelda

Level3

The manji-shaped third dungeon

The third dungeon (of the first quest) in the original The Legend of Zelda was shaped like a left-facing swastika. This shape is actually a "manji", which is a Buddhist symbol of good fortune. Therefore the dungeon did not cause controversy with its original release in Japan. In Europe and the United States, there were surprisingly few complaints about the manji, but complaints nonetheless.

Also, the Book of Magic was the Bible in the Japanese version, explaining why its design had the cross on it. However, it was renamed due to religious censorship at the time. Strangely, though, Link's Shield had a cross on the front of it, but it was not changed for an unknown reason.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

The Palaces in the game were actually referred to as temples in the Japanese version of the game, explaining the presence of idols as well as the design of the palaces resembling the Parthenon in Greece. Similar to the Book of Magic in the previous game, the name was changed during localization due to religious censorship at the time. This persisted until Ocarina of Time, where some of the dungeons were given the name "Temple" for the first time in releases outside Japan.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was originally named The Legend of Zelda: Triforce of the Gods, but was changed for its US release to avoid any religious controversy. When the manga by Akira Himekawa was released, it retained the Japanese original name. The re-release of the game on GBA and the manga were distributed at the same time, but the game used the western name. On a related note, Agahnim was also referred to as a priest in the Japanese version, but it was changed to a Wizard in western releases for similar reasons.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

Martha the mermaid originally lost her top, and dove into the water to hide her apparent nudity when Link attempted to come near. However, this was edited out in various localizations to have her lose her Necklace, presumably to make the game kid-friendly. Likewise, the Hippo in Animal Village was originally supposed to be a nude model, with her breasts being exposed, as well as hiding behind a sheet when Link comes into the studio. Similar to Martha's change of lost items, this was edited out, giving her a more typical hippo appearance, and also altering the dialogue to have her state that Schule Donavitch wants her to be sitting still for his attempt at making art of her. Some of these graphics remain uncensored in certain European localizations, but not in the DX version.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time had the most changes made to it. The original Gerudo Symbol - a crescent moon and star - was changed due to its similarity to the Islamic emblem. Contrary to popular belief, this change first occurred during its Nintendo GameCube release and not present in any official Nintendo 64 cartridge. However, the original emblem can still be seen (either as a leftover or an easter egg) in some releases; the Chinese iQue version uses both freely (the newer one for decorative purposes and older one usually for puzzle elements and the Mirror Shield), GCN versions still include the original emblem in the upper carvings of the entrance and exit of Dampé's Grave, and the Virtual Console version instead retains a stylized rendition on Ganondorf's cloak (which is also the case in the Nintendo 3DS remake).

The original Fire Temple music was changed because the chanting was apparently sampled from an Islamic prayer. In addition, Ganondorf's blood was changed from red to green in two of the ending cutscenes to avoid an ESRB rating of T (Teen) and retain its rating of E (Everyone). Unlike the previous alteration, this change is present in N64 "1.2" cartridges. Interestingly, the internal builds in all versions predate the game's release, suggesting that Nintendo intended to release the game with these changes but could not since 1.0 and 1.1 games were already manufactured. Despite that, there is no 1.2 Collector's Edition (gold cartridge), which was the initial shipment.

The design of the Skull Kids in Ocarina of Time featured black skin and pronounced lips reminiscent of 'darkie iconography' or 'Golliwogs' which are regarded as racist caricatures. Other characters of iconic gaming series such as Jynx (Pokémon #124) from the Pokémon series have been accused of being similar uses of derogatory stereotypes. It is worth noting that similar to alterations made to Jynx in the Pokémon series to remove the controversy, the design of the Skull Kid character in Majora's Mask has undergone changes effectively removing potential controversy - in the Japanese version, Skull Kid merely had his prominent lips replaced with a beak (complete with nostrils). In International and GameCube releases, he also has his pitch-black face replaced with a beige-colored head resembling wood, straw or perhaps even fabric. This is in spite of the fact that this Skull Kid is heavily implied to be the same given the Skull Mask in Ocarina of Time. This change is also present in Ocarina of Time 3D.

A small controversy arose with Ocarina of Time's advertising, with its first Trailer's text being "Willst thou get the girl? Or play like one?" This can be seen here Nintendo quickly replaced the sexist humor with the text "Willst thou soar? Or willst thou suck?" This can be seen here.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

The Fierce Deity's Mask is technically closer translated as the "Demon God's mask", but was changed for the same reason as Triforce of the Gods.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Link's Departure from Outset Island

The cel-shaded graphics of The Wind Waker

There was theoretical controversy surrounding the new graphics of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. A number of devout Zelda fans thought this new installment of the series was too childish, and could perhaps steer the series in a more "cartoonish" tone.

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

There was much controversy in Spirit Tracks, that, due to the advancement of locomotives, that the game would advance the technology of Hyrule to a higher level. This brought the fear that because of the advancement in technology, the Zelda series would have a futuristic tone to it rather than having the traditional medieval tone upon many gamers. Ironically, there were fewer complaints of this nature regarding the previous game in the series, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. Much of this game focused around sea travel by way of a steamboat, a type of vehicle invented after the first steam locomotives.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

A prank by a gaming website showed a Legend of Zelda game set in the future. It stated that there would be guns, hover cars, and a motorcycle called Epona (This controversial aspect came true in Mario Kart 8 in the form of the Master Cycle, however it is non canon and not a part of the Legend of Zelda universe)[1]. They said the Master Sword would be redesigned to look more futuristic for gaming purposes. Even though no specific title was given to this game, fans are calling it The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Future, or simply Future Zelda. However, after hearing Shigeru Miyamoto's declaration that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess would be the last Zelda of its kind, the debate did not die down even when it was revealed to be an April Fool's Joke.

The preview's images included early sketches for Final Fantasy VII, some concept designs for the Star Wars prequel trilogy and used artworks by various artists from around the internet without notice or permission. An apology was later released by Wii TV to the artists after being brought to public attention by artist Stephan McGowan. The voices of two of Wii.tv's contributors were also used in the making of this prank.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

There has been controversy around the art style of the game shown at E3 2014 as it differed from the The Legend of Zelda HD tech demo shown at E3 2011. Unlike The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the backlash was no where near as large as it was when The Wind Waker's art style contrasted The Legend of Zelda: Space World 2000 Demo. For the most part fans were pleased with the art style, but a fair amount were disappointed. Some fans wanted Zelda Wii U to have a more realistic art style as they have been waiting a long time since the release of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, they also felt a realistic art style would make the best use of the Wii U's graphical capabilities[2][3].

Similar to Skyward Sword and Spirit Tracks, controversy surrounding Zelda's setting and genre potentially changing arose. At E3 2014 a machine with tentacles was firing beams at Link while he used a seemingly high tech bow and arrow to defend himself. This left some fans wondering if the genre of the series would still remain medieval based fantasy. Eiji Aonuma confirmed that Zelda Wii U will not be more futuristic than previous games[4].

References

  1. ^ miiverse. Retrieved on 2014-12-20. “As you can see in this picture, the Master Cycle is designed after a horse, so it’s literally a horse of steel...(It looked so cool that I also want it to appear in games I work on.)”
  2. ^ GenGAME. Retrieved on 2014-12-19. “The Zelda team needs to stop obsessively shoving their “creative art styles” down people’s throats and just give consumers what they want. If they won’t do this, then Wii U deserves to crash and burn in the most spectacular fashion possible.”
  3. ^ Zelda Dungeon. Retrieved on 2014-12-19. “2. It's been 7 years since a realistic looking Zelda, It’s time for a change and to go back to a more realistic looking Zelda style. I don’t mind the cartoony art style (I loved the way Wind Waker looked), but do you really want the Zelda franchize to stay cartoony forever? Plus, Wind Waker (WW) is being remade on the Wii U, so why have two cartoony Zelda games on the Wii U?...Realistic art styles tend to demonstrate graphics better than cartoony ones. It would be rather lazy of them to give Zelda Wii U a cartoony art style opposed to challenging/utilizing the console with a more realistic one. The Wii U's graphical capabilities shouldn't be wasted.”
  4. ^ Zelda Dungeon. Retrieved on 2014-12-19. “Ben: "The trailer shown off for Zelda Wii U during the Nintendo digital event was very impressive and very intriguing, especially because there seemed to be a theme of technology with the monster with the mechanical arms and the lasers, and then the high-tech arrow at the end. What can you tell us about the theme or prevalence of technology in the upcoming Zelda?" Aonuma: "It’s not as though this environment is more high tech than past Zeldas. If you remember, we’ve had statues in the past that had beams that shoot out of their eyes. The hookshot is something that is actually really really high tech. We probably couldn’t even make one now if we wanted to. So I wouldn’t say this new Zelda is going to take place in the more distant-future, or even the near-future for that matter. But one thing we have to do as developers, you might be thinking ‘but then you are not rethinking the conventions of Zelda’, but I am rethinking the conventions, and as a part of that, we have to continue to have these items evolve and change their presentation and make sure that it’s still new experience."”

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