The annoying thing isn’t so much that there isn’t an option for Link to be female in Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it’s more the weakness of the excuse given for that decision.
Speculation about either a female Link or the option to choose the character’s gender in the new game has been rife for months. It was discovered last night during Nintendo’s E3 stream that this has not come to fruition.
Is this disappointing? Yeah, sure. It would have been great for Zelda’s many fans to have finally had the choice to play as a girl should they wish. Or perhaps even if a girl Link was mandated, in the way that mandating a male protagonist is very much the norm. But the real disappointment is Nintendo’s response when pressed on the decision.
We did discuss as a staff as to what would be possible if we took that route,” Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma told GameSpot via a translator. "We thought about it and decided that if we’re going to have a female protagonist it’s simpler to have Princess Zelda as the main character [and] if we have princess Zelda as the main character who fights, then what is Link going to do?
Taking into account that, and also the idea of the balance of the Triforce, we thought it best to come back to this [original] makeup."
The balance of the Triforce? That point was elaborated to Kotaku.
You know there’s the idea of the Triforce in the Zelda games we make,” Aonuma said. The Triforce is made up of Princess Zelda, Ganon and Link. Princess Zelda is obviously female. If we made Link a female we thought that would mess with the balance of the Triforce. That’s why we decided not to do it.”
Right. OK. Let’s looks at some of these points:
If we have princess Zelda as the main character who fights, then what is Link going to do?”
Well, for starters Link could perhaps assume the role normally fulfilled by Zelda – become the damsel in distress. Unless of course it’s simply completely incomprehensible for a female to be saving a male? Which you’d hope is not the case.
If we made Link a female we thought that would mess with the balance of the Triforce.”
Really? REALLY? Is having a female Link AND a female Zelda out of the question? Would the extra oestrogen somehow disrupt the balance of the Zelda universe and usher in a new age of dark? Would a simple gender swap of our two main protagonists stretch plausibility to breaking point? Is Prince Zelda just too ludicrous an idea to contemplate?
As one Neogaf user pointed out, Link has before quite happily assumed the role of a child, a teenager, a rabbit, a wolf, a plant, a fish-man, a rock-man, a god, a ghost inhabiting a suit of armour that teaches his future incarnation skills and even been split into four. The Trioforce survived this, but it would be unable to cope with the epic, spacetime-splitting horror of Link being – whisper it quietly – a women? Adding to the absurdity, Link has actually been a girl before, too!
We all understand that Japanese culture is different. We get that while some Western games go about breaking down all gender barriers, Nintendo struggles with the idea of same sex couples. We’re in the midst of a change. We shouldn’t be. We should be well past the point of change, but there it is. And Nintendo has made some concessions, such as acknowledging that the sexualisation of kids is perhaps not a good look for its games.
The best thing we can do now is not allow those within our community to offer such bigoted and misogynistic opinions unchallenged. One day the message will get through.