photo: Nintendo

Last year when Nintendo brought a teaser of "Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" to E3, rumors began to spread that the game company might be introducing a playable female version of Link to the game. Those rumors continued to churn after Linkle, a new female character resembling Link, was added to the "Hyrule Warriors" game. 

Now, though, it appears that all of the speculation has been for nothing: There is no playable female character in "Breath of the Wild." 

"We thought about it," Nintendo producer Eiji Auona told Gamespot of the choice they made. "and decided that if we're going to have a female protagonist, it's simpler to have Princess Zelda as the main character."

Okay, but then why isn't Zelda the lead character in the new game? Because, Auona said, "If we have princess Zelda as the main character who fights, then what is Link going to do?"

Well, that's just short-sighted. There are plenty of things Link could do in a game without being the protagonist. Why, look at all these ideas I just came up with off the top of my head!

1

He could be the kidnapped one for a change.

photo: Nintendo.

Various different "Zelda" games play around with giving Zelda a little more agency, but at the end of the day there's always a scene where Zelda needs rescuing and Link has to be the one to do it. you know, because she's the Princess of Hyrule and he's the Legendary Hero who's destined to save the whole kingdom. Lather, rinse, repeat. 

That's all well and good, I guess, but at a certain point you have to admit: Wouldn't it be interesting if the bad guys went directly after the hero instead of attacking the princess to draw him out? You'd have to play with the lore a bit (which most "Zelda" games do as a necessity, so the whole hero-saves-princess thing doesn't get boring), but it wouldn't be hard to imagine a world where Link is the one who needs rescuing for a change. 

2

He could rule the kingdom while Zelda is away.

photo: Nintendo

Somebody's got to be in charge of Hyrule, and Link and Zelda are usually coded as love interests for each other anyway — maybe they get married and Link stays behind while she goes off on a diplomatic mission, only to be caught in a conflict and forced to save the day herself. 

3

He could be the objective at the end of the game.

photo: Nintendo

The "Legend of Zelda" formula is as old as video games themselves: Link finds out that the world is in danger and runs around collecting items to solve it, defeats a guy and saves the princess. But all that starts with him voluntarily leaving his home first, and who better to put him on that path than the very princess he ends up saving? 

First, though, she's got to find him — and that in itself could be a game, with Princess Zelda roaming around the country trying to find the Legendary Hero. It would probably be considered a prequel, technically, but it would be a really cool way to explore the vast world of Hyrule beyond Link.

4

He could be the device around which Zelda's adventures are framed.

In "Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time," Link was guided through his quest by a mysterious ninja-like figure known as Shiek. In reality, Shiek was actually Zelda, who disguised herself both to aid Link and to escape the clutches of the evil Ganondorf.

So why not construct a game where Zelda has to sneak around and prod Link in the right directions from the shadows as Shiek? Link can be the hero of Hyrule but, like Penny from "Inspector Gadget," Zelda would have to do all the legwork all without getting caught. Then Link would still get to have his adventures — and you'd be in charge of making it happen.

5

He could take a nap.

photo: Nintendo

Listen, being the hero of Hyrule is tough. Sometimes you just need a snooze that's so deep and long that you accidentally miss Hyrule being under attack and Zelda has to protect the realm by herself instead. It happens! 

6

He could go on vacation.

photo: Nintendo

I hear The Great Sea is nice this time of year. 

7

He could still be playable, but at different intervals alongside Zelda.

photo: Nintendo

In "Witcher: The Wild Hunt," the protagonist, Geralt, is on a quest to find his surrogate daughter Ciri. Occasionally when he catches up to someone who's seen her lately, the game switches perspective and we play as her instead for a while. It's not only a great way to tell a story without boring the player with long cutscenes, but it also gives Ciri her own agency and lets her become more than just Geralt's objective.

How rad would it be if "Legend Of Zelda" tried to do the same thing? Link would still be the de facto hero, but every once in a while you'd get a glimpse into what it's like to be Zelda instead. It wouldn't be the same as making a female character the lead, of course, but at the very least it would switch up the formula. 

8

He could die, or not exist in the first place.

photo: Nintendo

That'll never happen, of course. That'd be like making a "Mario" game in a world where Mario doesn't exist. He's too iconic to the franchise for Nintendo to give up him completely. But if Nintendo did want to go super Zack Snyder-style grimdark wth a spin-off game, then it's an option, I suppose. 

9

OR he could just be a playable female character, which is what fans wanted in the first place.

photo: Nintendo

I'm gonna let you in on a secret: There isn't actually one single character named Link. Like James Bond, he's more of a cipher than an individual person with any kind of personality or defining character traits, and there've been several different versions of him (and of Zelda, too) saving Hyrule throughout time. 

So who's to say that there couldn't be a female Link? That's not any more confusing to new players than the Official Timeline of Links. Arguably, having a female Link would be less confusing because it'd be much to pick out where she exists along that timeline. Just look for the one that's a lady! 

But that's beside the point. You don't really don't need to know about the timeline in order to play any single game in the first place, because deep down, they're all the same game. You find a sword, save the day, rescue the princess. There is literally nothing in that formula that precludes you from being female. 

It's about time Nintendo noticed that fact already and trusted that its audience is smart enough to follow along — and that they're willing to see the franchise experiment with something new, while still reminding us what we love about the old games.