Monday, September 15, 2014

How many alternate worlds does Zelda have!? [Spoilers]

It's a pretty common thing for games to have a dark world, parallel world, or some such, but the Zelda series really takes it to the extreme. I should have realized it earlier, but when A Link Between Worlds had the parallel world of "Lorule" and I knew that A Link to the Past similarly had a dark world version of Hyrule, it got me thinking... Just how many alternate worlds are there in the Zelda series!? It turns out that the land of Hyrule is just part of a complex interconnected multiverse and that's not even taking into consideration the multiple timelines which I won't be counting as separate worlds for the sake of this article. Anyway, let's dig into this. Zelda wiki ahoy!

1. Hyrule and its surrounding areas
This one's a freebie. If you know anything about the Zelda series at all, you ought to know that the games typically take place in the kingdom of Hyrule. It's the home world, the default, the usual, neutral, normal world of Zelda. There are also surrounding regions that are part of the same world, but outside the kingdom of Hyrule such as the world of the Ocean King (Phantom Hourglass), Holodrum, and Subrosia (Oracle of Seasons). Hyrule seems to be the most important place in the world, however, as it contains connections to most of the known alternate worlds, including the Triforce's resting place, and is where the goddess Hylia incarnate, Princess Zelda, resides. Note that some also refer to Hyrule by the [way better] name of "Grooseland".

2. The Sacred Realm (aka The Golden Land) (aka The Dark World) (A Link to the Past)
The Sacred Realm is the area/world created when the three goddesses of creation finished creating and left some of their power in the Triforce for the created world. It's not super clear how the Sacred Realm is connected to Hyrule except that Link inadvertently lets Ganondorf into it when pulling out the Master Sword in the Temple of Time during Ocarina of Time. Since the power of the Triforce can be used according to the heart of whoever touches it, Ganondorf's evilness transformed the Sacred Realm into the Dark World as seen in A Link to the Past. There's also a dark world in Four Swords Adventures which is probably the same place, but might not be - who even knows any more.

3. The Wind Fish's Dream (Koholint Island) (Link's Awakening)
This world is unique in that it consists only of an island (Kingdom Hearts anyone?) and really only exists as the dream of the Wind Fish. Seemingly, Link is the only real world person in this dream world and it's unclear how he got there in the first place. Unfortunately, this world was short lived, as it and everyone in it (except for Link and the Wind Fish itself) ceased to exist once Link woke up the Wind Fish at the end of the game.

4. Termina (Majora's Mask)
Termina is another weird one. Link gets there by falling down a rabbit hole, so to speak, and the place definitely seems to be not just a part of Hyrule's world, but a whole new parallel world since its inhabitants are alternate versions of the people of Hyrule. The strangeness of Link's coming and going to Termina makes me question whether the place really exists at all. Maybe Link just hallucinated the whole thing... Maybe Link was dead the whole time!?

5. The Minish World (Minish Cap)
A brief glimpse of the Minish World. (Source)
The Minish World is the world from which the tiny race of Minish (aka Picori) came. Next to nothing is known about their world apart from its existence, and considering its only connection to Hyrule is through a door that appears once every 100 years, it's likely to stay that way. I mean, what are the chances that the place where the door appears will still be uncovered after another 100 years? It'll probably be forgotten about and have a wall built over it during the next Hyrule Castle renovation or be blocked by storage boxes or something.

6. The Twilight Realm (Twilight Princess)
The Palace of Twilight (Source)
The Twilight Realm, not to be confused with the Dark World or the parts of Hyrule that were shrouded in twilight during Twilight Princess, is the alternate world that the Twili race is from. It is a world of perpetual twilight and all of its small bit of light and life comes from two orbs called Sols. The Twili who live there are descendants of the Dark Interlopers who attempted to invade the Sacred Realm and capture the Triforce in ancient times but were banished by the goddesses to the Twilight Realm. As of the final events of Twilight Princess, this world's one known connection to Hyrule has been severed, meaning that the unrequited love of Midna for the postman will never see its conclusion.

7. Silent Realm (Skyward Sword)
Lanayru Desert's Silent Realm (Source)
In Skyward Sword, Link has to enter the Silent Realm at a few different locations in order to undergo some trials. This one maybe shouldn't even count toward this list because there's a possibility that the Silent Realm is the same place as the Sacred Realm, but also because it isn't even a physical world. Instead, the Silent Realm is a purely spiritual world that Link's spirit is transported to at certain points. For all we know, the Silent Realm(s) could be pocket universes limited only to the spaces taken up by the trials or may just be manifested inside Link's head during these times.

8. Lorule (A Link Between Worlds)
If there's a true parallel world in the Zelda universe, Lorule has to be it. It's essentially identical to Hyrule down to the locations and people (though they certainly have variations) and we can assume that Lorule also has surrounding lands just like Hyrule does. It even has/had its own Triforce, which makes me question whether it had its own set of golden goddesses as well... On top of that, since it is said to have its own version of the Sacred Realm, it seems possible and even likely that Lorule may have its own version of all of the other parallel worlds mentioned up to this point.

9. Lorule's Sacred Realm (A Link Between Worlds)
(Source)
As I just mentioned, Lorule is confirmed to have its own version of the Sacred Realm as the resting place of its Triforce. One can assume that it's pretty darn similar to its Hyrule counterpart and can similarly be altered by one who touches the Triforce.

10. Wherever the Goddesses Went
I had to read between the lines for this one, but we know that after the golden goddesses created Hyrule and the surrounding world (or all worlds?), they departed from the earth and left the Triforce behind. But that leaves one question: Where did they depart to? Another world? Outer space? Heaven? No one knows, but I have a theory. Perhaps they entered into our universe and exist in every gamer who plays a Zelda game, enacting their divine influence on Hyrule in that way and helping the world be saved again and again. I've certainly heard crazier fan theories.


Did I miss any? Do you have a better fan theory? If so, let me know in the comments! Also, here's a shout out to the TV series Fringe for having practically the same plot as A Link Between Worlds.

2 comments:

  1. Great article. There are a few you're missing though. You missed the Dark Realm which is the place where monsters are summoned from (mentioned in AoL, mentioned by name in the Oracle games, and visited in ST... though it is possible that ST's Dark Realm is a different place from the AoL/OoX Dark Realm). You missed the officially unnamed spirit realm that Bellum pulls everyone into in PH. And the Sacred Realm has one other alternate name: the Evil Realm.

    Also, the FSA Dark World can't possibly be the same place as the ALttP/OoT Dark World/Evil Realm. It (and the Silent Realm) has/have nothing in common with the Sacred Realm. FSA's Dark World has more in common with the Twilight Realm, but even that parallel isn't perfect.

    Also, if we want to read in-between the lines, there are a few more possible dimensions: there's the "Void of the Realm" mentioned in OoT, which may just be another name for the Evil Realm. There's the "gap between dimensions" where Phantom Ganon was banished to in OoT. And since Lorule has its own Sacred Realm, it's extremely likely that Lorule has its own Minish Realm, Twilight Realm, spirit realm, dream world, Dark Realm, etc. And since MM mentioned that there is a devil in the Zelda-verse that you can sell your soul to, there could also easily be a hell. Oh, and speaking of MM, there's also that weird holding dimension where Link met the giants every time he defeated one of the dungeons' bosses.

    Termina has to exist. TWW tells us that both Tingle and the Postman from MM made it out of Termina and eventually made their way to Hyrule. MM told us that Tatl, Tael, and Skull Kid were originally from Termina, and they all traveled to Hyrule. At the end of the game we see Link and Epona outside of Termina, presumably back in the woods again where he began his journey. Furthermore, the Gorons say that they traveled to Dodongo's Cavern and eaten the rocks there; Triforce iconography (of Hyrule's Triforce) can be found in Ikana Desert; Hyrule and Termina both worship the same goddess of time... If Termina really is a separate dimension, it is only a separate dimension in name considering how easy travel between the two lands are (and since Link leaves Termina by a passageway other than the Clock Tower, we know there's at least two ways into the land), and how much culture the two lands share. It's also worth noting that, according to MM's instruction booklet, Termina's inhabitants AREN'T alternate versions of the people from Hyrule. The people of Termina have a "passing resemblance" to people that Link knew in Hyrule, but if you were in Termina yourself and really looked at the people, you would see that they actually (are supposed to) look very little like the people of Hyrule. The game developers just reused the models because they had so little time to make the game. And rather than saying that the people were all parallels of the people of Hyrule, the developers chose to basically ask players to ignore the physical similarities because they weren't intentional; the NPCs would have looked different if they had had time to make a bunch of new ones.

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    1. Nice! These are the comments I like to see. Thanks for all of the additional info. I forgot about a lot of that. It's crazy how many different realms and worlds there are.

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