Modern games put a lot of work into the personality and design of its protagonists. Nearly everyone boasts defining characteristics like scars, backstories, and personality quirks. But a handful of snapshots from an old Japanese game magazine is a good reminder of a time when game heroes were near indecipherable lumps of pixels.
Last week, Japanese Twitter user "Kazzykazycom" shared pictures of a Legend of Zelda guide printed in an old Famicom game magazine called Shonen Captain. The magazine's artist decorated the guide with their own rendition of how they believed Link might look as an actual human being (or Hylian, as it were). Interestingly, the artist made Link a woman—and given the [ahem] slightly provocative poses Link performs in the guide's margins, the artist might've been a bit in love with the sword-swinging warrior.
The West was notoriously deprived of official character art and localized info for 8- and- 16-bit games, so it wasn't uncommon for our merchandise-makers to totally wing it when crafting supplementary toys, books, and cartoons. But Legend of Zelda is a rare exception; remember that big, beautiful instruction booklet with all its wonderful drawings? It's funny to think an artist in Link's "home country" had to take a guess at what Link looks like off-screen. Wouldn't Japan have access to the same official illustrations we did—or something even better?
Maybe this guide was published before such materials were available on either shore. Kazzykazycom also speculates the artist might've dressed up the magazine's mascot as Link. Or maybe the artist just thought "Screw it, I'm going to draw Link as a cool '80s manga lady." I don't blame them. Thirty years later, we all kind of want a crack at saving Hyrule as a femme Link. Nintendo is getting closer: Link can wear pretty dresses in The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, and he pulls it off! Only problem with that is…well, Tri Force Heroes is a bad game. Hyrule Warriors gives us a femme Link through Linkle, but Hyrule Heroes still isn't a mainstream Zelda title, and "Linkle" is one letter off from what you do on the toilet seat when you visit the bathroom while drunk.
Well, mysterious Zelda guide artists: Wherever you are, and whatever you're doing, take comfort in knowing your dream of a lady Link is alive and well three decades later. And with news about a new Zelda game percolating deep in Nintendo's dungeons, who knows what the future will bring?