The Zelda of Legend: How Director Ridley Scott Might Have Influenced Ocarina of Time

The Zelda of Legend: How Director Ridley Scott Might Have Influenced Ocarina of Time

What do Tom Cruise, Tim Curry, the '80s, and the N64 all have in common?

Growing up surrounded by the dark puppetry that defined '80s fantasy movies was unsettling. Worse, I went through much of the '90s wondering if my flashes of memory were based on tangible things, or simply glimpses of a fever dream I once suffered. Back then I had no Internet to assure me that Dragonslayer, Labyrinth, and The Dark Crystal were real movies.

(My family did not own a VCR.)

But most of Legend by Ridley Scott (1985) was etched into my brain when I first saw it. You don't easily forget seeing a baby Tom Cruise tearfully apologize to a unicorn for inadvertently wounding its mate.

A short jaunt across Google reveals a lot of people believe The Legend of Zelda was inspired by Legend. The parallels are certainly there. Legend stars a wild, adventurous boy who must rescue his lady-friend from the clutches of evil (as portrayed by Tim Curry wearing big, big horns). There are deep, dark forests, fairies, swords, shields, prophecies -- the whole fantasy megillah.

However, the first Legend of Zelda game hit the Famicom Disk System in 1986. Sure, video games had shorter development cycles in the '80s, but it's unlikely Shigeru Miyamoto had enough time to watch a Japanese translation of Legend, get inspired, and cook up The Legend of Zelda. Besides, Miyamoto has stated several times that his childhood adventures through Japan's mountains and caves are ultimately what inspired development of the first game, and that Link's design is a tribute to Disney's 1953 adaptation of Peter Pan.

That doesn't mean Ridley Scott's Legend never touched the Zelda series, though. By the time the N64 classic Ocarina of Time entered development, Miyamoto had ample time to digest the movie. In fact, whereas comparisons between the first Legend of Zelda and Legend are more generalized, Ocarina of Time and Legend share more specific characteristics between them.

In Legend, the world is plunged into darkness after the Devil a.k.a. Tim Curry ensnares a unicorn and steals its horn for power(!). Similarly, Hyrule becomes a darker, grimmer place once Ganondorf elects himself prez.

In Legend, the green-clad protagonist Jack has a guardian fairy friend who's never far from his side. Hey! Listen! That sounds like someone Zelda fans know well, isn't it? It should be noted that Jack's fairy tries to seduce him, and things never get quite that PG in Ocarina of Time (though there is that Poe Hunter who suggests in a very roundabout way that he'd become a prostitute if he looked as handsome as adult Link. What is the deal with that Poe Hunter?).

In Legend, Jack travels to a giant tree infested with evil. In Ocarina of Time -- well, you know.

Finally, Legend's dark lord character looks an awful lot like a mix between Ocarina of Time's final bosses: The perpetually-sneering Ganondorf and the pig-headed Ganon, who is outfitted with huge horns and hooves for his N64 adventure -- both of which red Tim Curry owns, and neither of which shows up in any iteration of the big boss up until that point.

Indeed, when Ocarina of Time was still in development and I sniffed out any trace of information I could about the game, I remember an interview with Miyamoto stating Ocarina's Ganondorf is specifically based on Legend's own king of evil. Despite my efforts, I've never been able to find this statement reproduced anywhere.

Maybe the quote never existed. Maybe it's all my imagination. After all, when has Nintendo ever been inspired by the work of Ridley Scott?

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

Read this next

USgamer Holiday Gift Guide 2019: For the Nostalgic Gamer

If you're shopping for someone who still finds beauty in cartridges and pixels, have we got a gift guide for you.

Zelda Breath of the Wild Master Trials DLC - Where to Find Midna's Helmet, Travel Medallion, Tingle Outfit, Korok Mask and More

Here's where you can find all the Zelda Breath of the Wild Master Trials DLC items, including Midna's Helmet, the Travel Medallion, Tingle's outfit, the Korok Mask, and more.

Link is an 80s Anime Lady in This Ancient Magazine Unearthed by Twitter

Now I want to fight Ganon while listening to some Bonnie Tyler.

This is What Zelda and Doom Look Like When Mashed Together in a Mod

When a game about an elf boy and another game about rampaging hellspawn love each other very much...

More

"The Biggest Concern with Stadia is That It Might Not Exist"

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | As Google streaming service preps for a bare bones launch, Microsoft positions Project xCloud as a compelling alternative

"If You See Someone Running Around and Screaming, You're Going to Run Around and Scream"

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | VR news, lawsuits, and a big splash on mobile from Nintendo mark a busy week for games in America (and for America, generally).

Starting Screen | NeoGAF's Fall is a Sign of the Times in More Ways Than One

STARTING SCREEN | On the sudden end of a long-standing gaming community.

Starting Screen | Starting Screen: Fire Emblem Heroes and the Stages of Regret

The inevitable regret that comes with spending on a free-to-play game, plus the rest of this week's game releases and news.

More on NES

USgamer Holiday Gift Guide 2019: For the Nostalgic Gamer

If you're shopping for someone who still finds beauty in cartridges and pixels, have we got a gift guide for you.

Make a Statement At Your Next LAN with This NES-Inspired Mouse

You'll probably come in last at whichever game you're playing, but you'll look good while losing.

What's Your Favorite Sports Game?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | Deadspin forever.

Three Classic Letters That Show How Much Easier It Is to Be a Video Game Fan in 2019

The gaming community knew nothing in the '90s, and frankly, neither did a lot of publishers.

This Weekend's Tetris World Championships Showed Why Classic Tetris is Thriving

As the NES Tetris community grows, newcomers and hyper-tapping players are rising to the top.

Return of the Obra Dinn's Creator Reminisces on Getting Its Iconic Style Just Right

"After working on non-graphical stuff for so long, I took a moment to reflect on what I had with the visuals. It wasn’t great."