In this current age of gaming, there’s often a lot of discussion about the gender and sexuality of a character. Female protagonists are beginning to rival male protagonists in number and sheer badassery, which is great for the industry as a whole. Whats better is that these characters are not gender-swaps of preexisting characters. They’re entirely original characters and that makes them all the better. But there are some that clamor for existing characters to have their genders swapped for numerous reasons. And one of the biggest offenders is the character Link from The Legend of Zelda series.

Link as portrayed in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. Possibly the game that he was the least androgynous in.

So, some history on Link. In each Zelda game, Link is a reincarnation or a descendent of the original hero, the Link from Skyward Sword. And he just so happens to look androgynous in a number of his appearances. But in all of the 3D Zelda titles, Link has been decidedly male. I refer to the 3D titles specifically because the original 2D titles were pixelated, leaving Links gender up to the imagination(Something that one father somewhat recently took to the extreme, going so far as to replace any male pronouns with gender neutral ones so that his daughter could view Link as a female.), but the existence of male pronouns and artwork clearly shows that Link is male in those titles.

Link as depicted in the original Zelda U reveal trailer at E3 2014. The longer hair and androgynous appearance sparked furious debate about Link possibly being female in this title, which was eventually shot down by the games director, Eiji Aonuma, who stated that Link is still male in this title.

And here is where I hear the argument from people that since the hero of courage is always a reincarnation/descendent of Link and that he’s androgynous to begin with, whose to say that one of those incarnations isn’t female? And they have a point, however, Link is an established character in gaming culture. The male hero who throughout history rescues the Princess Zelda(or assists depending on the title.) while saving the kingdom of Hyrule. That is Link. Forcing a gender change in order to be progressive or just for the sake of change is not the way to go about this. Its just uneccessary, which is why there is a better solution that makes both sides of the fence happy: Create a new character that doesn’t replace Link, but fills the role of female protagonist.

The character Linkle, a female, but separate version of Link as depicted in Hyrule Warriors.

Advertisement

Now, such a character already exists. Her name is Linkle. She’s not a female version of Link, and her personality is quite quirky and considered poor by some, including that her name is terrible. And its mostly true. But that’s simply how she’s written for Hyrule Warriors. Part of Linkle’s backstory is that she believes that she’s a descendant of the legendary hero and sets out to become a hero herself. Right there, you already have your setup for a female protagonist in the Zelda series. She coexists alongside Link, who is male and also a descendant of the legendary hero. Its always possible for Links gene pool to be more than just one person at a time. So you have Link whose a direct descendant of the legendary hero and naturally possesses all the traits required to obtain the Triforce of Courage whenever Ganondorf is reincarnated, but at the same time you have an illegitimate descendant, Linkle, who does not naturally possess the required traits other than courage and determination, and so she has to work to obtain the Triforce of Courage. This makes a distinction, but relation between the two characters. So Linkle could be featured in her own game, or alongside Link as a secondary protagonist and possibly even filling the sidekick spot(though on equal footing with Link himself.).

Fanart depicting Link and Linkle fighting together and as being separate characters rather than a gender swap.

This is a far more organic way of introducing a female lead to the Zelda franchise and doesn’t upset the established character of Link. This is how something like this should be handled.