A Link Between Worlds, the upcoming Zelda title on Nintendo 3DS, has many similarities to its predecessor, A Link to the Past. From a similar name to a near identical Hyrule map, there’s a clear connection to the original SNES title. Even the evil Dark World is still present, but a close inspection of the hints we’ve seen in interviews, trailers, and screenshots suggest it may be more than it seems at first glance.
Be warned that this article will contain information that may be considered as spoilers.
Something that has struck me as odd for some time now is the way the Zelda team has addressed the Dark World this time around. Notably, they haven’t. In the vast majority of interviews, the Zelda team has been careful to avoid using the specific phrase ‘Dark World.’ Instead, they’ve been referring to it as the ‘Other World.’ Based on its appearance, interviewers have taken the liberty of dubbing it the Dark World, but Aonuma himself has not.
Also interesting is the fact that, unlike in A Link to the Past, the Other World has a full-fledged kingdom comparable to Hyrule. This is not consistent with what we know of the Dark World. In A Link to the Past the Dark World exists because the Sacred Realm has been tainted by evil.
In this corrupted Sacred Realm, all who enter are transformed into some sort of manifestation of what’s in their hearts. The only inhabitants of this Dark World are Ganon’s monsters and Hylians who have been transformed into some new form. There are no ‘normal’ people, and normality in the Dark World can only be achieved with the one-of-a-kind Moon Pearl.
Perhaps more interesting is the identity of these Other World inhabitants. Screenshots have revealed some new characters, including Hilda – a girl who appears to be a parallel version of Princess Zelda. Bearing similar physical appearance and name to Zelda, Hilda appears to be royalty, and has a staff with an upside down Triforce on it. There is also the mysterious villain-esque character who bears a strong resemblance to Ganondorf. Both of these characters appear to be Other World counterparts to the denizens of Hyrule.
The idea of a parallel world with counterpart characters is, of course, nothing new to Zelda. This concept was the premise of Majora’s Mask and the land of Termina, which is where things start to get really interesting. A new key feature of A Link Between Worlds is Ravio’s Item Shop. Rather than collecting items in dungeons, players rent items from Ravio in order to allow for non-linearity in tackling dungeons.
When Ravio’s shop first appeared, it reminded many of the mysterious Happy Mask Salesman from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. In the latest Nintendo Direct, new footage was shown for A Link Between Worlds, and if you look closely, you can see Majora’s Mask itself on display in Ravio’s Shop. This is especially interesting, because Happy Mask Salesman was the one who sought out the mask in the first place before it was stolen from him by the Skull Kid and taken to Termina. Is this a subtle cameo, or something deeper?
Along with having two worlds to explore, Eiji Aonuma has hinted that there will be a second, shadowy Triforce in A Link Between Worlds. This is also inconsistent with what we know of the Dark World in A Link to the Past, and Hylian lore in general. The quick conclusion would be that there is a ‘normal’ Triforce in the Light World, and a ‘shadowy’ Triforce in the Dark World, but based on what we know, that is impossible.
As we previously covered, the Dark World of A Link to the Past is actually the original resting place of the Triforce, the Sacred Realm. It merely changes itself to reflect the heart of the last person who touched it. It is not ‘shadowy’ by nature, nor is its Triforce. It doesn’t make sense for the Sacred Realm and Hyrule to have separate Triforces, but it’s possible that a parallel world like Termina could have its own separate Triforce.
In fact, despite the fact that Termina has its own distinct lore separate from Hyrule, there are actually Triforce symbols in Termina. I’ve previously speculated that they learned of Hyrule’s Triforce at some point, but it’s equally possible that Termina has its own Triforce – the shadowy Triforce.
Throughout Hylian history, the Triforce has been both prominent and forgotten. In many of the games we hear of (or participate in) wars over the sacred relic, but in other games (such as Minish Cap and Four Swords Adventures) it is never mentioned by name, and we only see depictions of it. Just as Hyrule has forgotten of the Triforce at times, it’s possible that Majora’s Mask took place during an era in Termina’s history where the shadowy Triforce had simply passed into legend.
So if the Other World is not the Dark World, why does it look so much like it? You have to keep in mind that Ganon failed at his mission in A Link to the Past. He wished for the world, but because he was trapped inside the Sacred Realm that wish was only granted inside the Sacred Realm. This resulted in the creation of the Dark World. Had Ganon successfully broken the seal and made his triumphant return to Hyrule, he would have transformed it into the same dark and twisted place that the Dark World had become.
If the Ganondorf-esque character we saw in the official artwork got his hands on the shadowy Triforce, it’s likely that he spread darkness over the land. This would explain why the Other World bears such a close resemblance to the corrupted Sacred Realm, but does not transform people like the Sacred Realm does.
According to IGN, as of last summer the Zelda team was still debating whether they should do a Majora’s Mask remake or a spiritual successor to A Link to the Past. Is it possible that they settled for a little bit of both? There’s certainly some evidence of that potential, but it almost seems too good to be true.