“Whether skyward bound, adrift in time, or steeped in the glowing embers of twilight…”
Those referential words made this old fan all a-tingle. While we continue to speculate about Breath of the Wild’s place in the Legend of Zelda timelines, fans of the series have already taken note of several ways that the newest Zelda references its ancestors. The Wild presents a vast Hyrule to explore. There’s plenty to see so let’s delve into some of its links to the past, its in-universe references, Easter eggs, and nods to all of the games which have come before it, in order, exhaustively! At least I’d like to think so. I’m still missing a few game references, namely: Spirit Tracks, Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures. If anyone knows of any, toss me a comment cue and I’ll give you the credit for the entry!
Be warned, potential SPOILERS ahead.
The Legend of Zelda (1986) – the Old Man
One of the most obvious references is also one of the first. In the original game, Link encounters an old man in a cave who famously utters the now iconic words while giving the hero his first sword. The old man in Breath of the Wild is also the first person Link encounters, though he offers more than just a sword.
Zelda II: the Adventure of Link (1987) – Dark Link
I’m (probably) just as surprised as you to learn that Zelda II marked the first appearance of Dark Link, a sinister character that goes on to appear several times later in the series. While he isn’t an enemy in the Link’s latest adventure, you can find a costume set for Dark Link via the monster shop.
A Link to the Past (1991) – the Master Sword
A Link to the Past saw the first appearance of the definitive weapon of the Zelda series: the Master Sword. It’s location in the SNES outing as well as in Link’s latest is so similar it’s impossible it’s a coincidence. The sword in both games is found awaiting the legendary hero in a stone monument in the lost woods.
Link’s Awakening (1993) – Koholit Rock
Koholit is far too close in spelling to Koholint to be accidental. Toronbo is also a reference to the same game but Koholint was of course the mysterious island that Link shipwrecks on in Awakening. There’s no Wind Fish egg at the top of Koholit Rock, though. Disappointed…
Ocarina of Time (1998) – Song of Storms
Eschewing the obvious references like the Temple of Time and the Deku Tree, I was delighted to discover one of the shrine quests in Breath of the Wild is called “A Song of Storms”. Who could miss that one after playing Ocarina of Time?
Majora’s Mask (2000) – Lulu, Mikau, and Toto Lakes
No the full moon in the Wild doesn’t have a huge, leering face but the names of three characters concerning the Indigo-Go band from Majora’s Mask are present as the names of lakes near Zora’s Domain.
Oracle of Seasons/Ages (2001) – Brynna Plain and Horon Lagoon
Horon Village appears in Oracle of Seasons and Labrynna is a region in Oracle of Ages. Handy!
Four Swords (2002) – This picture.
I couldn’t find Vaati or the Four Sword, so this is the best I got, even if it’s technically cheating.
The Wind Waker (2002) – Koroks
The adorable Korok forest spirits appeared first in Wind Waker and they make a triumphant return in Breath of the Wild, where they play a huge role in a widespread side quest.
Four Swords Adventures (2004) – Also this picture.
The Minish Cap (2004) – Minshi Woods
Move the letter “i” to the end of the word “minish” and you have Minshi Woods, a clear reference to the diminutive Minish Woods in The Minish Cap.
Twilight Princess (2006) – Wolf Link
I didn’t spot any sign of the Twili but Link’s wolf form, complete with fetter, is available through Amiibo functionality. Awwwoooooooooooo~
Phantom Hourglass (2007) – Linebeck Island
Linebeck Island takes its name from a seafaring character from Phantom Hourglass. Also spottable are place-names for Mercay, Zauz, Bannan, and Molida, more characters from Hourglass.
Spirit Tracks (2009) – ???
Skyward Sword (2011) – Goddess Statues
These statues of Hylia are peppered throughout the wilderness. Not only do they grant you extra hearts and stamina, they also are a callback to Skyward Sword. There’s even one huge statue that many fans say is identical to the giant one depicted in the Wii game.
A Link Between Worlds (2013) – Oren Bridge
Oren Bridge near Zora’s Domain takes its name from Queen Zora from Between Worlds.
Tri Force Heroes (2015) – Tuft Mountain
Considering there are several mountains named after ancient monarchs, Tuft Mountain is more than likely a reference to King Tuft from Tri Force Heroes.
And last but not least, one of my favorite Easter eggs: this NPC resembling Satoru Iwata who points Link to Mt. Satori where he can find a creature described in its compendium entry below as the reincarnation of a sage who died. Nintendo’s way of saying farewell to Mr. Iwata.
-The Well-Red Mage