When I was 10, in my opinion, the greatest game ever made (big call I know) was released on the N64, and I was forever asking myself Big Link or Little Link?
The game featured a little Hylian, who come to think of it didn’t really say anything, ever. He played an Ocarina after wandering around a bit, and rode a horse named Epona and ended up saving Hyrule from the evil, balding and ginger, Ganondorf.
Sounds simple, but this game was simply magic.
I still don’t truly understand how this game can be so much better than everything similar, and really it comes down to storytelling. There were hundreds of little stories, little characters you connected with and a world which you truly cared about and believed in. It’s like Star Wars, a simple battle between good and evil, right and wrong in a truly captivating world with fascinating characters.
After 19 years (scary thought), I am finally able to answer the question I asked myself replay upon replay of the game.
How do I beat the water temple again? Nah, just kidding. Is it better to be young link with all of his naive cuteness surrounded by a world of joy and dancing but not being able to jump onto the big walls just yet, or old link with his Master sword and ability to fight things bigger than a plant without running around like a child.
And the answer is: it depends on your perspective. You see, I reckon I actually discovered an extra theme from Ocarina of time that I hadn’t considered. Growing up myself (a little bit) has changed the answer to this Grown Up Link or Young Link question. Young link was more fun, Grown Up Link was a bigger and more challenging but exciting world.
Playing Link as a child (and as a child) I couldn’t wait to get back to that Master Temple, plant the sword and start climbing on bigger boxes and taking on evil with an adult sword rather than a slingshot. Now, playing Link as a Grown Up (in my 20s) it’s a different story, I know how hard life can get. Yes, you grow up and are able to take on new things but it’s so much harder. People, my friends, family, people I don’t know have a really, really tough time of it. The challenges can sometimes break you down and I myself start to think back to the easy life of spending 20 hours a week in my bedroom on Ocarina without fear or worry about whether I was achieving enough working hard enough, doing what I was supposed to be doing with my life.
In a nutshell, as a child I wanted to be grown up link, but as a grown up running around Kokiri forest all day seems awfully tempting.
Then it got me thinking, why couldn’t young link compete in the adult world. Why did he have to grow up?
It’s kinda relevant in real life. If you take life seriously with all the vigour of a focused grown up life can seem pretty hard. If you take life as a playground in Kokiri forest, isn’t that better? Isn’t that more fun without the weight of responsibility on your shoulders. I mean sure, that responsibility is still there, but if you can maintain young link, or young you’s attitude to life, you might enjoy it more.
Robin Williams, a wonderful man, one of my heroes absolutely loved this game, to the point where he named his daughter Zelda. He once said that “You’re only given a little spark of madness, you mustn’t lose it.” Maybe that’s what I am really trying to say.
Most of us do lose it when we grow up to be Old Tom, Old Steph, Old Bob, or Old Jennifer, but we shouldn’t.
Continue to play in Kokiri forest, and try to be Young Link in an Old Link world. Look at things in wonder with that Kokiri music in the background, no matter what life throws at you. And when it gets hard, go get some advice from the people with the experience around you.
Young Link is the way to go. Just don’t take on the water temple, ever.