The Legend of Zelda games have an amazing sense of adventure that ought to translate well to an animated series. But videogame journalist Blake J. Harris says that Nintendo’s only attempt at a Zelda cartoon, in 1989, is spoiled by its unlikeable protagonist.
“There was nothing that showed me that Link was loyal to anyone, or treated other people like family, or respectfully, or did things for the right reasons,” Harris says in Episode 421 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “So I was like, ‘This guy is just a smug jerk.’”
Fantasy author Erin Lindsey agrees that Link’s personality completely ruins the show. She’s particularly annoyed by his sexist attitude toward Princess Zelda. “He literally catcalls the princess at the 59-second mark of the whole show,” Lindsey says. “And just about every episode he makes a totally unwanted pass at her.”
But Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley enjoys many aspects of the show, particularly the way it faithfully incorporates the music, sound effects, monsters, and items from the original game. “If they do another animated show, I just hope they would keep the sound effects and videogame elements, which does set it apart from other cartoons that stray pretty far from the actual game,” he says.
Science fiction author Zach Chapman would like to see another Zelda cartoon, but thinks it should take a cue from the games and avoid giving Link any dialogue.
“I would love to see Genndy Tartakovsky, the guy who did Samurai Jack, do a take on Zelda,” he says. “You could actually have a silent protagonist, who doesn’t speak and who’s only doing heroic things.”
Listen to the complete interview with Blake J. Harris, Erin Lindsey, and Zach Chapman in Episode 421 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Blake J. Harris on the Assassin’s Creed movie:
“I felt like there was a lot that could have been done in the first act to get this train on the right tracks—even if it wasn’t going to be a great movie—to at least make it easier to follow, where you felt like you understood what people wanted and where everyone was going. … My memory is that this was going to be the first ‘good’ videogame movie, after all these decades of bad videogame movies. This has good actors in it, and is based on a game that actually has an interesting and unique mythology. This was supposed to be the movie that showed that movies about games could win Academy Awards and be taken seriously as movies. So it was particularly disappointing when that didn’t happen.”
David Barr Kirtley on the Legend of Zelda cartoon:
“There was this show called The Super Marios Bros. Super Show!—and that was total false advertising, it was not a super show at all. But every Friday they would have a Legend of Zelda cartoon, and those were amazing. I taped them all on my VHS tapes, and I just watched them over and over again. I can remember in particular my friend Ross was over at my house, and I was watching the scene over and over again where Link flips off the dragon’s back and then bounces the bolts off the plate to destroy the dragon. I was watching it over and over again, and finally my friend was like, ‘Why do you like this so much?’ But it seems pretty self-evident to me.”
Erin Lindsey on the Castlevania cartoon:
“I’m a sucker for the anime style in general, when it’s well done, and this is so well done. The windows of the village in the winter night just glow. You feel the warmth. There’s so much subtlety to the palettes. The foreground is so sharp against the background — there’s so much depth to it. It’s just beautiful. That opening sequence, the opening credits? One of my criticisms of the show is that I don’t get to watch that every episode, because you only get to watch it for Episode 1 of each season. So you only see it one time. It’s beautifully done. It’s well acted, it’s dark. I really, really liked it. And I do think it improves over time.”
Zach Chapman on Pixels:
“There’s a videogame tournament, and NASA beams it off into space, and then 40 years later there’s an alien invasion, because they think that the people winning these games is a [declaration] of war. So these light beings inhabit the forms of Pac-Man and all of those retro games—Galaga, Asteroids, those kinds of things, they’re all in this movie, and you have Adam Sandler shooting a light gun in London. … The conceit is that Adam Sandler is this schlub who works for a ‘nerd’ installation company, and he’s best friends with the president, who’s Kevin James. I mean, it’s infantile how this was plotted and who the characters are, but once you get past that, it’s … fine?”