“Hyrule Historia” Reveals Zelda Timeline


An image of Skyword Sword art from "Hyrule Historia"

A new Zelda art book is putting an end to timeline debate.

Written by Vanessa Formato

The Legend of Zelda” video game franchise has always had its share of secrets. Nintendo has long kept information regarding the series’ timeline under wraps, but it looks as if all of that is about to change with the upcoming art book, “Hyrule Historia.”

The announcement of “Hyrule Historia” came with news that delighted Zelda fans, many of whom have spent considerable amounts of time speculating about the games’ chronology on online forums and fan-sites. A Nintendo World Report article touted a “second chapter [that] is a compendium of Hyrule’s history across the series.” The piece was accompanied by several scans, including one of the table of contents, which listed sections for what appeared to be periods of time in Zelda history. The Internet went wild.

Even just over one year ago, a project like this one seemed inconceivable to fans of the well-loved and critically-acclaimed adventure games. In a July 2010 interview with Nintendo Magazine, Zelda Director Eiji Aonuma confirmed for the first time in the series’ history that developers had their own definitive timeline.

“Yes, there is a master timeline, but it is a confidential document,” Aonuma said. “The only people that have access to that document are myself, [Head of Nintendo] Mr. [Shigeru] Miyamoto and the director of the title. We can’t share it with anyone else!”

Not long after enthusiasts began analyzing the table of contents, a video of the book hit the web that showed a page with a chronology chart. A fan translated the chart and put it online. Aonuma is the editor for “Hyrule Historia,” so it is relatively safe to assume that this is the formerly “confidential” official timeline.

The official timeline begins with “Skyward Sword,” the most recent Zelda release and splits multiple ways following “Ocarina of Time.” The concept of a two separate timelines following “Ocarina of Time” has long been discussed by Zelda theorists, but Nintendo also introduced a third possible reality. If Link were to die in the course of “Ocarina of Time,” the story would diverge into the earlier two-dimensional games, while the “Child” and “Adult” timelines include more recent three-dimensional adventures “The Wind Waker” and “Twilight Princess,” respectively.

So far, “Hyrule Historia” has only hit stores in Japan with no word yet whether there are official plans to release the comprehensive book in other countries. American fans are clamoring to be able to purchase this important collector’s piece, but they have had to settle for scans and translations provided by fellow Zelda enthusiasts.

Nintendo released “Hyrule Historia” as part of “The Legend of Zelda’s” 25th anniversary celebration in December 2011.