I write a lot about Mario, but not quite so much about Nintendo’s other long-lived franchise, the Legend of Zelda series. My wife is a Zelda fan, but even though she has most of the games, she hasn’t been playing video games a whole lot recently. So I kind of feel like I’m a bit behind on developments in the series. One item on which I have speculated is the convoluted timeline presented in the games. Well, it looks like, in conjunction with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the original game, Nintendo has finally given us the official timeline.
Kind of weird to see the game that started it all shoved off into a corner, huh? This was truly a series that grew in ways I’m sure nobody suspected at the beginning. As suspected by pretty much everyone who’s thought about such things, it’s really Ocarina of Time that complicates the whole thing, with this one game splitting the timeline into three different branches. The newest game, Skyward Sword, is apparently the beginning of the saga, and explains how Link, Zelda, and Ganon came to be tied together. I can’t tell you how as of yet, and it does seem a little weird, since Ganon apparently didn’t exist (at least not as a porcine monster) until the Ocarina era. We know there are several different Links and Zeldas involved, but as far as I know, only one Ganon. That’s kind of disturbing when you think about it, as it means the bad guy outlives all the good guys by some time, even if he has to keep getting resurrected in bizarre blood ceremonies.
As described in his entry on the Zelda Wiki, Ganondorf (whose last name was “Dragmire” according to the English translation of the Link to the Past instruction manual; apparently no other source has confirmed or denied this) was the only male member of the Gerudo tribe, and hence its king.
The Gerudo are a race of warrior women who live in the desert, and they’re all female except for one man born every century. Exactly how they reproduce isn’t really explained, but there’s a hint that they import men from elsewhere for the purpose of fathering children. We’re never told who Ganondorf’s actual parents are, but he’s raised by the twin witches Koume and Kotake, known collectively as the Twinrova.
The names of the witches refer to a pickled plum and a mushroom, respectively, but I don’t know where the name “Ganondorf” comes from. “Dorf” is German for “village,” and it’s this part of his name that he discards when he becomes a demon lord, but I tend to doubt that’s relevant. He achieved his monstrous, pig-like form when he managed to break into the sacred realm and steal the Triforce of Power. Since the Dark World (which is what the sacred realm became when Ganon took over) is shown in LttP as giving people who enter it forms that fit their personality traits, perhaps the pig head was symbolic of Ganondorf’s greed?
Anyway, he makes appearances as either a Gerudo human or a pig monster, if not both, in most but not all of the games in the series.
The more recently introduced demon lord in the series, Vaati, was actually active in the world of Hyrule before Ganondorf was born. He was a magician from the tiny Minish race who wanted to obtain absolute power. Like Ganondorf, he took an outlandish demon form, but his is basically a giant eyeball.
It appears that the only game to use both Vaati and Ganon is Four Swords Adventures, in which Ganon tricks Link into freeing Vaati so he can distract the hero from learning of his own evil plot. Apparently Vaati’s Japanese name is “Gufuu,” which means “tornado”; but his name in the translations is a subject of some speculation. One possibility that doesn’t appear on the wiki page is that “Vaati” is pretty similar to “Vati,” a familiar version of “Vater.” The word “Vater” means “father” (and is presumably the source of Darth Vader’s Sith name), hence “Vati” is essentially “daddy.” As such, his name could hint that he’s sort of the father villain in the series. I’d like to suggest that he could be Ganondorf’s father, since his identity remains unknown, but it’s highly unlikely. After all, Vaati was presumably sealed in the Four Sword when the Gerudo King came onto the scene. And since the character’s Japanese name is associated with wind, perhaps there’s some merit to the theory that “Vaati” comes from “venti,” the Italian for “winds.”
Picture by Leedom111