With the rumors sparked by Netflix that the possibility of a Legend of Zelda TV Show, many fans wondered which of the many Zelda games the show would be based on. Unfortunately, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata denied the rumors of any collaboration with Netflix. However, the question still remains. What Zelda game would make the best live action interpretation? For the purposes of this article, I am only including the main 3D games that have been released in the last decades or so. Sorry NES Zelda fans, your game won't show up on this list.
Ocarina of Time
The first and most obvious choice (for most fans) is the classic Nintendo 64 The Legend of Zelda game Ocarina of Time. This game is full of beautiful allusions and symbolism that make for a rich and complex plot. The main story, if you don't know, centers around a young Link who was born into a forest of fairy people even though in reality he is a Hylian. The Great Spirit, the Deku Tree, informs Link that he must find the Princess Zelda to find his fate in the world. After a time of dungeons and monsters, Link discovers that he must prevent the evil Ganondorf from obtaining the Triforce. Through some form or fashion, Ganon obtains part of the Triforce and sends the world into darkness. Link then goes into a Temple and advances in age and time a total of seven years into the future. The rest of the game is spent trying to find the Master Sword to defeat Ganondorf. Link's side kick here is the ever chatty fairy Navi that aids you throughout the game by allowing you to target and locate enemies and gives you hints. She would not be too difficult to translate into live action as Hollywood has been making small people around larger ones for quite some time.
This game is highly critically acclaimed and beloved by nearly all fans of the series. Its plot is not too dependent on side quests and is fairly straight forward. However, much of the side quests and minor characters/events are what make the game as complex as it is. Take that away and the plot is not quite as rich as one might think. Ocarina of Time would though be easily followed up by either Majora's Mask or Wind Waker or even both.
If the production company of the live action interpretation wanted to make a more family friendly Zelda, Wind Waker would most certainly be the first choice. The plot may not be as complex as Ocarina of Time, but it still presents itself with a self-sufficient storyline with plenty of symbolism. This plot is directly related to the Ocarina of Time plot as it tells in the beginning of what happened during that game. The entire world is flooded and made of islands of various size and shape. It starts with a young boy of a relatively indeterminate age who wakes up one day and has come of age to wear the clothes of the hero of the island. His sister is kidnapped by a lieutenant of the great evil of the world (Ganondorf..again). This starts him on the quest to find his sister and then ultimately stop Ganon. Link's side kick in this game would be difficult to render though as it is a full faced talking boat known as the King of Red Lions. The boat is only slightly more helpful than Navi as he does serve a direct purpose in the game but he would be difficult to make live action as it would require complex possibly expensive CGI to create.
As I said before, this game definitely lends itself to being more family friendly than many of the other games. The console games before it weren't dark taken at face value but unlike those games, Wind Waker hardly even has dark themes or temples. Sure there are ReDeads and skeleton-like Stalfos that could be a bit frightening but I'd say no darker than what would be given a PG rating. If a company were to make Ocarina of Time first, this would be a great sequel and/or spin off to it.
Now I have not honestly gotten through all of Majora's Mask as I found the plot, gameplay, and puzzles to be a bit too complex for my taste. (Video games are supposed to be calming right?!?!) I have seen plenty of videos and done plenty of research on the game though so I do have a pretty good idea of what a possible live action version would look like.
Out of all the games on the list, I think that Majora's Mask would actually make the worst game to try to make a live action interpretation of. The fact that the game revolves around turning back time and repeating days over and over again might make for a movie that would just be a little too complex and confusing to follow. The plot of this story is that Link, as a child and presumably the same Link from Ocarina of Time, falls down a hole and winds up in a pseudo-alternate-surreal Hyrule-like world of Termina. He is given a song in the beginning of the game that allows him to turn back time due to the fact that the Moon is going to crash into the world and destroy it. The game also revolves around power-giving Masks that Link can collect. The character of Skull Kid has the Mask of Majora which is said to be the most powerful (also evil) mask in the world. The game is long and complex but does lend itself to be quite entertaining.
Although it would be difficult to make this into a live action translation of the game, it would be interesting to watch. The implications of the entire game being a metaphor for Link being dead or death in general would make for a intriguing concept for a movie or show. I see this game as being better interpreted into a side book or mini series rather than a full movie or tv show. It also does directly follow Ocarina of Time quite nicely.
Out of all the games on the list, Twilight Princess is definitely my favorite. It is by no means a critic or fan favorite but I find the plot and the gameplay to be the best. This plot centers around one of the oldest Links that has been seen before. He is shown in a town outside of Hyrule proper and is a bit of a farm boy. After finding out that he is going to soon travel to Hyrule Castle Town to help deliver some weapons, his town is attacked by beasts who kidnap the farming town's children. He races off to find them only to be pulled into a shadow realm. Due to the fact that this Link was "chosen by the gods" he turned into a shadow beast (a wolf) instead of a spirit like all the other Hylians. The story after that involves a Twili imp, Midna, assisting the hero in his journey to find the lost children by elaborating on the fact that he would need to free Hyrule from the evil Twili King Zant and then enter the Twilight Realm to finally defeat him.
This game is definitely one that I find would make the best live action interpretation out of all the games. It has a multi-step complex plot and involves a backstory and characters that effectively demonstrate the real-life concept of there being shades of grey in morality rather than black and white. The characters are diverse and interesting and consistently show very realistic qualities of humanity. The plot/story is also less dependent on going between different times like Majora's Mask and Ocarina of Time. Overall I find that this game is a great combination of the games before it and still maintains quite a lot of uniqueness.
Being the most recent, yet earliest chronological game, Skyward Sword would definitely make for an interesting movie/tv show. It centers around a young man in Knight School on his home island Skyloft (Fun Fact: SS Link is the only Link with a formal education!). One day he is riding on his Loftwing, a giant bird essentially, with Zelda. Zelda gets knocked to the ground below by a giant storm and Link sets off on a quest to find her. Just before his journey he finds a sentient manifestation of the Sword of the Goddess named Fi, his sidekick for this journey. The predominant antagonist of the story, Ghirahim, spends the game trying to resurrect an ancient evil who has been locked away for a few millennia. The game takes place in both the Sky and the Ground with the Sky being one giant area and the Ground being divided into the three areas of Faron, Lanaryu, and Eldin.
The dynamics of the storyline of the game is fundamentally different from the rest of the games, especially considering Hyrule is barely even implied to exist in it and it shows that Link and Zelda knew each other even from childhood. This game would make for a great start of a series especially considering that it is first in the timeline of the official Zelda universe. It would also be pretty awesome to see the Sky and Silent Realms on the big screen. The main difficulty in this interpretation would be the Loftwings and the Sky seeing as though both of these aspects would pretty much have to be one-hundred percent CG.
The Big Decision
All in all, I think any of the five games listed above would make great movies or tv shows. I think that it would be best though, if a company did decide to make a live action interpretation, that making a tv show would be better. All the stories are too lengthy and complex for a movie, or even a series of movies, to do it justice.
So, what do you think?