by Celeste Roberts
"Now, go home, Link. Regain your lost time! Home... where you are supposed to be... the way you are supposed to be…” - Princess Zelda, Ocarina of Time
One’s house serves as a place of safety and respite, a beacon of comfort after a long day and a gathering place for loved ones. One of my favorite parts of a Zelda game is seeing where Link lives and how his home is set up. I grew up playing with Barbies and dollhouses (I never had the coveted Malibu Dreamhouse, though), and I view video games as virtual storybooks. To me, a safe haven is essential to anyone’s narrative.
I have not played every game in the Zelda series (that will come in good time), but I have looked up screenshots and video footage of the ones unfamiliar to me so I can see where Link hangs his hat after a long day of battling Ganondorf’s evil forces (or whatever villain drives the plot).
Here are some of my favorite homes I have explored.
A Link to the Past
We first see Link’s residence in A Link to the Past. Our hero shares the dwelling with his uncle. The small home is modest and furnished with only the necessities, including clay pots containing hearts and a treasure chest with the very first item Link obtains: the lantern. How practical! I love the detail of the cooking pot in the top right corner; a home-cooked meal is the perfect way to end a day of adventuring. The outside of the home is simple: bushes and rocks line the terrain.
Whenever Link is visiting the Dark World, his house is a bomb shop, complete with a peculiar-looking salesman and a watering trough (or bathtub?).
I enjoy the duality of Link’s home versus a bomb shop. Can you imagine going away and finding explosives in your home?! That has to be a jarring sensation.
A Link Between Worlds
This 3DS Zelda game nearly perfectly mirrors the Light and Dark Worlds of A Link to the Past. Link seems to live on his own this time, and advanced graphics allow us to see more details in his humble abode, including a nod to Majora’s Mask on one of the walls.
Some time during the adventure, Ravio of Lorule commandeers Link’s house in order to become an entrepreneur -- and Link is his sole customer. I’m not sure how many people would allow such audacity, but when the world is in trouble, I suppose someone’s turning your house into a retail set-up is the least of your worries.
In Lorule, Link’s house appears to lack a resident, though a lone diary in the top-right corner hints that sneaky Ravio owns the home. For an abandoned dwelling, the previous owner seems to have enjoyed a few comforts.
Ravio is one of my least favorite characters in the Zelda series, but I think the writers intended for him to be Link’s antithesis. Perhaps the cowardly Lorule denizen is just an excellent actor in order to protect his cover, but his personality irritates me. I will say that his bunny hood is adorable, and someone on Reddit points out the hood’s parallel with Link’s bunny form in A Link to the Past.
Ocarina of Time (N64 Version)
Embodying every child’s dream home, Link’s house in Kokiri Forest is a literal tree house, complete with a ladder and balcony.
A small but telling detail on Link’s house is a rudimentary scribble of what appears to be a child facing a monster. Is this the work of young Link’s imagination, or is it foreshadowing for the soon-to-be hero’s imminent quest?
Inside the home is a quaint display of the bare necessities: a bed, a dresser with a mirror and sink, farming tools, a table with chairs, and a bulletin board with the player’s game stats (this may not be typical in most people’s homes, but we have a game to complete and bragging rights to obtain).
Link can return to his home as an adult, though he probably cannot fit in the tiny bed anymore. One of the best bonuses in the game is receiving a cow of one’s own after completing the obstacle course challenge at Lon Lon Ranch; Malon somehow manages to bring a cow up a set of ladders and into Link’s tiny tree house, allowing the Hero of Time to enjoy fresh milk anytime he has an empty bottle. Not to sound ungrateful, but I don’t think I would appreciate that new roommate in real life. Smelly, smelly!
The Wind Waker
Link shares his island home with his younger sister, Aryll, and their grandmother. What a view of the sea! Is that an upside-down Triforce on the front door, too?
The inside of the home is cozy and efficient. Link’s grandmother sits beside a fireplace heating up her delicious Elixir Soup, which is perfect for reviving stamina, and a set of bunk beds is nearby. Upstairs is where Link receives his Hero’s Clothing and Hero’s Shield, a sign of his coming of age.
If a child is old enough to venture out into the Great Sea, then he is old enough to own property, right? Link eventually acquires Mrs. Marie’s Cabana Deed and thus becomes the landlord of a beautiful island, complete with a butler, who happens to be a door.
Inside is a clawfoot tub, a frustrating slide puzzle, and solitude… ah, perfection! The teeny, tiny downside to the otherwise blissful island paradise lies beneath the fireplace: a sewer rife with enemies, Rupees, and a treasure chart. Small price to pay for isolation, though, right?
Breath of the Wild
This is the only home in the entire Zelda series (so far!) that the player may somewhat customize by adding weapons and shields onto the walls. The rest of the home includes a fully set table, a bookshelf, a storage area beneath the stairs, a comfortable bed, pictures, and a daffodil in a vase. Cozy and inviting!
I really enjoyed this side quest because, as silly as this may sound, I felt as though I was helping Link settle down and find a sanctuary of his own.
Interestingly, our hero’s home is on the outskirts of Hateno Village rather than within the cluster of houses. The only residents who live even farther away are Purah and Symin, who reside in the Hateno Ancient Tech Lab at the very top of a hill. I may be diving a bit too deeply here, but perhaps Link’s detachment from the village is symbolic of his inability to truly belong in a world 100 years past his fall and subsequent slumber. He is largely responsible for helping to protect Hyrule, yet he is a stranger in a familiar land.
My Favorite Home: Ordon Home in Twilight Princess
Link’s home in Ordon is, to me, the coolest of the hero’s dwellings. It appears to be a more sophisticated version of young Link’s treehouse in Ocarina of Time, and it includes multiple levels. The designers seem to have taken extra time in adding details to this home, and I appreciate their hard work and imagination.
Tapestries, photographs, an open fire with a crock pot, rugs, books, eating utensils, table, chairs, bottles… these features help to depict Link as a character with roots (figuratively and literally with the tree roots of his home) and a life outside of playing Hyrule’s savior (I think he deserves a bed, though). Again, Link’s residence is not included in the main area with the other villagers’ homes, perhaps symbolizing the young man’s separation from regular Hylians.
I would love to enjoy pure customization of Link’s house in a Zelda game one day. I know I can enjoy any The Sims installment and create my own vision of his house, but how fun would building, decorating, and enjoying Link’s home be? Perhaps a mini-game of some kind could appear, like a card game to take a break from saving the world.