I am not sure why this was a surprising challenge to get from Casper. The Legend of Zelda is probably my favourite series ever to the point that I have the Triforce inked on my body, and I have already done a list of my Top 12 Zelda-ish Games. I suppose when it comes to the characters themselves, it is hard to really know what I find the most intriguing about them. Be it the uncomfortable villains, strange inhabitants or supporting cast, this franchise has some of the most memorable creatures ever. With this in mind, this is just my list of my personal favourite characters, all included for varied reasons. The only ones I will excluded in order to make this one more interesting, are any incarnation of the familiar trio: Zelda, Link, and Ganon(dorf).
This entry might be confusing to some and for good reasons. Tingle is a bizarre character, being a 35 year old man who thinks he is a fairy and always charging a huge chunk of money for making or deciphering maps. However, already here are two reasons for why I like Tingle. Firstly; he makes maps, which is a godsend for any adventurer. Secondly; I can respect a man who knows how to keep his business running, while still making it fair. This is to the point where he even got his own game about haggling and becoming rich, while paying mercenaries to do his bidding.
Also, I find him fascinating by the amount of questions that pop up, such as what his origin is and why he identifies himself as a fairy of all things. I understand that he is seen as a creep, but I admire how comfortable he is in his unique getup. Personally, I always saw him as an energetic man who just wants to have a good time without causing any harm, which I can relate to. He is also the reason for fantastic devices, like the lovely Tingle Tuner that made friendly (or chaotic) multiplayer in Wind Waker possible. Though his Tingle Bottle in the HD remake might be my favourite, as it was a nice way to connect to other players far and wide through messages and drawings. Without Tingle, I would not be missing the Miiverse and the Wii-U overall as much as I still do to this day.
I had a hard time putting any of the NPCs from Majora’s Mask on this list, since while they are all interesting characters in their own ways, about 80% of them are copied designs from the previous instalment, Ocarina of Time. However, if there is anyone in here that deserves a mention, it is Majora. We never truly see who this creature is, only the mask itself throughout the game. There are always subtle hints to what might elude to his original nature, such as the Happy Mask Salesman carrying the mask wherever he goes and how it does much more than just hiding someone’s face.
This created so many theories around this object alone, to the point that even the Twilight World is speculated to be connected to it somehow. Such unknown darkness is what makes Majora so intriguing, especially when we can only go by its uncomfortable and evil mask that tried to destroy the world. The manga does provide more insight to its origin, but I am always against using another media format in order to get more out of a current one, similar to using a guidebook almost. In fact, this secrecy is what makes me more fascinated by this final boss that still has me lost for words. Surreal and terrifying, both good reasons to love the concept of Majora.
Link’s Awakening was my first introduction to this franchise and what a bizarre title to start out with. This is basically a more fun version of Majora’s Mask, due to its more lighthearted take on a surreal setting in comparison to the N64’s darker tone. There are many cute and memorable characters to meet in this world, even if I wish they got more screen time. Be it the silly old man Tarin who is always good for a chuckle, the lovable girl Marin who does her best to help Link or the diverse amount of anthropomorphic creatures throughout, all of the inhabitants are incredibly charming. Even the shopkeeper scared me as a kid, and taught me why I should never steal.
However, one that hits close to the heart is Ulrira. He is an old man who is too shy to talk to anyone face to face, and instead asks you to use the phone booths scattered around the world. This is a neat way to subtly hint you throughout the game, but I also love that this is something very relatable. Meeting someone in real life can be difficult and even today where it is easy to think negatively of social media, it is also a nice and comfortable way to meet people and feel less lonely. This might not be the most charismatic character, but he is always so happy to talk and jolly, that I truly wish could have had a cup of tea with him. Even if it is over the phone, Ulrira is always good for a chat.
Perhaps more of a transportation unit than anything else, but Epona is still one steed you can rely upon. Despite being introduced in Ocarina of Time, I do like her incarnation much more in Twilight Princess where it showcases a strong bond between her and Link that has grown over a long time. This is much better than having Link playing the right tune and luring Epona into thinking he is Malon. There are even some other subtle details provided in this title, such as how she will let you know that she will be waiting for you if you talk to her in wolf form.
However, the rest of the reasons for why I like her, has to do with my own childish fantasy dreams. Since Ocarina of Time, I have always wished for actual sword combat on horseback. Shooting arrows never really did it for me on the N64, but swinging a sword around and taking out hordes of enemies was always exciting in Twilight Princess. Which is another crucial element to mention: Epona is not just valuable for your travels, but also for your combat skills. A true friend for long journeys and within fierce battles, one I hope to see again soon.
Another entry where I had a hard time choosing whom to put in, as I was uncertain if I could cheat by including Hero’s Spirit from Twilight Princess. However, to keep this list fair, I had to go with Orca from Wind Waker, which is one of the most important characters in any Zelda game. He is the one to teach Link sword fighting and is always up to test your skills to the max. I think what makes me love him the most, is that he introduces the series to countering attacks, a substantially helpful ability that adds to the combat.
This warrior is far from a complex character, but one with stern methods and a sad backstory. He actually hoped to become a swordsman himself, but due to an injury, Orca was never able to fulfil his dream and instead went back to Outset Island in order to become a fisherman. Yet, he still keeps practising and passing on his knowledge to his student, Link. This is incredibly admirable, and it is genuinely heartwarming to see your master in tears when you learn his strongest move, making him realise that even if he could not achieve his dreams, he could help someone else to do it.
I know there are many shopkeepers people would argue are the best ones, and I was originally thinking about Salvatore from Wind Waker, just because of the silly sounds he makes and the wooden cutouts he uses to set up a show. However, Ravio stood out to me the most because of what a sly creature he is. He moves into Link’s home and offers a bracelet as a small thanks for staying there, before proceeding to open a shop within where you can rent any item for a small price or buy them for a ton of rupees. If you die, all the rented items are returned to him and you have to repurchase them! What a clever shrew!
He is surely a greedy bastard, but this mechanic also makes it possible to take on any dungeon in any order you want to with only a few exceptions, which is a wonderful feature. Although, I also love that Ravio comes with a neat backstory and even a strong personality to him. He is upbeat, supportive, and even a heavy thinker when he has gotten enough money to retire. It is kinda sweet to see someone ponder about “what now?” when you really have nothing to do besides laying on the floor. Such transition and interesting development make Ravio much more memorable to me than Beedle.
I know many are going to wish that Saria was on this list, and while I do love that there is such a nice connection between her and Link through a simple melody, I just love Darunia more. He is a strict leader who does anything he can to protect his tribe, even if it would mean sacrificing his own life. However, while he can act harsh and somewhat stubborn, he is also a man who clearly has a soft side to him and wishes to enjoy life, which is easily showcased when he hears a specific song and starts dancing.
These are all great qualities to have and I cannot deny that I love his design that makes him look both tough and cute simultaneously! However, the most important reason for why he is here, is because of what an overall bro he is. This is clearly a guy who gives strong hugs, always work to be the best at whatever he is doing, while bringing his friends with him up to the top. There is such beauty in working hard in order to better yourself and your friends, while smiling through any harshness you encounter. No wonder he is the leader of the Gorons.
I am not sure if this one could be defended at all, but the main reason for why I have this creature on this list, is just because of what a surreal concept he is. Who thought that the Zelda series needed a backstory to why Link wears a hat? Well, Minish Cap obviously did. Ezlo is in many ways a hilarious take on the supportive character role, as he sits on Link’s head simply because he does not have any legs of his own, and always bicker in monologues to our hero with snarky and humours commentaries. Always being selfish and taking advantage of every situation he can, I cannot deny what a charming little brat he is.
However, he is not necessarily bad, but gives Link some tough love in a sense. He genuinely cares about the little boy in green, but has the spice of a terrible older brother you see in stereotypical families. In a way, he feels like a character only made for a silly joke, which is why I adore that he became canon to this series and that the developers actually made him into a memorable character. How strange is it then that the actual title of this GBA game is not a reference to Ezlo himself?
#4 King of Red Lions
This is another form of a transportation unit, but a combination of that and a supportive companion who provides hints to the player. With 90% of the world being covered in water, King of Red Lions is an essential part of the entire experience in Wind Waker, and is quite the helpful character. Besides getting a sail for travelling wherever the Wind Waker takes you, he will also acquire a crane for treasure hunting and even a cannon for blasting enemies and obstacles away. Combine this with him being always able to guide and contact you through the Pirate’s Charm, and this “boat” is incredibly reliable.
It should also be said that he is definitely one of the most memorable companions too. He has a formal tongue, can speak Hylian, and seems to be familiar with many mythical creatures in this world, eluding to a backstory of his that I do not dare to spoil! Luckily, he is not afraid of being humoristic or even sassy at times, pointing out flaws or making a joke for just the fun of it. It is really hard to top such a strong and supportive character who is basically a Swiss Army knife of a boat! Such a shame there is no fishing rod in this game.
This royal servant of Zelda has plenty of incarnations, but my favourite one and perhaps the most iconic one to boot, is the one from Ocarina of Time. I might be jumping the gun here, but while every version of Impa showcases her as a wise woman, this take on her does not only make her into a strong and confident character, but also a ninja. Thanks to this incarnation of Impa, this series is rocking ninjas to the point where even Zelda takes on the action, which a princess should do for her kingdom!
I think this is also why I admire this adaptation of Impa: she is still calm and wise, but never shies away when she needs to pick up her blade or work in secrecy. Because of this, it is a shame that this version of her is not revisited very often. Yes, there are incarnations of her that are still neat, but with how Hyrule Warriors had her wielding ginormous swords and naginatas, I can only imagine how amazing a game featuring her as the protagonist would be. Tingle got two titles, so why not give her at least one?!
Despite being far from the most adventurous character on this list, Medli from Wind Waker is the one that feels the most human to me and is easily among the most remembered characters from the entire series. I believe this comes from her personality, as Medli will go the distance for anyone if she believes she can be of help. Yet, she is never intentionally brave for selfish reasons, has any unique powers, and her experience goes no further than the comfort of her own home. She simply does what she can to help those in need, even if she has little to offer in terms of abilities or skills.
I especially love the moment when she discovers her destiny, since she does not change her attitude or perspective at all. She accepts her deeds, acknowledges the sad truth of what she is going to have to leave behind possibly forever, and starts her journey right away in order to save the world. That is both strong and heart-wrenching. Even if she is put in danger, Medli never blames you or acts like a damsel in distress, despite no combat abilities. She fights on with what little she got, and that is why I adore her. No wonder she is the apprentice attendant of Valoo, the patron deity and protector of Dragon Roost Island. Also, her design is cute!
If you have read My Top 12 Video Game Crushes (female), you probably saw this one coming. I will acknowledge that I hate her transformation at the end of the game, as it felt unnecessary, strange, and downright like a poor fanfiction. However, that will never change the impactful journey I experienced with this companion throughout Twilight Princess. Midna is a fascinating character who actually goes through an arc. She is a snarky and playful creature who always does what she can for her own sake. However, she starts to eventually warm up to Link and his world, understanding more the dire situations they are facing, and even forms a bond with our protagonist.
Midna is truly an interesting character with a nice backstory to her, and I genuinely love her strange yet intriguing design, to the point where I would love to try out her “hat”. She somehow combines every part of what I really enjoy in Zelda characters; humour, practical support, informative guidelines, connection to Link, and memorable personality. She even is the reason for why Link cannot only turn into a wolf, but also fast travel! Because of this, Midna is my favourite character in any Zelda game!
Thanks to this series, I have always appreciated having good companions for long journeys, but Zelda is far from the only franchise to offer this. Seeing as you also love animals as much as I do Casper, I want to hear your top animal companions in video games! The only requirement I will be giving your entries, is that you cannot play as them. They have to be AI units throughout the entire playthrough. What you qualifies as pets, is up to you! Make our kitties proud!