Echoes of Wisdom Should Be the Start of a “Legend of Link” Series

Echoes Of Wisdom finally features Zelda as a playable protagonist, but there are reasons why some are referring to the game as the "Legend of Link."

The Legend of Zelda
Photo: Nintendo

While Metroid Prime 4 served as the showpiece announcement of the latest Nintendo Direct presentation, the show was arguably stolen by the reveal of The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom. It is not only a truly unexpected new Legend of Zelda game (likely the last new Legend of Zelda game the Nintendo Switch will receive), but Nintendo revealed that Echoes of Wisdom will star Princess Zelda as its playable protagonist. Yes, Echoes of Wisdom is the long-awaited major Legend of Zelda game that will give Princess Zelda an adventure to call her own.

As such, it didn’t take long for many fans to start referring to that game by the title it was known as in certain circles when it was just a hypothetical project: “The Legend of Link.” Some went so far as to say that Nintendo missed the boat by not officially giving the game that prefix. I see their point. Granted, it would have probably created mass marketing confusion, but it’s the biggest missed clever naming opportunity since we all realized the fourth Bad Boys movie couldn’t be called Bad Boys 4 Life.

Still, we shouldn’t let the Legend of Link dream die so easily. Regardless of what its name may be, Echoes of Wisdom has a chance to become the series of games that Zelda, and The Legend of Zelda, really could use right now.

A glance at Echoes of Wisdom is enough to reveal that it’s based on the Switch remake of Link’s Awakening. Actually, “based on” is a pretty generous way to describe it. If you think of Echoes as a Zelda-focused mod of that game, you probably wouldn’t be too far off from how the title was likely designed.

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But that Zelda factor is already proving to be a big difference. Rather than give Zelda a sword and wish her good luck, Echoes of Wisdom will re-imagine a classic Legend of Zelda adventure through the lens of that character. Most notably, it will introduce an item called the “Tri Rod” that will allow Zelda to create echoes of items she interacts with throughout the game. Those echoes will be used to solve various puzzles and even assist Zelda in combat (where she can create echoes of enemies that fight by her side). It’s a seemingly logical extension of the mythical “wisdom” that Zelda has long possessed. It’s also an interesting variation of the crafting and fusing mechanics seen in Tears of the Kingdom.

What may matter more at the moment, though, are the ways that Echoes of Wisdom echoes a classic Legend of Zelda adventure. While we’re still waiting to learn more about the project, the fact it was built with the Link’s Awakening engine strongly suggests the game will more closely resemble a more traditional Legend of Zelda adventure. That likely means dungeons, puzzles, and many of the other things that we often associated with that franchise before Breath of the Wild took the series in a bold (and widely successful) new direction.

It’s a fascinating contradiction of concepts. What appears to be the most traditional new mainline Legend of Zelda game we’ve gotten in years breaks the series’ oldest tradition by featuring someone other than Link in a starring role. It’s no wonder that some have been quick to view this game as a likely one-off novelty complete with a fan-given name that underscores its perceived relationship to the rest of the franchise.

I don’t quite see it like that, though. Nintendo may be hesitant to take Link back to the way things were since Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom became all-time blockbusters, but Zelda? Well, that’s a different story. Beyond a vague hope for something good, there are no real expectations for what constitutes a Zelda game. As a playable protagonist, she’s a bit of a blank canvas.

Yes, Nintendo should certainly use that canvas to create something that feels true to Zelda and worthy of the character. But, they also have the opportunity to use Zelda as the harbinger for the revival of those classic Legend of Zelda adventures that never really became outdated; they were just replaced with something else.

We may not get an Ocarina of Time or Wind Waker-style massive new Legend of Zelda adventure starring Link for a very long time. Even the prospect of a “smaller” Legend of Zelda game in the style of the series’ various handheld releases isn’t a guarantee when new games demand so many resources and the Switch doubles as Nintendo’s primary handheld hardware. Nintendo has made it clear that they aren’t interested in looking back when it comes to Legend of Zelda. Many fans have also since accepted that they too need to learn to view games like Tears of the Kingdom as the likely future of that franchise.

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But if Echoes Of Wisdom proves to be as great as it certainly has the potential to be, then Zelda could become a true hero of the people by reviving and reimagining a style of Legend of Zelda adventure that is otherwise at risk of being treated as a relic when it has so much to give. The Legend of Link, indeed.