2021 sees the 35th anniversary of Nintendo's flagship The Legend of Zelda series, and fans aren't even close to being tired of the IP yet. An HD remake of Skyward Sword will make its way to Switch consoles soon, and fans will get more news about the sequel to Breath of the Wild later this year. While looking to the future of Zelda games, fans don't keep themselves from looking back on what could have been, either.
Recently, there was news of a cancelled Zelda game set in the darker timeline of the series. This game's story would have followed the last male Sheikah's attempts to stop Ganon from being resurrected, and would have fit right in to the timeline where Link faces defeat at the hands of Ganondorf. As any fan of The Legend of Zelda series may known, the official timeline for the series splits after Ocarina of Time, and can often be complicated to understand. This darker timeline in Zelda lore has a rich and complex history, and encapsulates many games in the series.
In order to understand the Downfall Timeline, one has to look at Ocarina of Time and Hyrule Historia. Since the series' inception, there was never an official timeline for The Legend of Zelda games. Some were loosely tied to others as prequels or sequels, and some even featured the same Link. With the releases of The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, fans learned that those stories were set in two different versions of Hyrule after the events of Ocarina of Time. When Hyrule Historia was released in 2011 with Skyward Sword, the official timeline was laid down.
The Hyrule Historia revealed that Ocarina of Time didn't just split Hyrule's future into two new timelines, but split it into three. The language is vague, but apparently if Link was to be defeated during the events of Ocarina of Time, the result would lead into the Downfall, or Decline, Timeline. This came as a shock to many fans of the series, not thinking that Nintendo would commit to the idea that Link could be defeated, but it exists nonetheless. While different people interpret Link's "defeat" in different ways, the key is that Ganondorf is able to steal all three part of the Triforce.
Since Link is defeated in this scenario, Ganondorf is able to become the monstrous Demon King Ganon. Using the power they have, Zelda and the Sages are able to seal Ganon away in the Sacred Realm, seemingly stopping him. However, in the time between Ocarina of Time and A Link to the Past, a huge event called the Imprisoning War happens.
Currently, there is not a detailed account of the events pertaining to the Imprisoning War. This period has been retconned a couple times to help fit the narrative of certain games, but there are some common themes. Some time after Ocarina of Time Ganon is sealed away in the Sacred Realm following Link's defeat, news gets around that the Sacred Realm, or "Golden Land" per A Link to the Past, is home to an immense power that can grant any wish. Those full of greed start fighting to try and get into the Sacred Realm in order to use the power of the Triforce.
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