Zelda Is The Princess, Now Link Is Too

[Mike] is a huge fan of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and now that he has a daughter it’s a great time to pass this epic quest down to the next generation. There’s a problem with explaining the plot to her daughter, though: even though the player can name the character after themselves, there’s no way to change the gendered pronouns. Yes, it’s a problem that could have been solved by a cameo by Professor Oak asking, “Are you a boy or a girl?’ but [Mike] came up with a better solution: changing all the pronouns with a ROM hack.

There are a few ‘problems’ with altering the dialogue with a ROM hack. Most importantly, all the new pronouns need to be the same length as the words they replace. [Mike] is using the word ‘milady’ to replace ‘my lad’ and ‘master,’ but also had to take a page from critiques of modern epics and replace ‘swordsman’ with ‘swordmain.’

So far, everything is working as planned and the [Mike]’s daughter [Maya] is enjoying seeing herself sail her dragon ship and battle foes. It’s a great effort to bring some semblance of gender neutrality to a classic game, and an awesome project for a really great dad.

Thanks to [Guillaume] for sending this one in.

43 thoughts on “Zelda Is The Princess, Now Link Is Too

  1. This is awesome, love it, makes me want to play Wind Waker again.

    Of course, there was this one time where I burned a piece of toast and that made me want to play Wind Waker again, so that might not be *saying* much… but still. Very cool, simple romhack to let a kid enjoy the story in a positive way. The artstyle in the game is consistently ambiguous enough that it kinda just works out anyway.

    1. Exactly. The game designers have built this game around a male character. Why go through all the hassle? It’s a great story about a little boy growing up and fighting evil. And the story can easily be enjoyed by boy and girl gamers alike.

      1. No, the game designers created Link to be a bland character that a player could easily identify with. More than that, it was designed in Japanese, where gender identifying nouns are rarer. It was made male, but making it female do not seem to change anything.

  2. While romhacking is cool and all, the only reason Link isn’t clearly male visually in wind waker is the art style. He is a guy. Why is it the end of the world to have a girl play a game with a guy as the protagonist? I never complained when in FF6 I played with Terra as the main character, nor when I play Populous 3 do I mind that the unit I use most often is Female.

  3. Interesting hack, but I can’t help but question his motivation. Either the daughter is too young or the father is too uptight if there is that much of a problem when the well-established playable character is a different gender. I wonder if he will go to the same lengths to show his son that roles traditionally considered female-oriented are not off-limits to him. I sure hope so.

  4. My question is why is HaD posting on a ROM hack for a nine year old game? It’s not like they’ve ever posted ROM hacks before and there have been many made. It feels a bit like HaD is trolling Zelda fans.

    1. Yes, it is admittedly a relatively simple ROM hack. As to a nine year old game, LOTS of older (ie, retro) game hacks have been posted on HaD. There have also been several bike LED headlamp builds featured here. I have enjoyed each of those; would I be bored if another one was posted? The answer is a flat NO.

      [Mike] has adapted something that he enjoys for the entertainment of his young daughter. If it allows his daughter to enjoy the game more, or at least identify better with the protaganist, I see it as a win.

      As to trolling Zelda fans, the Zelda series is hugely popular. I like Zelda, I am sure many others reading this site do as well. Would it be a better or worse hack if this was some obscure game no one had ever heard of? No. Most everyone knows who Zelda and Link are, so it is unnecessary to give a background of the game.

      Lastly, any time I see a parent use their talents in electronics, programming, design, etc. to make their children happier, it makes me feel better about the human race.

      1. Perhaps I expressed myself poorly,
        I have NO problem with this hack, Its a cool hack and the sentiment behind it is nice.

        I may have muddled my point when I referenced Wind Wakers age, Aforementioned point being that it seems odd for HaD to post on a ROM hack as they’ve never done it before, Most of HaDs post relating to games consist of hardware heavy hacks not saying ROM hacks don’t belong I just fount it odd and admittedly the posts title hits a nerve as I’ve spent far to much of my life having to explain to friends that Link is the guy in green, Zelda is the princess and that Samus Aran is actually a girl so yeah I felt just a tiny bit trolled.

  5. Would it had been so hard to tell her “just pretend”? Are you going to take every book she reads, scan it, change all the pronouns, and print it out again? Harriet Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? Jackie and the Bean Stalk? Is she never going to read a book with a male protagonist?

    1. Lots of hacks get responses like “what’s the point” or “waste of time.” This hack, though, gets something subtly different. It’s “just pretend” or “the character is supposed to be male.” Never mind that 90% of the game protagonists are male, and that the overwhelming majority of female protagonists are eye candy. Never mind that this Zelda game in particular has no romantic themes.

  6. So, he did a find-and-replace on the script file in the ISO? Next time I edit a Word doc I’m gonna send it in.

    It would have been better to tell your kid it’s a story about a boy. Some stories have boys, some have girls, this one happens to be about a boy (for the past 20 years…)

  7. anyone looking to do this, you need a copy of zelda that has the md5 of 6b5f06c10d50ebb4099cded88217eb71e5bfbb4a
    aka, D43E01 – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time / Master Quest ??????????
    im confused now lol

  8. I agree completely that the Dad is awesome for doing this. Hacking a game to this extent (while changing dialog is easy, changing this much dialog is tedious) definitely deserves to be here.

    However, I disagree that this needs to be done in the first place. What is wrong with a brother rescuing his sister? Also, there are TONS of times when a female is the hero. Metroid comes to mind first, and as other people have stated, many of the FF games have female leads.

  9. What’s next? Shave Mario’s mustache, and give him boobs and a handbag?
    I’ve got nothing against gender equality, but that’s being a bit anal. If you want to be wholly PC, you might as well go the extra mile and alter sprites to make Link a black jewish princess on a wheel chair.
    I mean, it’s not like you can’t play other games as a female player, and I don’t recall anyone feeling the need to give, say, Lara Croft a penis.

    1. What’s next? Shave Mario’s mustache, and give him boobs and a handbag?
      I’ve got nothing against gender equality, but that’s being a bit anal.

      I think you demonstrated you have something against gender equality when you equated it with “boobs and a handbag”.


      1. Thank you kind Sirmadam! I too am for gender equality!

        In the name of equality, every woman deserves to have a penis and a competitive streak!

        Anything less would be sexist.

      2. Looks like you mind me equating “boobs and handbag” as female characteristics, while not minding me equating “penis” as the sole male characteristic, Mr Kettle. You’ll be glad to know that your filter is working properly.

  10. It seems people are missing the point. It’s not that he was doing it to make it gender equal, but to help his daughter’s immersion into the video game. They say the world is instinctively progressive, then I read stuff like this in the comments >.>

    Seriously people, quit overthinking it.

    1. “help his daughter’s immersion” <- Talk about overthinking. As someone above said, I don't ever remember playing a female character in games and being less immersed than when I play male characters. You just go with it, it does nothing for or against immersion.

      Also, just changing something doesn't equal making progress.

      1. You seem to believe that everybody thinks or interacts with the world in the exact same way you do. Although it may not seem like it’s immersion breaking to you, it may be to her father or her as she is playing the game as herself, rather than “Link”.

  11. I thought, Mike only changed Link’s gender, not his own. However HaD opened my eyes when I read how Mike explained it “to her daughter”. It might be a bit awkward living in a family with 100% females, but let’s hope “the [Mike]”, her daughter, and her wife are able to enjoy this way of life.

    (SCNR… Proofreading articles shouldn’t be too complicated :P)

  12. +1 for the immersion. If your little girl wants to play with Barbie dolls, are you going to say “No, here’s GI Joe. Use your imagination” to her? No. She wants to play the game as a female, her father hacked the ROM (which would be more than a find / replace job, given there are ton of different gender specific pronouns that could be used in the game (my lad, master, mister, he, his, him, sir, man etc.)) and now his daughter is happy.

    Plus, I’m sure her dad is a hero at school, because he changed a video game just for her. What other father could say he’s done that?

  13. A lot of thought went into story and character development. Using your name instead of the intended name adds nothing but detracts from the game as it was envisioned. What would Cinderella be like if you just decided to change the main character’s name to Mark? Weeee I’m some random character named XYZ. Regardless, if his daughter is enjoying it then that’s all that matters.

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