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The Annexation of Koholint Island to Hyrule as seen in Zelda II

3/31/12 2:44pm
tl;dr

This blog goes into details of the materialization of Koholint Island from Link's Awakening as a real island that manifested and became annexed as an offshore island of Hyrule. I get into the whole timeline branch containing A Link to the Past, Oracle of Ages / Oracle of Seasons, Link's Awakening, The Legend of Zelda, and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and make sense out of the clues we get here & there in the games & in the manuals to reveal a shocking possibility that Eastern Hyrule in Zelda II was once Koholint Island.

While making my case, I present evidence that spawns off several other ideas, such as the sleeping Zelda from Zelda II being the same Zelda as the one in A Link to the Past. I also present my idea that the inhabitants of Koholint weren't merely elements of a dream, but like Link they were actual people & animals who existed in various real worlds & got caught up in the Wind Fish's dream.

Also, from the timeline & info presented in the Zelda II manual, I present a likely storyline of what happened after Link's Awakening and show that the king referred to in the Zelda II manual is the one who returned after the Link in A Link to the Past successfully killed Ganon. This puts Zelda II in a context that had not really been widely considered before.

Whew! I'm finally done writing this blog which has been a long time in the making. It should be a very interesting read, so I hope most g1s clicking on this will take the time & read the whole thing. Even though I've worked on this one for a long time after gathering my thoughts, a lot of what you'll see came to me as I was writing it because certain realizations dawned on me that hadn't before, which made writing this an even more exciting experience.

I'll start off by saying that I've made it no secret that I'm a retro gamer & one who enjoys the first four Zelda games on Nintendo's consoles (the NES, SNES & Game Boy) more than any others in the series. I'm guessing I will also enjoy the Oracle games since I never played them yet even though I've had them unopened for 10 years now.

So naturally I played these games over & over again. One thing I always wanted was the return of Koholint Island to the series after loving Link's Awakening so much, since it’s my 2nd favorite Zelda game right behind A Link to the Past. I thought it was a magnificent setting for a Zelda game and how it would be cool if a separate series of Zelda games were to be set in it similar to how the Mario Land games are set in Sarasaland/Mario Land.

Now some of you may be saying that's impossible because Koholint Island wasn't real but just a dream. Well in response to that, I always thought it would be cool if in a future Zelda game, the power of the Triforce or perhaps even the power of the Wind Fish turned the dream island of Koholint into a real island. After all, the Triforce is able to create things out of nothing as was the case with all the Dark World enemies in A Link to the Past.

The Dark World was once the Golden Land, which was devoid of such evil monsters until Ganondorf & his gang of thieves discovered the entrance to it. According to the manual, he killed all the members of his gang after entering the Golden Land just before he took the full Triforce. He turned into his Ganon form, and then created an army of evil monsters along with twisting the Golden Land into the Dark World. The manual says that some of the greedy men who later on ended up in the Dark World in search of the Triforce became members of Ganon's army, but we know they would only be a portion of that army. The huge monsters like the dungeon bosses were definitely not greedy Hylians as their bodies were nowhere proportional to a typical Hylian body size, as all other Dark World characters Link encounters are (like the bully & his friend, the Flute Boy, etc).

Those bosses & many others were definitely created by the Triforce just as it twisted the Golden Land into the Dark World to grant Ganon's wishes. So if evil monsters could be created out of nothing by the Triforce, I'd say a dream island could also be materialized by it or even by a being as powerful as the Wind Fish, who in Link's Awakening was presented to be godlike in power.

But after wanting this to happen, I began to analyze certain facts & elements of the games and I realized that the materialization or manifestation of Koholint Island may have already happened. And the biggest piece of evidence I can give is Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.

As you can see, Zelda II has a huge island that no other Zelda game has. The part of Hyrule featured in The Legend of Zelda has small islands each spanning one screen where underworld dungeons or heart containers are located, but these are mini islands located in small lakes.

In A Link to the Past, Hyrule/the Light World only has 2 islands in the middle of Lake Hylia.

Hyrule in Ocarina of Time has 3 islands in Lake Hylia.

In both of these games, the islands are small & nothing near the size of Koholint nor Eastern Hyrule in Zelda II. The islands in The Wind Waker (which isn't even in the same timeline branch) aren't even islands, but instead mountain tops that stick out of the water after the Great Flood.

The thing that further supports my idea is the timeline. I always suspected that Link's Awakening belongs in the same timeline branch as the NES games and A Link to the Past (I was one who felt it came after ALttP & before the NES games but didn't know where the Oracle games would fall), so much that I began writing down my thoughts of this very blog a while ago...before the Hyrule Historia was ever announced or released. And then late last year the Hyrule Historia was released & confirmed my suspicions with the placement of the game in the timeline. In that book, Link's Awakening is placed after the Oracle games and before the 2 NES games.

Now to get to the real meat of this blog:

What if Koholint Island was materialized as an actual island & annexed offshore to Hyrule as Eastern Hyrule in Zelda II?

Take a look at Eastern Hyrule in Zelda II:

It’s a huge island unlike those in any other Zelda game in that branch of the timeline. Take a look at its general shape. Notice the concave area east of Nabooru where the bay is---that water between Nabooru & the 5th (Ocean) Palace. Now take a look at Koholint Island & its shape:

Notice how it too has a very similar shape with a concave area where Martha's Bay is. If you rotate Koholint Island as it appears in the above image counterclockwise by some degrees, you could almost superimpose it on Eastern Hyrule. The landscape would have changed, but that's true of Hyrule in every single Zelda game. Despite the landscape change, many of the areas in Koholint correspond to areas in Eastern Hyrule. For example, Mt. Tamaranch & the Western Tal Tal Mountains would around be where Darunia, a mountain town, is located.

The Eastern Tal Tal Mountains, where the Eagle's Tower is located, could have broken off & become the rocky Maze Island that Eastern Hyrule is bridged to in Zelda II. Martha's Bay corresponds to the watery bay area between Nabooru & the Ocean Palace. It's possible that the Ocean Palace itself could be the former Catfish's Maw from Link's Awakening. Goponga Swamp corresponds to that swamp north of the deserted Kasuto (the swamp with the extra life doll). The Eastern Toronbo Shore area at the south corresponds to the shores off the Three Eye Rocks. Animal Village could be where the new Kasuto is. The Mabe Village area could have become that lava wasteland south of the Great Palace. Aside from the lava wasteland, the similarities are really amazing.

Now let's take a look at Eastern Hyrule in Zelda II. It’s the place where the Great Palace, which contains the Triforce of Courage, is located. The purpose of the Great Palace was to hold the Triforce of Courage in it and we know that the Triforce of Courage originally rested in the Golden Land/Dark World as we saw when the Link in A Link to the Past acquired the full Triforce in the ending of that game.

Though I never played the Oracle games yet, I read that the Triforce had been relocated to Hyrule Castle in those games and it’s what sends Link to the respective lands he travels to in those games. There is no account of the Triforce of Courage during the events of The Legend of Zelda, so sometime between the Oracle games and Zelda II, the Triforce of Courage was moved to the Great Palace. It's important to note that the king from A Link to the Past was alive at the time of the Oracle games & Link's Awakening, because that king is an important piece of the puzzle as we will see a few paragraphs down.

Now the cool thing is, this span between the Oracle games & Zelda II is the same span in which Link's Awakening is placed in the official timeline, so the manifestation/materialization and annexing of Koholint Island as an offshore island during this time would account for the presence of Eastern Hyrule as it is in Zelda II. Given how Zelda II features the same Link as in The Legend of Zelda and takes place a few years later on Link's 16th birthday, it's safe to assume that the Triforce of Courage had been resting in the Great Palace during the events of The Legend of Zelda as well. The thing is, we didn't see the Great Palace in that game, nor did we see the island that is Eastern Hyrule in that game. The landscape of Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda does however contain a shore that borders water on the east & even have platforms in the water where a Heart Container rests:

So there are two possibilities:

1. The port by the harbor town of Mido from which Link uses the Raft in Zelda II to travel from Western Hyrule to Eastern Hyrule was built between the 2 NES games.

This means that the island that is Eastern Hyrule in Zelda II existed along with the Great Palace during The Legend of Zelda but was not featured in that game. It also means that not as much travel to Eastern Hyrule was done by mainland Hyruleans/Hylians until that port was built because it was harder to get to and those on the island kept to themselves. The platform where the Heart Container rested could have been where the port was built & the harbor town of Mido could have been built around that area.

2. The island that is Eastern Hyrule in Zelda II did not yet exist during The Legend of Zelda and was materialized after that game & before Zelda II so that the Great Palace was relocated there to prevent Ganon (upon his resurrection) or anyone else from knowing its location or getting there. This would mean that the Great Palace was in some unseen/non-featured area of Hyrule during The Legend of Zelda or in some unbombable mountain.

Since it would likely take the power of the complete Triforce to materialize/manifest Koholint Island from a dream island to an actual island & the Triforce of Courage had been locked away until the ending of Zelda II, it's unlikely that the manifestation & annexing of Koholint Island to Hyrule happened between The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II if the Triforce was responsible for such a thing taking place.

Also, the towns in Eastern Hyrule such as Nabooru, Darunia, and especially the 2 Kasutos seemed to have been well established during the time of Zelda II so that they had been around for quite some time. In the case of Kasuto, it was around long enough to have been taken over by Moas & deserted by the townsfolk where they established a new hidden settlement with the same name. There is a solid piece of evidence from the Zelda II manual that pretty much confirms that the 2nd possibility above is actually impossible. This regards the king who wrote the scroll that Link reads in the story presented in the manual that I will be getting to below.Therefore I'm going with the first possibility, and I have more evidence I'd like to present to back up my opinion regarding the creation of the Great Palace.

The manual of Zelda II states that there was a wise King of Hyrule who ruled over a golden age over the kingdom of Hyrule with the united Triforce at his command.

The king created the guardian, Thunderbird, as well as a final test (which was the battle between Link & his shadow) for the person worthy of the Triforce of Courage to beat before he won it. The wise king that the Zelda II manual mentions hid the Triforce of Courage because as he wrote in a scroll that was passed down & eventually read by the Link in the NES games, only special person with a strong character and no evil thoughts could wield the full Triforce.

In the message the wise king wrote on the scroll, he mentions that if misused, the full Triforce would produce many evils. It sounds as if he was speaking from experience.

Based on the structure of the timeline, this makes a lot of sense because I'm pretty sure that the wise king who wrote that message on that scroll & who ruled during the golden age is the king Agahnim did away with in A Link to the Past (i.e. the father of the Zelda in ALttP).

I'll be clarifying this below.

If my assumption that Koholint Island was manifested as a real island & annexed to Hyrule as Eastern Hyrule (seen in Zelda II) is correct, then the most appropriate time for this to have happened is during this wise king’s rule using the unified Triforce during Hyrule’s golden age. An important thing to consider is that timeline-wise between Ocarina of Time and Zelda II, the full Triforce wasn’t even in Hyrule as the golden triangles until the Link in A Link to the Past killed Ganon & brought it to Hyrule.

Also, given how the timeline branch that starts with A Link to the Past stems from an unseen 3rd ending of Ocarina of Time, it's important to note that in that game Princess Zelda tells Link that a person with a righteous heart who wins the full Triforce would begin a golden age for Hyrule.

This golden age is obviously the era in which the king mentioned in the Zelda II manual ruled.We know that the Golden Age of Hyrule never happened in Ocarina of Time because the Link in that game never won the unified Triforce. At the end of that game, Ganondorf was sealed in the Sacred Realm (which became the Evil Realm) with the Triforce of Power still inside him in the adult branch of the timeline. In the child branch, the divine prank led to Ganondorf getting the Triforce of Power in the backstory of Twilight Princess. These branches don't even matter because Zelda II takes place in a universe where those events don't apply to it. So obviously when we look at the scenario that does apply to Zelda II, where OoT Link fails to stop Ganondorf, there was no golden age of Hyrule right after Ocarina of Time since Ganondorf, who was evil, would have won the full Triforce after killing Link & Zelda.

But this golden age did happen after A Link to the Past since the Link in that game won the full Triforce after beating Ganon. This falls in line with the timeline and with the story told in the Zelda II manual. In the ending of A Link to the Past, the Triforce revived dead people like Link’s uncle & the Flute Boy and undid the evil done by Ganon. More importantly for the purposes of this blog, it brought back the king who was either killed by Agahnim or had gone into hiding.

So the king in A Link to the Past was alive/around at the end of the game when we can confirm the golden age of Hyrule began thanks to the Link in that game. Furthermore, that same Link who won back the Triforce & brought it with him to Hyrule is the one who went on the quests in the Oracle games and the same one who, upon his trip back to Hyrule from the Oracle games, got caught in the storm that shipwrecked him into unconsciousness & into the Wind Fish’s dream.

Therefore when that same Link finally made it back to Hyrule after being shipwrecked in Link's Awakening, he could have told the king from the ending of A Link to the Past about his adventure, who could have used the unified Triforce to materialize Koholint Island into reality & annexed it to Hyrule as a favor to the hero who made the golden age of Hyrule all possible. After all, we know he had a thing for Marin in that game and was also friendly with her father Tarin, as well as Papahl and all the other friendly inhabitants on Koholint island. I have to say that it's very likely that these people were not merely parts of a dream but did in fact exist and had been caught in the Wind Fish’s dream much like Link did, but I have more to say about that later on in this blog.

My point:

The king who returned at the end of A Link to the Past is the wise king referred to in the Zelda II manual who ruled during Hyrule's golden age which began after Link was successful in A Link to the Past. So the king in ALttP is the one who wrote that scroll in the old Hylian language that the Link in Zelda II read. The king knew how dangerous it would be for the Triforce to fall into the hands of an evil person because he had firsthand experience in his time with Ganon who had the full Triforce in his possession & used Agahnim as his pawn to eliminate that same king while trying to break out of the Dark World. And I'm saying that during this golden age, that king used the power of the full Triforce to materialize Koholint Island as a real island & annexed it offshore to Hyrule. As a matter of fact, the wise king mentioned in the Zelda II manual refers to the Great Palace being located in "the Valley of Death on the largest island of Hyrule".

This reference to "the largest island of Hyrule" is the concrete evidence I was referring to earlier that confirms that the island that is Eastern Hyrule in Zelda II was not created between The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II. This is why that 2nd possibility I gave above is ruled out as a possibility.

So if my assumption is right that the king of ALttP is the wise king referred to in the Zelda II manual, then it means he was referring to an island that didn't exist in A Link to the Past! Which means that the island could very well have been created shortly after Link's return from his shipwreck experience. That scroll that Link reads in the story presented in the Zelda II manual must have been written near the end of that king's life because it says he searched and could not find a person worthy of possessing the full Triforce. Even though the Link in A Link to the Past, the Oracle games & Link's Awakening was worthy of the full Triforce since he won it & made the golden age possible, it could mean that Link either died or went off on another journey before the king could make him the heir to the Triforce. As a side note, it would mean that the Zelda in A Link to the Past is the one who had the magical spell placed on her & woken up in Zelda II. This would also align with the timeline because if the timeline is adhered to, that sleeping Zelda could not be the first ever princess Zelda since the sleeping Zelda's father was the one who had ruled during the golden age with the Triforce in Hyrule (as opposed to the Golden Land) and that never happened until after the full Triforce was brought to Hyrule/the Light World by Link in ALttP. Also, nowhere in the manual does it say that the Zelda under the sleeping spell was the first ever Princess Zelda. It merely says that as a result of the spell placed on her, all royal daughters were named Zelda after her. So if my idea is correct, then we have a very interesting aftermath story of what became of the Zelda in A Link to the Past.

Finally, as one last hint I’d like to point out: notice how the remains of Link’s ship in the ending of Link’s Awakening after the storm destroyed it & after he wakes up from the Wind Fish’s dream is merely a Raft!

Link obviously got home on that raft, so what if that’s the same exact raft that’s featured in The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II? After all, the Raft is how Link traveled from the port by Mido in Western Hyrule to the port by Nabooru in Eastern Hyrule in Zelda II and it's how he got home to Hyrule from his shipwreck spot after Link's Awakening. Given how those games follow Link’s Awakening in that branch of the Hyrule Historia timeline, it would be appropriate & an awesome nod to the NES games. The Link from Link’s Awakening could have been the one to put the Raft in the dungeon (Level 3 in the First Quest or Level 4 in the Second Quest) in The Legend of Zelda.

Now that I explained how Koholint Island could very well be what became Eastern Hyrule in Zelda II, there are a few ways in which this could have happened:

1. One is if the father of the Zelda in A Link to the Past (or even the Link in that game), as I suggested above, used the unified Triforce to manifest Koholint Island into a real island after Link told him of his adventure upon finally returning to Hyrule. So Koholint Island was materialized & became Eastern Hyrule during Hyrule's golden age and the Great Palace was built there to hide the Triforce of Courage when Link was no longer around to inherit the full Triforce from the king upon the king's death. Meanwhile settlers built towns like Nabooru, Darunia, and the two Kasutos that they lived in.

2. A second way is if the Wind Fish used his god/deity-like power to manifest Koholint into an actual island. It’s even possible that he could have done this in collaboration with that same king of Hyrule who would have used the power of the Triforce during the golden age.

3. A third way is if during some yet untold events the Wind Fish was killed by Ganon or someone/something else and as he died his powers caused elements in his dreams to manifest in the real world in perhaps what would have been the Wind Fish’s last will.

4. A fourth way is if Ganon after his resurrection between the Oracle games and The Legend of Zelda killed the Wind Fish & took his power to cause Koholint Island to manifest as Eastern Hyrule so he could hide there & rebuild an army to attack the rest of Hyrule. Timeline-wise, Ganon's attack would have transpired as the events in The Legend of Zelda where he took the Triforce of Power & pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom were hidden in the other 8 dungeons.

I think any of these 4 are possible, but especially interesting are the first & fourth possibilities. My personal choice and the one I'm obviously backing in this blog is the first one because it really fits in well with the timeline & aligns with the Zelda II manual. The good thing is that even though there is a timeline, Nintendo could always go on to further clarify the events between the games of the A Link to the Past branch of the timeline by making more games set between the games in that branch or by publishing another book to clarify things. This definitely needs to happen to explain what happened between Ocarina of Time and the backstory of A Link to the Past, because as I’ve identified, there are many things that don’t align & actually contradict if left unexplained (i.e. there's no way the Ganon in OoT is the same one in ALttP's backstory given their vastly different histories).

The Koholint Island Inhabitants Were Real:

A related idea I've had for a while is that the inhabitants of Koholint, just like Link who was marooned on it, were actual people who lived in various lands and like Link they too were stuck in the Wind Fish's dream. Unlike Link, they were trapped in his dream for a much longer period of time; so much longer that they forgot what their actual life was like & couldn't remember life outside the island.

This may not be farfetched at all given how the theme is common among Zelda games where the inhabitants of a land (usually Hyrule) are imprisoned in one way or another until Link is the one to free them. So if this same theme were to be applied to Link's Awakening, Link being the hero he is, frees not only himself and the Wind Fish from the dream but everyone else as well. After all, since when is Link ever the sole beneficiary of his heroics? Except for the Wind Fish (who was also freed from the dream) this would pretty much be the case if those inhabitants were also only a dream.

In fact, there is one inhabitant whose presence seems to point that these inhabitants weren't merely a dream. That inhabitant is Mamu the frog.

Anyone who’s played the game knows that Mamu is Wart from Super Mario Bros 2. Wart’s name in Doki Doki Panic & Super Mario USA is Mamu, so Mamu is Wart, just with his original name left intact. In the U.S./non-Japanese version of Super Mario Bros 2 as well as Doki Doki Panic & Super Mario USA, Mamu/Wart is a being who enters the dream land of Subcon (though whether or not those events actually happened despite also happening in a dream is being debated), so his presence in Link’s Awakening tells us that he is able to move from one dream to another. In SMB2 he creates enemies using the dream machine.

Actually in the intro of Doki Doki Panic, Mamu’s hand is seen coming out from the pages of a book where he kidnaps twins in the real world named Piki and Poki. So Mamu doesn't only exist in dreams and story books, but also in the real world!

The full backstory takes place in a book called the Tale of the Dream World of Muu where Mamu took control of the Muu people's Dream Machine to create monsters. However, the people of Muu knew of his weakness to vegetables & fought him by hurling vegetables at him. Mamu surrendered, bringing peace back to the Dream World of Muu. Meanwhile in the real world, a monkey named Rūsa gave the Tale of the Dream World of Muu storybook to the twins Piki and Poki. Towards the end of the book, the twins began fighting and in a struggle the final page of the story was torn out, erasing its ending. This frees Mamu & he reaches through the storybook’s pages & kidnaps the 2 children from the real world, fulfilling his dream of conquering Muu. Rūsa runs out of the room to go find help and comes across an Arabian family, which consists of Papa, Mama, Imajin and Lina. After being informed of the situation, the Arabian family jumped through the storybook and embarked on a journey to save the two children and free Muu from Mamu's reign. Therefore, the story book world that Mamu inhabits in Doki Doki Panic has the aforementioned Arabian family (who live in the real world) jumping into it, so what's to say that Mamu too didn't exist in the real world & also jumped into the book when he initially wanted to take over the world of Muu?

So in Doki Doki Panic, Mamu/Wart is seen being able to influence the real world in addition to the dream world by kidnapping Piki & Poki from the real world. This could mean that Mamu himself physically exists in some world while using an astral form of himself to take over dream worlds like Muu/Subcon. What is definite is that his presence in Link’s Awakening indicates that he can travel from one dream realm to another. But one thing that’s unknown is Mamu’s own timeline and whether his appearance in Link’s Awakening took place before or after his takeover of Subcon/Muu.

Something that is noticeable in Link's Awakening is that Mamu helps Link & disappears once he teaches Link the Frog’s Song of Soul, unlike Marin & Manbo who teach Link the other 2 songs in the game without disappearing & could be seen during the rest of the game. Without that song Mamu teaches him, it’s impossible for Link to resurrect the Flying Rooster, which is needed to get the Bird Key, or for Link to open the entrance to Turtle Rock. This could mean that Mamu is himself a prisoner in the Wind Fish’s dream and only helps Link to escape the dream himself. This is because the Nightmares & not Mamu himself are in control of Koholint. His disappearance after teaching the song could mean that he ran away to a secret location on Koholint in preparation to escape once the Wind Fish wakes up.

Another thing that points to the inhabitants of Koholint being real is the presence of Goombas and other enemies who exist in various worlds/lands in the real world of various video games. Besides Goombas, we see other Mario enemies who have been seen in the real world like Spinys, Shyguys, and all sorts of Zelda enemies that have been seen in Hyrule (Lanmolas, Moblins, Stalfos, etc). Mr. Write exists in the real world as Mr. Wright in the SNES Sim City. Richard who lives in Kanalet Castle in Link's Awakening definitely exists in the real world as Prince Richard of the Custard Kingdom in Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru. So I think we can confirm that all the inhabitants of Koholint weren't just merely elements of the Wind Fish's dream but were people & animals who physically exist in various real/non-dream worlds. Even if there are doubts about Mamu existing in the real world, there is no doubt that Richard exists in the real world as Prince of the Custard Kingdom, and I think it would be unlikely that he & Link are the only real world people on Koholint.

Sources:

  1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past manual
  2. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link manual
  3. http://www.zeldawiki.org/Hyrule
  4. http://www.zeldawiki.org/Great_Palace#History
  5. http://www.mariowiki.com/Wart

 

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