Despite bearing her namesake on the box, Princess Zelda has never been playable in a mainline Legend of Zelda video game. The franchise has been going since 1986 and Zelda never had a real time to shine. Even fellow Princess, Princess Peach got her own DS game with Super Princess Peach which sees her rescuing Mario and Luigi! Over the years fans have been asking Nintendo for the damsel in distress to take the centre stage and show her as the hero we all know she can be, yet still nothing.
Away from the main series though, there are four times Zelda does kickass and take names (and one “unofficial” time we’d rather all forget about) in the player’s control. She isn’t always helpless and has quite a complete arsenal to make use of. Looking back at Zelda’s other appearances, we can see why she deserves to be playable in the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and give Link a day off.
Smash Bros Series (GameCube, 2001)
Since Smash Bros Melee, Zelda has been a playable fighter. Despite having a few different designs over the years she has always used magic to show how she can not only defend herself but also be on the attack too. In Smash Bros for 3DS/Wii U, her alter ego Sheik was spun off as an additional character proving that she is capable whatever guise she is under.
Spirit Tracks (Nintendo DS, 2009)
In this DS game, Zelda’s soul is separated from her body and as such the player finds her being Link’s companion in spirit form. In certain parts of the game, Zelda can possess Phantom guards to help Link solve puzzles. Yes it’s a technicality but it shows that even as a disembodied spirit she gets stuff done!
Hyrule Warriors (Nintendo Wii U, 2014)
Made by the Dynasty Warriors developers, Hyrule Warriors sees what the Zelda universe would look like under the guise of a musou (hack and slash) game. Zelda’s strongest showing comes from this game, wielding a Dominion Rod, Rapier sword and of course the Wind Waker. Really makes you wonder how she gets kidnapped so often if she can keep up that pace.
Cadence of Hyrule (Nintendo Switch, 2019)
Strangely, Zelda’s first official playable appearance in a game tied directly to her series is in a Rhythm spin-off. Cadence of Hyrule builds upon indie hit Crypt of the Necrodancer’s gameplay and adds the magnificent music from the Zelda games. It’s possible to play as Zelda and to traverse Hyrule whilst slaying fools that get in her way.
In the latest Nintendo Direct, fans got a small taste of what you’ll be doing in the Breath of the Wild sequel due for release next year. Whilst gameplay was limited, it showed Link once again as the protagonist in a more aerial based adventure than before. Perhaps we find out there are Tears of the Kingdom because Link has fallen, only for Zelda to take up the mantle and become the legend that has always been spoken of her.