River Zora

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This article is about the hostile Zora race. For the friendly variety, see Zora. Also not to be confused with Zora's River.
River Zora
The Legend of Zelda official Zora artwork
Game(s)The Legend of Zelda
The Adventure of Link
A Link to the Past
Link's Awakening
Oracle of Ages
Oracle of Seasons
Four Swords Adventures
A Link Between Worlds
Non-canon AppearancesAnimated series
The Legend of Zelda comic
A Link to the Past comic
Link: The Faces of Evil
Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon
Zelda's Adventure
Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland
Habitat(s)Zora's Lake
Zora's Waterfall
Zora's River
Lake Hylia
Any body of water
Member(s)King Zora
Oren
Effective WeaponsBow
Sword
EXP Points50

The River Zoras, most commonly simply named Zoras, are a hostile aquatic race introduced in The Legend of Zelda. They were originally the only water-based enemies and although later games have changed that, to this day Zoras remain the most prominent ones, receiving appearances and shout-outs in nearly every entry to the series. The big exception to their popularity are the 3D console games, in which they have yet to appear. This situation is partly to be explained by the introduction of another Zora race in the first 3D game. While they were originally meant to be a reinterpretation of the traditional Zoras, the Oracle of Ages eventually established the two as separate beings, designating the hostile race as river Zoras and the friendly race as sea Zoras.[1] Nonetheless, Ocarina of Time has gone on to be the template of the 3D game structure to which sea Zora are native and lay claim on most of the waters, leaving not much room for the river Zoras.

Contents

Zora or Zola?

When The Legend of Zelda was released, the game's manual spelled "Zora" as "Zola", taking its cue from the Japanese manual. The Japanese language does not distinguish between the letters "L" and "R", leading to the confusion. With the exception of the Nintendo Player's Guide for Link's Awakening, every instance that mentioned the Zoras after The Legend of Zelda manual has spelled the name with an "r", confirming that "Zola" was a mistake, and Oracle of Ages directly references the two varieties under the same name. Some of the Western fan community still use "Zola" and "Zora" to distinguish between the hostile and the friendly race, a development likely instigated by Zelda.com's encyclopedia.[2]

Traits

ZoraALttP.png
File:Geozardchief.png
Geozard Chief in Spirit Tracks

River Zoras are primarily hostile creatures who make their home wherever there is a large body of water. All potential intruders of their domain are bound to find themselves on the receiving end of their trademark spit attack, which can't be blocked by regular shields. Typically, a Zora hides just below the surface of the water until it deems the moment right to attack, at which point they stick their head out and launch a ball of fire towards the intended target. They only stay above surface for a short time, whereupon they repeat their strategy. Most counterattacks thus have to be performed with long-range equipment from the shore at the time of their attack, which can prove to be quite tricky.

Alternatively, if the water is not deep enough to accommodate this strategy, Zoras are known to emerge fully and give chase on foot. They are sufficiently agile on land, but the lack of water to hide in makes them an easy target. However, some Zora specialize in this form of attack. Those are called Geozards and rather than fight barehanded, they approach their target armed with shield and sword. They still utilize their spit attack, but mix it up with considerable skill in sword fighting.

Zora prey on smaller fish for nourishment.[3] The skin of Zoras is scaly and green or blue, rarely red, and their huge, prominently colored maws hold sharp fangs. When not in deep water, they stand upright. One variety is known to switch between standing on two legs and on four legs, but this is not a commonly seen trait of Zoras. Those Zoras also occasionally inhabit desert areas, which again is not common to Zoras. Zoras enjoy their environment damp, sometimes opting to leave the safety of the waters to stroll around on land if the weather is rainy.[4]

Appearances

The Legend of Zelda

Zora LoZ.png

In The Legend of Zelda, Zoras occupy all of the three bodies of water around Death Mountain, which consist of a spring-waterfall-river-lake-river course that splits the region in half, a small lake east of it and a much larger lake/sea covering the eastward region. With a handful of exceptions, there is at least one Zora per area. A Zora's spit attack takes away half a heart and can only be blocked by a Magical Shield. Zoras can withstand one blow from a Wooden Sword, and if they can dive before being hit again, they recover from the attack. Otherwise, another hit will do them in, as do single hits with better weaponry.

The Adventure of Link

File:ZoraTAoL.png
Quadrupedal Zora

The behavior of Zoras in The Adventure of Link is rather different from their other appearances. A few turn up on crossings over rivers, but most inhabit caves, deserts and Maze Island on the Eastern continent, far from their usual watery habitats. Zoras have a quadrupedal structure, though they can and will stand on their hind legs. This they combine with their traditional spit attack, mimicking their below-above water strategy with their quadrupedal-bipedal position. Zoras are particularly tough fighters, dealing damage ranging from three bars of a health meter to three-fourth of it depending on the level of their opponent. In addition to having access to equally strong long-range and close combat moves, they themselves can only be harmed through the use of the Fire magic, though this only happens in the international release of the game since they can be harmed with regular sword attacks in the Japanese version. Upon defeat, they yield 50 experience points and once in a while a Red Potion or a 200 Treasure Bag.

A Link to the Past

Link meets King Zora
RiverZoraALTTP.png

In A Link to the Past, the Zoras inhabit the Light World and have made their homes in the east of Hyrule, divided over Lake Hylia and Zora's Lake. Zora's River connects the two, allowing the water to flow from Zora's Lake to Lake Hylia. Zoras are impossible to find within the river if not close to either of the lakes. This seems to be because they have a more sufficient system of travel: Zoras are capable of utilizing Whirlpool Waterways,[5] magic portals that link all of Hyrule's waters.

Zoras reside below the water's surface unless they detect an intruder. As usual, their spit attack is their primary offense. It takes away half a heart standard and cannot not be blocked by the Fighter's Shield. If, however, the water is too shallow, the Zoras opt to emerge fully and attack physically, dealing another standard half a heart worth of damage. If they are defeated, they leave one or more bombs behind.

However, not all Zoras treat outsiders with hostility. A Zora twice the usual size, King Zora, the leader of the Zoras, makes a business out of selling non-Zoras Zora's Flippers for 500 Rupees per set.[6] When Link buys flippers, King Zora is pleased enough to throw in a bonus with the purchase, allowing Link to make use of the Zoras' many Whirlpool Waterways.[5]

River Zoras' counterparts in the Dark World are the Ku. King Zora himself may have his counterpart in the Catfish.

Link's Awakening

The photo of Link and the friendly Zora.

In Link's Awakening, the Zoras live primarily in Martha's Bay, but some can be found in the Bay's upper river and the actual bays of Koholint Island. Zoras remain submerged until they detect an intruder, whom they exclusively try to attack with their spit attack. It takes away half a heart normally and a quarter of a heart if the intruder is equipped with a Guardian Acorn or the Blue Clothes. It can only be blocked with a Mirror Shield. If anyone is to swim into them, they also deal half a heart worth of damage.

One peaceful Zora has taken up residence in Animal Village in secret. They live in the northeastward house, invisible from others. When Link acquires the Magnifying Lens, he investigates the house once more and is able to see the Zora living there. The Zora assures him they mean no harm,[7] at which point the Photographer enters and insists he snaps a picture to commemorate the discovery.[8] Once the Photographer leaves, the Zora gives Link information on "someone like [him]" at Toronbo Shores in return for keeping quiet about his existence.[9]

Oracle Series

RiverZoraOracle.png

Both Holodrum and Labrynna are host to river Zoras in Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages. In Holodrum, they live in the waters of North Horon and Holodrum Plain. In Labrynna, they live in the waters of Talus Peaks in both ages, but only in the past do they live at Rolling Ridge Base, since the base has dried up in the present age. Their reaction to trespassers is the same as in Hyrule; they preferably send a ball of fire worth half a heart in the offender's direction, but can also deal that amount of damage physically. Their spit attack can't be blocked by the Wooden Shield, but stronger shields do offer protection. On top of that, the Blue Holy Ring specifically protects its wearer against river Zoras' fireballs.

Two items related to the river Zoras exist in both lands, both bestowing Zora qualities on its users. Zora's Flippers are an item that allows the wearer to swim and dive shortly.[10] In Holodrum, they are in the possession of the Master Diver, who hands them out to people who have proven themselves to be worthy to become his apprentice,[11] but in Labrynna, they are inventions of Cheval and a pair of them can be found with his tomb in the present age.[12] The other item, the Zora Ring is best used in conjunction with the flippers. It grants its wearer the ability to breathe underwater and thus dive indefinitely.

Labrynna is also home to the friendly sea Zora race and as such is one of only two known places where both races live. This appears to be because the two races don't get along well.[1][13]

Four Swords Adventures

The blue, one-eyed Zora

In Four Swords Adventures, two types of river Zoras live in Hyrule, one green with two eyes, and another blue and one-eyed.[14] The blue Zora appears to be based on the Zora sprite from the first game, while its single eye might come from the Kus from A Link to the Past. Blue Zoras appear to vastly outnumber the green variety.

Blue Zoras inhabit Lake Hylia, The Coast, The Swamp and the river near Kakariko Village. In most regions, they are hostile and both their spit attack and physical strength are good to deal half a heart of damage. The fireballs can be blocked with an average shield, though. Within The Swamp, Zoras refrain from attacking. Instead, they hide under lily pads and only occasionally come to the surface. Anyone standing on one of the lily pads they've hidden under at that time will be launched up high into the air.[15]

In addition to the mostly hostile blue Zoras, the Links also encounter one friendly green Zora. During their time in Kakariko Village, they stumble across a Zora who lives in the pond north of the village. The Zora is hungry, but can't catch the fishes himself. The four Links help to feed him quickly,[16] and in return, he rewards them with 100 gems and another Heart Container.[3]

Earlier, the Links met what then appeared to be two Zoras, but was in fact one shape changed, split Queen of Fairies. They meet the first of these Zoras when they free her from her cell in the castle of Hyrule. She begs them to bring her to her counterpart who was locked up in the other side of the castle.[17] The Links fulfill her request and bring the two Zoras to the gate, where they merged into their one, true form again.[18]

Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks

Main article: Geozard
Zora Warrior PH.png

River Zoras do not return in Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, although another enemy, the Geozards, greatly resemble them. Geozards always come out of the water and are armed with swords and shields. They share River Zoras' well-known spitting attack, but now attack with a sword as well and block Link's attacks with a shield, similar to the Darknuts in earlier games. Unlike other Zoras, they are not average enemies.

In Spirit Tracks, there is also a red variety known as Geozard Chief which breathes fireballs, much like the River Zora's older appearances. In this variation, Link is now required to use the aid of his Phantom partner to distract the Geozard Chief while he attacks from behind.

A Link Between Worlds

The Zora of A Link Between Worlds closely resemble those of A Link to the Past. Most of the Zora found in Hyrule's rivers are enemies, but those in Zora's Domain are not. Oren is the queen of the Zora and one of the seven Sages. Oren explains why most of the Zora encountered in the game are hostile once she returns to her normal form. The reason is that the Zora consider the river their territory, and although she tells them to get along with humans, she admits that they don't really listen to her. An early quest involved Link retrieving her Smooth Gem and receiving the Zora's Flippers in return.

Other Appearances

Ambiguously Canon Content hide

Ancient Stone Tablets

Not to be confused with the other Zora's Fountain

In Ancient Stone Tablets, only a short time has passed since the events of A Link to the Past, hence the Zoras can be found in the same environments as before, near Zora's Lake and in Lake Hylia and treat the new hero no different than they did Link. While the regular Zoras attack on sight, King Zora offers to sell Zora's Flippers on the first day of the new hero's quest, for a price of 300 Rupees.

During the first two days of the quest, rainstorms occur. The rain on day one arrives at 18:23 and dissipates at 18:30, whereas the rain lasts from 18:12 to 18:17 on day two. During these conditions, land-based life takes shelter while the Zoras leave the rivers and lakes to walk around on land. Partly during the rain of the first day, from 18:25 - 18:35, King Zora lowers the price of the Zora's Flippers to 150 Rupees.

Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland

River Zoras do not personally make an appearance in Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland, but they evidently are or have been around until recently. A fountain close to the entrance of Port Town is decorated with the shape of four river Zora heads. Coincidentally, two statues representing sea Zoras are located on nearby islands, making this the only other location next to Labrynna in which both races "are around".

Non-Canon Information hide

Animated series

A Zola as seen in the animated series

Zolas appear briefly in two episodes of the animated series. In "The White Knight", after Princess Zelda is kidnapped by Moblins while she was talking with Prince Facade, the Moblins throw Zelda out the castle window, where a Zola readily catches her. The Zola carries Zelda out of the castle, with Facade in pursuit, but when the Zola jumps into the water, Facade hesitates on the bank, not wanting to get his clothes wet and muddy. Link arrives shortly after, and although the Zola fires light beams at the young hero, Link blocks them and defeats the Zola with three zaps from his sword. In "The Moblins Are Revolting", Zolas are part of the Brotherhood of Underworld Monsters and are one of the many foes who try to get revenge on Link and Zelda.

The Legend of Zelda Comic

During the events of Missing in Action in the Legend of Zelda comic, a huge Zora feels obliged to attack Link and Zelda when they try to cross a body of water by raft on their way to the Palace on the Sea. The river Zora depicted here appears to be much larger than the ones shown in the games.

A Link to the Past Comic

Main article: Zora (A Link to the Past Comic)

In A Link to the Past comic, Zora is a resident of the Dark World, where he lives at a waterfall along with his fairy Epheremelda.

Trivia

Scan from the Futabasha guidebook
Scans from the various The Legend of Zelda manuals
  • The normal Zoras from A Link to the Past are named Zora's Spawn in the Nintendo Player's Guide for the SNES version, whereas their leader is referred to as if his name is Zora - a name he also goes by in the translation of the comic. While the Zora's Spawn are referred to as just Zoras within the game itself, most of the in-game text that should be about "Zoras" is about "Zora", a singular entity. Chances are this is a misinterpretation of the Japanese text, because in Japanese, there is no singular and plural. For instance, a phrase like ゾーラの水かき can translate to Zora's Flippers, Zoras' Flippers or Zora Flippers depending on the context. For the GBA re-release, most of the singular "Zora" were corrected to be about "Zoras" as a group.
  • One piece of artwork found in the A Link to the Past Nintendo Player's Guide depicts King Zora (or possibly a Zora's Spawn) with a caudal fin instead of legs. Other depictions of him as well as the general build of Zoras contradicts this, but given that the head is the only thing seen of most Zoras, there may be two different varieties.
  • Zelda.com describes the River Zoras (under the name Zola) as female Zoras who turned against the Hylians and chose a life of violence.[2] Like many entries in the encyclopedia, this assertion finds no support from the games. The only individual Zora who was a confirmed female was actually a cursed Fairy Queen, Zelda.com's usage of the terms Zola and Zora does not coincide with actual game appearances, and the term Zola is, as already explained, a faulty romanization on Japan's behalf that was corrected at the very next opportunity. The idea that river Zoras are exclusively female comes from the description in the English manual of The Legend of Zelda, which in fact is a faulty translation of the Japanese text. 半魚人で translates roughly as "half fish with human", not "half-fish, half-woman". Why the localization team chose to specify a gender is unknown, but it could be that they tried to connect the Zora enemy more to the real world mythological merfolk, which is most known for its female half, than it already was (人魚 is Japanese for "merfolk"). Either way, this was a one time localization decision that had no impact on the Japanese developers, and thus has found no corroboration in any game thereafter.
  • The headpieces worn by many sea Zoras in Twilight Princess strongly resemble the heads of river Zoras.

Gallery

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Don't think us noble sea Zoras the same as those savage, vulgar river Zoras!" — A sea Zora (Oracle of Ages)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Zelda.com Encyclopedia Z
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Oh, I'm so hungry... I want to chow down on those fish, but I can't catch 'em! If you can get 10 or more of them in my mouth, I'll give you a reward!" — Kakariko Village Zora (Four Swords Adventures)
  4. "… ゾーラはとっても水がすき" — ? (Ancient Stone Tablets)
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Wah ha ha! One pair of flippers coming up. I will give you a free bonus with your purchase. I will let you use the magic water ways of the sea folk which link lakes and rivers. When you see a whirlpool, dive into it. You never know where you'll surface! Wah ha ha!" — King Zora (A Link to the Past)
  6. "Wah ha ha! But I don't just give flippers away for free. I sell them for 500 Rupees a pair." — King Zora (A Link to the Past)
  7. "Hey, you can see me?! You must have a magnifying glass. I'm not a troublemaker. I just want to live in peace." — Animal Village Zora (Link's Awakening)
  8. "Hi there! It's me, the photographer! You say Zora is in the house? I HAVE to take a picture of that. I'll call it 'I Found Zora.'" — Photographer (Link's Awakening)
  9. "If you keep me a secret, I'll tell you something useful. Go to Toronbo Shores, use the magnifying glass and you will find someone like me." — Animal Village Zora (Link's Awakening)
  10. "You got Zora's Flippers! You can now go for a swim! Press [A] to swim, [B] to dive!" — Message (Oracle series)
  11. "Ohh!!! That's my Master's Plaque! You've passed my test! Very well, then! I accept you as my pupil! Take these Flippers!" — Master Diver (Oracle of Ages)
  12. "Before I die, I want to finish my work on flippers for swimming and rope that won't decay in water. I hope to aid all the people of the world by inventing such things!" — Cheval (Oracle of Ages)
  13. "You're in the wrong place if you want to complain about being attacked by a river Zora." — A sea Zora (Oracle of Ages)
  14. Technically, the game and the Nintendo Player Guide only call the blue, one-eyed variety "Zora", while the green version with two eyes at best is called "creature", despite being the exact same sprite as used previously for A Link to the Past and Ancient Stone Tablets.
  15. "Tingle got stuck in icky sludge! It was so...slimy! Tingle must write this all down so that the same thing doesn't happen next time. I will gracefully flit from leaf to handy leaf, jumping with such joy. Almost like skipping from Zora to Zora!" — Tingle Times, Volume 4 (Four Swords Adventures)
  16. "I'm really famished, so you've got to do it within a minute! Ready... GO!" — Kakariko Village Zora (Four Swords Adventures)
  17. "I heard the maidens' cries and came running to find the castle a nest of fiends. They captured me and split me in two. That's why I look so horrible right now! Please, I beg of you. Reunite my two halves! Make me whole again!" — Fairy Queen (Four Swords Adventures)
  18. "Oh, happy day! Thank you! Now, at last, we can merge as one, and I can return to my true form! Please take me to the barrier that blocked your way. I'll do my best to aid you on your journey!" — Fairy Queen (Four Swords Adventures)


Forest minish.png Names in Other Regions Jabber Nut MC.gif
Language Name Meaning
English United Kingdom River Zora
Japanese Japan ゾーラ (Zōra)
川ゾーラ (Kawa Zōra)

River Zora
Spanish Spain Zora de Río River Zora
French France Zora des rivières
German Germany Fluss-Zora
Italian Italy Zora di fiume