Technology in The Legend of Zelda Universe
From Zelda Wiki, the Zelda encyclopedia
Over the course of the years, particularly with the announcement and eventual release of games like Spirit Tracks and Skyward Sword, one of the most popular topics and objects of debate among The Legend of Zelda fans is the presence and influence of artificial or divine technology in the fictional universe of the Zelda series, specifically in land of Hyrule and/or the life of its inhabitants. Because the franchise usually describes Hyrule as a medieval-inspired land, a noticed sign of anachronism in any game catches the attention of theorists and players.
Below is a list of Zelda games where samples of advanced technology (either in Hyrule or in some other land) have been noticed and are of interest for most fans.
Out of the items Link has in his vast repertoire, one of the most sophisticated is the Hookshot. Debuting in A Link to the Past, this item has the ability to carry the user to hard-to-reach places by shooting a metal chain that holds into wood or metal spots, or even enemies (paralyzing them in the process). Even in the present time, similar grappling-hook pistols have yet to exist with any real functionality (as tested by the MythBusters).
In Majora's Mask, the Tourist Center advertises various attractions, such as target shooting and pictography. For the latter, they offer monochromatic pictograph boxes capable of saving one image at a time.
Even more advanced than the Terminan Picto Boxes, the Deluxe version featured in The Wind Waker can store up to three images at any time and, when upgraded with a Forest Firefly, in full color, making it useful in numerous sidequests; however, Link initially can only have a Regular Picto Box that stores black-and-white images, although it can still store three images and, through a sidequest, upgrade it to the color version.
Over the years, elevators have appeared in various games (like in the Forest Temple from Ocarina of Time or near the entrance to Goron Mines in Twilight Princess). Special mention, however, goes to the ones found in the dungeons from The Adventure of Link (as well as in certain inner parts of Death Mountain in the same game), which are the only ones Link can control entirely (in fact, none of the dungeons in the game featured any staircase). In the other games, elevators work either when a switch activates them, or when Link simply stands over them.
The Warships are introduced in The Wind Waker, while the wall-mounted cannons are exclusive to that game. These machines are a more powerful and more lethal means of weaponry and, to the bane of the peaceful inhabitants of the Great Sea, they're active in numerous islands, such as Forsaken Fortress, all of the Eye Reefs, lone islands and observation towers. Usually, destroying them lead to interesting prizes (which, according to the Fishman, are guarded purposely inside the boats to keep intruders from having them). Interestingly, neither the boats nor the cannons can be portrayed into figurines.
While not to the same extent as in the Great Sea, warlike ships make an appearance in the World of the Ocean King as well. This time, they're generally found in groups of three, and one of them often shows a bigger size than usual (in fact, if this ship catches Link, the enemies driving it can invade the S.S Linebeck). In the case of Jolene, her ship is able to shoot homing torpedoes that must be avoided by jumping. Otherwise, the ship is pretty much like Tetra's.
Similar to the water areas of the Pirates' Fortress in Majora's Mask, the waters of this World are hazardous due to the presence of living explosive mines. Though it's unknown who created these obstacles, they make retrieval of sunken treasure more difficult than usual.
Finally, warships are seen patrolling the waters of Hyrule in Spirit Tracks and, as those of the World of the Ocean King, they attack in groups of three. They also have a more efficient shooting accuracy, meaning that Link will have to shoot their fired projectiles before it's too late. Octomines appear beneath the waters of the Ocean Realm as well, though they no longer represent a menace for Link due to their distance.
Since A Link to the Past, lasers have been a staple in the Zelda series, and remain one of the most advanced technologies available. The proper term for most single-barreled laser turrets is Beamos; however, many other sources of laser beams exist. The most advanced lasers can be found in Skyward Sword.
The Telephone Booth is a very advanced means of communication Link can use to talk Ulrira, who provides useful tips and hints. What makes this machine so noteworthy is the fact that it's used in Koholint Island, which in fact is only part of Link's dream; because dreams are said to be based on real life experiences or emotions, it's unknown what inspired Link to imagine a device that hasn't been invented yet in any incarnation of Hyrule (it should be noted, however, that in the game's predecessor Link could communicate with Sahasrahla in dungeons thanks to certain panels placed in the walls. This may have inspired the telephone booth in Link's Awakening.
In Link's Awakening, Mr. Write owns a color photograph of a girl named "Christine". The photo he holds up is in color, a technology only developed in the real world in the 1940s. The color version of the photo can only be seen in the colorized DX version of Link's Awakening.
Because this game is chronologically one of the first The Legend of Zelda games, the land of Hyrule portrayed in it is relatively primitive.
Located in some parts of the Shadow Temple and Ganon's Tower, these ventilating wall-mounted devices periodically blow wind that can hinder Link's progress (although it can be completely damped thanks to the Iron Boots). It's unknown what gives power to these fans, especially because the rooms of the Shadow Temple where they're found are located deep beneath the land.
In the Bombchu Bowling Alley, there is a jukebox that is the source of the building's background music. There are several slots on the front of the device that resemble the front of a CD drive tray. Also, multicolored lights "move" across the walls, something that can only be done with electric lights.
The land of Termina as a whole is revealed to be more advanced than most lands and countries seen in the series. Here the mention of advanced gear goes for the places where signs of advanced technology can be appreciated.
Although in Ocarina of Time's Hyrule the concept of time and schedule is defined, it's in Termina where time is being measured by a clock; in fact, every location in Clock Town has a clock that continuously marks the current time; it's also worth mentioning that the Clock Tower itself operates thanks to an interior wooden machine that makes use of hydrodynamic motion. Clock Town also has developed in matter of politics (it's governed by a mayor), entertainment (lottery shops, shows in the bar and the minigame attractions from East Clock Town being arguably more developed than they already were in Hyrule), economics (Clock Town Bank) and tourism (Stock Pot Inn). Some buildings of the town make use of electric light bulbs, most notably the Bomb Shop (which, in turn, also shows a diagram showing the design of a rocket destinated to the Moon).
Although only accessible through East Clock Town, there is an Astral Observatory with a large-sized telescope, and where Professor Shikashi researches stars and outer-space bodies, and collects rare minerals (such as the Moon's Tear) for further analysis. Interestingly, this observatory can only be accessed by entering through the kids-only Bombers' Hideout in East Clock Town.
The mechanic bull-like monster Goht serves as the boss of this dungeon. Curiously, it's frozen by the moment Link finds it.
Inhabited and run by Gerudo pirates, the Pirates' Fortress is a well-developed metallurgical building, capable of operating with currents of water (as seen underwater in the outer area), and disposing of small-sized telescopes for distant watch, thermally regulated aquariums to guard Zora Eggs, and cannons for long-distance attacks, among other things. Likewise, the pirates travel through water thanks to motorboats (whose fuel is likely stored in the metal barrels seen in some rooms). This technology may not actually belong to them, however. In the Marine Research Laboratory, there is a thermally-regulated aquarium as well, and is even deeper than the ones seen in the fortress. Likewise, the Fisherman has a motorboat to help tourists reach his island to play the Fisherman's Jumping Game; so either the Gerudo tribe copied the engineery, or it's simply a commonplace aspect of Great Bay as a whole.
The third dungeon in the game, the Great Bay Temple, shows even more than anything else in the entire game about technology in Termina. Theorized to be built either by Zoras or by divine intervention, the temple serves as a hydroelectric plant, operating thanks to giant waterwheels, water-based elevators, and power plants; neon lights illuminate the doors and passages, suggesting that part of the water's mechanic energy being turned into electric energy. No other dungeon or place in the series, with the possible exception of the Lanayru Mining Facility, has featured this unprecedented level of technology.
The younger Beaver Brother is equiped with a suit whose multi-colored fans allow him to move better across the river, and also has rotating glasses around his eyes, likely for a better sight underwater. This extra equipment is probably because, due to his younger age than his brother's, he has yet to learn how to swim naturally.
Pamela's Father discovered during his researches on Gibdos that music can drive them away. Knowing this, his house was built as a jukebox that plays a cheerful melody as long as the river drives a waterwheel. By the events of the game, Link has to lift the river's curse in order to make its water flow again; otherwise, the music won't play and Gibdos will overrun the house's surroundings.
The Wing Dungeon features stoplights, similar to those used in real-life railroads. The dungeon also features a room with color-changing tiles activated by pressure.
Though the Great Sea is the result of Hyrule being flooded long ago, technology has advanced to the point that photography is used even by distant islanders, small ships are self-powered, and military installations include laser guns and auto-aiming turrets as part of their armament.
Possible Digital Technology
The Wind Waker contains some of the first examples of explicitly electronic devices in the Zelda series, most notably the Tingle Tuner.
- Having a design and appearance heavily based on the Game Boy Advance, the Tingle Tuner is given to Link by Tingle. It has a color screen and possibly a digital camera for communication with Tingle. It also has an antenna that can transmit and receive video and voice data with Tingle's own Tuner. The Tingle Tuner is used for multiple purposes. For example, Link can synchronize Tingle's actions (such as laying bombs) through this item and also serves as a map for dungeons, even if Link hasn't obtained the traditional Dungeon Map yet. The Tuner can also locate golden statues Link can later give to Knuckle to receive money in exchange.
- The Pictograph Box from Majora's Mask returns in The Wind Waker in a more advanced form. The camera has the ability to store three grayscale images, and with an upgrade, it can store three full-color pictures. This is most likely done with digital technology, as individual images can be inserted and deleted at will, something that cannot be done with traditional film. The Picto Box also has the ability to zoom and autofocus, though the autofocus may be a result of limitations of The Wind Waker 's depth of field blur.
This ancient tower, sunken underwater before Link retrieves the sacred pearls, shows numerous instances of advanced technology, although they're likely made by the Goddesses and not by living beings; laser barriers, luminous statues and the decidedly futuristic battlefield where Link fights Gohdan (who itself is a giant machine built by the Goddesses to test the Chosen Hero's courage), are the most notable examples here.
Although in Ocarina of Time the Shadow Temple had rooms with ventilators or fans, the Wind Temple has arguably more and one of them is significantly bigger and more powerful than the others, located in the dungeon's main room. Although it's unknown what these machines are for, they're possibly to ventilate the area, or to remark the dungeon being wind-themed. As for the Forbidden Woods, it has numerous rooms with leaf-made fans that, once moving thanks to wind, can move elevators or even make a Lily Pad blow a strong gale for a limited time.
In The Wind Waker, the spotlights in the Forsaken Fortress are somehow capable of amplifying their core light (and no lenses can be seen that would focus the weak light of a flame), similar to the lighthouse in Windfall Island (which, although just as bright as the spotlights mentioned earlier, is lit by a flame). Also, when night falls, various lamps outside the Private Oasis turn on automatically. Inside the Private Oasis's cabana, there are lightbulbs that light up if one of the 16 Sliding Puzzles are completed.
The Wind Waker contains examples of seemingly automated gunboats and turrets that can track Link and fire upon him. The gunboats in particular are automated in another way-they follow set paths without deviation.
Terms and expressions
During the introduction to the Sinking Ships minigame in Windfall Island, Salvatore mentions both radar and sonar, two modern technologies requiring access to radio and ultrasonic emitters. Interestingly, a radar display is depicted on the Submarine Chart.
In Link's first meeting with the Salvage Corp, they mention "rocket science", suggesting that rockets may have been developed in Hyrule by that time. The phrase may also be just used colloquially.
Along with the telephone from Link's Awakening, this piece of sound-related device is relatively more advanced than most others. It can be found inside the house with an Aztec-like statue on top in Castle Town.
Another advanced device, Remote Bombs are capable of transmitting a "detonate" signal when Link decides to bomb an objective.
This game shows a more sophisticated incarnation of Hyrule than Ocarina of Time's, notably in the majority of the dungeons; however, it also introduces races and lands that are even more advanced, not unlike Termina and its inhabitants.
Malo Mart Castle Branch
After Malo purchases the expensive shop located in Hyrule Castle Town, said shop is remodeled significantly, with neon lights included; additionally, the shopkeeper (Chudley) has a speaker onto him and a microphone to make his announcements.
Fyer, as part of his attractions, has a cannon that takes its passengers at great heights (high enough to reach the house of Falbi) and distances (far enough to reach Gerudo Desert). It is powered by mechanical energy, provided by Fyer operating a bike-like gear.
- In the Forest Temple, Link can make use of the Gale Boomerang to manipulate wind-operated bridges by moving their fans with the item's wind that is provided by the Fairy of Winds.
- The Goron Mines as a whole show that the Gorons brought an industrial revolution to Hyrule, especially with the use of electromagnets, elevators and magnetic minerals. Link also uses the Iron Boots to traverse through magnetized walls and ceilings.
- In the Lakebed Temple, Link can open sources of water to transport water to dried rooms with the help of a rotating staircase; once he does this, the water will make giant gears and waterwheels operate, allowing Link to explore new rooms.
- In Arbiter's Grounds, Link uses the sophisticated Spinner not only to ride across metal rails, but also to manipulate some ancient machines that open new ways, including the access to the elusive Mirror of Twilight.
- There are also bomb-powered cannons in Snowpeak Ruins.
The Oocca race, introduced first in this game, are said to be closely linked to the goddesses, which provided them with incredibly advanced tools, such as the Dominion Rod, which it's said was used by its creators to build the now-destroyed Temple of Time,  and that can give life to statues. The Oocca themselves live in a very high sanctuary known as City in the Sky, which makes use of eolic energy to hold itself suspended in the blue sky. The dungeon's machinery is also compatible in certain rooms with Link's Spinner, allowing him to unveil bridges (in fact, because of this, it's theorized that the Spinner itself is yet another invention from the Oocca).
Long before Fyer's engineery, the Oocca was able to build cannons as well, and theirs are powerful enough to take passengers at significantly greater distances and heights.
The Twilight Realm, as seen in the Palace of Twilight, is notorious for having a much more futuristic presentation than Hyrule or even the City in the Sky. Energy-made elevators, walls illuminated by blue neon lights and orbs that respond to the Sols' energy are only some examples; on the other hand, these devices may be actually a result of magic, rather than artificial technology.
Phantom Zant, the mini-boss of the Palace of Twilight, appears to be a hologram similar to those found in the Star Wars universe, sharing the characteristic blue hue, "scanlines", and static of a hologram of this kind. However, Phantom Zant is solid and can interact with solid objects.
The World of the Ocean King features a similar level of technology as that seen in the Great Sea, though many of the more advanced technologies found in the Great Sea do not appear in the World of the Ocean King.
Unlike the King of Red Lions, the S.S. Linebeck is more artificial and doesn't house the soul of anybody else, working instead with a steam-powered engine. It was made by Linebeck and, over the course of the game, it is possible to customize it completely, as the ship is compatible with numerous Ship Parts whose proper combinations manages to enhance the defense of the vehicle. The interchangeable parts include the Prow, the Anchor, the Hull, the Cannon, the Handrail, the Bridge, the Chimney and the Wheels.
In the land of New Hyrule, there have been some technological advances as well, particularly in the area of transportation. New Hyrule also features the most homogeneous technologies of any iteration of Hyrule; almost all technology within New Hyrule is from the 19th century of the real world.
Taking advantage of the presence of the rails that were placed to seal the spirit of the Demon King Malladus, Hyruleans built trains in order to make travel across Hyrule faster, as well as to transport material between places more easily. After receiving the title of train engineer by Princess Zelda, Link is allowed to use a train for the aforementioned purposes. It should be noted that, at first, the young hero has a train on his own, but it's gravely derailed when the rails connecting Hyrule Castle Town with the Tower of Spirits disappear suddenly. Because of this, and after the aforementioned rails are restored, Link receives the legendary Spirit Train and keeps it for the rest of the game.
As the quest progresses, the train can be enhanced with extra parts, such as a cannon to attack incoming enemies in the fields, and a wagon to transport heavy material from one place to another. As in the case of the S.S. Linebeck, the parts of the train are interchangeable.
To the bane of the peaceful inhabitants of Hyrule, the forces of evil use the train technology as well, as seen with the presence of Dark and Armored Trains. Unlike Link's, these cannot be destroyed by conventional means, so any traveller will have to avoid them as often as possible, crossing their territories only when there is a clearly wide selection of paths to evade them easily. Chancellor Cole in particular has a train on his own, the Demon Train, which is so big that it has to travel through two tracks while on land; this train is also equipped with explosive barrels, laser cannons, and a wagon that can shoot multiple laser beams.
One of the obtainable trains in the game, the Skull Train, has in its train car set the Skull Freight Car. This train car does not use its wheels - rather, it floats. This is probably due to anti-gravity technology such as that of science fiction media.
Ferrus's house resembles a modern subway or commuter train car, while all other train cars resemble those of 19th century England. Ferrus also makes reference to Internet acronyms like "OMG!", as well as references to the space-time continuum, an idea developed in the 19th century. Ferrus's camera seems to be able to take an unlimited number of pictures, meaning that his camera does not use ordinary film. The only way for a camera to take large amounts of pictures without changing the imaging medium is through digital photography.
Tanks and turrets
Whereas the Warships patrol the Ocean Realm, the tanks patrol the Forest, Snow and Fire Realms. They behave the same way as the Warships, coming in groups of three and being proficient at target shooting.
Protecting the Sand Temple are twelve turrets, which slightly look like the tanks. Upon proximity of an intruder, they will shoot bombs in order to guard a side of the pyramidal structure. Only after all of them were disabled, Link will be able to enter the dungeon. The local boss, Skeldritch, is equipped with turrets in the upper part of its body, which throw red stones at a faster rate than its regular lower cannons.
Aerial transportation, which existed in a very primitive fashion in the past with Cuccos and Kargarocs, and still does to an extent, reaches a new level in this game. Beedle, the recurring seller, travels across the four territories of Hyrule through his own hot-air balloon, able to support a greater weight than Tingle's balloon in Majora's Mask, so that he can sell his goods to a wider clientele. Interestingly, the interior of the floating shop is similar to that of the shop ships in The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass.
Despite being the first game in the timeline, Skyward Sword shows some very advanced technology, mostly due to the presence of a very advanced society long before the game's events take place.
Skyloft is a moderately advanced locale. Its buildings are lit exclusively with electric lights, and the Knight Academy has a plumbing system, as well as an automatically flushing toilet. Groose keeps a set of barbells in his room at the academy, and Loftwings belonging to knights authorized to fly at night carry goggles with embedded electric flashlights.
An airship store operated by Beedle, working differently from his hot-air balloon in Spirit Tracks, also appears in Skyward Sword. The airship is powered and kept aloft by Beedle's pedaling on an electric generator. Inside, there are various mechanical devices, one of which has a screen of nine square lights that change color after short intervals, suggesting that it is an electronic device. Beedle also built a landing platform for this airship in his own island, where he goes to during nighttime.
Lanayru Desert and the "LD Corporation"
The Lanayru Desert in Skyward Sword is the land of an unnamed technologically advanced people or company that mined the area for Timeshift Stones. Once a green and lively groove with a large sea on the west, the area was turned into a barren wasteland over the flow of time, likely due to the heavy industrialization being deemed counterproductive for the local ecosystem.
- The Ancient Robots found in the Lanayru Desert were built by the unnamed people or company to serve the land's inhabitants. With the demise of their civilization, all of the robots fell into disrepair, with only a few still able to be fixed in the present. The Ancient Robots seem to have one visible light camera and one infrared camera to aid in vision.
- The Lanayru Mining Facility is a large, technologically advanced mining facility staffed by robots. The civilization that created the factory had long since died out, and it is up to Link to restore the area with the Timeshift Stones that can turn time backwards.
- Several enemies in the Lanayru Mining Facility and other regions of Lanayru have robotic appearances and functionality. An example is the newest iteration of the Beamos - the most robotic version of it yet. The new Beamos rotates on joints with designs that resemble those found in science fiction media. Some Beamos have the ability to move around. The Technoblin is a variant of Bokoblin that wields an electrically charged sword. The Sentrobe enemy is a flying robot with a small cannon that shoots projectiles and releases self-propelled bombs. It was, according to Fi, used as a security robot when the Lanayru Mining Facility was still occupied.
- Comparably more advanced than the titular Spirit Tracks are Skyward Sword's electric railways. They are present as a puzzle element as well as a way to get across bottomless chasms. Carts located outside the Mining Facility seem to float due to unknown forces, allowing frictionless, efficient travel. As there is no propulsion mechanism visible, it is possible that anti-gravity railways use maglev technology.
- The Sandship is a large hybrid ship powered by both wind and electricity. It contains a large amount of electric lights, is staffed by a robot crew, and has a powerful Timeshift Stone that can turn time back on not just the ship but also on a large area around the ship as well. The ship also has a cloaking device, which is used to hide the ship from enemies.
- The advanced technology of the robots also extends to their gadgets, which eventually become part of Link's inventory:
- The Beetle is a device that becomes one of Link's signature tools in the game. The Beetle is basically a miniature aerial vehicle, manufactured by the LD corporation mentioned earlier, and has its own motive power and the capacity to lift items and bring them back to Link. As with most items in the game, it can be upgraded to give it extra properties, such as implementing a larger hook that allows it to carry small objects without difficulty, like bombs and other round objects; further upgrades enhance its time of flight, and even implement an acceleration option.
- The Gust Bellows is an item that blows air out of a nozzle. It is found in the Lanayru Mining Facility, and seems to run on an endless source of energy. It was probably created by the LD corporation.
- Finally, the Clawshots are found in the Lanayru region as well, and have a more modern appearance than their Twilight Princess counterparts. However, because they're gained through a Silent Realm trial, it's unknown whether they're a divine creation of the Goddesses, or a gadget from the robots given to the Goddesses as a gift.
- Motorboats, first seen in Majora's Mask, make a return in Skyward Sword. The new motorboat moves by itself with no outboard motor to be seen, suggesting that the boat is powered by another means of propulsion. The design of the boat resembles the above-mentioned electric railroad cars.
- The Pirate Stronghold, formerly an industrialized refuge for pirates, operates through a simple Timeshift Orb, which perpetually regresses time and space in its surrounding area, and can be seized to be taken anywhere.
- The Sandship is a technologically advanced ship that seems to be propelled both by wind and by a Timeshift Stone-powered engine. Its mini-boss is Scervo, which seems to be an entirely robotic Stalfos-like enemy. A more powerful version of Scervo, called Dreadfuse, is encountered in the Sky Keep. The Sandship also has the ability to render itself invisible similar to sci-fi cloaking devices.
The dungeon operates through a complex network of pipes, similar to the Great Bay Temple in Majora's Mask. In several rooms of the upper section, Link can use the whip to turn some levers and gears in order to create watery columns that help him climb to higher spots and areas. In contrast, the lower section of the dungeon is a decrepit and accursed zone where a poisoned lake has to be crossed carefully. At the top of the dungeon resides the boss, Koloktos, which has a robotic appearance, although its motion is attributed to a dark magical source by Ghirahim, rather than an artificial functionality.
Because the dungeon showcases the thematic elements of all other dungeons in the game, by extension it includes the advanced machinery found in Lanayru Province. In fact, instead of the traditional Timeshift Stones, only the more advanced and sophisticated Timeshift Orbs are found, and prove essential for Link in his quest to find and complete the Triforce resting on the dungeon.
Inside the tower is a waterwheel that gives motion to the clock, which serves as a 24-hour-active device that marks the hour.
The Oocca race managed to build a floating city in the heavens. The place is suspended in air thanks to big wind propellers.
The Palace of Twilight disposes of luminous elevators that make travel through the place easier.