Legend of Zelda
Legend of Zelda Ears
The first The Legend of Zelda was released in 1986 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Over 30 years later, the latest installment, Breath of the Wild, was released as a launch title for the Nintendo Switch, a hybrid console/portable system.
The Legend of Zelda is a high-fantasy action-adventure video game series created by Japanese game designers Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka. It is primarily developed and published by Nintendo, although some portable installments have been outsourced to other companies. The series’ gameplay incorporates elements of action, adventure, and puzzle-solving games. The Legend of Zelda is one of Nintendo’s most prominent franchises.
The series centers on Link, the playable character and chief protagonist. Link is often given the task of rescuing Princess Zelda and the kingdom of Hyrule from Ganon, who is the principal antagonist of the series; however, other settings and antagonists have appeared in several titles. The games’ plots commonly involve a relic known as the Triforce, a set of three omnipotent golden triangles. The protagonist in each game is usually not the same incarnation of Link, but a few exceptions exist.
As of January 2016, the series has expanded to include 18 entries on all of Nintendo’s major game consoles, as well as a number of spin-offs (some of which we try to ignore existing!).
But if you are on this page, you probably know all of that already, what you want to know is…
But which ears should I get!
This is one of the most common questions we get at Aradani, as with each new Zelda game, both Link’s and Zelda’s ears change in appearance (and even Ganondorf in the later games!). Well, hopefully this will help you pick out your ears, depending on which iteration of Link or Zelda you are cosplaying.
If you aren’t sure which one you plan to cosplay, we have found that our Anime Ears are the most popular for Link and Zelda cosplays. This style of ear has a very simple, yet elegant form, and thus it resembles Link and Zelda’s ears rather well.
However, if you are wanting to get ears that are specific to an entry in the series, let’s go into more detail and look at both the concept art and in-game representations of the characters. The following list is in order of the game’s release. I could have listed it according to the Hyrule Historia, but than this webpage would be a massive spider web of photos and words, and that just seems silly.
Chronological List of Zelda Games
^The original The Legend of Zelda (1986)
The Legend of Zelda, subtitled The Hyrule Fantasy in its original Japanese release, is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Nintendo and designed by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka. Set in Hyrule, it follows a boy named Link, given a quest by the royal nursemaid Impa. Link must collect the eight fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom in order to rescue Princess Zelda from the evil clutches of Ganon, the Prince of Darkness.
A little narrower than the concept art from the Owner’s Manual, our anime ears are your best match if cosplaying the original Link. Obviously there is no way to compare the ears to the in-game sprite.
^Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1987)
Several years after the events of The Legend of Zelda, the now-sixteen-year-old Link notices a strange mark on the back of his left hand, exactly like the crest of Hyrule. He seeks out Impa, who responds by taking Link to the North Castle, where a door has been magically sealed for generations. Impa places the back of Link’s left hand on the door, and it opens, revealing a sleeping maiden. Impa tells Link that the maiden is Zelda (not the Zelda from the first game), the princess of Hyrule from long ago, and the origin of the “Legend of Zelda”.
Zelda’s brother had tried to force her into telling their recently deceased father’s secrets concerning the last of three sacred golden triangle treasures of his kingdom, known collectively as the Triforce. Princess Zelda refused to reveal its location, and the prince’s wizard friend, in anger, tried to strike her down with a spell. Zelda fell under a powerful sleeping spell, but the wizard was unable to control the wildly arcing magic and was killed by it. The prince, filled with remorse and unable to reverse the spell, had his sister placed in the castle tower, in the hope that she would one day be awakened. He decreed that princesses born to the royal family from that point on would be named Zelda, in remembrance of this tragedy.
Link’s ears are a little bigger in both the concept art and in-game character model. Our closest match for these images are the Legend ears, which can be positioned on the ears to better match the vertical nature of the character.
^Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991)
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, known as The Legend of Zelda: Triforce of the Gods in Japan, is the first Zelda game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It is the third installment in The Legend of Zelda series and was released in 1991 in Japan and 1992 in North America and Europe.
A Link to the Past is one of the best-selling SNES games, with 4.61 million units sold worldwide, and has had an exceptionally long stay on Nintendo Power’s top games list (ranking number 2 in Nintendo Power’s last issue): when the SNES list was finally retired, A Link to the Past had more than five consecutive years in the number one spot.
In my opinion, I agree with the above statement, A Link to the Past is still by far my favorite Zelda game. I usually replay the game every few years, whether on my GBA remake, or dusting off the old SNES.
Another example of the versatility of the Anime style, Link’s ears from the concept art, and even from the in-game sprites are a close match to our Anime ears. A mid-length, simple, straight ear, that goes up and out from the head.
^Link’s Awakening (1993)
After the events of Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons, the hero Link travels abroad to train for further threats. A storm destroys his boat at sea, and he washes ashore on Koholint Island, where he is taken to the house of Tarin and his daughter Marin. She is fascinated by Link and the outside world, and tells Link wistfully that, if she were a seagull, she would leave and travel across the sea. After Link recovers his sword, a mysterious owl tells him that he must wake the Wind Fish, Koholint’s guardian, in order to return home. The Wind Fish lies dreaming in a giant egg on top of Mt. Tamaranch, and can only be awakened by the eight Instruments of the Sirens.
Again, I feel that the Anime ears are probably the best match. They look appropriate based on all of the images, save for the one with Link sitting on the driftwood. In that image, his ears do seem a bit wider and rounded along the back. But the overall shape and length, I would still go with the Anime for Link’s Awakening.
^The Ocarina of Time (1998)
And now we get to it, what is widely considered the best game in the franchise, and the beginning of mainstream popularity for Link cosplay.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, released for the Nintendo 64 in Japan and North America in November 1998, and in Europe and Australia in December 1998. Originally developed for the 64DD peripheral, the game was instead released on a 256-megabit (32-megabyte) cartridge, the largest-capacity cartridge Nintendo produced at that time. Ocarina of Time is the fifth game in the The Legend of Zelda series, and the first with 3D graphics. It was followed by a direct sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, in 2000.
It is the first Zelda game to depict Ganon before he was corrupted by the Triforce of Power, the first to involve time travel, and really the beginning of the madness that is The Legend of Zelda timeline! Here is the official timeline according to the Hyrule Historia, though fans have “linked” even more of Link and Zelda’s appearances.
The best ears by far for Ocarina of Time are the Large Anime Ears. This is the first game where Link’s ears are much longer than in the past, but they are also very narrow, without much bulk, which is why we recommend the Large Anime over the Legend Ears.
^Majora’s Mask (2000)
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, was released in Japan on April 27, 2000, in North America on October 26, 2000, and in Europe on November 17, 2000. It was released with enhanced graphics for the New 3DS in 2015. The sixth game in the series, it is considered by critics to be a “darker” entry in the Zelda franchise.
Majora’s Mask is set in Termina, an alternate version of the usual series setting of Hyrule, where the Skull Kid has stolen Majora’s Mask, a powerful ancient artifact. Under its influence, the Skull Kid causes the land’s moon to slowly fall towards Termina, where it crashes after three days. The protagonist Link repeatedly travels back in time to the beginning of the three days to find a way to stop the moon from destroying the world. Majora’s Mask was acclaimed by critics, who praised the graphics and complex story. It is now considered to be one of the best games ever made.
It was one of the first games requiring the use of the Expansion Pak for the Nintendo 64.
The character design and model for Link did not change between Ocarina and Majora (in fact, very little did, characters, items… you name it). So the same ears for Ocarina of Time work well for Majora’s Mask.
^Oracle of Seasons & Oracle of Ages (2001)
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages were released simultaneously for the Game Boy Color, and was immediately striking as the phrase Capcom appeared during boot-up.
The player controls the protagonist Link from an overhead perspective, just like in the original game. In Seasons, the Triforce transports Link to the land of Holodrum, where he sees Onox kidnap Din, the Oracle of Seasons. In Ages, the Triforce transports Link to Labrynna, where Veran possesses Nayru. The main plot is revealed once the player finishes both games, which are interwoven through a series of passwords found in both games.
The Oracle series grew out of an experiment to port the original The Legend of Zelda to the Game Boy Color. The team began developing three interconnected Zelda games that could be played in any order. The complexity of this system led the team to cancel one game. Critics complimented the gameplay, colorful designs and graphic quality, but criticized the inconsistent sound quality.
^The Wind Waker (2002)
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is the tenth installment in the The Legend of Zelda series, released in Japan in December 2002, in North America in March 2003, and in Europe in May 2003. It was remastered for the WiiU in HD in 2013.
The game is set on a group of islands in a vast sea. The player controls series protagonist Link as he attempts to save his sister from the sorcerer Ganon and becomes embroiled in a struggle for the Triforce, a sacred relic that grants its holder’s wishes. Aided by allies including pirate captain Tetra and a talking boat named the King of Red Lions, Link sails the ocean, explores islands, and traverses dungeons to acquire the power necessary to defeat Ganon. Wind, which facilitates sailing, plays a prominent role, and can be controlled with a magic conductor’s baton called the Wind Waker.
Both Link and Zelda’s ears are significantly smaller in the cel shaded iteration of their characters. The shape of their ears are very similar to our Small Elf, though just a tad longer than the Small Elf Ears. However, the ears had a definite backwards point, and I think that is much more characteristic of their ears than a little more length.
^Four Swords Adventures (2004)
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures is the eleventh game in the series, released for the Nintendo GameCube home video game console in Japan on March 18, 2004; in North America on June 7, 2004; in Europe on January 7, 2005; and in Australia on April 7, 2005.
A competitive co-op game, Four Sword truly shined when played with multiple players. The game encouraged back-stabbing and deviousness, but required coordination and teamwork to succeed. It featured a unique concept only used by a few GameCube games including Four Swords and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, utilizing Game Boy Advances when played multiplayer. The GBA screens were used as a secondary screen, hiding your Link’s actions from the other players when entering a building or cave.
The concept art from the game is almost identical to Wind Waker, however the in-game sprites are a cross between A Link to the Past and Wind Waker. As seen in the screen shot to the right, Link’s ears appear quite larger in game than in the concept art. But since the overall look of the game was cel-shaded Link, I still recommend the same ears.
By the way, if you have never played Fours Swords on the GameCube, you are missing out. It combines many of the wonderful elements of A Link to the Past with a multiplayer insanity that just can’t be beat! Over the years I have personally acquired 4 GBA SP’s and 4 link cables just so that I have everything on hand to play with 4 people if the need arises.
^The Minish Cap (2004)
^Twilight Princess (2006)
^Phantom Hourglass (2007)
^Spirit Tracks (2009)
^Skyward Sword (2011)
^A Link Between Worlds (2013)
^Hyrule Warriors (2014)
^Tri Force Heroes (2015)
^Breath of the Wild (2017)